Toying with an original | Mark’s Remarks


If you don’t know about teachers, I should tell you that decorating a classroom can be a big deal. Kids expect seasonal decorations and all the bells and whistles. If you leave your Christmas decorations up too long, it’s a sin.

Most folks who know me think that I loved to decorate my classroom when I was an elementary school teacher. I could compete with the seasoned veteran when it came to bulletin boards in those days.  Always one to draw and create when I was younger, I could come up with some pretty flashy ideas.

But really, it was a competitive thing for me. I can admit that now. Yes, I wanted to be the coolest and the best. I wanted people to say I had the coolest classroom. I was a shallow sort.  I am ashamed. But I really didn’t enjoy decorating the classroom as much as people thought.

There. Confession is good for the soul.

Soon, however, I began to grow weary of the endless hours of coloring and laminating and putting up new paper on the bulletin board. I started to get content with the blue paper that fades to an interesting shade of, well, another shade of blue.

Then I discovered Snoopy.  You see, I’d always loved Snoopy, but I’d never been what you’d call a huge fanatic.  I found some discount contact paper one day and bought about a billion rolls of it. I covered everything I could with the paper, brightening the nooks and crannies of my old classroom.

But Snoopy was the biggest deal. You see, one could easily trace Snoopy on an overhead projector. He could be traced onto white posterboard. Once traced, you filled in his ears and collar and nose with the black marker you were using.  If you got creative, you could even color his collar green or red.  I could draw a whole entire year of Snoopy in a weekend afternoon.

Laminate them, trim and you’re done.

Soon, my classroom became known as the Peanuts classroom. Snoopy was everywhere, and I’m afraid I got caught up in the hysteria. I had all seasons of Snoopy and soon branched out to all the other characters. I had older students who were willing to do the coloring for me. It was a great gig. The characters were easy to trace and if laminated, would last for years to come. I was no longer tied down with all this elementary school decorating. The Peanuts made my life easier.

And I got caught up in more than just the drawing of the characters. I began collecting things.

Kids brought me Peanuts-themed presents for Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week. I have quite a collection in my classroom.

My most treasured Peanuts possessions are the pieces of original artwork my students still make. I’ve always been a sucker when it comes to kid-generated artwork. I might be persuaded to part with some of my memorabilia, but I don’t think anyone could get me to turn loose of those creations. I have sketches and paintings of the Peanuts characters, many of them rivaling the real thing.  Treasures.

So now, I suppose I am a little bit of a Peanuts fanatic.  Even though my students can watch any of the Peanuts specials whenever they want, I still let them know when they will be shown on TV.  I try to get across to them how special the shows were to their parents and me back when they were only shown once a year.

On a side note, McDonald’s is giving out happy meals with Peanuts on the boxes. Inside are little figures of the whole gang.  At this writing, I’m trying to figure out how to obtain all the figures without gaining weight.  Maybe some of you can help me.

People are coming up to me and asking me what I think of the new movie coming out. It appears to be a sort of high-tech, computerized version of Peanuts. I’ve seen the previews and suppose I will see the movie if I’m able. I can’t make a judgment without witnessing it for myself.

However, there is something to be said for the charm and primitive quality of those original shows we watch every year.  I mean, even Charles Shultz said in an interview that those early shows were a little flawed.  If you watch closely, you can see some of the little mistakes.

But I don’t care. To me and many, they are masterpieces.  They remind of us of hunkering down in front of the TV when we were kids. They give us warm feelings.

So, I’m not sure about this new movie. Part of me thinks they might be messing around with history. Right now, I will say I don’t like it one bit. But again, I gotta give the new movie a chance, I suppose.

I’ll let you know.

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