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Classic Covers: August Cool-Down

Published: August 14, 2010

Is there any relief from this heat? Yes! It’s August, and the dog days of summer are upon us, but we found delightful covers from 1912 to 1955 showing ways to get wet and cool down. We wouldn’t recommend all of them.

Swimming Hole by Norman Rockwell

A delivery truck driver cools off in a lake.

Swimming Hole
Norman Rockwell
August 11, 1945
© SEPS 1945

This is a charming story-in-a-picture of a salesman making a long drive on a hot August day. No air conditioning in the car, of course. He spots a swimming hole, pulls over and goes for it. He carefully lays his glasses on a newspaper and his lit cigar on his shoe, to be picked up when he emerges (Rockwell was all about details). And then shows us a face of pure bliss. “George Zimmer, my model,” reported Norman Rockwell, “was an awful good sport. He stripped and I poured several buckets of water over his head to get the effect.” And you thought modeling was easy!

Drink of Water by Frank X. Leyendecker

A jockey and his horse takes a drink of water out of a fountain.

Drink of Water
Frank X. Leyendecker
August 22, 1914
© SEPS 1914

We love this cover from August of 1914 by artist Frank X. Leyendecker (brother of Post cover artist J.C.). Frank did sixteen Post covers, and this one is delightful. Delivering papers in August is hot, tiring work, and the kid deserves a cool drink. The fact that his drinking buddy happens to be a horse doesn’t concern him.

Watering Father by Richard Sargent

A boy pours water on his sunbathing father.

Watering Father
Richard Sargent
June 4, 1955
© SEPS 1955

We’d all like to see this scene three seconds later, but this is what we have to work with. While Mom is busy planting and watering flowers, Junior is thinking Dad’s pasty white skin needs a cool-down. Whether Dad agreed it was a good idea is a mystery left up to the viewer. Sargent was great with humorous scenes and a master at the pregnant pause, the “what-happens-next” moment.

Wet Swim Suit by Clarence F. Underwood

An early 20th century woman wringing out her wet swim suit.

Wet Swim Suit
Clarence F. Underwood
August 24, 1912
© SEPS 1912

We know, you’re shocked. A pretty young lady in a swimsuit on the cover of the staid and venerable Saturday Evening Post. And in 1912 yet! Well, even young ladies in 1912 deserved a cool-down. At least we don’t have to wring out the heavy skirts of our swimsuits these days. Artist Clarence F. Underwood did over forty Post covers. Even though most of them were in the 19-teens, many showed active women: fishing, playing tennis, canoeing, even plowing a field. Of course, they looked surprisingly pretty doing all this.

Sitting on the Diving Board by Penrhyn Stanlaws

A young woman sits on a diving board.

Sitting On the Diving Board
Penrhyn Stanlaws
August 19, 1933
© 1933 SEPS.

My, how bathing suits changed in a mere twenty-one years! In a swimsuit more suited for immersion, the pretty lady from 1933 is just dipping her toes in the water. Go figure. Curtis Publishing (curtispublishing.com) shows many gorgeous Stanlaws covers, usually of lovely young ladies holding a teacup or bouquet. He did a total of thirty-seven Post covers between 1913 and 1938. (Warning: if you look up his covers on the Curtis website, you’ll want to buy prints of them all.)

Cool Bear by Charles Livingston Bull

A bear cooling off in a lake.

Cool Bear
Charles Livingston Bull
August 19, 1922
© SEPS 1922

Then there’s the total immersion therapy. This is from Country Gentleman magazine (a sister publication) in 1922 by great wildlife artist, Charles Livingston Bull. If that water looks good to you, a word of advice: Find another place to cool down.

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  • r_sjones@sbcglobal.net

    I have this picture on a poster. I would like to know what year model this is. I think 1940 Ford but would like to know the correct name and year. Anyone?

  • Bob Hirsch

    I remember lots of covers from the 30’s and early 40’s. I sold Saturday Evening Post in Brooklyn – 5 cents a copy….in 1932. So great. Thanks

  • Joanne Delahunt

    What great covers I have always the Norman Rockwell pictures and other artist.

  • Marilyn Tubbs

    Want to buy – but need help,
    if google following:
    CAREFREE DAYS SIGN
    image will come up…who was
    this illustrator… anyone know?
    what mags did he do covers for…
    is this from Sat Eve Post…
    thanks for any help
    Marilyn