The Party Wire by Norman Rockwell
March 22, 1919 Issue of Leslie's
The Party Wire, this Norman Rockwell painting, appeared on the cover of Leslie's published March 22, 1919.
This was the sixth cover by Rockwell to appear on Leslie's and the only one in 1919. Only six Rockwell covers were published by Leslie's from 1916 to 1919. Rockwell only submitted to this smaller magazine after the bigger publishers had declined to publish the cover illustration.
Rockwell's preference and his first choice of publication was The Saturday Evening Post. He believed, and his career showed, that the cover of the Post was America's biggest showcase window for artists.
This painting was also reproduced on the back cover of April 1920 issue of The Telephone Review magazine. However it was printed in black and white, instead of color.
The Party Wire
Well, it would appear that there were no private telephone calls in rural America in 1919.
At that time, and even later, the party wire was how most telephone service was provided. In the United States, before World War II, party lines were the usual way that residential telephone customers accessed local phone service.
This painting was only one of numerous Norman Rockwell magazine covers;
Here is the complete list of all Norman Rockwell magazine covers.
The party wire was handy in case of emergency, such as fire.
However, privacy on the telephone was virtually non-existent with a party wire such as this.
This lady is proof of just how public private conversations could be come. And quickly.
This lady has apparently just overheard something. Whether she is shocked, amazed or merely amused, her facial expression conveys speechlessness. We do not know whether she accidentally picked up the telephone receiver on purpose or not. We do, however, know that she can hang it back up any time she pleases.
Apparently, she gets some enjoyment out of being shocked! Hang up the phone, lady .
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