Charles Schulz’s cartoons gave children an unexpected hero

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charlie brown

“Whenever I feel really alone, I just sit and stare into the night sky. I’ve always thought that one of those stars was my star, and at moments like this, I know that my star will always be there for me. Like a comfortable voice saying, ‘Don’t give up, Kid.'”

— Charlie Brown, by Charles Schulz 

Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown? He is sort of all of us, small and attempting to be mighty, prone to the simplest of mistakes, at one time or another over a lifetime. Watching an episode of Charlie Brown or reading one of the sweetly simple comic strips leaves an impression on the heart. 

His vulnerability and quiet determination as he gets pushed around by life, in general, is something that speaks to the kid in all of us.

Family

Charles Schulz once said he knew he wanted to draw cartoons from a very young age while enjoying the ritual of reading the comic strips with his father, a barber in St. Paul. 

He described the quiet time shared with his dad chuckling over comics as sweetly special, the rest of the world pushed to the background of an otherwise constantly busy father. Little did his father know that one day his son would become possibly the most famous cartoonist of all time, estimated to be worth upwards of $40 million. 

Those who knew him well called Schulz “Sparky” a nickname given to him by an uncle and said he remained a kind, unassuming fellow throughout his life. 

Hero

Charlie Brown lamenting over being kicked around by Lucy and even by his own beloved dog, Snoopy, gave every kid perspective and hope. If Charlie Brown can survive all of that nonsense and still get up with a determination that tomorrow will be a better day, then surely we can handle not being picked until last in gym class, or getting a less than stellar grade on the big spelling test. 

We all need a hero, and Charlie Brown rose to the ranks of the unexpected hero for many. How many families, I wonder, had a dog named Snoopy, named in admiration of the iconic comic strip dog. 

Our Snoopy, an endearing beagle mix with a constantly wagging tail, loved everybody, so much so that he ran out to greet the school bus and was accidentally run over. Our bus driver was as devastated by the accident as we were. 

Wisdom

So many summer nights, while enjoying the enormity of the night sky, watching for shooting stars, I have thought of Charlie Brown’s words of wisdom. We are so small, searching for a way to ground ourselves as the world tosses us about, from the cradle to the grave. Pick a star, any star, and hold on tight. Everything is going to be alright. Don’t give up, Kid.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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