Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Favorite Rockwell Painting

Strange thing, the memory. I've been looking online for days for my favorite Norman Rockwell painting that appeared on the cover of Saturday Evening Post when I was a kid. I could see it in my mind -- a woman whose husband is just boarding the train while she is parked in front of the station, dressed in her robe, her hair in curlers (maybe, that part I wasn't sure of), looking at her flat tire. I finally found the painting today, and it doesn't look much like I remember, and it is not painted by Norman Rockwell!

I was only ten when it came out on November 26, 1960. It laid around our living room for a while until it was carried to the attic to be piled with the other magazines that Mom planned to read if she ever had an operation and got a chance to lie around. Years later, my chronically healthy mother packed up all those musty magazines and found a home for them somewhere besides our house. So I don't suppose it had too much time to articulate itself in my mind. I was convinced, though, that it was a Rockwell. Today I discovered that it was called "Flat Tire at the Commuter Station" and was by Amos Sewell, another slice-of-life Saturday Evening Post illustrator whose style couldn't be mistaken for Rockwell's. Shucks! The Norman Rockwell post I'd been planning suddenly lost some of its punch!

How about we talk about him tomorrow (I found a wonderful book at the library that's a lot of fun called Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera) and for now answer the question, "Why did I like this picture as a 10-year-old?" I have no idea! Maybe it was the horror that I felt when I saw the picture, the empathy for this women who had run her husband to the train in her robe and had gotten caught. Had she just slept in this morning and not changed her clothes before they had to rush out the door? Or did she always drive him in her robe and slippers, tempting fate? It was a dilemma too overwhelming for my sensibilities. How many times since then have I awakened from dreams of myself in similar situations! Even as I write I realize that I may not have actually liked this painting at all, but I couldn't let it go without trying to help this poor woman resolve her situation. And I could never come up with a rescue plan for her.

Now that I've come to terms with this little bit of mis-remembered information, I think I'll go study my Norman Rockwell book and figure out which of his own paintings is really my favorite! I'll let you know tomorrow.

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