“Saying Grace” is the title of a Norman Rockwell painting that appeared on the November 24, 1951 Thanksgiving issue of the Saturday Evening Post. In 1955 it was voted as “Everyone’s Favorite” in a poll taken by The Saturday Evening Post® which had paid Rockwell $3500 for the original (equivalent to about $34,000 in 2018 dollars).
That was quite a tidy sum in those days but nothing compared to the $46 million dollars it sold for in 2013 at a Sotheby’s art auction after a nasty legal battle among Rockwell’s estate. The buyer’s name was not identified.
I subscribed to the rejuvenated Saturday Evening Post® a couple years ago primarily because it advertised that it would feature Rockwell’s art and because I felt the stories it featured would be of interest to the readers of this column; and that’s exactly where this story originated. Supplemental facts are from Wikipedia.
Norman Rockwell was one of America’s most prolific well known artists (he called himself and illustrator) with more than 4000 original works, 321 or 323 (depending on what you read) were covers for The Saturday Evening Post spanning a period of five decades! That is so humbling to me; I have a hard time doing a weekly AAS column! It was both inspiring and humbling to read his accomplishments in Wikipedia as I was preparing for this column.
But what intrigues me about “Saying Grace” (take a minute or two to Google it so you get a visual image of what a $46 million painting looks like) is the subject matter: a grandmother and grandson bowing to say grace over lunch in a crowded, rather modest restaurant while two other patrons at their shared table look on with intense interest.
The painting was done in 1951, a wonderful time in American life during which many of you readers grew up. I was eight at the time. I had a stay-at-home mom who looked after our VERY modest home and made sure we all had clean clothes from her wringer washer in the basement that were dried on the clothes line in summer and in the basement in the winter. Materially, life was lean but I didn’t even know it. Spiritually and emotionally, it was rich; we even walked to church together as a family for several years before we got a car.
“Saying Grace” depicts that time in our national culture where saying grace at the table before meals was a very common expression of faith, whether in private or in public. Today, not so much. In fact, more and more our public demonstrations of faith are scorned by popular culture which causes me grave concern for the future of my grandchildren and our nation.
But no matter what our culture says, to paraphrase a quote from Joshua 24:15, as for me and my house, we will continue to “say grace” (I prefer “Give Thanks”) before meals because I know they are a gift from God and I never want to take them for granted. Let us always remember we are blessed beyond measure to be born and raised in this country where most of us have three meals a day and we’re free to “say grace” over them if we wish.
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org