Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mr. Schulz


*image from http://westernreservepublicmedia.org

Over at his place Cricket shares a very cool story of meeting Ron Woods, who put an uppity book store manager in place in defense of simple fan requests. It made me think of a sweet story involving my brother and Charles Schulz.

When my brother was small he LOVED the Peanuts comic strip and especially loved Snoopy. He used to do a dance mimicking Snoopy's when he was overjoyed. He dressed up as Snoopy for Halloween. When he got a little older he used to draw pictures of Snoopy and write Snoopy stories. I don't think he was more than five years old when he and one of his friends decided they wanted to make a bunch of Snoopy drawings for Charles Schulz himself. They worked for weeks on all the drawings and amassed quite a thick pile.

When they decided they had enough to send we managed to track down a mailing address. My brother and his friend worked on a little letter to send along with all the drawings explaining how much they loved Snoopy, that they had drawn these pictures just for Charles Schulz, and that they really hoped he liked them. Mom packed it all up in a great big envelope since some of the drawings were of considerable size not to mention the size of the stack. She took the boys to the post office so they could see that it was all being mailed.

I remember my brother asking at least a couple of times if Charles Schulz would write back. I'm sure mom was kind of vague since she didn't want to promise something she couldn't deliver but she also didn't want to crush the boy's hope either. Since I was a big, sophisticated, older sister of eight and far more experienced in the world and very certain of myself I wasn't at all convinced there would be a return letter. To my shame, I could be very much like Lucy Van Pelt.

Many weeks later though there was a large white envelope with my brother's and his friend's names on it. Inside was a personal letter from Charles Schulz thanking the boys for their drawings, making specific remarks on what he liked about them, and encouraging them to continue drawing. He went on to say how happy it made him to know they enjoyed his comics so much. Finally, he told them he was including some original drawings of Snoopy for each of them since they had been so kind as to share their original drawings with him.

My brother was electrified with joy and encouraged beyond measure. I was in awe and just the teensiest bit envious. I'm pretty sure my mother was heartened by the kindness of such a personal response to her son.

Over the years I've read about Charles Schulz and seen various interviews with him. It all seemed to line up with the gentle esteem he gave two little boys a long time ago in valuing their time and gift enough to personally respond in kind. I don't know if my brother still has the letter and drawings but I do see my brother, who has doggedly pursued his love of writing and has had a few stories published, returning the esteem in his own way to my kids when they sit down to talk of books and writing and to share a bit of their own creativity with him.

20 comments:

~Dragonfly~* said...

Wow!!!! That letter and drawing could be worth a fortune!!!! Especially since it is one of a kind and personalized with the letter!!! Just saw on The Antique Road Show a woman with some Shultz items... I'm telling you... BIG money!!!! Enough that if he has it... he should get it insured. Amazing!!!! What an awesome experience for your brother.

Hilary said...

What a wonderful keepsake. I love that Charles Schultz took the time to craft a reply complete with illustrations, encouraging your brother and his fried. Beautiful story.

Craig said...

What a precious thing, and what a wonderful gesture!

Props to your brother for actually sending his stuff to Charles Schultz; I can easily imagine my childish self making the drawings, and then being too shy to actually send them. . .

for a different kind of girl said...

I love that you wrote this because it reminds me of being in early elementary school. Part of our English lesson involved learning how to properly write letters (what a lost art now!), and when we had mastered it as well as our young minds allowed, we then were assigned to write a letter to someone we admired. So many of the boys in class would write to Charles Schultz, and it was so exciting when the first return letters would start to roll in. We thought it was so amazing that a celebrity would respond so kindly!

Suldog said...

Excellent! There's little in the world so gratifying as finding out your hero actually is one.

Cricket said...

That's a great story - I love it. Peanuts is my favorite strip ever. I have almost all of the Fawcett-Crest paperbacks within view right now. Nice to know the man himself was also cool.

Craver Vii said...

That was a decent thing to do. From all I've heard, it sounds like Charles Schultz was a genuinely nice person.

Cocotte said...

What a fantastic story, Lime. I always read what a wonderful man he was and this story confirms it! I still have my Charlie Brown metal lunchbox and fond memories of the Peanuts holiday specials on TV.

Logophile said...

That is so cool.
I love hearing stories like that. It is so good to be a decent person, regardless of position, income, or anything else.
Here is to the decent people, no matter how well known they are!

Gledwood said...

When I was little my brother and I went down with scarlet fever at the same time... one day my Mum brought us back some dark blue and back "sugar paper" as I believe it's called (thought I don't think it tastes very sweet ~ it's just coloured art paper)... and we used silver and metallic poster paints we already had to paint scenes of the fireworks from Nov 5th, which is our equivalent to your June 14th (it is June 14th, isn't it: American Independence Day?)... so we painted these lovely fireworks displays and sent them off to the Queen at Buckingham Palace... and would you believe it! A few days later, two individual letters came back on Buckingham Palace notepaper "I am commanded by the Queen to thank you for the drawings you sent in... the queen thought it was so lovely ..." type of thing. I still have my letter (somewhere) to this day...

I remember how Charles Schulz was in practically every newspaper in the land, he must've made an absolute fortune out of Snoopy

Well I know he did. Snoopy toys were everywhere... he was on the annual Forbes list at around $35,000,000, which was more than Madonna...

WHAT AM I SAYING: it's the 4th of July isn't it?! Dur. I'm so sorry. We had a communist history teacher and so weren't allowed to do American history (well that's my excuse!!)

Sorry if this is full of typos/nonsense. I'm trying to cook a fishfingers sandwich and smoke keeps getting everywhere...

S said...

You know what?
Charles Shulz is buried in the cemetery next to LRs jr high school.
We have a Snoopy Ice Rink and memorabilia museum, and like a lot of cities, we have statues of something all around our town (well, not my town, but the next one over), and, that something is Charlie Brown statues!
Remember when I made that Woodstock mask for the parade?
Anyway, one day Barman is supposed to make the trek out here and do the Charlie Brown tour, Im still waiting, wanna join him?

PS My fave is the Thanksgiving Charlie Brown where snoopy serves toast and popcorn for dinner....

secret agent woman said...

That's very sweet. I heard an interview with Maurice Sendak who told a story about a woman who wrote and said her little boy was a huge fan and could she have an autograph for him. He drew a little sketch and signed it. After a while he got another letter from the same woman asking for another autograph. She said her son was so excited about getting the first one that he ate it!

coopernicus said...

i love it when artists remain humble and take the time to acknowledge effort put forth by their fans...

Dave said...

That was an excellent heart-warming story Michelle. Thanks for sharing it. I too liked the peanuts cartoons. - Dave

(M)ary said...

What a wonderful story!

Jocelyn said...

It's possible I need to go to bed now, as I'm having a little cry over Schultz's response.

Dianne said...

acts of kindness last forever
beautiful story

congrats on POTW

blunoz said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us, and congrats on Post of the Week.

Teri said...

My husband's little sister had cancer in the early 70s and was treated in San Francisco. Charles Schulz heard she was a big fan and came several times to visit her. He gave her several drawings.

We now have one of those framed and hanging in our LR as a rememberance of her and a very kind man who had time for sick children.

Life with Kaishon said...

That is amazing. Very, very beautiful of him to do something so kind. I love people like that.