The battle of Charleston, 1960
Chapter heading for My Adventures as an Illustrator
One day in 1917 Rockwell witnessed a group of wounded World War I merchant seamen in his subway train. He was so moved by the sight that he impulsively decided to enlist in the service. There was only one problem-he was 17 pounds under the required weight. Rockwell's 5' 11 Â½" frame only weighed 130 pounds. The recruiters suggested that he eat seven pounds of bananas and doughnuts while drinking water for a quick weight gain. Their prescription worked and Rockwell was ordered to report to the Brooklyn Naval Yard where in the morning he was scheduled to sail to Ireland as painter/varnisher of airplane insignias. When a German submarine was spotted ahead of the ship, they diverted to Charleston, South Carolina. Once they'd docked at Charleston, Rockwell's civilian work experience was reviewed and he was assigned to the camp's newsletter, Afloat and Ashore. For two days a week Rockwell worked on illustrations and layouts for the newsletter; the remainder of the week was his to work on his own painting as long as it related to the Navy. He drew portraits of the officers and sailors and even managed to do cover work for Life and the Saturday Evening Post. Although Rockwell made the most of his months in the Navy, he didn't feel he was being very useful and he became eager to resume civilian life. At the time, Rockwell was painting portraits of Captain Mark St. Clair Ellis and his wife. He told Ellis that there was one place in the whole country that had the most beautiful picture frames-Knoedler's in New York. Since Ellis considered the portraits to be masterpieces, he sent his aide to find out how Rockwell could get a discharge in order to purchase his frames. The Navy was prohibiting honorable discharges at the time so there were only two ways to get out, a dishonorable discharge or an inaptitude discharge. It was agreed to take the latter. One day after leaving Charleston, Rockwell shipped three of Knoedler's gaudiest frames to Captain Ellis.