For the first of his 129 covers, John chose to paint Benjamin Franklin, the founder of the magazine.
After studying all the prints of Franklin he could lay his hands on, he finally put on canvas the Franklin of the period when he was commissioner to France.
Listening to Brahms and Beethoven inspired him.
"That sounds awfully arty," he said ruefully, "but you think of the tremendously high standard they got and it increases your own."
May 8, 1943
ADOPTED BY: JOHN MARTIN IN MEMORY OF MARY ELIZABETH MARTIN
It's 1943, the height of World War II. Mothers all over the country were praying for letters from their military sons and daughters. This Nebraska mother, eager to open her mail and read it on the spot, seemed relieved with the news it brought.
July 10, 1943
ADOPTED BY: DAVE AND THELMA LUNSFORD
The title of this cover says it all: "Promotion." In 1943, John enlisted in the Navy and was rapidly promoted from chief boatswain's mate to lieutenant on special assignment as an artist. During his three year stint, he produced over 300 war posters, several for the recruitment of women. They are now famous for the "loose-lips-sink-ships" theme.
March 25, 1944
ADOPTED BY: BONNIE AND KEN ZENTNER
This scene was the first of several John painted of New York City. The apartment building in which John and his wife Maggie lived, overlooked Gramercy Park. She can be seen in the second story window.
August 5, 1944
ADOPTED BY: RACHEL RANKIN IN MEMORY OF JOE P. FLESKOSKI
The hex sign on the barn places this farm auction scene in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. John has painted a large gathering of interested folk who seem to be enjoying not only the weather, but also a couple of lively and entertaining auctioneers.
September 30, 1944
ADOPTED BY: LARRY AND FAYE DARLING
John said that he tried "to put down on canvas a piece of America, a stage set, a framework for the imagination to travel around in." His panoramic covers with long views of people were a major departure from the Post's customary close-up designs. In fact, Norman Rockwell himself adjusted to the newer style for a time, which he later referred to as his "Falter Period."
“SKATING ON MOYER'S POND”
December 16, 1944
ADOPTED BY: THE ROTARY CLUB OF FALLS CITY
John Falter's cover proves, among other things, that his reputation among illustrators for having a remark-ably retentive visual memory is well deserved. Last fall, the Post asked him to see what he could do in the way of dreaming up a skating cover. Falter said he knew just the setting---Moyer's' Pond, in Blooming Glen, Bucks, County, Pennsylvania, where the children stop on their way home from near-by Fretz public school on winter afternoons to do a little figure-cutting. Falter had seen Moyer's Pond only once. That was when he had driven past it last winter while returning to his farm near Perkasie from a village shopping tour. But the details of the winter scene were still sharply etched in his mind. He made one more trip to the pond, in September, when Blooming Glen was still blooming and the pond was a mass of wavelets, to get his topography correct. Then he went back home and began painting his skating scene from memory. Moyer's Pond is the fourth in a series of Falter scene covers.
March 10, 1945
ADOPTED BY: ALYCE SCOTT IN MEMORY OF JANICE SCOTT
The Stork, whatever you may think about it, does not bring ladies' hats. They are made--not in madhouses, but in workrooms like that which John Falter has painted in this week's cover. Mr. Falter made his picture in the James Joel Hat Shop in New York and the ladies in the picture are Natalie Joel--in the red coat--and Marguerite Churchill, owners of the shop. Miss Joel graduated into hat designing from studying at the Juilliard School of Music, and Miss Churchill arrived on the millinery peaks by way of the stage and screen. Mr. Falter, not to be outdone, himself designed the hat at the top center of the picture, the little je ne sais quoi number. Misses Joel and Churchill obligingly whipped it up and put it on sale. We confidently predict some lady will wear it.
“HANGING OUT TO DRY”
April 7, 1945
ADOPTED BY: NORM AND SHARON HONEA HORN IN MEMORY OF JOHN HONEA AND LEILA HONEA PEDEN
Just to show you how cover artists work, we asked John Falter to send us one of his early sketches for this week's cover, a painting made on the farm of Mr. Falter's next-door neighbor. Mr. Falter swears the ducks remained seated while he was painting and, when he was through, walked away in a body.
