Norman Rockwell - Family Tree
Norman Rockwell defined our week as I grew up in Moline. We always received the Saturday Evening Post, so we looked forward to his covers. The same magazine covers were kept by our teachers and framed for our classrooms, so the humor continued. In doctor's offices, I still see the famous illustration of the boy examining the doctor's diploma as he awaits his shot. The humor of the painting dispels the anxiety...somewhat.
We also received Boy's Life, another large and well written magazine. Rockwell painted for them as well. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were big in that era. I had a uniform, handed down, and peaked at the level of Wolf, with one gold and one silver arrow. I quickly ran out of awards which could be earned without going outdoors. Reading the Post was more interesting.
When my wife and I saw a sign for the Norman Rockwell museum, we went there without hesitation. Moline was very much a Norman Rockwell town, with parks and baseball games and amateur theater. Any day at Melo-Cream brought an array of colorful characters, from the DJs of WQUA to the permanent residents living on the margin of society. Several visitors could be counted upon to ask for a little work to tide them over, from time to time. My father would give them a broom, which they pushed slowly and reluctantly through the shop, growing thirstier by the minute for their reward. One man, round enough to be the Pillsbury Dough-boy, told me about the cure for alcoholism - eating brewer's yeast each day. That quenched the craving for John Barleycorn. He did not seem to be benefiting from the cure.
Even the most eccentric characters were no threat. Like Mayberry on TV, Moline had characters who knew their limits.
One time our night watchman came in for a rest and coffee. His technique was to leave paper scraps in doors, to check on whether anyone had entered a business after hours. Someone pointed out that the slips also told robbers when he had last been there. No one minded much because robberies were extremely rare, even at a 24 hour shop like Melo Cream.
The watchman was complaining about how tired he was when a well dressed gentleman said, "I have cool room where you can rest as long as you want."
The watchman said, "No thanks."
When they left, I asked one of the workers, "Who was the man in the suit?"
"The funeral director from down the street."