Sparky, St. Paul’s Como Park and Charlie Brown: Believe it or not, there’s a tie between all three of the items. Let me see if I can bring them all together for a bit of enlightenment.

Como Park was an enjoyable place to visit as a kid, and later as a parent, with many things to see and do. And the price was right: free!

Remembrances going back to those earlier days include the big turtles that the younger kids could sit on and occasionally get a ride. Best of all, the park was home to Sparky the seal. Sparky would slice through the water and balance a ball on his snout. Or he would rescue a doll thrown into the water. And Sparky would do some self-applauding with his flippers, which generated a bigger response from the crowd of youngsters and adults.

The water show was, without a doubt, the highlight of our visits to Como Park.

What about Charlie Brown? One of my favorite characters. I find more delight in the daily columns, reruns in many cases, that still frequent newspapers.

There are many lessons on life to be learned from Charlie Brown’s adventures. And if Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts,” were still alive, I would suggest to him to just once allow Charlie Brown to kick the football and to find the Great Pumpkin.

Here’s the tie together: Sparky was a kid who often failed his grade school and high school classes such as algebra and English. But there was one passion that was important to Sparky: drawing. And as God’s Little Devotional Book noted: “He submitted cartoons to the editors of his high school yearbook, but they were turned down.

He sent samples of his artwork to Walt Disney Studios. Again, he was turned down.

“Sparky didn’t quit packing his suitcase! He decided to write his autobiography in cartoons. The characters he created became famous world wide — the subject of not only cartoon strips but countless books, television shows and licensing opportunities. Sparky, you see, was Charles Schulz, creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip. Like his character, Charlie Brown, Schulz may not have been able to do many things, but he made the most of what he could do!”

As God’s Little Devotional Book pointed out at the top of the page: “Our days are identical suitcases, all the same size, but some people can pack more into them than others.” What about you?

Frightening scenes

“Frightening” — that’s the word I use when I think of the times that I have, while driving, come up on the scene of vehicles that have halted because of an accident, a change of lane, construction problems, or whatever.

It’s frightening, to say the least, when you discover that the vehicle or vehicles in front of you are either stopped or moving at a speed of 10 miles per hour or less. It’s doubly frightening when those vehicles have not employed their brake lights or hazard lights as a warning to slow down or to stop. Think about it: Is that the time to hit the hazard light button? Maybe.

I feel that some rear-end collisions could be avoided if a warning was given by the vehicle stopped ahead or moving at a snail’s pace.

Being thankful

Who was it that said, and sang: “Always look on the bright side of life ... the right side of life. Don’t grumble — give a whistle”?

The comedy group Monty Python.

There are many things to be thankful for. Some anonymous person offered these thoughts:

Thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat. Thankful for the taxes that I pay, because it means that I am employed. Thankful for all the complaining I hear about the government, because I have freedom of speech. Thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off key, because it means that I can hear. Thankful for the spouse who hogs the covers every night, because he/she is not out with someone else. And thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

Steve Henry is a former radio and TV news director, and outdoor writer and photographer. He can be reached at

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