Editorial: Celebrating a 60-year-old classic suburban moment
Bucolic Saturday Evening Post cover celebrated again
In this era of instant photo gratification via smartphones and social media, it may be hard to fathom the excitement in Batavia for a 60-year-old illustration.
But on Jan. 11, 1958, that illustration of Batavians skating on the Fox River graced the cover of a national magazine and instantly became a classic for Batavians.
Indeed, the 60th celebration of that Saturday Evening Post cover evokes warm memories and will be celebrated from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Batavia Riverwalk.
Why was it so special? Daily Herald columnist Sammi King remembers when the library set up a display of the cover and she was there with about 20 other children.
"Whether or not we were in the picture didn't matter. We saw ourselves, the community of Batavia, and we knew that people across the country would see how special our little town was."
It was a simpler time then, but pride in your community -- whether featured on a cover of a national magazine or listed online as one of the best places to raise children -- endures.
Saturday Evening Post covers were the essence of Americana -- think Norman Rockwell, the most famous of the Post artists whose first of more than 300 covers appeared in 1916. The Batavia picture was drawn by artist John Falter, whose work was featured on Post covers 129 times from 1943 to 1971.
A biography of Falter on the Saturday Evening Post website notes: "His works, much like those of Norman Rockwell, are simple observations of everyday American life which may have otherwise gone unnoticed if not picked apart by a skilled artist."
In Batavia he worked on the bridge overlooking the skating pond on the river and created a picture that still has some to this day wondering if they were one of the skaters.
Rumor has it that Falter took a photo of the river without anyone on it and then created the painting.
"He would often try to incorporate local people into the paintings to make them feel like they were a part of it," his cousin, Dobie Falter Haws, curator of the Falter Museum in Falls City, Nebraska, told King. By doing so, Falter endeared himself to Batavians for 60 years. But it was no accident that he created such a loving portrait of a bucolic scene.
"As for a painting, it has to be a love affair every time," Falter is quoted in his biography page on the Post website. "If you aren't in love with what you are trying to put on your canvas, you better quit."
Words -- when thinking about any job -- to which we all can relate.