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Classic Covers: A Road Trip with George Hughes

A successful artist who did over a hundred Saturday Evening Post covers, George Hughes had an interesting relationship with Norman Rockwell. The famous Rockwell would run into the impressionable Hughes on the street and ask for some artistic advice. George would give his honest impression, only to discover that Rockwell had done just the opposite. It became a regular pattern, giving them countless hours of entertainment over the years.

Flat and Chat – May 21, 1949

Flat and Chat
George_Hughes
May 21, 1949


The irritated tire-changer? Why, that’s artist George Hughes himself. The editors mused that he served as his own model because he was tired of waiting for Rockwell to insert him into a Post cover. Several Post cover artists lived near each other in Arlington, Vermont, and they used each other (and their families) as subjects. Rockwell had used fellow artists Atherton, Schaeffer and even himself as Post cover boys. Well, if you want something done, you’d better do it yourself.

Missed Exit – June 15, 1957

Missed Exit
George Hughes
June 15, 1957

“High-speed pikes are wonderful inventions,” Post editors noted in 1957, “except for a few bugs that need to be ironed out, such as exit signs moving by too fast.” What do you do in this situation? One can imagine the conversation inside the blue convertible. We’d rather not.

Fork in the Road – July 7, 1956

Fork in the Road
George Hughes
July 7, 1956

Yogi Berra says, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That advice isn’t helping the couple in this 1956 cover. He says “that way,” but no, she insists, “this way.” The editors suggested perhaps they should flip a coin. Or perhaps he should just let the wife navigate because “nobody can think clearly under a cap like that.” Editors are such wise guys.

Ticket for Roadster – April 27, 1957

Ticket for Roadster
George Hughes
April 27, 1957

If you drive a snappy Roadster, be careful with your speed. And if worse should come to worse and you do get pulled over, be sure it isn’t where there’s a group of snarky kids hanging out. Rough trip – not only costing in monetary terms, but in terms of mental anguish.

Gas Money – March 26, 1960

Gas Money
George Hughes
March 26, 1960

These boys had a bit of a problem. “Big Ron” gassed up the jalopy and is finding himself in the embarrassing position of being short on funds. His buddies are not coming up with the dough either and Lou (it says “Lou” on the attendant’s shirt) wants his $4.07 and he wants it now. Looks like Big Ron will have to call his dad, Bigger Ron, and hope for the best.

Out of Gas – September 2, 1961

Out of Gas
George Hughes
September 2, 1961


Is there a worse scenario? Leave it to artist Hughes to find it. “The setting of this depressing encounter is not fifty miles from nowhere,” the editors noted. “This is nowhere.” A mile or two in either direction will take you to a car that’s out of gas. The unanswered question, of course, is how the heck did they get out of this one? One can only hope Big Ron got his gas money and happens by.

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  • Frank James Davis

    In vivid color, George Hughes humorously recaptures a better time–when cars had unmistakeable style and their drivers did not require computers to understand them.