Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to basics.

Hello, fellow Skull & Pumpkinites!

Long time no post, I know.

I've been busy, and life has been funny, and things just happen. It's all just fine though.

Now that I'm back here for a bit, I find so many things I've left undone so far, and this place desperately needs a bit of a dusting and some fresh air.

I can clean while we hang out, so relax. I won't dust too much, anyway. A little layer of mystery is good for the ol' place.

Today, I think it's a perfectly perfect idea to shake off some of the hot, humid, Summer blahs and get back to the basics.

The basics of what makes us happy.

What makes us Autumn People so... us.

Let's have a little storytime, okay?


From my beautiful 1967 first edition hardcover comes the story and pictures from It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Oh, I know you all know the story by heart.

That's hardly the point.

We're getting back to the fundamentals of Hallowe'en Spirit.

Put yourself back into a stuffy school library just after lunchtime on a warm September afternoon. Recall the scent of pages, of bindings, the feel of cloth-covered treasures, the ones you took to the windows to get a breeze and see the illustrations in an orangey, near-Fall stream of sunbeams.

Just let it flow, let it glow, let it go...

There was a general feeling around the neighborhood that Linus always acted a bit peculiar during the month of October. Each year he got a piece of his nicest stationery and wrote a letter to someone
he called "the Great Pumpkin."

It really annoyed Lucy, his sister, because she thought it made her look bad. Snoopy thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

The only person who thought Linus just might be right about the Great Pumpkin was Sally. She listened very carefully as Linus explained the whole story to her.
"Each year on Hallowe'en night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere and flies through the air with his pack of toys for all the good little children in the world."

The other kids on the block were much more interested in making costumes to wear when they went out that night for Tricks or Treats. Charlie Brown had intended to look like a ghost, but he had a little trouble with the scissors and ended up looking more like a peeled potato. Lucy was proud of her witch's mask because she always said a person should choose a costume that is in direct contrast to her actual personality. The most original costume, if you want to call it that, was worn by Snoopy, for he had found a flyer's helmet and goggles and a beautiful scarf. He looked exactly like a World War I flying ace.

Now, Linus had convinced Sally that going out for Tricks or Treats was not only a waste of time, but was downright wrong, for he maintained that the only way to celebrate Hallowe'en was to sit in a pumpkin patch and wait for the Great Pumpkin. He told Sally that a person had to be very sincere in his waiting and never say "If the Great Pumpkin comes," but always "When the Great Pumpkin comes." "One little slip like that," declared Linus, "can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by!"

They looked around the field where they were crouched, and Linus declared, "The Great Pumpkin just has to pick this pumpkin patch because it is very sincere. In fact, there is nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."

Lucy, Charlie Brown and their friends had just finished knocking at the door of a house asking for Tricks or Treats. Lucy had asked for an extra apple "for my stupid brother who can't come along because he's sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin."

Each looked into the bag he was carrying with him. After the others had said they had found things like cookies, candy, gum and apples, Charlie Brown said "All I got was a rock!"

No one noticed that Snoopy was missing. He had gone off by himself and had climbed on top of his doghouse, which he pretended was a World War I flying plane.

"Here's the World War I flying ace taking off in his Sopwith Camel." In his imagination he zoomed through the sky while anti-aircraft shells burst all around him. Just then he spotted the enemy plane he was looking for. It was the Red Baron!

Before Snoopy could turn his plane to the attack, the Red Baron swooped down upon him and riddled his plane with bullets.

Smoke poured from behind, and Snoopy fought desperately to control his plane. With amazing skill, he guided his badly damaged Sopwith Camel to a crash landing, and leaped out before the enemy could find him.

Now he had to make his way back across no-man's land to the aerodrome.

In the meantime, Linus and Sally were still scanning the skies for the appearance of the Great Pumpkin. "I hope you haven't been trying to fool me," warned Sally, "and if you try to hold my hand I'll slug you!"

"Listen!" cried Linus. "I hear something!" There was a low rustle in the grass around the pumpkin patch.

Suddenly a strange silhouette appeared before their eyes. "It's the Great Pumpkin!" cried Linus. "He is rising up out of the pumpkin patch!"

He toppled over backward in a faint.

"I've been robbed!" shrieked Sally. "I waited all night in a pumpkin patch, and all I saw was a stupid beagle!"

She grabbed Linus by the front of his shirt and shool him until his eyes rattled. "I believed in you! I missed Tricks or Treats to sit in this pumpkin patch! You owe me restitution!"

Sally stalked off in anger, and Linus was left alone.

About four o'clock in the morning, Lucy woke, and decided to see if Linus had come in yet.

His bed was empty.

She put on her coat and went out to the pumpkin patch. There was Linus, curled up on the ground with his blanket. He was so cold, he was shaking all over.

Lucy led him back home and helped him to get into bed.

The next morning, Charlie Brown and Linus were leaning on a wall, staring into space.

 Each was thinking about last night. "I went out for Tricks or Treats and all I got was a bag of rocks!" moaned Charlie Brown. "Did you ever get to see the Great Pumpkin?"
"Nope," said Linus. "He never showed up."
"Well, don't be too disappointed. I've done some stupid things in my life too."
"STUPID?!" shrieked Linus. "What do you mean, 'stupid'? Just wait until next year! I'll find a pumpkin patch and it'll be a sincere pumpkin patch, and the Great Pumpkin will come! Just you wait and see! I'll sit in that pumpkin patch, and I'll see the Great Pumpkin! Just wait until next year!"

Charlie Brown sighed.




As easy as it can be to lose sight of some things in the turmoil of daily life, it is at least as easy to snatch them right back, and to promise ourselves to hold onto that thing ever more tenaciously the next time mundane burdens come knocking.

You can save you from you, just by getting back to being you.

Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see...

And thank God for all things All Hallow's.



  1. That was the most delightful diversion I've had in a long time! Thanks for the trip back into childhood ;)

  2. I so remember that book! I loved it! And the part I always remembered is what looks like a printing error on Lucy's bedside clock. I never could understand why it was like that except that it was an error.

  3. Mr. Macabre, I believe the clock looks that way because it's a still from a moving image. In the TV special, that clock is really shaking as it chimes, the animators had to make double and triple layers to get that effect, and if you were to snap a frame of it -- as I am pretty sure they did for this whole book -- it's going to look double-exposed like that!

  4. Hey, Mike:
    Thanks for the story time. It was a welcome respite from life in the middle of Summer.
    Every so often we all should take a few minutes and revisit our happy times and places.
    It is funny how "Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" resonates with so many people. As a parable on hope and faith and undying optimism, it cannot be beat.

    I like to think that centuries from now, scholars will see Charlie Brown as part of the essential mythology of the 20th century.

    DDSP and Only 98 days!

  5. I grew up with "Peanuts" on and off TV. It may be dated but it is still in my mind great fun. In each and every episode one can find morals for life. I agree Peanuts is almost like mythology of the 20'th century.