May 19, 1945
ADOPTED BY: TONY AND CONNIE PETERSON
Pershing Square, John Falter's cover on this week's Post, is a view of Park Avenue, New York, looking toward the Grand Central Terminal, through which more than 62,000,000 passengers have passed in a single year. On the left is the old Murray Hill Hotel, opened in 1884 and one of Manhattan's more elderly landmarks. Across the street on the right is a group of servicemen lined up waiting to get into the Recreation Center, to get tickets to the theaters, concerts, movies and radio broadcasts which are given without charge. In the same building, New York teachers operate a canteen for enlisted men and women. Food cooked at the Food Trades High School is served free. Teachers spend their spare time here and teach the service personnel any subject they wish to learn.
“LAST DAY OF SCHOOL”
June 9, 1945
ADOPTED BY: THE ROTARY CLUB OF FALLS CITY
It doesn't surprise us much to find an artist with his head in the clouds--we've always understood they kept their ears swathed in the fleecy stuff--but we were startled when John Falter admitted that this week's Last Day of School cover was painted from a nonexistent helicopter, 300 feet above the earth. For the moment, Falter's helicopter is a nebulous as a rabbit named Harvey, although it is one of his pet postwar dreams. To obtain this view of the grammar school in Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania, sans helicopter, Falter's imagination boosted him the necessary 300 feet. This same imagination made some other changes in the name of art. Falter found it necessary to delete three city blocks, shift a grave-yard and omit the school playground altogether.
“FOURTH OF JULY PARADE”
July 7, 1945
ADOPTED BY: THE ROTARY CLUB OF FALLS CITY
The gay crowds, brass band and holiday bunting on John Falter's Fourth of July cover can only give the people of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, a vicarious thrill because their parades have been discontinued for the duration. The townspeople haven't time for them anymore. They're busy writing letters to the girls and boys in service, mailing them vest-pocket copies of the News-Herald, their home-town newspaper, taking snapshots of places around town that maybe the kids are homesick for, and sending each one a dollar a month for pin money. We imagine that Perkasie folks will be sending this cover to their service men and women, too; so, for the record, the Moyer Building is still a hardware store and storage place--the professional men whose names appear on its windows are tenants installed by Mr. Falter to make the place look lived in.
August 18, 1945
ADOPTED BY: BOB AND ROXI AITKEN
Not long ago a contributor's effort to replace his gaming losses brought us a story that otherwise wouldn't have been written. But this week's cover is the first time getting out from behind a poker eight-ball has paid off in art work for us. One night recently John Falter became embroiled in a "little game" at The Players, during the course of which he discovered that drawing to an inside straight was much less rewarding than drawing for Post Art Editor Ken Stuart. The game was dealer's choice, so when Falter's turn came he decreed a round of Artists and Models and transported the game to his studio. There Falter poker player gave way to Falter artist, and he settled down to making sketches of his friends working their way through stacks of blues and reds. That's Falter with his back to the window. It's the first time he's ever put himself in a painting--with or without a pat hand.
“BACK TO SCHOOL”
September 8, 1945
ADOPTED BY: ROTARY CLUB OF FALLS CITY
We are undoubtedly going to hear from skeptical Easterners about Artist John Falter's "back-to-school" cover, showing the lad with the new haircut crossing the September fields to the Midwestern country school-house. In case the kid is tired or the journey is long, the critics will say, he can always throw a saddle on Big Bertha, the muscular butterfly. Before taking picks on Mr. Falter about how big the butterflies grow in the Midwest, you ought to know that Mr. Falter, while he painted this cover at his Pennsylvania farm near Perkasie, was born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, went to school in Falls City, in the same state, and he knows every bird on those telephone wires. The boy in the picture is Gene Bentzley, one of Falter's neighbors.
