2009 photo of the old covered bridge located down the street from Norman Rockwell's West Arlington, Vermont, home. Photo by Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

2009 photo of the old covered bridge located down the street from Norman Rockwell's West Arlington, Vermont, home. Photo by Norman Rockwell Museum. All rights reserved.

Norman Rockwell Museum sends our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene last weekend.  Although the storm caused some flooding and areas of damage in the Berkshires, the county fared better than expected and, apart from some downed tree limbs, the Museum was left relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for certain areas of Vermont; our beautiful, green sister state; where Norman Rockwell lived and worked from 1939 to 1953. Several of the state’s iconic covered bridges were damaged and, in some cases, washed away. One such bridge is located just down the street from where Rockwell used to live in West Arlington. Watch this YouTube clip showing how the storm impacted the enduring bridge.

Rockwell’s Vermont home and studio (now a country inn), also seem to be doing ok according to their Facebook page, and a call to the Norman Rockwell museum/gallery in Rutland, confirms that they have been open this week, despite some nearby roads affected and closed due to damages.

"A Scout is Helpful," Norman Rockwell, 1941. Oil on canvas. Painting for 1941 Boy Scouts of America calendar. 34" x 24". Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©NRELC: Niles, IL.

"A Scout is Helpful," Norman Rockwell, 1941. Oil on canvas. Painting for 1941 Boy Scouts of America calendar. 34" x 24". Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©NRELC: Niles, IL.

The storm brings to mind a painting Rockwell created during his years in Arlington—1939’s A Scout is Helpful. Created for the 1941 Boy Scouts of America calendar, the illustration features a heroic, young Scout rescuing a child from a swollen river. Rockwell was inspired by the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which was the first major hurricane to hit New England since 1869. Both that storm and the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 affected towns as far north as the artist’s home town in Arlington. The striking composition, colors and textures of Rockwell’s painting add to the drama of the illustration; and visitors to Norman Rockwell Museum can view the original painting, part of our permanent collection and currently on view in our galleries.

The young girl who modeled for A Scout is Helpful was Mary Hall, who remembers her parents preparing her for the photo shoot with fine clothes and perfectly coiffed hair. Rockwell apologized and explained that she needed to look like she had endured a terrible storm, and had her hair wetted down to appear more disheveled for the reference photography. Ms. Hall went on to pose for several other Rockwell illustrations, and served as a tour guide at the Rutland, Vermont museum.

Wishing you all a happy (and safe) Labor Day weekend.

Related links:

Alternate driving routes to the Berkshires

New Yorker article: Requiem for a Covered Bridge

History.com article on The Great New England Hurricane

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