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Classic Covers: Children of Invention

You may recall Rutherford B. Hayes’ comment after making the first ever presidential phone call on Alexander Graham Bell’s new telephone. “An amazing invention,” he said, “but who would ever want to use one?”

Our cover artists, quite inventive in their own right, have been chronicling America’s quirky new devices for decades. In observing our reactions to them, they have shown we are all pretty much like kids with new toys (with the exception of Rutherford B. Hayes, that is). It’s the kids, however, who take to the “new” at lightning speed, be it telephones, computers, or e-books. They garner new technologies for their own use, leaving their clueless elders far behind. And kids are inventive, too. But look out when they start thinking they are Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, or Alfred Nobel (inventor of dynamite). Kids in inventor mode, our artists suggest, can sometimes be unsettling.

Contributing writer: Joan SerVaas.

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  • Jay Dunlap

    I am interested in the covers of the Saturday Evening Post that John Falter of Falls City, Nebraska painted One particuliar painting I own it is a threshing harvest picture where the crew is eating at the house and in the background the threshing machine is operating. You can see the wheat field. I wonder if this painting was ever used as a cover of the Post. I grew up in the 30′s and 40′s and my family were great fans of the Saturday Evening Post. If you could give me some insite on this particuliar cover I would greatly appreciate it. Jay Dunlap