In a recent editorial, the management of this station that Charles Schulz had used his advertising work to kill off a beloved cast member of a competing strip. In the interest of community service and with the goal of meeting our obligations under the Federal Equal Time Provisions, we hereby present an alternative view. Today’s commenter is Kathleen Shea, author of Peanuts Quilted Celebrations.
a. I’m not sure you’ve ever seen a “live” ferret (did you know ferrets are illegal in CA? They have been for many, many years, there is currently a movement underway to legalize them, but, I cannot assume you have ever met one??!!), and if you have not, please believe me, this animal Lucy is carrying LOOKS a GREAT deal like a ferret!
b. Further, I would also suggest that this animal is NOT meant to me a “fur” garment/stole, but is actually a drawing of a LIVE ferret!!
(Now, I’m pretty sure you are rolling your eyes, because you would probably know if Charles Schulz had any “connection” to live ferrets. So, as for the rest of my theory as to why Lucy would be carrying a live ferret, really, I am just making most of it up. But . . . . maybe . . . MAYBE it could be true!)
c. We know Charles Schulz served in Europe in WW II . . . I could not find any info on where he served, specifically, but domestic ferrets were/are pretty well known throughout Europe, and, in fact, the military of Great Britain used them during WW II to pull wires through small tunnels and pipes (this info I believe to be true and verifiable). I suggest that Mr. Schulz became familiar with ferrets during his military service in Europe, and (as most people do) found them both adorable and irresistible.
d. After his service, Mr. Schulz returned home, and was a busy guy, getting his cartooning career off the ground, finding a wife, starting a family, ultimately moving to CA (where, once again, there are no legal domestic ferrets)
e. I would also suggest that he remembered those ferrets he might have met in Great Britain. In fact, he thought about them from time to time. And, when Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in 1957, it brought those memories back to him.
f. Now (I know I am already way out on a limb, so why not keep going?), I think that in the referenced Ford Falcon print ad of the early 1960’s, Lucy actually looks a great deal like Queen Elizabeth – ! Her hat and purse really do remind me of something that Queen Elizabeth would (and did) wear. Even Lucy’s face and hair remind me of the Queen in this drawing.
g. So – my final hypothesis – I believe that this drawing is not a reminder or throwback to Eugene the jeep or E.C Segar (neither which I ever heard of prior to your blog). Rather, with this drawing I think Mr. Schulz is referencing Queen Elizabeth and Great Britain (and his respect for both), and his memory of ferrets in Europe. Maybe he is also making a political statement about the fact that ferrets were not legal in California . . .
h. As a personal aside, I am also much more comfortable with the thought that he was drawing a live ferret than a dead animal meant to be a fur garment.
So, that’s about it. I’m sure you think I’m nuts.
The management of this station takes no position on the question of whether Ms. Shea is nuts.