What a Man’s Gotta Do

Norman Rockwell and other great Post illustrators tackle fatherhood.

Father and children leaving movie theater

After the Movie
Stevan Dohanos
September 6, 1947

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Dad’s role, as depicted in midcentury America, was to be the breadwinner, play the occasional game of catch, and generally set a good example for his boys. And, oh yes, no one else can give the son “the talk,” unpleasant though it clearly is for both of them.


Father explains the "birds and the bees" to son.
Facts of Life
Norman Rockwell
July 14, 1951
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It wasn’t common to see fathers caring for babies in public; but in the privacy of the home, dads had to step up, if not always happily. In 2:00 Feeding (below), our subject appears tiny and trapped, the design emphasizing his isolation from the world outside.


2:00 Feeding
Stevan Dohanos
March 27, 1954

In Early Morning Feeding (below), the pajamas suggest prison stripes.
Early Morning Feeding
Howard Scott
January 27, 1945


Unhappy Campers

Precise composition supports the narrative in these two amusing paintings of dads oppressed by duty. In Dad, the Fish are Biting (below), notice how contrasting wishes are suggested with shadow, one side dark, the other light.


Son waiting for dad to wake for fishing
Dad, the Fish are Biting
Amos Sewell
August 25, 1962

And in After the Movie (below), our subject’s claustrophobia is heightened by those high walls and that eerie mob of little people.
Father and children leaving movie theater
After the Movie
Stevan Dohanos
September 6, 1947

Click here to read the accompanying article from the May/June 2015 issue, “The Daddy Factor” by Paul Raeburn.

More fathers on the covers of The Saturday Evening Post (click on the covers to see larger image):

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  1. Dr. Rosene, I love the story you shared today, and have little doubt that 1941 Thanksgiving still eclipses most that followed in the decades since, great as many of those may have been.

    The ‘Fatherhood’ cover by Rockwell at top is marvelous, of course, but lest we not forget the other 12 featured here are painted by Stevan Dohanos, Howard Scott, Amos Sewell, Jack Welch, George Hughes, Earl Mayan, Richard Sargent and Thornton Utz.

  2. I’m 64 and have been a ROCKWELL fan for YEARS. I have books, prints and ROCKWELL figurines. He was FANTASTIC!

  3. The “Father’s Day” drawings by Rockwell brought back so many wonderful memories for me. I was a Saturday Evening Post salesman during my 10-11-and 12 year old days in Aurora, Illinois. I recall so well my regular customers, who always welcomed the delivery of the current issue. My fondest memory was when I was awared the “Winner” of the most sales just before Thanksgiving in 1941, and was given a Turkey! My Father had just lost his position and we were not sure if we could afford a Turkey that year. My Mother cried and Dad told me how proud he was of me! Thanks to the SEP for my wonderful childhood!

    Dr. Rosene, Orlando, Florida

  4. I am 79 years old, have always loved Norman Rockwell, in fact, I am redoing my
    kitchen and I will be using 6 of these framed in my Kitchen. HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO ALL AND “GOD BLESS THE SATURDAY EVENING POST !!!!!


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