Saturday, July 31, 2021

August First

For reasons known only to my legions of Facebook friends, today's post is devoted to the cartoons your great-grandfather might have read when he opened the newspaper 100 years ago tomorrow.

"All in Readiness for the Home-coming" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, August 1, 1921
Cliff Berryman's cartoon concerns the brand spanking new Governor of Illinois, Republican Lennington Small, under indictment for embezzling state funds while state Treasurer. He would be found not guilty, but lost a later civil suit in which he was ordered to reimburse the state $650,000.

"The Handwriting on the Wall" by Rollin Kirby in New York Evening World, August 1, 1921

I have a couple examples here of complaints against profiteering landlords. Leo Bushnell's, and some of the other cartoons here today, appeared by syndication to the newspapers where I found them, and thus may have originally appeared in their home newspapers in July.

"Mr. Prof. I. Teer and Family Have Closed Their Town House..." by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. August 1, 1921
Bushnell's cartoon about landowner profiteers takes the unusual approach of criticizing them for depriving children of a place to play. Has society really changed so much that once upon a time the expansive estates of the rich were the playgrounds of the poor? 

Then somebody had to go and invent gates.
"Revising Our Tax Schedule" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August 1, 1925

Leaping to the defense of the rich, we have Jay "Ding" Darling. For a whole month, his cartoons in Collier's had been crusading against the Excess Profits Tax. The Excess Profits tax had been created to help pay for the Great War; so now that the world was safe for democracy, Ding's reasoning was that the tax had become an unnecessary burden.

"Snoozing Won't Ripen This Crop" by Winsor McCay for Star Company, ca. August 1, 1921
Yet even with Republicans firmly in control of all three branches of government, the GOP couldn't quite bring itself to cut off that revenue entirely.
"The Relief of Disabled Veterans" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, ca. August 1, 1921

For one thing, there was the matter of how the nation should repay its debt to disabled servicemembers who had done their part to ensure democracy's safety. In June, the House passed the Sweet Bill — named for Rep. Thaddeus Sweet (R-NY) and not to be confused with the Sugary Drinks Tax Act of 1921, also known (I kid you not) as the SWEET Act — mentioned in John McCutcheon's above cartoon. The Sweet Bill created a veterans insurance bureau out of discrete agencies already in existence, to handle veterans' claims for compensation.

Since McCutcheon's cut lines are difficult to read, here they are: "The noble performance of Congressman Flapdoodle during the war. / The performance of Congressman Flapdoodle nearly three years after the war." Flapdoodle's soaring patriotic wartime oratory is succeeded by a decision to procrastinate "till the weather is cooler."

The Senate must not have yet passed the Sweet Bill when McCutcheon drew this cartoon; I guess he didn't have a Senator character who would have been a more appropriate replacement for his Congressman Flapdoodle. 

President Harding signed the bill into law in August.

"Here's Your Summons..." by C. Boughton in Life magazine, August 4, 1921

I had almost used this Life cartoon last month in my post about men's summer fashions, but I've let it wait until today instead. I've never seen Father Time drawn with only his beard to maintain his modesty —often it's hard to distinguish him from Diogenes or Mr. Death — but apparently the summer of 1921 was too hot for the wearing of a black robe.
"Man the Master" by Alfred G. "Zere" Ablitzere in New York Post, August 1, 1921
Keep in mind that these were the days before air conditioning became widespread. You didn't have to have triple-digit temperatures outside to make summer unbearable inside. This is how most Americans kept cool back in 1921, so I'm a little surprised that this fellow made it to middle age without figuring out how to get a large block of ice into the icebox.
"And Right There Is Where I Made My Big Mistake" by Harold Webster in New York Herald, August 1, 1921
Well, you live and learn. And some guys take their sweet time about it.
"How to Hold a Husband" by T.E. Powers for Star Company, ca. August 1, 1921

And where would the comics be without such fellows?

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