Classic Covers: A Hint of Spring

We are over it! We’re through with snow and slush, and we’re seeking hints of spring from our finest cover artists: Rockwell, Leyendecker, Dohanos, Falter, Clymer, and more.

Shoveling Floral Shop Sidewalk

Saturday Evening Post cover from February 28, 1948

Shoveling Floral Shop Sidewalk
John Falter
February 28, 1948

“It was cold in New York,” Post editors say of this John Falter (1910-1982) cover, “and the cagey artist did most of his investigating behind glass, riding up and down on a Madison Avenue bus.” Painting the scene, Falter figured the frozen-faced workers would get an ironic chuckle from the fact that inside the flower shop window it is spring. Or perhaps not. Editors also had to note that Falter delivered his picture to the Post “just before the first of the winter’s oversize snowstorms hit New York. Then the artist hauled out for Arizona, where you may enjoy scenes like this in comfort.”

Springtime, 1935 Boy with Bunny

Saturday Evening Post Cover from April 27, 1935

Springtime, 1935 Boy with Bunny
Norman Rockwell
April 27, 1935

“You can’t buy a straw hat and make it look old by rubbing dirt in it,” Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) wrote in My Adventures as an Illustrator. “A hat has to be worn in the sun and sweated in and sat on and rained on. Then it’ll be old. And look it.” In 1935 Rockwell was asked to illustrate Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and he took the costuming very seriously. Desperately needing the right hat for Huck, he found just the thing in, appropriately, Hannibal, Missouri, Twain’s hometown. He spotted “a man walking along the road wearing a straw hat in a beautiful state of decay” and managed to buy it from him. Before long he ended up with a carload of clothes, “all old and rotten, battered, tattered, and splotched.”

Folks around Hannibal no doubt talked for a long time about that crazy guy who paid good money for their old duds, but the book illustrations were done to everyone’s satisfaction. And, like the boy greeting spring (left) with his worn hat and raggedy pants, some Post covers reflected the “Huck Finn look.”

Reading Among the Blossoms

Country Gentleman Cover from May 1, 1936

Reading Among the Blossoms
F. Sands Brunner
Country Gentleman
May 1, 1936

Despite the fact that F. Sands Brunner (1886-1954) was very much a rugged outdoorsman who enjoyed camping, canoeing, and mountain climbing, most of his paintings reflect domesticity with adorable children and lovely women. This 1936 work from Post sister publication Country Gentleman is a case in point. The rich color and skillful use of lighting are typical of Brunner’s work. The Boyertown, Pennsylvania, native painted three Country Gentleman and two Post covers.

Appalachian Rhododendrons

Saturday Evening Post Cover from May 27, 1961

Appalachian Rhododendrons
John Clymer
May 27, 1961

Nature took over on a grand scale in most of John Clymer’s (1907-1989) 80 Post covers, and people were secondary. In fact, the viewer almost has to squint to see the family consisting of Dad with baby on his back, Mom in straw hat, and daughter leading them along the trail to Craggy Pinnacle near Asheville, North Carolina. Clymer told Post editors, “Sections of the trail wind through 10-foot-high rhododendrons, and the ground is carpeted with the rich pink petals of the flowers that have fallen.”

“These floriferous slopes look their best in mid-June,” editors noted in 1961, “as they did when the Catawba and the Cherokee held sway in the Carolinas. But if the scenery of the area has not changed much, the people have. What self-respecting Indian brave would have toted a papoose on his back?”

Hardware Store at Springtime

Saturday Evening Post Cover from March 16, 1946

Hardware Store at Springtime
Stevan Dohanos
March 16, 1946

Artist Stevan Dohanos (1907-1994) loved hardware stores, and editors informed us that “the store he has painted affectionately for this week’s cover is a composite of many where Dohanos himself has obeyed the impulse, very strong in the spring, to buy a lot of new garden tools.” They warned, however, “this equipment buying is by all odds the most popular phase of gardening, for on a bland spring day there is nothing like the feel of a good rake or hoe in your hand—in the hardware store.”

Ready to Garden

Saturday Evening Post Cover from May 6, 1916

Ready to Garden
J.C. Leyendecker
May 6, 1916

This gentleman has made his trip to the hardware store and is hauling those spring purchases, lawn mower and all, back by public transportation. Perhaps more surprising is that the illustration is by the great J.C. Leyendecker, the man responsible for those chiseled Arrow Collar men who “haunted several generations of less fortunate-mankind,” according to David Rowland in a 1973 issue of the Post. In Leyendecker’s 40-plus years with The Saturday Evening Post, he showed amazing versatility as an illustrator, depicting subjects varying from elegant to comical in more than 300 covers.