Rick S. Dorris/For The Madera Tribune
The doctor is in. Columnist Tami Jo Nix, in the famous psychiatrist booth occupied by Lucy Van Pelt in hundreds of Peanuts comic strips on the grounds of the Charles M. Schultz Museum & Research Center in Santa Rosa. Five cents please.
I must confess I have had a lifelong romance with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. Learning to read The Madera Tribune, the comic strips or what I called the funny pages were my favorite features.
Last week I visited the Mecca of Peanuts comic strips at the Charles M. Schultz Museum & Research Center in Santa Rosa. Driving through the pouring rain, my cousin, Rick S. Dorris, and I travelled Highway 152 and through Pacheco Pass the day before it flooded. A few missed turns added a side trek through bay area neighborhoods and over one of the bay bridges.
The beautiful grounds of the Schultz museum are dotted with larger-than-life-sized sculptures of Lucy, Charlie Brown and Snoopy on his doghouse. I had to pose in the recreation of Lucy’s psychiatrist booth. There is an enormous Snoopy topiary and a labyrinth in the shapes of his head.
I have a few pieces of Peanuts memorabilia books, toys, plush characters and, of course, my Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
The museum gift shop and the merchandise on sale there sent me into sensory overload.
The educational benefits of Peanuts have manifested in many forms through the years. The simple line drawings of the characters were a fresh new concept when the strip debuted in 1950. Peanuts represented an idealized view of childhood. For almost 50 years each beloved character represented a segment of the human condition. Charlie Brown carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. His deep love of baseball and his dismal athletic skills ring true to every player who has ever struck-out at home plate. The kite-eating tree represents the boogieman that terrorizes many children. Murphy’s Law that states anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, could just as easily be known as Charlie Brown’s Law.
Brown’s greatest relationship is with his dog Snoopy. Based on Schultz’s childhood dog, Spike, the cartoon beagle enjoys a rich fantasy life. His adventures as a World War I flying-ace battling the Red Baron use the roof of his doghouse as a Sopwith Camel single-seat bi-plane. Many of the strips through the years have honored military service. Schultz served in the Army in World War II and Snoopy’s fantasy escapades endeared him to pilots and ground crews alike. In 1968 NASA adopted Snoopy for a series of training materials. The following year, the NASA astronauts named the Apollo 10 command module “Charlie Brown,” and the lunar module, “Snoopy.”
Until I can convince my husband to let me get a real dog, Snoopy is my dog too. Holding a stuffed animal doesn’t come close to playing with a real dog but he doesn’t need to be walked, fed or housebroken.
Covering a wide variety of subjects, Schultz explored the human condition and tackled social issues.
Schroeder plays Beethoven on his toy piano while being Lucy’s great unrequited love. The punch line of Pigpen is how he is covered in dirt even in a snowstorm or rainstorm. Lucy’s brother Linus drags his security blanket with him everywhere he goes and their younger brother, who looks like Linus’s mini-me, is called Rerun. The way to tell the two of them apart if only one is in the comic the younger Rerun wears overalls.
Schultz character Franklin became the first African-American character to frolic with the Peanuts gang in 1968. The athletic Peppermint Patti and her sidekick ushered in an era of women’s issues to the comic.
The Peanuts universe never really shows grown-ups except by reference. Watching the animated programs it delights me anytime an adult speaks and all we hear is Wah-wah-wah. I can’t count the number of times I have heard those sounds in my head when listening to an orator that enjoys the sound of their own voice way too much.
My desire to be a Peanuts character plays out on Facebook where access to thousands of Peanuts memes is but a mouse click away.
Monday is Presidents Day. We once celebrated both Lincoln and Washington’s birthday. According to the HistoryChannel.com in 1971 the federal Uniform Monday Holiday Act designated the third Monday in February as a holiday to celebrate all of our nation’s presidents instead. While observed by government offices, banks and the postal service, not all businesses celebrate the day. Retail, especially furniture and car dealerships, have enormous Presidents Day Sales.
Have a great three-day weekend.