COBWEB CORNERS: The real Lucy Van Pelt
By Mel McFarland
A few weeks ago we featured a story about Pike Elementary school's anniversary. One of the parts of that feature rang a bell with me. I was in the first sixth-grade class. My sister was a fourth-grader and was there when Philip Van Pelt was the principal.
The story I remember relates to a guest at the Van Pelt house in the early 1950s. As I remember, he was a student at Colorado College, and a bit of an artist. Mrs. Van Pelt was expecting their first child, and they lived in a fairly new home in the new northeast part of town, an area today thought of as the near north end! The suggestion was that perhaps an arrangement could be made where this young man could decorate the projected child's room.
This young man agreed and proceeded to paint a few figures on the wall of small children playing. The Van Pelt family eventually had other children, and moved to a larger house. Over the years not much was thought about the figures on the wall, and they were painted over. By the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the young man had become fairly well known as a cartoonist. Perhaps I have said enough for some of you to know who I am speaking about. If not, it was Charles Schulz.
Some years after his stay in Colorado Springs, and the growing popularity of his cartoons, someone remembered the feature of the Van Pelt house. Evidently, the wall was destined to be destroyed in a planned remodeling. The owners offered it to the Schulz Museum in California, which accepted it. The wall was very carefully removed and transported to the museum. When I meet people visiting here from Santa Rosa, I like to ask if they have seen the bit of our local history in his museum. They usually have a blank look until I tell them about the wall. The trivia question, as to Lucy's last name, is Van Pelt, in honor of Mrs. Philip Van Pelt - someone who helped him in the early days of his career.