Dog on the Field
One of the indignities of the job. Rover is going for a touchdown and ignoring the ref’s whistle. This 1941 cover is by artist Lonie Bee, who, although little known today, illustrated for magazines like Collier’s, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Day in the ’40s.
Ref Out Cold
Stevan Dohanos, one of the best and most prolific of the Post cover artists, witnessed such a catastrophe at a Yale-Dartmouth game in 1949. Darned if the callous son of a gun didn’t immediately think, “ah, this would be a great Post cover!” But despite being steamrollered by a young Goliath, the real referee survived just fine. It’s a rough game.
Third Down, Goal to Go
This bird’s-eye (blimp’s eye?) view shows how rough situations, like the one above, can come about. The football is nearly on the 0-yard line and the ref is in the way of a thundering herd rushing in to see what they can do about it.
It’s hard to imagine what it takes to paint a crowd like this. If you have an eagle eye, you’ll spot a lot of detail along that wall: coffee cups, pop bottles (glass—a complete no-no at sporting events these days), binoculars, and one man to the left using an umbrella to try to retrieve his hat. Thornton Utz painted this for a mid-October Post cover in 1949.
Russian-born artist Constantin Alajalov had a wry way of depicting everyday American life, which he happily did for many Saturday Evening Post and New Yorker covers. The poor ref in this 1948 cover doesn’t have a clue who to start whistling at.
We can’t salute referees without this classic 1950 cover by Norman Rockwell. The artist liked to wander over to the local high school football field during breaks from the easel, and watch the kids play. This sunny October scene also boasts a fairly detailed crowd of noncombatants in the background.
Here’s another cover by West Coast artist Lonie Bee. In fact, the model in this 1938 cover looks like the same referee who was working hard to get that dog off the field in the 1941 cover. Bee did half a dozen Post covers, all with a sports theme. The title for this one is apt: But, Ref!
Now, sit back and enjoy the game—and maybe lay off the refs a bit.