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Good grief!

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

By Michael A. Fuoco, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Snoopy and doghouse vanish from Downtown street corner

Ron Gembarosky, working in February on his now missing Snoppy creation on the Boulevard of the Allies.

This time, even Lucy would be speechless.

What can be said when, for the second time in seven months, Snoopy has been dognapped from his popular residence at a Downtown intersection.

In May, someone took the wooden version of the popular cartoon character from the corner of Stanwix Street and the Boulevard of the Allies but left behind his plywood doghouse and white scarf.

This time Snoopy, doghouse and scarf are all missing in action. And this occurred within hours of the annual television broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on Monday evening.

Good grief!

But fear not, Snoopy fans. Despite feeling disappointed and discouraged, city Public Works Department carpenter Ron Gembarosky, who built the popular display last February, said he's going to try again.

"I think over the holidays I'll work on it," said Gembarosky, showing the same never-give-up determination that propels Charlie Brown each fall to kick at that football despite Lucy pulling it away year after year.

Gembarosky, of Beechview, said February seems like a good time to re-re-install the depiction of Snoopy battling the Red Baron because it will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Charles Schulz, the "Peanuts" cartoonist, who died Feb. 12 of colon cancer.

Within days of Schulz dying, Gembarosky, a carpenter for 30 years, constructed and installed Snoopy on his doghouse as a tribute to the famed cartoonist.

In addition, the doghouse prevented people from tripping over conduits, wiring and studs that had been installed nearly 20 years ago in case the city eventually needed them for new street lights and sign posts.

Shortly after the first theft in May, Gembarosky underwent surgery on his vocal chords.

After he recovered he built yet another Snoopy and doghouse, vowing that it would be more difficult to remove.

It was, but someone found a way to do it.

"They had to work to get it off. It was bolted down and there was a steel plate between Snoopy and his house," Gembarosky said.

Interestingly enough, while Snoopy and his doghouse were missing from Downtown, they were front and center in the "Classic Peanuts" comic strip that ran on Page C-8 in yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Perhaps that reminder made clearer what the city has lost -- again.

"It's disheartening," said Guy Costa, director of public works. "The gentlemen took pride in building it not once but twice. It's discouraging when city employees are trying to improve the city and someone takes it away.

"But knowing [Gembarosky], he'll build another one."

Charlie Brown would be proud.

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