Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had already been broadcast over American airwaves for a year and change when I was born. His calm, quiet demeanor and soothing voice carried his intention to open and nurture the hearts of children everywhere. I was one of them.
You’d never know from his gentle, puppet-wielding, sweater-wearing nature that he donned tattoos all over his body and had a successful career as a military sniper, with over 100 confirmed kills. It wasn’t something he talked about, unless of course you insulted the color of his cardigan. A cardigan that incidentally was worn primarily to cover his fully inked arms.
As his television career got going, it was known to people in his actual neighborhood that he was an avid street racer, and his civilian weapon of choice became a supercharged Chevy Nova SS. Though small in stature, he was big man on the street and “owned” the neighborhood. That’s the real reason why his show was called what it was. He was quoted once just after winning his 4thrace in one night, “Damn right this is MY neighborhood.”
It wasn’t until years later when a very close call during a drag race his out of control Nova nearly ran down a child spectator that he decided that it wasn’t a worthwhile hobby anymore. After that he threw down the keys and redoubled his resolve to bring his heart-felt and thoughtful message to youngsters.
The main reason for his choice of the Chevy Nova to mercilessly crush the competition was because he felt that the name “Nova” was much maligned in the Latin-American speaking countries and felt bad for not only the car, but General Motors who produced it. He felt compelled to cheer up middle-management in the Chevrolet international division by dominating all comers, showing that the car not only went, it went FAST! Furthermore, he can be credited with the suggestion that the name Nova be used as the title for a scientific program which also aired on PBS concurrent with his show.
Every business marketing major knows the story about the utter failure of the Nova to sell in Latin-‘Merica because of the cross-cultural misstep in naming. You see, “No Va” in Spanish means “It’s doesn’t go.” Who would want to buy a car with a name like that?
Of course, with the exception of the first paragraph of this post, everything else up to this point is either well known and debunked urban legend, or a tale of the tallest sort, spun by lil ol’ me. But don’t be fooled, Mister Fred Rogers although no sniper nor a military man of any sort, was a righteous warrior for the cause of public television. If you haven’t seen him dominate in what begins as an antagonistic congressional hearing which took place in 1969.
As for the Chevy Nova, the urban legend about it not selling well in Latin America was bunk too. Sales did just fine. This is because the words No Va are accented completely different than Nova, which in Latin means “new”. That’s where we get the word “novel” from, incidentally. So when those who spoke Spanish saw the name, they didn’t see the vehicle as something that wouldn’t go, they saw a “new” car. And who doesn’t want a new car?
I like new cars, but I particularly like analog new cars, which are as rare as hens’ teeth. Just in case you are not an avian dentist, hens have no teeth. So that being the case, I’ll have to settle for an older analog car in great condition. Such as this 1972 Chevy New. Errr, Nova.
This particular white over black Nova is said to have 26,000 miles on the odometer and is a true SS. It has a Chevrolet 350 cubic inch power plant, auto transmission, Posi rear, bucket seats and was repainted in the 1990’s. All gauges and lights are said to work, drives excellent, has a clean title, and is located on New York’s Long Island.
If you wish to cruise around in this very clean SS on a beautiful day in your neighborhood, the original listing can be found HERE on craigslist for more information and to contact the seller.
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