A Rockwell Father’s Day

Pack up the car and fire up the grill, but before you leave to celebrate the dad or dads in your life out in this sticky summer weather, reminisce with these fictional fathers of a bygone decade by Norman Rockwell.

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A family drives a Model T.
Excuse My Dust
Norman Rockwell
July 31, 1920

This image may have been splashed on the Post’s cover nearly one hundred years ago, but whether the speed limit is 10 or 80 miles per hour, it would appear many a historical Pop shares the need for speed and an occasionally leaden foot. Mom’s face may not be so cheery if a hidden police car spots them.

Catching the Big One
August 8, 1929

Nothing says Father’s Day in quite the same way as teaming up to tug a gleaming pescatarian feast from the lapping waters.

Home from Vacation
September 13, 1930

This particular padre is just as wiped out from the family voyage as his wife and tike. They’ll all be catching some extra Zs come nighttime, but for now, an impromptu bench nap can’t hurt.

Armchair General
April 29, 1944

Even an ocean away, this father takes his parental supervision duties very seriously. His children may have passed him up in height, and they may wander a little further after trading toy popguns for real ones, but the bond remains the same.

Coming and Going
August 30, 1947

Another cover puts Dad behind the wheel but with considerably less gusto for the open road. The exhaustion of the family trip has weighed heavily on this driver and his bleary eyelids, and it would seem everyone else squashed into the car amidst suitcases and picnic baskets as well.

Dewey vs. Truman
October 30, 1948

Dad’s just letting off a little steam over the upcoming presidential election, though judging by the choice of candidate in each frazzled parent’s hand, it would seem that father doesn’t always know best.

Facts of Life
July 14, 1951

It’s clear neither father nor son especially wants to be here after this kid’s questions about where kittens come from led into a painfully eye-opening discussion on the birds and the bees. The repulsed inquirer may never be able to look at Whiskers the same way again.

Breaking Home Ties
September 25, 1954

Goodbyes are never simple, especially for a working-class father and college-bound son who appear to already exist a world apart, but this weary farmer’s forlorn grip on the hats of himself and his offspring suggest the send-off has already reached its limit of mushiness.

December 29, 1956

This kid’s just discovered his father is, in fact, Father Christmas. Undoubtedly the boy has already snubbed the notion that Dad is acting out a holiday myth and instead opted to believe that his parent’s part-time job is delivering candy and joy under every indoor tree in the world.

Sunday Morning
May 16, 1959

Slumped into his favorite chair in a nest of newspaper, this dad is hoping to remain inconspicuous in bright crimson robe and slippers from his churchgoing family, choosing to embrace the religion of relaxation.

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  1. It probably could never be 100%, but my feeling is that Norman Rockwell’s philosophy represented a fantastically high percentage of peoples basic
    thoughts and down to earth feelings on life in general!!
    Always great to see!!

  2. Norman Rockwell had an amazing ability to capture the truth by using art in all it’s beauty. I really enjoy looking at his work.

  3. I do take the Saturday Evening Post and love it. I thoroughly enjoy the captions under the pictures. My favorite is the husband and wife arguing over the presidential election. Reminds me of NOW,

  4. They’re all wonderful of course, and I like your comments beneath each one.

    On the top cover, I think the son is excited by what appears to be (from the hood ornament) a fancy, flashy new Packard speeding uphill.

    5 covers down, Dad must be giving Mom all the reasons Dewey will defeat Truman just days before the election. Father definitely did not know best here. Meanwhile the little boy just wants the madness and madness to just stop–now please!

    The bottom cover is a particular favorite I commented on in a Diana Denny column a few years ago. I called him ‘Bad Dad’, but have eased up on a bit since then. Maybe he’s really good most Sundays, but was exhausted for some reason and just didn’t want to have to go anywhere, period, that particular Sunday.

    The cover date indicates it’s after Easter, which makes it a little less bad, right? The family otherwise is in their Sunday best which was the norm in the ’50s, not just Easter or Christmas. I’d say though his attendance had better be close to perfect starting the next week. I’m buying this one soon from art.com (an excellent company). Love my ’68 football POST cover from them.


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