Memories of Snoopy

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Recently I was on the phone chatting with a long time friend, Beth, whose grown daughter was a playmate of my daughter when both were in Sunday School together. Even though their family moved to New Jersey before the girls entered high school, we kept in touch even decades later with emails or phone calls. Both daughters are grown women now and yet we mothers often reminisce about the days when our children were little and the fun we had together with them in a playgroup. We talked about cookie swaps, and making homemade costumes of the children’s favorite characters. At that time the only other options were costumes bought in small boxes with hard plastic “faces” as the mask that accompanied these inexpensive character designs. On that same topic of cartoon characters, Beth mentioned that she had been writing little essays now and then, many of them reflecting on a host of topics that just happened to pop into her mind.  I asked Beth to send me some to read and a few weeks later her envelope with three of them arrived. My particular favorite was one she wrote about Snoopy, the popular beagle dog in the Charlie Brown cartoons.  I never looked at these cartoons in the way that Beth did and after reading her essay, it gave me a new perspective about them. It turns out that many of cartoons were gentle “lessons” for children that the author, Charles M. Schultz, seemed to be trying to convey.  Here is Beth’s essay relating to the author and what she learned about him that I am sharing with you.

Snoopy’s Hope by Beth Ruberg

“Ever since I learned in a recent sermon given by my Pastor that the creator of the Peanut’s gang, Charles M. Schultz, was a Lutheran, I’ve made it a habit to seek these cartoons out. I was sort of challenging Mr. Schultz (and more importantly myself) to find any message in them that rings of his Lutheran faith. These cartoons run daily in a local newspaper, so it was easy for me to read them all. As cartoons go, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the gang were always a favorite of mine from way back. I’m happy to report that my grandson, Mark, took a liking to his TV specials, the classics that are shown every year like The Great Pumpkin or It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas, etc. In fact, the theme of Mark’s birthday party was centered on Charlie Brown and not Thomas Train as you might expect given that he just turned three. Oh for sure, these cartoons are no long-winded, heavy theological treaties, if in fact they convey any message at all. Rather, they present a lighthearted, often whimsical, pithy observation on human nature or the human condition. I like to think a bit of Schultz’s faith is mixed in.  In a recent cartoon for example, Snoopy, who is dancing his heart out, feet flying, is called a “stupid dog” by Peanut character, bossy Lucy in the cartoon strip. She proceeds to chastise him with the words, “The whole world could get blown up any minute, and all YOU think of is DANCING!!” Snoopy hears her remarks, pauses, just a fraction and then continues his dancing without missing a beat, saying “I COULD think of EATING, but it’s too early in the day!” Good for you, Snoopy, is my reaction! From this cartoon I extrapolate, “Don’t let the negative dampen your spirit. And then I pray, may our joy and hope be expressed in a joyful dance! Amen.”