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Newport’s Snoopy house carries on a beloved family tradition

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A wooden Snoopy is affixed to the chimney of Dean and Marianne Cole’s Newport Beach cottage. It is part of the collection of the late Bob Zink, Dean’s stepfather.
(Susan Hoffman)

There’s more to the quaint Newport Beach cottage known as the Snoopy house beyond the symbols of the iconic “Peanuts” character on the outside.

The wooden Snoopy affixed to the chimney, the stained-glass windows and other images of the famed beagle and his friends are part of a massive collection of 650 pieces of memorabilia that began more than 50 years ago.

The collection — not to be confused with Costa Mesa’s holiday display called Snoopy House — started when Bob Zink moved to California from Iowa in 1938 and got a job as a delivery driver for Weber’s Bread. His route took him from Santa Ana, where the bakery was located, to Newport Beach and as far south as San Clemente to deliver fresh bread to grocers and restaurants.

Zink worked his way up in the company, and during the 1960s, after he was promoted to manager of the bakery, Weber’s made a deal with “Peanuts” comic strip creator Charles Schulz to use Snoopy and the gang in its advertising.

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Their images appeared on bread wrappers and displays.

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A Snoopy flag covers the gate to the Newport Beach cottage where the late Bob Zink built much of his collection of Snoopy and other “Peanuts” memorabilia.
(Susan Hoffman)

“The first piece to be used by Weber’s Bread as a display was a ‘Peanuts’ gang picture that Schulz had drawn in the 1950s,” said Dean Cole, Zink’s stepson. “There were many pieces displayed in stores as the years went by because the ad campaign went so well.”

The connection between Weber’s and “Peanuts” took on a personal element for Zink when Weber’s asked him — because of his enthusiasm for Snoopy — to play host to Schulz at the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game. That ultimately became a tradition and evolved into a friendship between the two.

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“That’s how my stepdad got the name ‘Mr. Snoopy,’” Cole said. “He embraced the iconic character so much that the employees started calling him Mr. Snoopy, and the name never left him, even after the company was sold to Interstate Brands and he became the vice president and regional manager.”

Zink’s collection began when Schulz started giving him and his wife, Pauline, Snoopy-themed gifts. Eventually, Pauline started collecting on her own, and friends and family soon no longer had to search for Christmas and birthday gifts for them. It was a given to add to the collection.

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Bob Zink is seen in an undated photo with a giant Snoopy.
(Courtesy of Dean Cole)

The Zinks bought the beach cottage as a second home and ended up retiring there in 1976 because they loved the neighbors and the community.

Both had become widowed before they married in 1970, just two months after they met. They lived in Santa Ana and then Glendale, after Interstate Brands bought Weber’s.

By the time Bob died in 2003 and Pauline died in 2005, the Snoopy collection had more than 650 pieces, 500 of which went to son Bob Jr., with 150 pieces remaining with the house.

“Shortly after, Bob Jr. passed away, and we don’t know what happened to his portion of the collection,” Cole said.

Though Cole and his wife, Marianne, live in the beach cottage, it remains a place for family members to visit and enjoy.

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Marianne Cole, who thought Bob Zink was the most wonderful man she ever met, got into the spirit by adding her own touch to the Snoopy-themed home.

“I’ve made stained glass my whole life,” she said. “I made the windows with the Lucy character in the front window of the house and the Snoopy one above the front door.”

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Marianne and Dean Cole live in the Newport Beach cottage of Dean’s late stepfather, Bob Zink, and are the caretakers of Zink’s remaining Snoopy collection.
(Courtesy of Dean Cole)

The Coles are the caretakers of the remaining collection displayed inside the cottage. Among the 150 collectibles are a telephone, vintage Christmas ornaments and glassware with the message “Snoopy for President” from a 1968 album by the Royal Guardsmen.

“It reminds us of Grandma and Grandpa and keeps us close to them,” Marianne said. “Our five kids grew up here and now we have 13 grandkids who are here all the time.”

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A Snoopy phone is part of Bob Zink’s collection. Family members at his beach cottage answered calls with “Hello ... Snoopy’s house.”
(Susan Hoffman)

Shelly Shay of Yucca Valley, Dean’s niece and Bob’s eldest grandchild, recalled that the family wasn’t allowed to buy any other bread but Weber’s because it had Snoopy on it. And everyone answered the phone with “Hello ... Snoopy’s house.”

“Grandpa has always been Snoopy to me,” Shay said. “I can’t remember a time in my life when there wasn’t characters around us.”

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Susan Hoffman is a contributor to Times Community News.

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