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Classic Covers: 100 Years Ago

Adding to the sea of smart phones, e-books, and online social networking, analysts are busy predicting what this year, this decade, and this century will bring. But it’s important to stop, rewind, and reflect on how far we’ve come. Imagine life 100 years ago. Here we take a look at how artists were interpreting American culture for the covers of The Saturday Evening Post. You may be surprised to learn that the things we most enjoy have, in essence, remained the same.

People fought the bitter cold in January; went to school and baseball games; and went swimming in July. Well, the bathing suits were a little different …

<em> Teacher catching student</em><br />Worth Brehm<br />March 19, 1910

Teacher catching student
Worth Brehm
March 19, 1910

Life in 1910

Northerners can relate to an artist named Robert Robinson, who did the most delightful paintings of old gentlemen (some say old geezers, but we prefer to be nice). This gent is peering through fogged-up specs at a temperature that seems to be hovering around 14 degrees. We’re not sure where his is. Minnesota, Michigan, New York? But we do know the cover is from January 8, 1910.

It’s getting a bit chilly in the classroom, too. The schoolmaster is about to descend on an unwitting student. Unlike the 2010 teacher, we suspect this one was unconcerned with a “politically correct” punishment. In other words, the boy probably got walloped.

<em>Baseball Player</em><br />Robert Robinson<br />October 1, 1910

Baseball Player
Robert Robinson
October 1, 1910

Yes, folks, there was baseball in 1910! And it made the cover of The Saturday Evening Post with an engaging cover (also by artist Robinson) of a catcher wondering “where’d it go?!” Check out the nifty catcher’s mitt.

<em>Man mowing lawn</em><br />J.C. Leyendecker<br />August 6, 1910

Man mowing lawn
J.C. Leyendecker
August 6, 1910

In summer, Americans not only played baseball, they mowed lawns, too. (Sound familiar?) The gent in the August cover from famous artist J.C. Leyendecker is working away with a push mower, unaware of how “green” his method of grass control is. Who knew lawn care 1910 style would be fashionable again 100 years later? Although we suspect few of us are mowing our lawns in a vest and tie these days.

<em>Girl swimming calling to friends</em><br />Harrison Fisher<br />July 16, 1910

Girl swimming calling to friends
Harrison Fisher
July 16, 1910

And we don’t mean to be scandalous, but we cannot leave without warming you up with illustrations of ladies’ swimwear—1910 style, of course. The girl on the July cover is calling out to friends while swimming. You can tell the sleeves and proper head covering of her swimming costume is not holding her back.

<em>Woman in bathing costume</em><br />Henry Hutt<br />August 13, 1910

Woman in bathing costume
Henry Hutt
August 13, 1910

A full view of swimming attire follows the next month with a Henry Hutt painting. As you can see, fashions may come and go, but our favorite American pastimes remain in tact.

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  • Frank James Davis

    Looking back reminds us of our humanity; a humanity in danger of being obscured by over-reliance on technology.