Wednesday, May 05, 2010
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.