The cover of the May 20 Saturday Evening Post bore a painting of a little boy shamefacedly pushing a baby carriage past his hooting friends. The illustration was the first Post cover to bear the signature of Norman Rockwell, a twenty-two-year-old who had previously illustrated scenes of juvenile heroism for Boys’ Life . Two weeks later the June 3 Post displayed on its front a boy ringmaster in a baggy suit presenting an undersize strong man to a crowd. The magazine had inaugurated what would become a long parade of Rockwell’s folksy scenes, some 320 covers between 1916 and 1963. “I learned to draw everything except glamorous women,” explained Rockwell. “Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I’ve always called myself an illustrator. I’m not sure what the difference is.”
Rockwell’s popularity certainly outlasted the reigns of the various painting schools during his lifetime, and his audience never tired of his rural barbershops and swimming holes and firehouses. Rockwell had grown up in New York City, but he identified himself with his own nostalgic image of small-town life, and Post readers responded for nearly half a century.