October 20, 1945
ADOPTED BY: JEFF FALTER IN MEMORY OF MATTIE RUDOLPH
The house John Falter painted for this week's cover, showing a family gathered for Sunday dinner and a visit, is a farm home north of Atchison, Kansas. It seemed pretty large to Falter when he started painting. He put his own relatives on the lawn, but Mrs. Falter kept offering suggestions as to relatives of her own who would be present at such an event, if this were her clan that were assembling. As a result, they all got into the picture. So there are sections of two families here—some of John's relatives and some of Mrs. Falter's. The aunt who is worried about where to seat everybody has a right to be worried. She expected to worry about one family reunion, and here there are two.
“HOLIDAY MAIL RUSH”
December 8, 1945
ADOPTED BY: SCOTT & JOAN MAGDANZ
When Artist John Falter set out to paint a picture of the Christmas-mail rush, he made his sketches in the busiest post office in the world, the one properly known as the New York, New York, Post Office, at 33rd Street and 8th Avenue. In spite of all the urging to mail early--did you?--the rush never gets fully under way until about this date. Then it's a torrent. In the first nineteen days of last December, this post office handled more that 12,000,000 parcels. The biggest day for mailing is December nineteenth, ordinarily, but the mailman's worst day, for deliveries, is December twenty-third. That is the day he staggers around under a sack of gifts that would discourage Santa Claus himself. Postmaster Albert Goldman and his brother postmasters would appreciate it if you would mail early this year--but they don't expect it.
January 12, 1946
ADOPTED BY: DELLA MEYER & DENNIS MEYER
In John Falter's memory-evoking painting of milking time at sundown, when lights gleam in the barn and kitchen, and supper is on the stove, there is a devil trap, if you know where to look. The decorations on the barn are traditional in Falter's neighborhood, which is Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and date back to the days when a gloomy belief in "hexing," or witchcraft, was general. The stars came into favor as an antihex mark, or witch repellent, a kind of countermeasure, like carrying a rabbit's foot. They jinxed the hex, if you follow. The arches painted over the barn window represent a foxy scheme to give the devil a headache. Seeing the arches--it was originally believed--the devil would mistake a small window for a big one, and crack his head when he tried to fly inside.
“THE WINDY CITY”
January 16, 1943
ADOPTED BY: THE CHICAGO O’HARE ROTARY CLUB
When business took Ken Stuart, the Post's Art Editor, to Chicago a year ago, he set out for the Art Institute, as an art editor should. But he never got there. On a Michigan Avenue corner near the Art Institute he saw a group of sailors gathered to observe the Chicago girls, as they battled for propriety against the famous Chicago winds. Mr. Stuart joined this gallery, and was so impressed with the scene that he mentioned it, as one wind lover to another, to John Falter, the artist. Falter went to Chicago to paint a typical windy day there, but found a corner he thought was far windier than it gets on Michigan Avenue. Falter chose a locality farther west--one corner of the Civic Opera House, where the wind howls down the Chicago River and gets a chance to work up real speed. Chicagoans probably will agree with Falter that it is windier where he was, but will agree with Stuart that the wind is prettier on Michigan Avenue.
May 18, 1946
ADOPTED BY: BUTCH AND DOBEY HAWS IN MEMORY OF JOHN C. & HARRIET RUDOLPH FALTER
The remodeling of the hopeful young couple expect to do to the house on our cover is nothing compared to the reverse, or retrograde, remodeling the artist did to the same house. John Falter saw the house on a visit to his old home town, Atchison, Kansas.
Seventy five years old, it would do nicely for a model, he thought, except for one little detail. The real house does not stand empty and is in the best of shape. It is occupied by the owner, Mr. Harry C. Fisher, a family friend. "I'd like to use the house in a painting." said Falter, "but I'll have to make a few changes." They were all to the bad: termites and twenty years of neglect couldn't do more harm than Falter did with his brush.
