Happiness Is … a Visit to Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Rest of the Peanuts Gang
Although it has been a long, long time since I read a Peanuts cartoon or cracked open my personal copy of Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, I cannot resist visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum once I learn of its existence. Cartoonist Schulz—creator of such well-known characters as Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, Linus, Pigpen, Peppermint Patty, and Lucy—died in the year 2000, shortly after retiring the Peanuts comic strip.
Staying in Santa Rosa, Calif. on an overnight trip, I hesitate only slightly in anticipation that the museum dedicated to the creator of Peanuts may well be geared toward peanuts themselves and not to somewhat more seasoned visitors. Having grown up with Charlie Brown specials like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas, though, I can’t not go when I happen to be in town. I am curious.
What would a Charles M. Schulz museum really be about? Well, those comic strip characters, of course! But we also learn a bit about Schulz’s life and career—even about how his comic strip was rejected. Schulz, born in 1922 in Saint Paul, Minn., drew cartoons for his friends on letters they sent home while serving in World War II. He learned how to cartoon via a correspondence course (the precursor to today’s online universities) and later taught at the school while launching his career as a cartoonist. The first Peanuts strip was published in 1950. A half-century later, the U.S. Congress posthumously awarded Schulz a Congressional gold medal.
For visitors of a certain age who grew up with print newspapers featuring comics sections, this can be a nostalgic journey as popular strips are remembered and Peanuts-featured childhood toys and accessories are recalled. If only each of us had had a Snoopy typewriter (the precursor to today’s laptops and notebooks).
Writers and artists of all ages might enjoy seeing Schulz’s home office, reproduced here. It is one that seems to focus on comfort rather than glitz, although that seems pretty much to sum up Schulz himself as much as his work.
Also on the campus is an ice rink—built by Schulz and his wife Jean in 1969—and the Warm Puppy Café. While I enjoy a cappuccino here, the peppermint hot chocolate looks like a drink I should have indulged in.
For Bashful Adventurers
There is plenty of good reading material in the exhibitions of this museum; this is an easy one to explore on your own. This is a delightful destination—and apparently a popular one. The museum was named a 2016 Tourism Champion by Sonoma County Tourism at its annual meeting in 2017.
For Senior Adventurers
The Charles M. Schulz Museum is a delightful and accessible walk down memory lane, from his World War II years onward. Be prepared to reconnect with characters and collectibles from your youth. Savor the surprise appearance of the artist Christo in the museum’s exhibitions.
For Youthful Adventurers
Interactivity abounds, from playing with a typewriter to creating a shadow photo to drawing the Peanuts gang yourself. Indulge and enjoy!
Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403