Although my father has been dead for nearly 26 years, the September 25, 1954, cover of The Saturday Evening Post, complete with address label, still hangs within the homemade aluminum frame in which he placed it more than 54 years ago on the wall of his sawmill office. At the time, I was almost 14 years old and thought it strange a man would cut the cover from a magazine, frame it, and hang it in his office. Only as an adult with three sons of my own did the significance sink in.
Born when he was past 35 years of age and his only son, I came to realize how he dreaded the day when he, like the father in the cover, would sit with hat in hand as his only son prepared to leave the confines of home for the unfamiliar experiences of the college world. Like my father, this gentleman came from a generation that never had the opportunity to experience what lay ahead for his son, and Mr. Rockwell perfectly captured on his face the helplessness he felt with regard to offering any advice. Mr. Rockwell, with his genius for illustrating human emotions on canvas, even captured the innocent anticipation of the college-bound son and the sorrow of the dog that, like the boy’s father, knew things were never to be the same again.
This was obviously my father’s favorite Post cover and is mine also. As my own sons prepared to leave home for college, I presented each of them a framed copy of this same Breaking Home Ties cover, and they, doctors all, have it hanging proudly in their offices.
North Little Rock, Arkansas