Goodbye, Charlie Brown
Mr. Schulz may not have known when he started his strip fifty years ago that it would last as long as it did (over 18,000 strips) and affect as many people as it has. (Did you know that Schulz coined the term “security blanket?”) He has inspired generations of artists with his simple drawings of The Peanuts gang. But he was more than merely a cartoonist. He gave us a window on the human condition that we could look at without quite realizing that’s what we were doing, and we love the characters as much for their faults as their virtues: Linus’ quiet, philosophical nature and his need of the security blanket; Schroeder’s unbending dedication to his passion; Pigpen’s resigned acceptance of his problem; Frieda’s vanity; Peppermint Patty’s exuberance and joie de vivre in spite of the fact that the answer is always “TWELVE!”; Marcy’s loyalty; Snoopy’s incredible flights of imagination; Woodstock’s never-ending search for his mother; Sally’s unwavering affection for her “sweet Baboo”; and even Lucy’s driving need to constantly be in charge.
And then, of course, there was Charlie Brown. Everything bad seemed to happen to him, and it seemed that no one really liked him. He never did get to kick that football. The kite-eating tree snacked on hundreds of his kites. At Halloween, he always got a rock. He never once won a baseball game. The little red-haired girl didn’t pay him much attention, though he worshiped her from afar.
But through it all, Charlie Brown never lost hope that he would someday succeed. When most of us would have just given up and surrendered to the Universe, saying “You’ve won! I’m a loser,” Charlie Brown persevered. It’s an example that we can all look to during those times when things seem to be at their very worst. Next time, I will kick that football!
I hope Mr. Schulz knew how much his work has meant to some of us over the years. For me and those of my generation, there has always been The Peanuts. And there always will be. I quaff a root beer in his memory.
This was originally written circa March, 1999, shortly after Charles Schulz’ death. It has been slightly edited to reflect the passage of time and to modify the tone and quality of the writing.
The image used was once a part of the Peanuts Quilt and was created by John Datri (or possibly D’Atri). The quilt and this image are no longer available online (that I have been able to find). It is used entirely without permission.