Boy in a Dining Car 1946
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Using a dining car from the New York Central's Lake Shore Limited as his setting, Rockwell captured a moment in his own son's life that he thought would touch a common cord. Inspired by H. K. Browne's illustration of a similar scene in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, Rockwell's painting describes a young boy's first experience of calculating a waiter's tip. At Rockwell's request the New York Central diverted a dining car bound for Albany to New York City where he and his ten-year-old son Peter met it for a model shoot. Once there, he decided the "20th Century Limited" was too modern and requested an older model. The first three dining car waiters he interviewed were unsuitable for the role. The following week an older car and a twenty-eight year veteran waiter were provided, all to Rockwell's satisfaction. In appreciation for the efforts of the Railroad, Rockwell included a postcard of their 20th Century Limited locomotive on the boy's table and the Post credited them in the cover's caption resulting in $10,000 worth of publicity for the New York Central.
Painting for The Saturday Evening Post cover, December 7, 1946