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Perhaps we need a Schultz around

With so many horrible things happening in the world these days, not too many people probably thought that Charles Schultz’s announcement that he would retire with the dawn of the new year would get such attention.

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

With so many horrible things happening in the world these days, not too many people probably thought that Charles Schultz’s announcement that he would retire with the dawn of the new year would get such attention.

And that might be an accurate assumption, if the announcement had come from anyone else but the creator of "Peanuts."

Most people have grown up with the strip – no matter what year they were born. Linus, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy – these are names that are forever etched in their childhood memories.

Schultz’s strip wasn’t some trendy here today, gone tomorrow fluke. "Peanuts" was so successful because the characters touched a chord within each of the strip’s readers – even if it was only to tweak a funny bone.

Like Norman Rockefeller’s drawings of simple times and real moments from America’s hometowns, "Peanuts" was a tribute to the way childhood should be – a mix of joys and setbacks (albeit rather mild ones).

Who did not play pilot or race car driver in his room as a child? Who did not love someone from afar and worry that the feelings were not returned? And, most importantly, who did not have a security something to get them through the night?

"Peanuts" was special because, after its initial start-up, its characters and its message rang true across generations. And that is a test of a work that will be remembered long after its creator has put away his pencil.

There will be more important events to mark as the new year begins, but there will be none that will have touched so many lives around the world.

"Peanuts" was a unifier of men of sorts. The strip reminded us all that it was OK to be a child sometimes.

And that is worth its weight in gold – or supper dishes.