By Tom Hoehn, Guest Blogger and George Eastman House member (“and proud of it!”)
My name is Tom Hoehn, a longtime member of George Eastman House. The current exhibit, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera,” (which, by the way, is just fantastic!) brought back a memory from my days as a kid in Rome, N.Y., that I wanted to share as guest blogger.
I was a fan of Norman Rockwell’s paintings, who wasn’t? As a kid I would write letters to people and almost 100% of the time I would get a
personal response. I couldn’t text them, “friend” them on Facebook, Google their address. I had to take a pen (or pencil in my case) to paper. My kids, who can’t comprehend a world like this, wonder if dinosaurs wandered the streets of my hometown at that time as well.
I had a print of a Rockwell painting, his well-known self portrait, featuring him peeking around the canvas at a mirror. I had the idea of sending it to him for a signature. Industrious kid that I was I put it in a mailing tube and carefully penned his name in his trademark block letter style hoping to get his attention. I addressed it “Norman Rockwell, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.” It had to find its way to him. I was a kid, what did I know? I also enclosed two $1 bills for return postage.
A short time later I got a response! Unfortunately, it was my print, unsigned, with a letter stating he was under contract and couldn’t sign
prints. However, Mr. Rockwell took the time to send me this postcard.
I also noted he hand wrote his return address on the envelope. Taking time to personally respond to a kid. What a guy.
I was happy because I got my requested signature! But that isn’t the end of the story. About a week later I got another envelope from Norman Rockwell, again with a handwritten address. Enclosed was the reminder of my $2 — in 13-cent stamps!
That’s just so, well, Norman Rockwell!
Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.