October 12 - "Forbidden" WOMP Character of The Day - T.C. Mouse! Not every story behind these characters is a funny examination of how stupid I am. Some characters, like tonight's, have very emotional reasons for being "forbidden." Back in about 1986 or 1987, I was asked to create a character for my church newsletter. The "catch" was that the character was to be named T.C. (short for "The Church") Mouse, and his exploits were to be penned by a mysterious ghost writer. The concept was that no-one, not even me, should know who the "spy" pretending to be T.C. was, so that he - or she - could anonymously report on funny little personal stories overheard from the congregation. OK. Easy enough. So, I designed a sweet little chap with big mousy ears, a sheepish smile, and an oversized long-sleeved shirt with the initials "T.C." written on it. To get the ball rolling, I drew a handful of "stock" images (T.C. with a big pencil, T.C. peeking out from a mouse-hole, etc.). It wasn't long afterwards that I got a nice thank you...from T.C. himself. Yes, a cartoon character, one which I co-created, was writing to me. That was...interesting. Over the next year or two, T.C. sent me many more thanks and suggestions for illustrations, until, little by little, T.C. Mouse scampered off into history. All the while, I truly had no idea who "T.C." was! Years later, I learned that he had been "voiced" by a woman named Pat Hauer. I must admit that I wasn't too surprised. Pat, and her husband Kurt, have been some of my biggest supporters for years...or had been. Pat passed away about two weeks ago, just as I was wrapping up Crusty Bunker Month. I learned about her death by accident, all because I happened to offer a rare Snoopy print for auction on eBay. Pat was a thoughtful, fun-loving person who loved the Peanuts comic strip. In fact, Snoopy was practically Pat's spirit guide. Anyway, about the time I was selling the print, I happened to see Pat's daughter, Maggie, while I was at the dread "real" job. "I've been thinking about your Mom..." I began, ready to chit-chat about Snoopy. A bemused co-worker asked Maggie "Is that a good thing?" Maggie simply said "My Mom just passed away." I felt terrible for my suddenly mortified co-worker, but worse for Maggie. I offered my condolences (as best I could...I was at work), and just said that I missed Pat. And I still do. For twenty years, we've been writing back and forth to each other. She may have been a busy wife, mother, grandmother, and perhaps even a great-grandmother more recently, but she always found time to think about me. Here's a sample message from a letter she mailed earlier this year, when Pat sent me a newspaper article about sock-monkeys;
The enclosed was a feature in today's Chicago Tribune - and I thought you'd like to add it to your collection.
Today's thought; "Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep saying it." - Robert Frost
Other than perfectly describing The WOMP-Blog (the epitome of "have nothing to say and keep saying it"), Pat's note shows that she kept me in her thoughts, just as she now lives on in mine. Out of respect, her T.C. Mouse has become a "forbidden" character. Like Snoopy, T.C. left this Earth with his creator. I think Pat would appreciate that.