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Classic Covers: Father’s Day, 1950s Style

Published: June 14, 2013

Enter the prosperous 1950s, when Dad was king of his suburban castle. The nuclear family had followed the new interstate system right out of the city and settled into small communities of manicured lawns, picture windows, and Sunday barbecues. And Dad outside the city limits proved to be a perfect character for the situational comedies portrayed on Post covers. Join us in a fun look at ’50s dads (or should we say daddy-os?). They just may remind you of someone you love.

Pop vs. Pup

Hot Dogs Ben Prins September 13, 1958

Hot Dogs
Ben Prins
September 13, 1958

© SEPS


Sending out smoke signals has made this dad popular with more than just his family. Artist Ben Prins got the idea for the cover while outside feeding his children’s three cats. Post editors wrote that dogs would “drop around to pass the time of day” during chow time at the Prins residence.


Bad Dad

Sunday Morning Norman Rockwell May 16, 1959

Sunday Morning
Norman Rockwell
May 16, 1959

© SEPS


“This is my favorite Post cover for Father’s Day,” emailed reader Bob McGowan of California. “It’s best known as Sunday Morning, but I’ve nicknamed it ‘Bad Dad,’ as he knows he should be dressed in his Sunday best, also headed out the door to church with Mom and the youngsters.” [See how to get your favorite covers featured below.]

Rockwell’s obsession with detail shows in this 1959 cover. He went to several furniture stores until he found just the right chair for this “bad dad” to slink in. And, if you click on the image for a close-up view, you’ll see a more mischievous detail: The artist arranged “horns” into the sinner’s disheveled hair.


Father Figure

Take Your Medicine George Hughes September 23, 1950

Take Your Medicine
George Hughes
September 23, 1950

© SEPS


Is there no sacrifice too great for Dad? The problem with proving that the medicine is not so repulsive is that Pop is a lousy actor. Even without the giveaway expression, editors noted, “Junior wouldn’t have fallen for the treachery. Every youngster learns at the dinner table to mistrust what his parents say tastes fine until he finds out for himself.” Artist George Hughes, who did 115 Post covers, knew all about parental scams: He had five daughters.


Gone Daddy Gone

Bike Riding Lesson George Hughes June 12, 1954

Bike Riding Lesson
George Hughes
June 12, 1954

© SEPS


“It is heartwarming,” wrote Post editors of this Hughes cover, “to see how this boy trusts his father to halt that vehicle before both teacher and pupil land on their ears. It is heart-chilling to see how the father doesn’t.”


Father Knows Best?

Pillow Fight  Thornton Utz November 19, 1955

Pillow Fight
Thornton Utz
November 19, 1955

© SEPS


“Old folks are so fussy about noises at night,” wrote Post editors of this 1955 cover. “They hear a burglar, and they grope downstairs, and there is none, or they hear a pillow fight, and grope upstairs, and there is none. If [artist] Thornton Utz’s father doesn’t stop fussing around, he’ll wake those boys up.” Right. This dad isn’t buying it; the readers aren’t buying it; and, admit it, neither did your dad.



Do you have a favorite Post cover? Tell us about it and we’ll feature it with your comments in an upcoming cover art piece! If you don’t know the date or artist, just give us a brief description. Send to letters@satevepost.org.

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