“MISSOURI RIVER VALLEY”
June 22, 1946
ADOPTED BY: JOHN MOREHOUSE IN MEMORY OF ARTHUR & LULU MOREHOUSE
You are looking across one of the great rivers of American--the Missouri--in this week's addition to our regional paintings. You are in Kansas, gazing across into Missouri. The town in the distance is Armour Junction. Those flat fields across the way are likely to disappear when the Missouri gets one of it's expansive moods. John Falter painted the scene when he visited a farm his father had just bought--painted it, in fact, from a bedroom window in the farmhouse. He had paints and brushes, but not canvas, so painted this one over an old picture which came with the house. The tag-along lad bringing up the rear of the little expedition--Lewis and Clark used the same route--is Falter's nephew.
“THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH”
July 13, 1946
ADOPTED BY: MARY JANE WEINERT
The smith is still a mighty man, but the village smithy no longer stands beneath the spreading chestnut tree. These days the smith is likely to be motorized. His forge is on a trailer, and when horses need shoeing, the blacksmith does the work on the farm, the shoes making a fine jingle as the trailer comes up the lane. It's one instance of he auto serving the horse. The blacksmith in John Falter's painting is Wilmer Benner, who operates in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where Falter lives. Benner comes from a long line of smiths: his father, grandfather, great grandfather and great-great-grandfather were blacksmiths before him. Falter sketched Benner at work on the neighboring farm owned by Paul Mosser.
August 17, 1946
ADOPTED BY: JIM & PAT MURPHY AND GABBY FRAZIER
The enthusiasm for sun bathing is so general, these days, that the roofs of any major American city would have provided a scene such as John Falter painted for this week's cover. He chose New York. The view is from the fifty-fourth floor of the Chrysler Building, looking south. There were sun bathers on almost every roof, stewing, frying and boiling in the early afternoon sun, some in quest of health, and more, perhaps, in quest of an expensive-looking sun tan. A good many office workers at that altitude stand prepared, in case anything really beautiful comes into view, to look more closely. They keep telescopes handy.
October 12, 1946
ADOPTED BY: SCOTT SCHOCK & LAURIE SCHOCK OBBINK FOR BILL SCHOCK
As a model for a typical drugstore of the kind in which thousands of Americans grab a quick lunch every day, John Falter chose a favorite at 20th Street and Fourth Avenue, in New York. It's a spot where Falter likes to eat when working in New York. For one reason, he knows the ordering lingo and gets fast service. If he wants a CC and J, he says so, and doesn't have to waste time saying "cream cheese and jelly." He's not so expert at this, however, as the new waitress who came to work there one day. By noon she knew the routine thoroughly, and called out, "I've got tuna plate a pair, four draws working with the cream up, a CC and J down and a stack of black and white." The newcomer's proficiency irked the girl behind the counter, "Harry," she told the counterman, "I want two pieces of whole-wheat toast." "What?" said Harry in astonishment. "All right," said the veteran, "two down brown."
November 30, 1946
ADOPTED BY: CATHY FALTER IN MEMORY OF JOHN W. & CATHERINE DOVEY FALTER
To begin with, the cover is by John Falter, and the setting is Atchison, Kansas. The man slumped in the red chair in the center of the room is John Falter's uncle, whose name also is John Falter. This is the home of a man named Bob Noll, and he is the only man who isn't here. The picture on the wall is from another house, and to leave you even further confused, the happy family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner is not a family. The people gathered here don't even know one another, and many of them never have been in the house where they are gathered. Falter thought these various friends of his looked like a family, and he painted them into a family. The woman clearing the table--in Atchison--is Falter's aunt. She was in New York at the time.
