Mel Birnkrant Presents:
All of the Art on this site is one of a kind, created by CHARLES PONSTINGL, for the sheer joy of it.
He intended it as loving homage to the Great Comic Artists of former days. 
The images are based upon the work of many, including some that were created by, and are
“Copyright The Walt Disney Company”. The writing and photography is “Copyright Mel Birnkrant”.

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My mind was racing!  My heart was palpitating.  I found myself in a moral quandary.  Would it be ethical for me to contact "Charles Ponstingle", alias "CP", myself?  I posed this question to my buddy and traveling companion, Noel Barrett who, even then, years before becoming a star on the Antiques Road Show, knew everything and everybody in the world of toy collecting.  When I told him of my ethical dilemma and hesitation about calling, he nearly fell down laughing, and assured me, many times over, that in this case, it would be “OK”, as Tom wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to me.

          So, several days later, I worked up the courage to get Charles' phone number from 411, and call the Eccentric Uncooperative Cantankerous Old Geezer who I had built up in my imagination to the frightening proportions of something between Rip Van Winkle and King Lear, or “The Old Man Of the Mountain” in a Betty Boop Cartoon.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief, upon discovering he wasn’t there.  Instead, the phone was answered by his 18 year old daughter Terry.  My God,  She was bright and friendly and sounded perfectly normal to me; and I immediately felt at ease.  I chatted with her for an hour, during which time, I formed a picture of her father, totally different from the crazy old codger he had been described to be. The call ended with Terry assuring me that her Dad would love to talk to me.
         And so, with far less trepidation, I called again, later the same day.  Charles, himself, picked up the phone.  What a revelation!  He turned out to be a warm and friendly guy!  A year or so older than me, we were of the same era, and the same mind.  And if he was a cantankerous old eccentric, then so was I.  He and I turned out to be so alike, in so many ways, it was uncanny.  And he, like me, loved Comic Characters.   And, thus, began a friendship that has continued to this day.  

From that first Fateful phone call, I learned a lot about who Charles is as a person, but little about his history.   And I know little more today.  Why don’t I just ask him?   Well, that is because, at this moment, he doesn’t know I am writing this or working on this website.  Charles is a genuinely modest person.  And, although, I believe the World should get to know him, I’m not sure he would agree.

  What I do know is that, like me, Charles Ponstingl grew up during World War II, and Patriotism was infused in every fiber of his being.  There was no avoiding it!  The entire country was unified on the side of freedom.  Victory gardens flourished in backyards, and War Bonds were sold, a few stamps at a time, in the schools, where, by the way, the pledge of allegiance was recited every day.  A child’s curious eye could not fail to notice small banners with a single star, proudly displayed in many windows.  Some denoted that a son or daughter had gone off to join the battle.  Others, of a different color, signified that they would not be coming home again.  Evidence of WW II was everywhere: in the headlines, in the music, in the movies, on radio, and even in the Funny Papers, for many a Comic Character, from Donald Duck to Popeye, and Bugs Bunny, had gone off to fight the War.

These early influences remain strong and vibrantly alive in Charles today, love of Country, and a love of all the early Comic Characters, who appeared in the movies, comic books, and funny papers of their day, and the honest to goodness all American moral values they portrayed. 

In 2007, Charles paid homage to a patriotic image that he vividly remembered from his childhood.  This spectacular carving of "The Victory March" captures the essence of the Wartime Era, into which Charles and I were born.   Here, Donald Duck, himself, leads a battalion of Disney Characters as they march off to War.   Donald carries a gentle reminder that "the pen is mightier than the sword!"  Yes, that does look like a real pen in Donald’s hand, but it too, like EVERYTHING you are about to see, is all Carved out of WOOD!
         And so, the routine continued; always the same thing.   On the first day of the flea market, I would visit Tom’s van early, and he would sock it to me.  Then I would pick up the precious shadow box and head back across the fields of Brimfield to deposit it in my station wagon.  Savoring every detail of it, on the way, I’d carefully turn it over to see, along with the familiar initials CP, what date and number was penciled on the back.  I had all the numbers memorized. 

Then, one day, a Miracle occurred.  Tom had, most likely, stopped at CP’s house on his way to Brimfield, picked up his latest offering and laid it on its back in his van.  Later, that same day, found me carrying it to my vehicle.  As usual, I turned it over, to check the date and number; and stopped dead in my track.  My heart nearly stopped dead as well, on the brink of an attack!  There, on the back, signed in pencil, was the name, CHARLES PONSTINGL!
         Attempting to recount Charles’ youth and young adulthood finds me in unknown territory.  I do know that, along the way, he married.  And he and his loving wife Jean remain happily wed to this day.  They have a daughter, Terry, and she has a son, Jeremy, and Jeremy has, in turn, a son named Seth.  So, Charles is now a great grandfather, and young Seth is the apple of his eye. 

  I am not quite sure what Charles did for a living.  I never probed the subject, as it was clear to me he didn’t enjoy it much.  On the other hand, I do know that he had a fabulous work ethic, a trait that he has passed on to his grandson Jeremy.  I believe his career was something to do with the “electrical” trade; first as an electrician, later in sales.  I know, at one time, he was required to work with a computer.  Now retired, he wouldn’t have one in the house.

I imagine that, until the age of 38, Charles’ life remained fairly ordinary, while deep inside him, a tiny seed of gigantic talent was hibernating in his DNA.  Then, one day, when he was 38, for no apparent reason, he picked up a penknife and a piece of wood, and that dormant seed of talent, deeply rooted in his soul and the soil of Allentown PA, poked its head up into the sunlight and began to grow.