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SMITH: Get comfortable on Burbank bench Ripley would have loved

If Santa Rosa native son Robert Ripley were still alive and drawing his "Believe It or Not" cartoon, he might tell the world about the piece of handmade furniture that links the two most accomplished and renowned late residents of his hometown.

And Ripley surely would mention that the piece of practical art is for sale.

It's a wooden bench, a beauty made from the Cedar of Lebanon that Luther Burbank planted at his home and experimental gardens in Santa Rosa and that loomed over the famed horticulturist's grave until disease left no option to its being cut down in 1989.

Five years later, Charles Schulz and his wife, Jeannie, purchased one of 21 benches made from the historical tree's timber and sold as a benefit for Luther Burbank Home & Gardens. The Peanuts creator enjoyed the bench until he died in 2000, and recently Jeannie decided to help out the volunteers at the home and gardens by allowing them to sell the bench again.

She donated it back, and now there's an auction underway to determine who'll become the bench's new owner.

I just checked at lburbank.users.sonic.net/bench, and the bidding stands at $1,250. The online auction will continue through 4 p.m. on Friday. The following day, bidding will resume at the Holiday Open House at the Burbank Home and Gardens where the bench will be on display.

The auction will close at 4 p.m. next Sunday. The following day, somebody will take home the piece crafted from the wood of Burbank's famous tree and savored for years by history's most successful and beloved cartoonist.

If you sit on the bench at the open house, be prepared. You may have to share it with a certain beagle.

BEER AND PARKS, a couple of my favorite things.


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