Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Covers: The Rivals (September 9, 1922)

Figure 1.--Here we see two boys cometing for the favors of the same fair ladt. This was a "Saturday Evening Post" cover for the September 9, 1922 issue.

Two lads, one clearly wealthy, one middle class, have both arrived to pay their attentions at the front door of the same girl. Rich kid (seen from behind) appears to be wearing some sort of riding gear, but with short white pants and long stockings that extend under them. His rival wears a blue-grey short jacket, eton collar and big blue bow tie with spots, brown (corderoy?) Knickers, stockings, and sneakers.

A HBC reader provides an analysis of the cover. "I think it is quite significant because it illustrates two things-- first, the gradual change in boys' clothes in 1922 and the years close to it from knee pants to knickers, and, second, a tension between the more conservative upper class (the boy with the short pants) and the middle class (the boy with the knickers). Both boys are obviously dressed up to impress the same girl. They seem to be about eleven or twelve years old. The boy with the wrapped package (presumably candy) has been dressed by his mother in the older style--a black hat with a rim and ribbon, a tightly fitted black suit jacket with a belted back, white knee pants, black long stockings, and brown Oxford shoes. The rival boy, apparently from a less affluent family, wears a sort of pork-pie hat, what looks like an Eton collar (detachable probably), a grey jacket which he is clearly growing out of, knickers (buckled below the knee--the new way of buckling them), black stockings, and somewhat disreputable gray or dirty white shoes. The flowers that he is ready to present to the girl would have cost less than the wrapped candy. In fact, he may simply have picked them from a local garden. Both boys wear bow ties, but the boy on the right has a fuller tie apparently. The image seems to me an unusually good record of what typical boys wore in 1922 when they were dressed up for an occasion. But the clothes reflect their social backgrounds as well as their differences as individuals. The boy with the short pants seems more snooty than his more boyishly bourgeois counterpart in the knickers."


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Created: 9:06 PM 12/6/2004
Last updated: 9:06 PM 12/6/2004