The Year the Whole Neighborhood Gave Charlie Brown Rocks for Halloween: An Oral History

The Year the Whole Neighborhood Gave Charlie Brown Rocks for Halloween: An Oral History

Gladys Reddy: I think it was Dick’s idea. We were all having doughnuts after the PTA meeting, and he said, “That Charlie kid is so down on himself, he probably expects to get rocks for Halloween. Wouldn’t it be funny if we actually did that?”

Jo Anderson: I heard that Phil Brown beat Dick pretty handily at bowling that week—Phil’s not a very good bowler, so I suppose Dick was pretty miffed. I think the whole rock thing was Dick’s passive-aggressive way of getting back at Phil.

Gladys Reddy: I think we all expected it would be like those funny videos you see on the YouTube, where parents give their kids presents but the presents are actually things like onions and old shoes. We thought, we’ll all have a good laugh about this and then we’ll give Charles some real candy.

Dick Croiter: Charlie’s always had a good sense of humor, like his old man. I knew he’d laugh about it, that it would be a story he’d tell for years to come.

Jo Anderson: There was of course the question of how we’d know which boy was Charlie when all the children were in their costumes, but it turned out to be sadly easy to guess.

Dick Croiter: Har har! The kid said he “had a little trouble with the scissors.” His sheet looked like swiss cheese! What a little fuck-up. Just like his dad.

Gladys Reddy: I’m not saying I didn’t willingly play my part in the whole thing, but still, I really didn’t understand how widely the word would spread. We thought Charles might end up with a few rocks—but everyone, and I mean everyone, in the neighborhood gave that poor child rocks!

Jo Anderson: It was almost impressive, in its way. For every single family in the neighborhood to give rocks to Charlie…why, a rock isn’t something you just have lying around by the front door. They must have gone to a special effort to find suitable rocks and specifically set them aside! I just grabbed one from my garden. It seems incredible now to think back on what we all did.

Lucy Van Pelt: My stupid brother wanted me to tell Charlie Brown that it was a peer-pressure effect among the adults, like what happened in Salem during the Witch Trials. “Charlie Brown really shouldn’t blame himself,” said Linus. But I slugged Linus and told him that I was the trained psychotherapist. When Charlie Brown came to my booth, I told him that he got rocks because he’s a stupid blockhead who can’t even do Halloween right. Then I charged him five cents.

Gladys Reddy: Linda Gray told me that her daughter Violet had Charlie Brown at her Halloween party that night—Violet hadn’t actually meant to invite him, apparently, but his name got on the wrong list or something—and that he was running around laughing and having fun in a Lone Ranger mask. So he couldn’t have taken it too hard.

Dick Croiter: Phil Brown came to me the next day and showed me his kid’s bag of rocks. He asked whether I was behind what he called “a conspiracy to single out and humiliate an innocent young boy,” and I told him I might have said something, but “conspiracy” was a pretty big word to be throwing around for a harmless little Halloween prank. I also mentioned that if he was going to keep using words like that, I wouldn’t hesitate to call my lawyer.

Linda Gray: When I saw what had happened to Charlie, I told Violet to share some of her candy with him. I’m ashamed to say that she gave him the Bit-o-Honeys, which she hates. Schroeder tried to tell her that Charlie didn’t want her pity and her cast-off candy…but Charlie pushed Schroeder away and said to Violet, “Don’t listen to him…I’ll take it!” I was glad to see things work out like that, especially since Violet hadn’t wanted Charlie at the party in the first place. The girls even drew a jack-o-lantern face on the back of Charlie’s head, which of course was their way of including him in the fun and showing him how much they like him.

Dick Croiter: So maybe the Brown kid didn’t have the greatest Halloween—at least he had a better time than that Van Pelt dipshit who stayed out in the goddamn pumpkin patch all night. What a moron. He and the Brown kid like to lean on that wall and talk about fuck-all, but I tell my kid Shermy to stay the hell away from them. Whatever they have, it might be catching.

Jay Gabler