Depression art.


Art-Deco cartoon of Ethel Hays

Born this day in 1869 Ellis Parker Butler was a full time banker and a part time author.  Between 1931 and 1936 Ethel Hays illustrated his short stories.  She was a well known cartoonist of the 20’s and 30’s and later became a childrens book illustrator.

I pose a question here, and feel free to comment if you have an insight.  If we look at art in the great depression 1930 – 1936 and compare it with art in the recent depression 2008 – 2014 ; can we draw any commonalities?  What are the major themes that emerge?

A Minute; by Ellis Parker Butler

She plucked a blossom fair to see;
upon my coat I let her pin it;
and thus we stood beneath the tree
a minute.

She turned her smiling face to me;
I saw a roguish sweetness in it;
I kissed her once;—it took, maybe,
a minute.

The time was paltry, you’ll agree;
it took but little to begin it;
but since my heart has not been free
a minute.

Completely un-PC

Born Dec 5th in 1869 it is little surprise that this poem of Ellis Parker Butler would not pass muster in the PC world we live in today.  I had a good laugh today listening to Matt Cooper on Today FM Drivetime interviewing an American author who wrote a book on the coddled generation of the USA.  He explained about one group of easily offended individuals who are members of Protected Interest Groups.  Cooper asked if they were offended by the acronym of their designation and the author cracked up laughing.  He had never realised that these so easily offended folk were calling themselves P.I.G.s.

Happy birthday Mr Butler.


A Culinary Puzzle; by Ellis Parker Butler

In our dainty little kitchen,
where my aproned wife is queen
over all the tin-pan people,
in a realm exceeding clean,
oft I like to loiter, watching
while she mixes things for tea;
and she tasks me, slyly smiling,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Hidden in a big blue apron,
her dimpled arms laid bare,
and the love-smiles coyly mingling
with a housewife’s frown of care —
see her beat a golden batter,
pausing but to ask of me,
as she adds a bit of butter,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Then I bravely do my duty,
guess it, “pudding,” “cake” or “pie,”
“dumplings,” “waffles,” “bread” or “muffins;”
but no matter what I try,
this provoking witch just answers:
“Never mind, just wait and see!
But I think you should be able,
dear, to guess what this will be.”

Little fraud! she never tells me
until ’tis baked and browned —
and I think I know the reason
for her secrecy profound —
she herself with all her fine airs
and her books on cookery,
could not answer, should I ask her,
“Dearest, what will that mess be?”