205 – Checkers
Story illustration Ladies Home Journal (July 1929)
Oil on canvas
[NORMAN ROCKWELL CHARACTER] This picture went along with a story in a magazine. The story was about a circus clown named Pokey Joe. That’s him on the right. Every afternoon Pokey Joe played checkers with Big Fred. That’s him frowning on the other side of the board.
Now Pokey Joe’s job was to be funny, but he hadn’t been feeling very funny lately. His friends decided to sorta trick him into being happy again. First, instead of twenty-five cents a game, they bet him twenty-five dollars. They then proceeded to play very badly, and tease Pokey Joe that his hero, another clown, wasn’t any good. Pokey spent the whole game trying to convince them how funny the other clown was…and by the time he was done, he felt pretty funny too. And he won twenty-five bucks, to boot!
[sounding a bit boastful] I, myself, have a little experience working in the circus. I was just about your age. I was at the sideshow and a man said he’d give me a dollar to be part of one of the acts: Amy the Wild Woman! Amy would pretend to try to eat me, and I would pretend to be scared! I cried and screamed so much they let me come back the next day. Ahhhh. Show business!