The Life of Charles M. Schulz

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June, 1958

“We decided to move to California six years ago. We wanted a place in the country, away not only from the crowded cities but winter weather too. I might as well admit that I’m one of those who goes for that ‘it’s-a-wonderful-place-to-raise-the kids’ line… We wanted to be near San Francisco and here we got more of everything we wanted for our money, especially land.”

Charles M. Schulz (1964)

Located about 15 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and 10 miles west of Santa Rosa, the Coffee Grounds property in Sebastopol had everything the Schulz family was looking for in their move to California. Sebastopol was then and still is a small town in an agricultural area where apple orchards, vineyards, and redwood trees are all commonly seen along the landscape amongst the farm houses, water towers, and barns. Yet, its location is also conducive to afternoon or evening excursions to San Francisco for shopping, theater events, and cartooning gatherings. Coffee Grounds was not only an ideal location geographically for the Schulzes, but the property also had enough space for the family to live and play outdoors, and for Charles Schulz to have a separate building to house his studio.

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Although the property had several existing buildings on it already when they purchased Coffee Grounds, including a photographer’s studio, a new home was designed and an ambitious landscaping plan was implemented. Eventually, the grounds would include a miniature golf course, a swimming pool, and horse stables. Schulz worked in the former photographer’s studio while the children had plenty of room to explore. This provided the added convenience for Charles Schulz to be able to leave his drawing table for a mid-afternoon break to play a pick-up baseball game with his children and their friends.

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About five years after moving to Coffee Grounds, Bay Area television producer Lee Mendelson would film a day in the life of Charles Schulz at Coffee Grounds. Although the film is a remarkable look into Schulz’s work and home life, that we treasure today, Mendelson wasn’t able to sell the documentary at the time. The relationship between Schulz and Mendelson was formed and this grew into creating the first Peanuts television special with animator/director Bill Melendez in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Mendelson used some of the documentary footage after the Peanuts animation became popular, in 1969’s Charlie Brown and Charlie Schulz. The original film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1963) is now sold at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center’s Museum Store.