“CHRISTMAS IN FALLS CITY”
December 21, 1946
ADOPTED BY: FALLS CITY CHAMBER/MAINSTREET
As a setting for his picture of the last-minute Christmas rush, John Falter chose the town where he spent his boyhood, Falls City, Nebraska. The finished job is a mixture of paint and recollection. That water tower in the distance, for example, was a favored roost for Falls City boys on hot summer nights. They liked to sleep there. City authorities met in some alarm--the surrounding platform is seventy-five feet above ground--and forbade it. Falter had no trouble recalling the Christmas rush. As a boy, he worked in his father's clothing store on this street. A good many customers bought new outfits for the holidays, and young Falter was the pants runner--he ran trousers from the store to the tailor's, to get them shortened. Only customers appear in this painting. But the artist's sympathies doubtless are with those on the selling side of the counter.
“FRESH SNOW IN THE COUNTRY”
February 1, 1947
ADOPTED BY: THE ROTARY CLUB OF FALLS CITY
Fresh snow in the country is a scene John Falter always wanted to paint, for it seemed to him, as to John Ruskin, one of the few almost perfect sights. A snowdrift, Ruskin said, is of "inconceivable perfection and changefulness, it's surface and transparency alike exquisite, its light and shade of inexhaustible variety..." Falter felt the same way, and so did we, when he brought the painting in. Just how Falter feels today, we don't know. As this is written, the roads around Falter's home in the country are deep in freezing slush, and the streets of Philadelphia are the same. A man can't see the "inconceivable perfection" of a snowdrift half as well when the snow gets down his shoes. At the moment, we think Ruskin can have it.
March 1, 1947
ADOPTED BY: NORM & SHARON HONEA HORN
If the sunset and the mountains in John Falter's cowboy-laundry picture look familiar to residents of Phoenix, Arizona, that is because Falter made his sketches while in Phoenix last winter. Arizona patriots will be glad to hear that this cover is not merely a good portrait of a cowboy and some bowlegged drawers but is also a pictorial testimonial to Arizona's beneficial and medicinal climate. Falter went to Phoenix because he had contracted neuritis in his right, or painting, arm and couldn't finish a cover he had started. In the desert sunlight he recovered the use of his wing, finished the cover, and found material for this one. He liked Arizona so much that he returned this winter, although the neuritis didn't.
March 29, 1947
ADOPTED BY: LARRY WINDRUM
It is more than a spring downpour that John Falter records in this big-city scene; it is a phenomenon that weather experts keep still about, probably because they can't explain it, one of Nature's little practical jokes. The day will be beautiful from the time thousands of men and women settle down for the day's work until 4:55 in the afternoon; the sky smiling, not a cloud anywhere except a couple as innocent as cotton batting. But exactly at quitting time, at the moment best calculated to catch thousands between office and home, down comes the rain like a sack of water thrown from a hotel window or a pan rigged over the door on April Fools' Day. It quits just as punctually, when you reach home
April 19, 1947
ADOPTED BY: CODY, SARAH, AND BRAYDEN POPE
And you're out, as out as the mighty Casey himself.
Even without the razor-blade-advertising signs, many baseball fans will know that John Falter made his cover sketches in Yankee Stadium, a pleasant research chore that forced him to see three or four very good ball games. Instead of the winning hit or a homer, Falter selected a big moment of another kind. His subject is the satisfying moment when the visitors are at bat in a tight game, the gent with the club has two strikes on him, the home-town pitcher comes through with a beauty, the batter swings and misses. The Boston Red Sox were in town when Falter did his sketching last July, and they were on their way to the pennant.
May 24, 1947
ADOPTED BY: BUTCH & DOBEY HAWS IN TRIBUTE OF THE BOB APPLEOFF FAMILY
There is a Lovers' Lane in almost every community, so that John Falter's springtime cover might apply to any state or region. It is not one of our regional covers; it is just a study of an ancient custom, faithfully observed. But we ought to answer one question, of a kind that upsets observant people and keeps them fretting until they know the facts. The mystic letters "LS" and "Y" on the water tower do not represent the name of some town in Kentucky, the only state ending in Y. They are the exposed section of the words "Falls City." Falter grew up in Falls City, Nebraska; this lane was a favorite with the high-school set. We don't vouch for the size of that bushel-basket moon, but maybe that's the way Falter remembers it.