Since Tuesday usually ends with some old cartoons, let's start with some really old cartoons.

For years I've been collecting the work of Rawson, a cartoonist who worked for the Minneapolis paper in the early part of the 20th century. His caricatures can be remarkable. Now and then he captures the essence of a personality or physiognomy with just a few deft lines.

Here's the whole page, celebrating local ladies:

Let us look at each in turn.

Her name was Isabel Davis. President of the Women's Club. Suffragette, reformer. Later arrested for pushing young women off a cliff.

Kidding! Our next luminary, doing her work while the modestly-attired fairies swim around her:

Swamped! No info I can find.

Contention-wise, she was a bone:

Mother of the Girls' Industrial School:

It was a reformatory. The fine print on the bill says "Sauk Center," the maligned home of Sinclair Lewis. The facility closed in 1999. Some of the campus is stil visible.

Savage breasts, soothed:

We usually don't hear about the rock-softening or oak-bending powers.

So . . . farm girls needed to be taught these things?

Seems like the sort of thing one own's ma would teach you about.

Dues are due! Don't make me brain you with my cudgel. I don't know my own strength. You'll probably DIE.

I doubt Mrs. Collins liked this one. She looks her age, and she looks weary of life and its responsibilities.

He'd do ads for local businesses as well, such as this one for Minneapolis auto maker Wilcox:

Car salesmen have been with us for over a hundred years. And they haven't changed much, I'll bet.

This one has a potent reference:

Peacock Alley! The passageway between the Congress Hotel and the Auditorium in Chicago.

This doesn't show the shops, which lined the corridor. Ad for Blum's, 1908:

This marvellous ad makes the place pop to life. Newspaper searches turn up dozens of stories about crime and fashion and gossip in Peacock Alley - it occupied a certain place in the metropolitan imagination.

Every time I think I have a reasonable account in my head of the bare minimum of 20th century civilization, I come up against something from the Oughts, and realize how little I know.






We begin our week-long study of . . .

Before we start, a reminder of an image that serves as a cultural test. An age test. What you read, what you see.

What does this mean?

I saw it in a second. Someone else to whom I showed it thought a second or two, and came up with the proper answer. What do you think? Answer at the bottom.

Let’s see how the bowl-of-gravel cereal evolved, ad-wise.

This masterpiece seems like an efficient example of the genre, complete with trustworthy blonde thin woman - and then it goes rather mad.

Did you notice?

Clever way of getting all the varieties in the ad.

  Mom seems to be doing some serious work here, really concentrating hard on getting it all right.

A series of ads took place in a spare suggestion of a midcentury suburban home.

  Where is that box coming from I can't remember oh right, over there


The busy corporate world, where a dude who looks like a frickin’ Sea Monkey gets it over on Tubby:

I guess they hired Danny Thomas to play the animated dad at the end.

Slim Down: Mom can be as youthful and slender as her daughter, if they both eat the same painful cereal.

The Seventies. We’re in a different paradigm now. Real people, with real accents, except for that first guy, I don’t know what he’s supposed to be. One of those guys who hangs around the margins of high society, maybe, until everyone realizes he’s a fraud, then he hangs around punk bars and everyone takes him in thinking he’s some disgraced duke or something.

Now two ways to chip in!


More tomorrow, and then some!

Oh - as for the four lines? Right. Dad, Mom, Suzie, and Bobby.





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