as i type this on an ipad under a blanket on the couch, i am using a hard-cover book to steady the ipad….it is the charles schulz “peanuts treasury” copyrighted in 1968. now that is a kind of random bit of information, but its randomness makes me think of my big brother. and so whatever i was going to write has now gone by the wayside, getting lost in this ‘peanuts’ treasury of memories. wayne was an avid ‘peanuts’ follower, a lover of all things charlie brown and snoopy, a wonderful artist and brilliant mathematician, a person who could make or fix all things. he papered his walk-in closet in our basement growing up with ‘peanuts’ cartoons, cut out of the newspaper. what wasn’t covered in cartoons was drawn by hand, and when i inherited this bedroom/closet combo from him at 16, i adored it. the wallboard in our garage had drawings by wayne, making it the only ‘peanuts’ garage-gallery on the block, ok, probably most anywhere.
what was so compelling to him about ‘peanuts’? i’m not sure. i never had a philosophical conversation with him about it. for me, 9 years younger than him, it was just a fact of life…he loved the cartoon. and if he loved it, that was good enough for me. i loved it.
having a cartoon we have been honing for some time, we have studied ‘peanuts’ in more recent days, david and i. looking for clues as to why it was so very successful. it seems obvious now. it was so relate-able, for so many reasons. simply written, predictable, cleanly done, beautifully drawn. ‘peanuts’ has spoken to so many of us through the years. and still does. it holds a certain special place in our hearts, reaching across decades and spanning generations. i recently was given a charlie brown mug from the charles m. schulz museum and research center in california – a gift from h, an older member of our choir who had just visited the museum – and i cherish it. wayne would have loved it.
years ago, a long while of years, i visited long island and went to my old house. as i sat out front in the car, the owners of the house pulled up into the driveway. without much hesitation, i went to them and told them that this was the house i had grown up in; my parents had been the first owners. they were the second owners. we stood out front and we chatted about the house -my-home-now-their-home- and how they had changed some of the interior and yard (but not the hand-placed rock fireplace or the forsythia out front or my poetry tree.)
i must have had a wistful look on my face, because they asked if i wanted to see it, go inside my house, er, their house. of course i did. who doesn’t want to go back to those old touchstones and feel – from the inside – times spent there.
they showed me the kitchen, which they had updated, the backyard deck, which they had added, the laundry room (of course, without the westinghouse dryer that played “how dry i am” upon finishing.) i talked about the basement. about the bedroom i had had there and the coolest closet my big brother had created. they laughed hearing that and said they had seen and loved it but had, indeed, changed it to a cedar closet for storage. i didn’t expect it to still be there, but i guess something inside of me had hoped for that.
once again, the look on my face must have said all.
they looked at each other and then back at me. “but you might want to take a look at the garage,” she said.
we walked out into the garage, just a one-car garage that they hadn’t changed. as i walked in through the door in the den, i looked at the wall behind me. the world war II flying ace snoopy graced the wallboard and charlie brown was there beside him. ‘peanuts’ had done it again. warmed my heart.
i reached out to touch the wall, moved, knowing my big brother’s hand had been there, many many years before.