A ‘Peanuts’ gallery
Bonjour has amassed ‘thousands’ for her collection
WEBSTER CITY — Nearly 45 years ago, Webster City City Clerk Karyl Bonjour received a gift while performing in a musical at Dows Community High School.
The musical was “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and the gift was a ceramic egg featuring Snoopy — the character played by Bonjour in the production — given to her by the student playing Schroeder.
“From that point on, I just started picking a few things up, here and there,” Bonjour explained.
So over the years, through picking up Peanuts merchandise “here and there,” Bonjour has amassed a massive Peanuts collection, which now fills an entire room in her home, spilling out into the rest of the house as well.
Bonjour doesn’t have a total count of the items she’s collected over the years, but guesses it’s somewhere in the thousands.
“I have the room upstairs that’s full,” she said. “And then at Christmastime, I have two or three storage boxes that I bring in from the garage and I set up a tree with just Snoopy ornaments on it and have the little plush musical toys.”
Bonjour also has a Peanuts Nativity scene to display at Christmas as well.
“I think what I like about it is when people see Snoopy, like my grandkids, they immediately think of me,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to be thought of with a character that’s so popular and well-known.”
Despite having probably one of the largest collections of Peanuts items in the state of Iowa, if not the entire United States, Bonjour is no expert, she says.
“I’m not a history buff of the Peanuts or Snoopy, so to speak,” Bonjour explained. “I just like the character and he’s always happy and that’s kind of how I like to live life, being happy.”
Throughout the years, Bonjour has picked up the items — which include books, figurines, cups, stuffed toys, blankets, curtains, sunglasses, PEZ dispensers, charms, coffee mugs and more — at garage sales, thrift shops or while antiquing with her husband, Chuck. She’s also received many as gifts.
“I had a sister who collected Mickey Mouse, so we would look for each other and kind of trade off that way,” she added.
Recently, Bonjour spotted a Snoopy hairdryer to add to her collection.
“I don’t spend a lot, probably $20 is my cap, unless it’s something that’s rare that I haven’t seen or think would be kind of neat,” she said.
Since beginning her collection back in 1975, Bonjour has stumbled across many unusual merchandise items.
“Do you know Boy George and Mr. T? Well, I have a Mr. S and Boy Snoopy,” she said. “Those are probably the two things I got early on that are unique and different.”
Though the collection is massive, Bonjour doesn’t have just one single item that is her favorite. There’s the egg that started it all, of course.
“Anything the grandkids give me, of course, I’ll probably never get rid of,” she added.
She also really treasures her Peanuts cookie cutters. Cookie cutters are hard to come by, Bonjour said, but she has a friend who has picked some up for her over the years from antique stores.
“I bake a lot,” she said. “I don’t use them, but just because I bake a lot and love to bake, cookie cutters are always special to me.”
She’s also got a Peanuts waffle iron and grilled cheese maker.
Perfect for an election year like 2020, Bonjour has a pair of Snoopy candidate glasses with illustrations like “Put Snoopy in the White House” or “Vote for the American beagle.”
“It seemed like there was something Snoopy for everything that happened,” she said. “Easter beagle and the ‘Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ and the different seasons.”
Though it may seem like she has just about every Peanuts-themed item ever made, she’s still searching for her “white whale.”
“I have yet to get a big Snoopy phone,” she said. “Because I think the only ones I’ve seen are $100+ and at my age, I don’t know if I need to be spending that much on little things like that.”
Bonjour doesn’t plan to stop collecting or part with her collection any time soon — Peanuts will always be special to her.
“Every once in a while, I’ll go upstairs, walk around the room and look and it just gives me a good feeling because it brings back lots of memories with high school, where it started, and family along the way,” she said.