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Classic Covers: World War I

As we all know, we have too many wars to remember. Last month on this website, we ran a story on a Post newsboy who was killed in World War I. Seeing the photos from the article inspired me to show some World War I covers from both The Saturday Evening Post and Country Gentleman, a longtime sister publication. Some are well known, but I’ve discovered a few surprises. All are intended as a tribute to our veterans of today and yesterday.

Farm Appetites – Clyde Forsythe – November 24, 1917

Farm Appetites by Clyde Forsythe

Farm AppetitesClyde ForsytheCountry GentlemanNovember 11, 1917

We have plenty of poignant wartime covers, but this one is fun! These are hearty farm-boys-turned-soldiers, and the painting is appropriately named: “Farm Appetites.” It was done by cartoonist Clyde Forsythe, a friend of Norman Rockwell. In fact, it was Forsythe who encouraged the reticent, nervous young Rockwell to try to sell a cover to the venerable Saturday Evening Post. So Forsythe not only painted history, he helped to make it.

Women Work for War – Charles A. MacLellan – July 20, 1918

Women Work for War
Charles A. MacLellan
September 8, 1917

And who, pray, worked the land while the male farm hands were fighting the war? The “women’s land army”, that’s who. Some were country girls, others were out of their element working farms, but the women of the U.S. and Europe wanted to do their part back home.

Her Boy – K.R. Wireman” – September 15, 1917

Her Boy by K. R. Wireman

Her BoyK. R. WiremanCountry GentlemanSeptember 15, 1917

Another seldom-seen Country Gentleman cover shows a proud mother at the mailbox, receiving a photo of her son in uniform. Let’s hope he’s back at the farm soon. This was by artist K.R. Wireman.

Necessary Height – Norman Rockwell – June 16, 1917

Necessary Height by Norman Rockwell

Necessary HeightNorman RockwellJune 16, 1917

Back at The Saturday Evening Post, a gent we all know and love, Norman Rockwell, was also recognizing the war in his art. Only about 22 himself at the time, Rockwell shows us that even the youngsters were getting into the war effort. Playing recruiter, a boy (notice the “recruiting poster”) seems to be questioning the qualifications of a vertically challenged applicant.

Uncle Sam – Herbert Johnson – June 16, 1917

Uncle SamHerbert JohnsonCountry GentlemanJune 16, 1917

This trio was vitally important to the nation in World War I. The American soldier, good old Uncle Sam and the American farmer. This was from a painting by Herbert Johnson, a well-known political cartoonist for both the Post and Country Gentleman.

Soldier’s Christmas – J.C. Leyendecker – December 22, 1917

Solders Christmas by J.C. Leyendecker

Solders ChristmasJ.C. LeyendeckerDecember 22, 1917

I can’t leave without sharing my favorite World War I cover, “Soldier’s Christmas” by J.C. Leyendecker. A soldier is sharing his meager holiday meal with a tiny French girl. Can’t help it – gets me every time.

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  • Frank James Davis

    Depicts a freer, more vibrant, more united America than we are ever likely to see again.