Annotations of The Complete Peanuts/1955 to 1956

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Annotations to The Complete Peanuts: 1955 to 1956 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Books, 2005. ISBN 1560976470)

  • p. 6 (January 11, 1955). A mambo is a very fast piece of dance music.
  • p. 6 (January 12, 1955). A metronome is a device for keeping a regulated beat to assist in the playing of music.
  • p. 7 (January 13, 1955). You break the sound barrier by traveling faster than the speed of sound: approximately 343 m/s, 1,087 ft/s, 761 mph or 1,235 km/h in air at sea level. The person generally credited with first doing this is Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947.
  • p. 10 (January 22, 1955). This may be inspired by the 1940 film, Edison, the Man, which starred Spencer Tracy and told the story of the earlier years of inventor Thomas Edison.
  • p. 16 (February 4, 1955). An egotist is someone self-centered, who thinks they are "the center of the universe."
  • p. 21 (February 15, 1955). In actual farming, "parity" was the ratio of farm income to farm expenditure with 1910-1914 as a base. Farm interests from 1920s to 1960s wanted federal programs to raise their income to parity.
  • p. 33 (March 15, 1955). Lucy is playing with some famous sayings. "There's a sucker born every minute," (i.e. you can always find someone to con) is attributed to showman P.T. Barnum. "Two's company, but three's a crowd." "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
  • p. 48 (April 19, 1955). Charlie Brown is reading a Pogo comic book.
  • p. 57 (May 10, 1955) Buffalo Bill was an army scout and frontiersman who later went into the entertainment business, running his "Wild West" show. Annie Oakley was a female sharpshooter and part of the show. She was so talented that she is generally considered American's first female superstar. Although she wasn't actually part of the settling of the West, she dressed in buckskins to play up that image. It would not be too far a stretch to say that this strip is commentary on the rise of feminism that occurred after World War II.
  • p. 60 (May 16, 1955) Almost all clovers have three leafs. Due to their rarity, a four-leaf clover is considered a good luck charm.
  • p. 66 (June 1, 1955). The first appearance of one of the 1950's hottest fads, the Davy Crockett coonskin cap.(See p. 45, above.) / Sam Snead was a professional golfer famous for his large straw hats.
  • p. 69 (June 6, 1955). The song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" claims many fantastic things about the man, among them that he killed a bear "when he was only three."
  • p. 69 (June 8, 1955). "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" begins, "Davy! Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier . . ." Modern readers may find it odd that Schulz devoted so many strips to such a trivial phenomenon, but Davy Crockett and coonskin caps really were seemingly everywhere at the time. (See p. 78, June 28, 1955)
  • p. 70 (June 9, 1955). Minnesota is Chales Schulz' home state.
  • p. 73 (June 17, 1955). A white-collar worker is a professional, someone who's work is supposedly more intellectual than physical. People in manufacturing are said to be blue collar workers. The joke is that even Pig Pen's white collar is bound to be dirty.
  • p. 76 (June 25, 1955). Most recreation rooms in suburban homes are in the basement to keep the noise down.
  • p. 98 (August 14, 1955). To "clear the table" in the game of pool| is to sink all the balls on one turn and thus win the game.
  • p. 99 (August 15, 1955). The umlauts over the o's would actually be pronounced "boo-woo." According the International Phonetic Alphabet, the correct way to represent "bow wow" is: bau wau.
  • p. 105 (August 30, 1955) Miss Frances was the host of a popular children's television program. She inventing the approach of talking to the her young viewers as if they were in the room with her.
  • p. 131 (October 31, 1955). The trick-or-treaters are, in order, Patty, Lucy, Shermy, Violet, Schroeder and Linus.
    • Lucy's hair and shoes are visible on in panel #4, even though she had planned on dressing as a ghost on Oct 29/30.
    • On November 14, Pig-Pen says he was "away" on Hallowe'en, so he is not in this strip.
    • Linus is behind Schroeder in panel #9; even though Charlie Brown admired Davy Crockett earlier, Linus produces a Crockett snowman on December 12.
  • p. 106 (November 2, 1955). This will be Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, launched by the then-Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, signaling the start of the Space Age and the Space Race.
  • p. 117 (September 27, 1955). Charlie Brown is shown as "small." The expression "to feel small" means to be embarrassed.
  • p. 142 (November 26, 1955). Snoopy is imitating Mickey Mouse.
  • p. 147 (No date in strip, but is December 7, 1955). Lucy is reading a variation on the Dick and Jane readers popular at the time. Schulz is being sarcastic. Not much really happens in the stories, so they are far from "fascinating."
