Classic Covers: A 1940s Summer

Summer in the 1940s was much like summer seventy years later—only with great Saturday Evening Post covers.

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“Inn in Ogunquit” – John Falter

“Inn in Ogunquit”
John Falter
August 2, 1947

Post cover artist John Falter spent many vacations at this inn in Ogunquit, Maine, and we are told he painted it very true to life. The older folks have prime seats in their porch rockers for watching the parade of characters heading to the beach.

“4-H Fair” – Stevan Dohanos

“4-H Fair”
Stevan Dohanos
August 28, 1948

It wouldn’t be summer without the 4-H fair. This 1948 scene is also set in Maine, but by another great cover artist, Stevan Dohanos. The editors informed readers it was “the Skowhegan State Fair, a time-tested Maine recreation which claims to be the oldest fair in the land. Founded in 1819, the fair has been held every year since, without a break,” even in wartime. Here’s a pop quiz: What are the 4 “Hs”? (Answer at the end.)

“On Leave” – Norman Rockwell

"On Leave" by Norman Rockwell
“On Leave”
Norman Rockwell
September 15, 1945

This is my favorite summer cover. A lot of returning WWII soldiers were happily pulling hammock duty as in Rockwell’s 1945 cover. The artist borrowed the house from one neighbor, the hammock from another, and the dog from his son. An idyllic sun-dappled day of pure relaxation—and we wish many such blissful days for our troops returning today.

“Rainy Day at Beach Rental” – Stevan Dohanos

"Rainy Day at Beach Rental" Stevan Dohanos
“Rainy Day at Beach Rental”
Stevan Dohanos
July 31, 1948

Alas, not every summer day is sun-dappled; some are rain-drenched. Artist Dohanos had his friends pose for him with the sun shining brightly in Martha’s Vineyard. He took the painting home to Connecticut, sure that the whole summer would be sunny and bright. But “I had a marvelous break,” he said. “It rained for three days straight. I could go out any hour of the day and get rain research.” One man’s nuisance is another man’s “rain research.”

“Tan Lines” – Albert W. Hampson

"Tan Lines" Albert W. Hampson
“Tan Lines”
Albert W. Hampson
September 27, 1941

The pretty lady in this 1941 cover is learning a lesson relearned summer after summer. Tan lines and party dresses don’t mix. I love the pretty details on the vanity table.

“Housepainter and Bird’s Nest” – Stevan Dohanos

 "Housepainter and Bird’s Nest " Stevan Dohanos
“Housepainter and Bird’s Nest “
Stevan Dohanos
May 12, 1945

This is one of those situations where you’re an artist and you hire a guy to paint your house—and the guy ends up posing for you as a house painter. You know, one of those situations. The idea of the bird’s nest was the artist’s, but the house painter confirmed he had run into the situation many times. The painter (house painter, not the cover painter) said he always tried to give the birds as much leeway as possible, carefully returning the nest to it’s proper spot. The artist, Stevan Dohanos, noted: “I found out that the overalls he was wearing had just escaped being washed the day before. That would have been tragic, because it would have made them spotless and taken away that typical bag in the seat.” Well, what do you expect from a guy who does “rain research”?

Oh, yes, the four “Hs” in the 4-H Pledge are: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

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