Quick quiz: When you hear, read, or just think the word Thanksgiving, do you think of a turkey or a Pilgrim?
In my case, it’s neither. I think of Snoopy and Linus hiding in a pumpkin patch, waiting patiently for “The Great Pumpkin” to rise out of that patch with toys for all the good, little boys and girls.
That individual cartoon, one of my all-time favorites, goes back a long way, but when I was one of a zillion “Peanuts,” fans, I simply loved Charlie and his pals, along with admiring his “dad,” Charles Schulz.
Back then Charlie was a household word, as well as a blockhead.
Without talking “years,” I first was introduced to Charlie by my Boy Scout Master, who admired and quoted him liberally at meetings and on hikes.
Besides teaching us about merit badges, campfires, and first aid, Bob Lipp taught us what real humor was and its importance in life. Charlie was miles different than all of today’s super heroes who are flying around and bumping into each other on a regular basis.
Charlie never flew anywhere except when he was “carried away” by his ever present kite that often “got eaten up by a mean tree!”
One year, Bob wrote a fan letter to Schulz and asked permission to make Charlie an honorary member of our Troop 863, including having his picture painted on the main cabin at our Scout camp up near Rhinelander.
The wonderful cartoonist not only sent an official legal certificate granting permission to copy Charlie’s world famous picture in a Scout uniform, but also a personal letter thanking Bob for his service to Scouting leadership and interest in Scout Brown.
Bob, Schulz, and, for the most part, Charlie and his gang, have pretty much become a part of history, and the country is poorer because of it.
(NOTE: “Peanuts” remains available to newspapers in syndication. The entire 50 year run is being collected in a 25-volume series, “The Complete Peanuts,” which is being released over a 12-year period ending in 2016. And a computer-animated feature film, “The Peanuts Movie,” will be released Nov. 6, 2015. -Editor.)
But, I’ve visited the camp where one of my Scout pals is now the Scoutmaster, and that wonderful painting of Scout Charlie Brown in full uniform is still smiling on the side of that cabin.
In later life Schulz wrote a riveting best-selling biography called “Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me.”
He was a very successful cartoonist, syndicated in many daily newspapers, and also had a lock on television cartoon specials that put today’s junk to shame. But, more important, he was a sincere, life-long Christian who discovered a way to send America somewhat “hidden” messages, and used that gift to help shape many lives, young and old!
He believed in God and country and spread that message through the humorous and always entertaining Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, and a zany little beagle called Snoopy.
They just don’t make comics like that anymore …or beagles, for that matter.