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Classic Covers: For Your Eyes Only

Published: December 5, 2009

Post cover artists over the years have provided us with a visual “how-to” guide on hiding gifts. Or perhaps, how not to. Just remember, when you bring presents home to hide: Spies are everywhere!

Rule No. 1 in hiding Christmas gifts: Before you stash goodies away in the closet, do a reconnaissance of said closet for undercover agents. The clues in artist George Hughes’ December 1960 show you what to look for: small bare feet under the coats and a little face, eagerly peering out.

Less subtle than the other pint-sized secret agents are the kids in artist Richard Sargent’s 1957 cover. Hey! There’s a crane sticking out from that bag—the rest of it has got to be cool. The boys might want to make haste before Mom discovers their spying mission.

Now this is a covert agent. The tiny girl in pink pj’s is peeking between the cracks of a double door. We’re not sure how much confidential info she is gathering from her stake-out, but maybe she can spot a dolly from there.

Even Fido snoops, and he isn’t happy with what he sees. In a December 1942 cover, the doggy basket appears to contain flea powder, soap, and grooming stuff … Not a rawhide bone or rubber ball in sight. Or, maybe the good stuff is better hidden. Aw, let’s hope so for the puppy’s sake.

Shame on her! The woman in Constantin Alajalov’s December 1949 cover is sneaking up in the middle of the night to shake a package she isn’t supposed to know about. Well, it’s too small to be a toaster, so maybe it’s jewelry! It may be “for your eyes only,” but not until Christmas morning, lady.

We’d love to hear your “gift-hiding” memories. Share your stories in the comment section below.

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  • Fred Bailey

    I remeber The Saturday Evening Post had a contest for an artist to “replace” (?) Norman rockwell, probably in the 50’s or 60’s. I remember this one young artist was so good. Any information ?

  • Dick Bloom, PA

    There must be a few hundred men in their fifties who look at the little boy in the closet in George Hughes’s “Christmas in Hiding” and see themselves, but at 6 I looked so much like Hughes’s model that the artist might have been painting my portrait. I’ve been comforted by that thought since I first became aware of this cover, for the Christmas of 1960 was the most memorable of my childhood and one during whose shopping season I was NOT aware of the identity of my gift. When I awoke on a cold and sunny Christmas morning, Santa had not only filled the stockings my little brother and I had hung over the fireplace but had left a brand-new football uniform in red and white with the giant number “33” on the jersey as well. With our hometown Philadelphia Eagles on their way to the NFL championship that year and footballer JFK recently elected president, I was thrilled to have a uniform that said I played football, too. The cosmic happiness a six year old child knows at Christmas defies adequate description and justifies everything that’s ever been done to perpetuate the holiday. That child’s perfect contentment is the seed of all succeeding happinesses, without which he would be unable to recognize love or find satisfaction at work. So let us again give thanks this year to the pagans, the Germans, and the Madison Avenue advertisers who collectively have given us this ancient celebration of Christ and the solstice, if only in the name of the six year old in all of us.