Though he is most famous for capturing life in the American Midwest, Norman Rockwell spent much of his on the East Coast, including New York City and nearby New Rochelle before moving to Massachusetts. Rockwell was born in 1894, and as an infant lived at 206 W. 103rd Street near Central Park. One hundred thirty two years later, a sign co-naming the street Norman Rockwell Place will be unveiled thanks to the efforts of a group of New York City high school students.
The students, members of René Mills’ class at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, learned Rockwell was born around the corner from their school during a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in 2014. On returning, they scoured 103rd Street for a commemorative sign or plaque marking the icon’s presence, only to come up empty-handed. “At that point, we knew we had a mission,” Mills says.
The students formed the Norman Rockwell Place Committee and investigated how to get a secondary street sign. The committee created pamphlets, posters, and T-shirts in an effort to educate the community on the significance of the corner of West 103rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. After months of work, the committee garnered hundreds of signatures in support of renaming the street.
Two weeks after a New York City Council vote of approval, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill to co-name the corner “Norman Rockwell Place.” The students, who witnessed the signing of the bill on February 25, will see their work come to fruition on Thursday, June 9, when the new sign is unveiled and Norman Rockwell Place becomes official.
As Mills explains, the project grew out of a course study emphasizing local government. “My students were mesmerized by the issues that were presented to the local community board. Getting the Board and the Council’s approval for their proposal was empowering,” she says.
She herself had long been a fan of Rockwell. “Rockwell tells the stories about everyday life as he has exposed the best and worst of our society,” she says. “Rockwell is the visual novelist that moves his audience from frame to frame as they are drawn into the mystique of visual story telling.”
She and her students felt it was important to reclaim the artist as a New Yorker. “I promised my students that if they took this journey with me, it would be bigger than they imagined and their persistence and hard work would be remembered,” Mills says. “Norman Rockwell Place would be part of my students’ legacy.”
NYC Street to Be Renamed in Honor of Norman Rockwell
We love the iconic American artist Norman Rockwell here at The Saturday Evening Post, of course. But it turns out that the younger generation loves him too. Thanks to several students at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, the southeast corner of Amsterdam Avenue at 103rd Street in New York City is being renamed “Norman Rockwell Place” in honor of Rockwell. The students spent a year on their campaign, doing research, visiting the Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and making t-shirts, and they even went around the neighborhood to garner support for the name change.
Paul McCartney Not Allowed into Grammy Party
Let’s say you’re a really famous musician, maybe one of the 4 or 5 most famous musicians in the world. Let’s say you were at the Grammy Awards and you wanted to go to one of the after-parties. Do you think you could get in, or would the bouncer at the front door shoo you away?
That’s what happened to Paul McCartney this week after the Grammy Awards broadcast on CBS. In this video shot by TMZ we see McCartney and Beck being turned away from the Tyga party. Before this, I didn’t know if Tyga was the name of a musician, a band, a company, or a shoe, but they tried to get in and couldn’t. So they went back to their car and drove away.
Speaking of TMZ
Have you ever wondered how the gossip site TMZ always seems to get the scoop on celebrities’ dirty laundry? In this revealing New Yorker article, you’ll find out how they get their information, what they pay for it, and how they sometimes partner with celebrities on certain stories.
Pick Up Organic Carrots, Get a Tattoo
I know it seems like an odd idea, but Whole Foods might be getting into the whole tattooing thing. The grocery chain would partner with third-party vendors to provide tattooing services in their 365 stores, which cater to Millennials.
This could be the start of something. Other chains could get into the act. Going to Dunkin’ Donuts for some coffee? Get your oil changed! Picking up a snow blower at Home Depot? You can get your hair done there, too!
RIP Justice Scalia, George Gaynes, Vanity, Johnny Duncan
I really can’t add anything to the many tributes to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away at the age of 79, but for a good summary of his life and what he meant to people, you can read Justice Ginsburg’s touching statement about her friend, a rundown on his legal rulings, and this from The Atlantic on his remarkable life. The New York Times reprints the first mention of Scalia in the paper (when he was 16!), and even Stephen Colbert paid tribute to Scalia on The Late Show.
George Gaynes also passed away this week. He was 98. You might remember him from the TV shows Punky Brewster and The Days and Nights of Mollie Dodd and movies like Tootsie.
You might remember Vanity, aka Denise Matthews, from her work with Prince. She passed away this week too, at the age of 57.
You might not remember the name Johnny Duncan at all, but you’ve probably come across his work. He played Robin in the 1949 Batman movie serial, which TCM sometimes shows. He passed away at the age of 92. Here’s the first episode (and here are the other 14):
And RIP Harper Lee
Friday morning, we lost American novelist Harper Lee at the age of 89. People speak in awe of the tens of millions of copies her To Kill a Mockingbird has sold since it was published in 1960, but more impressive still is the effect the book has had on readers. In a January 2011 Post article called “Does Fiction Matter?” mystery writer Brad Meltzer answered the title’s question with a resounding “Yes” by pointing out a Library of Congress study that said that when asked which books had made a difference in their lives, the only book people cited more often than To Kill a Mockingbird was the Bible.
“Happy Birthday” Lawsuit Settled
I used to joke that you couldn’t sing “Happy Birthday” at a birthday party anymore without paying a royalty to the two sisters who wrote the song and the company that owned the copyright to the lyrics. Turns out that wasn’t true; you only had to pay for a public performance of the song. But no one has to pay now, because a federal judge has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music actually doesn’t own the rights to the lyrics. Under a deal, the record company will return $14 million in fees it had charged, and it will also no longer charge for the song’s use.
Warner/Chappell actually made over $2 million a year from the song. Every time I hear stories like this, I think of this scene from an episode of Sports Night:
National Grapefruit Month
It doesn’t seem right to have February be the month we celebrate the grapefruit, when it’s more likely to be cold and windy and we’re using the snow blower we just bought at Home Depot. But it’s here, and you still have a couple of weeks to celebrate. We know it’s good for your health — though you should make sure it doesn’t interfere with any medications you’re taking — and it’s a lot more flexible when it comes to recipes than I thought.
But Martha Stewart has you covered. (She always has you covered.) Here’s a recipe from Martha for jicama-citrus salad, one for a ginger-grapefruit spritzer, and one for grapefruit with pistachios. And have you ever thought about putting grapefruit in a sandwich? Of course you haven’t. But Martha has!.
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
Malcolm X killed (February 21, 1965)
The leader appeared on the September 12, 1964, cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
President George Washington born (February 22, 1732)
Washington appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post ten times.
House of Representatives votes to impeach President Johnson (February 24, 1867)
Johnson’s impeachment trial lasted 11 weeks.
Buffalo Bill Cody born (February 26, 1846)
Here’s SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on “America’s First Superstar.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow born (February 27, 1807)
The poet’s work appeared many times in The Saturday Evening Post.