The Life of Charles M. Schulz

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Peanuts strip originally published on August 15, 1979

Located in the California desert, just past the western border of Arizona, Needles was a burgeoning little railroad town during the brief time the Schulz family lived there. The growth of the town was directly related to being situated on both the path of the newly created Route 66 and a stop on the Santa Fe Railway. This particular railroad stop was home to the popular El Garces Harvey House, built in 1908 as a dining establishment where travelers could get a warm meal and good service at the lunch counter or in the more formal restaurant dining room.

The Schulz family’s move to Needles was prompted by members of the Halverson family (Dena’s relatives) who had recently settled there and sent back word to Minnesota of the many opportunities to be had in this desert community. Years later, Charles Schulz said that the initial reason for the Halverson family’s move west was to improve the health of a young cousin who had tuberculosis. In this era, doctors recommended the desert climate to help with this type of health condition.

Peanuts strip originally published on December 24, 1995

45 years after living in Needles, Charles Schulz incorporated some of his experiences into Peanuts through the life and adventures of Snoopy’s brother Spike. Spike lived alone in the desert, often making friends with coyotes and conversing with the saguaro cactus – sometimes even decorating the cacti with lights to serve as his Christmas tree. With all of his alone time in the desert, Spike found time to write often to his brother Snoopy, relaying tales of his solitary lifestyle and short lived hobbies like weaving, painting and roller skating. Spike is also depicted in several of the World War I Flying Ace scenes as an infantryman in the trenches or occasionally taking a coffee break from the action in a French café. Spike has even traveled great distances to visit Snoopy in the Peanuts neighborhood.

Last panel of Peanuts strip originally published on May 11, 1987