[NARRATOR] This image from 1916 was Rockwell’s first Post cover. The unfortunate boy on the right is stuck babysitting, while his friends have better things to do. He has clearly been dressed by his mother, complete with gloves, starched collar, and a wire that attaches his dapper hat to his suit lapel. Ironically, the same boy posed for all three characters.
In 1916, Rockwell was only twenty-two years old, but had already been a professional illustrator for five years. If an artist had a cover on the Post, it meant he had arrived. Rockwell worked up the courage, painted some ideas, and headed off to the Post’s headquarters in Philadelphia, without an appointment. After waiting all day, he was allowed in to see the great Post editor George Horace Lorimer.
[HENNESSEY] Lorimer was so impressed he took the two paintings for covers, commissioned another group, and from that day on the policy at the “Post” was any unsolicited illustrators who showed up were to be ushered in, because that was how Lorimer found Norman Rockwell.
[NARRATOR] OK–Now, if there are any parents out there listening along, could you please put your fingers in your ears for a minute? (hums a little)
(conspiratorial) Are they doing it? OK–you know how your parents like to dress you up in clothes that you hate and parade you around where people can see? Then you know how embarrassed the kid in the hat is. They even attached his hat to his coat.
And to make it worse, he has to push his baby sister in that frilly baby carriage with her bottle in his pocket. Can you believe it! What were his parents thinking!
OK–you can tell your parents they can listen now.
I made this painting in a hurry. I knew I needed three boys, but I didn’t have time to find them all. Look at their faces. I used the same kid—one of my favorite models, Billy –for all three boys. Nobody noticed! The people at the magazine really liked it–they bought it right away. It was my first cover on The Saturday Evening Post. That meant I had hit the big time.