Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Los Gatos memories

I live for letters like this one.

It actually came to my 5CP blog partner Scott, who forwarded it to me; I immediately got in touch with the writer, Mark, who (alas!) wasn't able to offer any additional details. But he readily granted permission to publish both his note and the photo he had sent with it.

I'll turn the rest of this post over to him.


In December 2017, I had just finished my annual viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas on a new Blu-Ray set I picked up at Costco, and saw Scott on the bonus feature "making of" documentary. That led me to a quick Internet search, and then your pages on Peanuts and Vince Guaraldi. Both were fun to look through, and are obviously labors of love. 

Mom brought home his Black Orpheus LP after hearing "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" somewhere on the radio — perhaps from the public television special about making the record — and we were both big Peanuts fans. My husband isn't, but he does appreciate the music, so I cut him some slack. (Some.)

In October 1967, my folks took me to the Old Town Theater in Los Gatos — we lived just a short ways away in San Jose, at the time — to see Guaraldi and his combo. For some reason we got there early, and ended up in the front row. Being 15, I was waiting for two songs: "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" and "Linus and Lucy." 

During the intermission, I asked someone on the stage if I could get him to autograph my program; they signed first, and then said Guaraldi was outside the theater, downstairs in a place called The Cellar. It was uncharacteristically bold for me, but — Instamatic in hand — I went looking for him. Found him, too ... and took a couple of snapshots, as he signed my program, which I still have, somewhere. Mom and Dad were both surprised that I'd gone off and done that, and so was I. I even asked if he was going to play "Linus and Lucy," and he said he would. When they launched into it after intermission, he looked down at me in the front row and smiled just a bit. It's a fond memory I'll never forget.

I found the snapshots a couple of years ago, and scanned them. Mom passed in January 2017, but I think of her a lot, naturally ... certainly that day, while watching the special for the first time without her.


Unknown said...

Such a beautiful story to share for like-minded people to find and read and enjoy. Your parents must have been amazing to bring you to see Vince Guaraldi when you were 15 years old. I am almost the same age as you, and can somehow cherish the memory a bit with you. I had an Instamatic camera too!

Incredibly, I am only now starting to fall in love with Vince Guaraldi's music and the Peanuts shows, although we've had the Christmas CD for a few years and it is precious. I guess I was busy with classical music for all of these years and missed the whole Guaraldi treasure, but it is oh so wonderful to find now.

I am going to search to learn if there were any books written about the collaboration between Charles M. Schultz and Vince Guaraldi and if there was a biography written about Mr. Guaraldi.

His music spoke to us in mid-twentieth century language so spectacularly, I wonder how in this universe was he able to breathe even more magic into GREENSLEEVES than was originally there? Not to sound nutty, but I deeply relate to the era of Henry V, and when I hear Guaraldi's GREENSLEEVES, I am cast into a timelessness of life and beauty and love that I do not know how to describe.

I so look forward to collecting his gift of music!

Nadine Battaglia

Scott McGuire said...

Nadine - Just in case you haven't discovered this already, there is in fact a biography of Vince Guaraldi, written by the Derrick Bang, the owner of this blog. It's titled Vince Guaraldi at the Piano. Follow the link for more information and to order it directly from the publisher, McFarland. You can also get it from online stores such as Amazon, or your local bookstore should be able to order a copy for you too. It does include chapters on Vince's work on the Peanuts TV specials with Charles Schulz. Hope this helps!

Unknown said...

Hello, Scott -

Thanks so much for alerting me about the book! I'll definitely buy it and am looking forward to it. There is something about Vince Guaraldi's music that simply cannot be described . . . and I'm pretty good at describing almost anything! I am more curious than ever if the author of the book has been able to capture Mr. Guaraldi's music in words . . . . Nadine