Norman Rockwell loomed large in the March/April issue of UpCountry magazine, and we received so much positive feedback for it that I wanted to thank you, dear readers, for sharing it.
Meanwhile, one reader prompted an inquiry into whether Joe’s Diner in Lee, Mass., was the actual setting for Rockwell’s “The Runaway.” That’s the 1958 illustration of the state police trooper conversing with a boy — the runaway — at a lunch counter while the cook listens in.
Our reader sourced Ed Locke, who as a boy modeled as the runaway, to clarify. According to Locke, Rockwell posed the group at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant on Pittsfield-Lenox Road in Lenox, Mass. And it was there that Rockwell took the primary reference photo that served as the basis of the painting.
From there, Rockwell sought inspiration elsewhere for the painting’s background details — the lunch menu, the pie case, the coffee setup. Rockwell took reference photos of these things too. And those images probably came from a diner located in Housatonic, Mass., according to Jeremy Clowe, the Norman Rockwell Museum’s manager of media services.
“Who knows whether Rockwell might have been influenced by Joe’s, among the diners in the area, but the museum cannot confirm that,” Clowe said.
Meanwhile, “The Runaway,” which has been on tour, is about to return home. The illustration will be back at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., in June.
My suggestion? Go eat breakfast at Joe’s Diner, and then visit “The Runaway” for yourself.
Kevin Moran, Editor