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AP: The Wire

Features @ugusta

photo: features

  Jane Jackson's collection of more than 3,000 pieces of Peanuts paraphernalia is displayed in the ``Snoopy Room'' of her Eureka, S.C., home.

Goodbye, 'Peanuts'

Collector's 'Snoopy Room' is a tribute to retiring artist Charles Schulz

Web posted February 13, 2000

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 Reliving the memories

By John Bankston
Staff Writer

Some people might say Jane Jackson is a little obsessed, but she doesn't see it that way.

In 30 years she has collected almost 3,500 pieces of Peanuts paraphernalia -- most of which are of Snoopy. An entire room of her Eureka, S.C., home is dedicated exclusively to Charles Schulz's little black and white beagle.

``I'm not as bad as some people,'' Mrs. Jackson protests with a laugh. ``Some people, it's like their whole life. Some of these people who go to the Peanuts Collectors Club Convention, it's like they don't do anything else. Sure, I've got a Snoopy Room, but I wouldn't say I'm obsessed. I just like Snoopy.''

Standing in the middle of her ``Snoopy Room'' wearing an oversized, bright red Snoopy hockey jersey, Mrs. Jackson points and spins as she takes an informal inventory.

``Snoopy lunchboxes, coffee mugs, books, patches, pens and pencils, and over here these little ceramic and plastic figurines and all the stuffed Snoopys. We used to have this stuff all over the house,'' Mrs. Jackson said. ``When we added on to the place, though, we made this Snoopy room. Kind of a tribute, I guess.''

photo: features

  Mrs. Jackson shows off her favorite Snoopy figurine, one of thousands she has collected over 30 years.

That was about 10 years ago, and the collection has blossomed since. Mrs. Jackson, a physical education teacher at Merriwether Elementary School, said 30 years of Christmases and birthdays have amounted to one long series of Snoopyfests -- sponsored by family and friends, colleagues and students.

``Oh, sure I'm easy. I don't really care about Garfield or Mickey Mouse or any of those other guys,'' Mrs. Jackson said. ``I just love Snoopy. Give me Snoopys.''

Her collection includes items ranging from a Snoopy ceiling fan and lighting fixture to grocery products -- Chex Mix, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Bounty paper towels and A&W root beer -- featuring the whole Peanuts gang.

The commercial worth of individual items ranges from a nickel to $500, but Mrs. Jackson said the collection holds a deeper value for her.

``I buy some of this myself, but most of it was given to me by my husband, my family, friends, students -- people who know I love it and saw it and thought of me and bought it,'' Mrs. Jackson said. ``I have doubles and triples of things, but I don't care. I'm not going to complain or say anything. It's too neat a thing to be a part of and enjoy. I mean, who doesn't like Snoopy? ''

With his trademark Joe Cool persona and his battles with the Red Baron, Snoopy may be the most popular Peanuts character. Few will argue, however, that Charlie Brown, Mr. Schulz's little round-headed alter ego, is the most human of the gang. John E. Hunt, 59, of Augusta, said he can still relate to Charlie Brown's infatuation with ``the little red-haired girl.''

Mr. Hunt recalls a couple of unrequited crushes he suffered almost 50 years ago -- and he still remembers the names of his elementary school fixations.

``One was a brunette, Sandra Van Landingham, and the other was a blonde, Sara Moore,'' Mr. Hunt said. ``I was just at the age where I didn't think girls were gross any more, and in fact I was kind of curious about them. These two particular girls were nice and pretty, and I still remember them to this day.''

Connie Ferrell, a fourth-grade teacher at Aiken Elementary School, said she uses the Peanuts characters to teach her students some of life's basic principles.

``They help kids learn to deal with disappointments through friendship,'' Ms. Ferrell said. ``Look at Snoopy and Woodstock -- how they're always smiling. Basically, it teaches the importance and value of friendship -- its ability to sustain and support.''

Helen Lug of Evans, an eighth-grade teacher at Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School, said she used Peanuts when she taught high school literature in New York state. Through Peanuts' allusions to Alice in Wonderland, Shane and The Great Gatsby, she was able to ``bridge the literal gap between generations.''

``It united something students are familiar with on a simple level -- Peanuts -- with something more abstract in literature,'' Ms. Lug said. ``It showed them that literature is not just written and then put away on a shelf.

``And if nothing else, they enjoyed seeing the cartoons.''

Mr. Schulz retired Jan. 4, but because he works in advance his Sunday strips continued for several weeks. The last original Peanuts strip is appearing today in The Augusta Chronicle comics section and in newspapers around the world. In the days leading up to the strip's finale, Mr. Schulz's fans wondered how he would conclude the strip.

Would Charlie Brown finally boot Lucy's football or catch the eye of the little red-haired girl?

``I don't know what Mr. Schulz has in mind for his last cartoon,'' Ms. Lug said. ``But I hope it's something nice for Charlie Brown -- he certainly deserves it.''

John Bankston at (706)823-3217 or jbanks15@hotmail.com.

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