  • p. 149 (December 11, 1955). The snow man is (who else?) Davy Crockett.
  • p. 156 (December 28, 1955). All fads pass, and so did Davy Crocket mania. (See p. 187, March 8, 1956, for what became of at least one old coonskin cap.)
  • p. 162 (January 10, 1956). Private first class is the "rank" immediately above Linus' current one. (See p. 159, January 4, 1956)
  • p. 163 ( January 13, 1956). Juvenile delinquency is anti-social and criminal activity by those under the age of 18. It came into the public eye and interest in the 1950s (see West Side Story).
  • p. 166 (January 19, 1956). To "read between the lines" means to understand the subtext of something—not what is actually said, but rather implied.
  • p. 167 ( January 22, 1956). Charlie Brown is putting sand (or maybe salt, if he's trying to melt it) on the ice to prevent anyone from slipping on it ¿ which is exactly what Snoopy wants to do.
  • p. 170 (January 30, 1956). A "fair weather friend" is one who is your friend during good times ("fair weather"), but abandons you when in times of trouble ("rough weather").
  • p. 178 (February 16, 1956). Rin-Tin-Tin and Lassie were the heroic canine stars of popular television shows and movies.
  • p. 178 (February 18, 1956). Static electricity seems to build up more during winter months.
  • p. 180 (February 20, 1956). Ding Dong School was the television program hosted by Miss Frances. Howdy Doody was arguably the pre-eminent children's television show of the 1950s. Lassie was a very popular television program starring a dog.
  • p. 184 (March 3, 1956). Lucy is describing a scene from Peter Pan. Most likely the book was read to her or she saw the 1954 musical starring Mary Martin on stage, since she was too young to have seen the Disney film version in 1953.
  • p. 208 (April 26, 1956). In the 1950s the government paid farmers not to use their land. The idea was that this would prevent soil erosion and build up healthier soil when crops were eventually planted.
  • p. 210 ( April 30, 1956). Unlike the previous greens, which were all legitimate shades of the color, the ones in this panel are jokes. Evergreen and wintergreen, are types of plants. Herb Green was a cartoonist, and Graham Greene a novelist.
  • p. 217 (May 18, 1956). Linus has transformed his blanket into an ascot tie, a very sophisticated look in the 1950s, frequently worn by sporty celebrities.
  • p. 232 ( June 22, 1956). Elvis Presley, "the King of Rock and Roll" had just made his first television appearances earlier that year and was a riding a huge crest of popularity. At age 21, was also, arguably, at the height of his attractiveness. And, naturally, Schroeder cares not a whit for rock music.
  • p. 233 (June 24, 1956). A dust bowl is an area where, due to drought and/or poor soil management, the soil has lost all nutrients turned to dust, and blown away.
  • p. 244 (July 19, 1956). The automatic dishwasher as we know it wasn't invented until the 1920s. With the privations imposed by the Great Depression and then World War II, it didn't become a common domestic appliance until the 1950s. And, so, of course, Violet's great-grandmother, who was probably born in the 1880s or 1890s, didn't have one.
  • p. 247 (July 27, 1956). Usually, one sticks up for the underdog, the person or thing not generally favored.
  • p. 247 (July 28, 1956). The suburban population in North America exploded after World War II. Returning veterans wishing to start a settled life moved en masse to the suburbs. Between 1950 and 1956 the resident population of all U.S. suburbs increased by 46%. And, since new suburbs were built from scratch, very few had mature trees. (Though Charlie Brown's kites never seem to have a problem finding large trees to crash into.)
  • p. 249 (July 30, 1956). The titles are all variations on popular books or types of books. From Rags to Fuss-Budget is a spin on any "Rags to Riches" tale (how someone started out poor but became rich; see the Horatio Alger novels). The Power of Positive Fussing is from Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking, one of most popular inspirational books of the 1950s. Great Fuss-Budgets of Our Time: the are lots of "of Our Time" books published every year. I Was a Fuss-Budget for the F.B.I. is a take on I Was a Communist for the FBI, the radio show and, later, film about an undercover agent infiltrating communist organizations in order to disrupt them. The F.B.I. is the Federal Bureau of Investigations, America's internal criminal investigation organization. In the 1950s America was particularly interested in hunting domestic communists, something which was carried to the extremes by U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy.
  • p. 271 (September 20, 1956). Compatible color was a television broadcast standard that allowed color broadcasts to appear on black and white televisions without distortions or flickers (but still, of course, in black and white). Incompatible color was a previous color television standard developed by CBS that would have rendered all existing televisions obsolete.
  • p. 275 (September 30, 1956). Schroeder is playing the Prelude in C major from Book I of J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.