Wednesday, July 09, 2014

One Patty is not like the other

Jeffrey Toobin writes about the Supreme Court for The New Yorker. The New Yorker is famous for the rigorousness of its fact-checking. I don’t know if the biographical information about John Roberts that Toobin includes in his latest book also appeared in The New Yorker. Regardless, it’s time for a little correcting.

John Roberts, the future Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Toobin says, attended a single-sex Catholic high school in Indiana.

Roberts was not just the valedictorian of the class of 1973. He served as captain of the football team, a varsity wrestler, member of both the student council and the drama club. (He played Peppermint Patty in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown …)

A real jack-of-all-trades, eh? For a moment I was amused by imagining the young Roberts in drag as a female Peanuts character. Then I remembered that Peppermint Patty is not a character in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Toobin isn’t the first to make the mistake. My high school did You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, too, and there was some confusion about the character in it named Patty. The original Patty had disappeared from the comic strip by the 70s.

The original Patty, a blonde, and her friend, Violet, a brunette, were a tag team who were alternately friendly with and harassers of Charlie Brown, more or less the role Lucy later filled. I’m not sure when the original Patty (and Violet?) disappeared, yet a second Patty had (coincidentally?) joined the strip’s cast at about the same time You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was being written. Peppermint Patty (unlike the original Patty) was a tomboy and was the first girl Charles Schulz didn’t draw in a dress. Peppermint Patty wore shorts and sandals. Had John Roberts played Peppermint Patty on stage he would hardly have been in drag at all.

A 1999 revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown switched out Patty for Charlie Brown’s little sister, Sally.

source: The Oath: the Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin