One of America’s favorite comic features for the last 30 years has been “Vignettes of Life,” a gently satirical cartoon treatment of human foibles and social mannerisms. No less today than at the time of its inception, this feature appeals to many readers because of the deftness of its characterizations. Readers can usually identify familiar personalities from among the cartoon characters—the man next door, the girl at the office, the youngster who lives in the corner house down the block.
“Vignettes” is created each week by Harry Weinert in the Inland Empire magazine of The Spokesman-Review on Sundays. Weinert was born in Royersford, Pa., in 1901, and developed an interest in art while attending Royersford public schools. His art training was furthered through studies at Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C.
After joining the art staff of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Weinert continued his studies at the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art, and later continued his studies abroad.
As a free lance artist he contributed to such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
His spare time art work is devoted chiefly to the study of early American arts and crafts, particularly Pennsylvania Dutch. Aside from the art field, his hobbies are travel and when possible, chugging around Great Egg Harbor bay, New York, in an outboard motorboat, crabbing and fishing.
The Weinerts remained at the same address in the 1920 census. Weinert was a newspaper artist. A New York passenger list, at Ancestry.com, recorded his return from Europe. Aboard the S.S. Republic, he sailed from Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York City October 16, 1928. His address was 619 North 17 Street in Philadelphia.
He has not been found in the 1930 census. According to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, at Ancestry.com, he married Regina M. Scally in 1936.
Philadelphia Inquirer Gold Seal Novels has an annotated list of illustrators, including Weinert, who contributed from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Philadelphia Directory 1950 had his address as “702 S Wash Sq”. In 1952, he took over Vignettes of Life when Kemp Starrett passed away.
Weinert passed away in December 1968, according to the Social Security Death Index. His last residence was in Philadelphia.]
Artists are supposed to be such very queer people. The popular conception of an artist is apt to be a temperamental eccentric who starves in a garret along with several lower class rodents. His nights are spent in ultra-bacchanalian orgies, popularly known as studio parties, his afternoons dedicated to his favorite model.
The Starretts—Kemp and Henrietta McCaig—are likely to upset the conventional idea. A bombshell, as it were, in the popular fancy.
Henrietta McCaig Starrett is the very same Henrietta McCaig Starrett whose delightful illustrations you find several times a month in the Saturday Evening Post. And Kemp Starrett’s pencil furnishes Life, the New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post with many of their sophisticated satiric sketches.
They are Brooklynites, now living in Forest Hills. It is in the charming living room of their red-brick, much bewindowed home that we find ourselves.
“Why do you think that the private life of the Starretts should make interesting reading? asked Kemp, as he sank still further back into his chair. “We are not leading especially thrilling lives at the moment. We haven’t the time. We are too busy to indulge in flagpole sitting or iceberg exploring—the stuff that current reading matter is made of. Of course, there may be Richard Halliburtons among artists as there are among writers; but you can’t swim the Panama Canal in the morning and draw pictures in the afternoon. At least I wouldn’t care to try.”
“I wouldn’t even swim the Gowanus Canal in the morning,” said Mrs. Starrett.
“But what about local girls?” asked Mrs. Starrett.
“Local girls, too,” I assured her.
“One of the most prevalent fallacies about artists,” observed Mr. Starrett, “is that they never work hard. It is true, of course, that some—myself, for instance—follow art to avoid going to work, but it usually turns out that they work harder than they might have if they had become traveling salesman for, let us say, a deep-sea divers’ outfitting concern. Drawing requires an infinite capacity for taking pains, as well as an innate sense of the significant that is really nothing but good taste. Every line should have some thought behind it. One stroke may make or ruin a picture. For the work that seems the most casual is often the most careful.
“A similar mistaken idea is that drawing is easy because the artist can daydream. It should be obvious that one is not creating when working mechanically. You cannot do anything important while you are wool-gathering in New Zealand or Montana or wherever it is that wool is gathered. Let’s see, what else does the popular mind believe about artists?”
“Well, you people are supposed to be very temperamental,” I ventured timidly.
“Personally,” said Henrietta Starrett, “I have tried so hard to be temperamental but it just doesn’t seem to work out. Yesterday I had almost roused myself to a perfectly swell nervous breakdown, but then all of a sudden it sploshed out and I was feeling fine. I doubt if I will ever be able to faint like other women. I have tried but nothing happened.”
So one more illusion was shattered.
“There is another thing,” said Henrietta. “People are always asking me whether an artist must read the stories she illustrates. Anybody with the horse sense of a reasonably intelligent horse ought to know better. I am having Kemp invent some sort of bomb that will blow up those persons all at once.”
“When I was seventeen,” said Mr. Starrett in reply to a question, “I wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist and I wanted to get on the Eagle.”
“The best I could get was a position in the advertising department at six dollars a week. But while there I submitted several cartoons almost anonymously, and they were printed. So when I was fired downstairs, which didn’t take long to happen, I revealed my identity and was taken into the art department. I stayed with the Eagle until I had to leave to make way for Nelson Harding. I worked for out-of-town papers for some time after and didn’t return to Brooklyn to live until after I had married my first wife, who died in 1918.”
“Kemp and I set up housekeeping in a duplex studio on Willow Street, on Brooklyn Heights,” said Mrs. Starrett. “And speaking of housekeeping, the dinner dishes are piled high on the drain board. “Would you care to help with them?”
As we splashed around in the dishpan I became much better acquainted with the Starretts.
Kemp was born in New York City, the son of Dr. Heydon Starrett of Brooklyn. Henrietta was born on South Oxford Street, the daughter of the actress, Jane Burby.
Her father was a theatrical manager, Charles Collins; her stepfather, Charles Treavathan, a writer and newspaperman (he wrote, among other song hits, “The New Bully,” for May Irwin). And her guardian was C.B. Smith, Sunday editor of the North American. So she should have been well taken care of.
She spent most of the first seventeen years of her life in a convent. She went from the convent to the stage (to play with James K. Hackett in “the Prisoner of Zenda”), then back to the convent. Twenty-four hours after she left the convent permanently she was in a life class in the Art Institute of Chicago.
She used to save her pennies to bet on horses recommended by her stepfather. Then she bet nickels till she had dimes, and dimes till she had dollars. Then she would have to start all over again.
She did fashion drawings for a while. But frocks and hats and doodads didn’t enthuse her, for no imagination was allowed. So when she had been fired by practically every department store in town she decided to give up.
She has been illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post for three years and is gaining in popularity with every issue in which she appears.
Both Henrietta and Kemp have been married before. Mrs. Starrett’s first husband was Robert McCaig, who also used to illustrate for the Post.
Kemp is forty, but not fat.
He has been on two other papers beside the Eagle which are now owned by Frank Gannett, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Albany Knickerbocker Press.
In Philadelphia he has worked on Munsey’s (now defunct) Times, the Public Ledger and the Evening Ledger. At twenty-five he became cartoonist for the New York Tribune.
He has never had a lesson in his life and never expects to take one. He likes humorousillustration best of all, although for some years he did serious illustrating for theSaturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Red Book, Good Housekeeping, and we could go on and on.
The toughest break in his life occurred when one of his magazines discovered it was overstocked, another dropped illustrated fiction, and two others failed, all in one week.
When he married Henrietta McCaig he had a check for sixty dollars from a well-known magazine in his pocket. When he cashed it, it was worth twenty-five cents on the dollar. Henrietta says that Kemp ought to have gone to the bank that day instead of The Little Church Around the Corner. She could have waited.
They work in the same house, but in separate studios. (So they won’t get their paint brushes mixed.) Henrietta has only one. It’s as sacred as her toothbrush.
And the only place they have ever been homesick for is Brooklyn Heights.
[William Kemp Starrett was born in New York, New York on October 6, 1889, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of three children born to Heydon and Emma. They lived in Brooklyn, New York at 805 Herkimer Street. His father was a doctor.
In the next census, they remained at the same address. Starrett was a newspaper cartoonist. He signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He was a self-employed cartoonist and illustrator who lived, with his unnamed wife, in Brooklyn at 54 East 17 Street. His description was tall, slender with gray eyes and black hair.
He was part of his father’s household in the 1920 census. They lived in Brooklyn at 30 Midwood Street. Starrett, a widower, was an illustrator and cartoonist. He remarried to Henrietta McCaig in the early 1920s. A passenger list, at Ancestry.com, recorded them, having returned from Bermuda to New York City, on November 8, 1923. Their address was 30 Willow Street, Brooklyn.
In the 1930 census they lived in Forest Hills, New York at 27 61st Drive (Pilgrim Street). Both of them were magazine illustrators. A list of some of their work is at The FictionMags Index. His mother-in-law lived with them. The January 10, 1932 Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted their move to Connecticut: “Mr. and Mrs. W. Kemp Starrett of Pilgrim St. have taken up their residence at their new home at Comstock Hill, Norwalk, Conn.” He was the first artist on the 1937 strip, Roy Powers, Eagle Scout. (The first weeks are here 1 2 3 4 6 6a 7 8 9 10 11) In 1939 he took over Vignettes of Life from J. Norman Lynd.
Phoenixville, Pa.—Cartoonist W. Kemp Starrett, 62, died July 9 at his farm, “The Grindstone”, near here. Hisfirst cartoon was published in the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Eagle when he was 18. He drew the “Vignettes of Life”, a feature which has appeared in many newspapers. He started his career as a political cartoonist on the Philadelphia Times about 1916. Later he held similar positions on the New York Tribune and on papers in Albany, N.Y., and Providence, R.I.]
John Norman Lynd was born in Northwood, Ohio on November 15, 1878. His birthplace was recorded on a 1907 passenger list at Ancestry.com, and the birthdate was on his World War I draft card. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, he was the only child of John and Belle. They lived in Richland, Ohio. His father was a minister. The New York Times, November 9, 1942 obituary said, “…Mr. Lynd spent most of his youth in London and North Ireland where he was educated…”
On June 1, 1907, he and his brother, Ralph, a foreign correspondent, sailed from Londonderry, Ireland. They arrived in New York City on the tenth; their final destination was 82 Sterling Place in Brooklyn. The passenger list said Lynd’s occupation was draughtsman. The Times said, “…He returned to this country in 1907, becoming associated with The Herald soon after his arrival….”
In the 1910 census, he was married to Isobel, a Welsh emigrant, and lived in Manhattan, New York City at 522 West 136 Street. They had been married for two years. The household included his brother and sister, Dora. Lynd worked at home as an artist. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 300 Denton Avenue in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York, where he was a newspaper artist. His description was tall, medium build with blue eyes and brown hair. In 1919 he produced You Know How It Is.
Lynd passed away November 7, 1942, at his home in Lynbrook, according to the Times. The cause was a heart attack.
Francis Wood “Frank” Godwin was born in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 1889, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the third of four children born to Harry and Annie. His father, who had passed away before the census, was an editor at the Washington Star, according to a New York Times obituary, August 6, 1959. Harry’s brother, Thomas, a photographer, lived with the family. They lived in Hackensack, New Jersey on Maple Avenue. The New York Times said, “…As a young man he became an art apprentice for The Star and attended the Art Students League of New York. He became a friend of James Montgomery Flagg, the artist, with whom he shared a studio at one time. Mr. Godwin did cartoons for Judge magazine.” On November 25, 1909, Godwin married Grace Congleton in Hackensack, as reported in the New York Times on the same day.
In the 1910 census, the couple lived in Washington, D.C. at 3138 Q Street. His occupation was newspaper artist. Godwin signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He lived in Philadelphia at 620 Washington Square, and was an artist at N.W. Ayer & Sons. His description was tall height, medium build with blue eyes and black hair. The Washington Post, August 29, 1918, noted his progress in the army, “…Fourteen more Washington men have been commissioned in the army as follows:…Francis W. Godwin, 1466 Chaplin street northwest, second lieutenant, sanitary corps…” The Milwaukee Journal (Wisconsin), August 30, 1931, published a profile of Godwin that said, “…When the World War came he went in as a motion picture camera man, but was soon assigned to the air service, where he became a pilot.”
He has not been found in the 1920 census; perhaps he was still serving in the army. His wife, four children and mother-in-law lived in Manhattan, New York City at 107 Waverly Place. His wife was the proprietor of a tea room. The New York Times said, “…Godwin had done illustrations for Collier’s, Liberty and Cosmopolitan magazine…” In 1924 he started Vignettes of Life, which was taken over by J. Norman Lynd in 1927. In the mid-1920s he divorced his wife. His strip Connie began in 1929 (not 1927 as widely reported — Allan).
His illustrated books include The Blue Fairy Book (1921), Uncle Henry (1922), Robin Hood (1923), The Black Arrow (1923), Tales From Shakespere (1924), Treasure Island (1924), Kidnapped: The Adventures of David Balfour (1925), Robinson Crusoe (1925), King Arthur and His Knights (1927), The Ten Dreams of Zach Peters (1927), The Swiss Family Robinson (1929), and The Book of Courage (1929).
On April 27, 1942, he signed his World War II draft card. He lived in New York City at 153 East 45 Street. He was self-employed, and his description was six feet two inches, 300 pounds, with blue eyes and black hair. His strip Rusty Riley started in 1948. The New York Times said, “…His brother, Harold P. of New Hope, does the continuity for the weekly version of ‘Rusty Riley.’ The daily continuity is done by Rod Reed….”
Godwin passed away, at home, August 5, 1959, in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The cause was a heart attack. The New York Times published his obituary the following day.
Louis Wilfred “Lou” Hanlon was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 12, 1882, according to his World War I and II draft cards; his full name is from Who’s Who in American Art, Volume 2 (1938). In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of five children born to Michael and Jennie. They lived in Brooklyn at 139 Cumberland Street. His father was a printer and he was a designer. The date of his move to Pennsylvania is not known. Who’s Who said he was a pupil of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Drexel Institute, and the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art.
In 1910 Hanlon lived in Aldan, Pennsylvania on Providence Road, just west of Philadelphia. He was a newspaper artist. He signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived in Philadelphia at 1022 Walnut. His occupation was newspaper artist at the Public Ledger. His nearest relative was his wife Anna. He was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and hair.
On April 25, 1942, he signed his World War II draft cards. He remained in Richmond Hill at a different address, 86-31 105 Street. He worked for the Daily Mirror. His description was five feet seven-and-a-half inches, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair. In March 1946, he was a member of the National Cartoonists Society.
Hanlon passed away May 5, 1954, in New York City. The Times said he died “…of a heart ailment. He was a charter member of the Society of Illustrators and a member of the Silurians, a society of old-time newspaper men; the Philadelphia Pen and Pencil, and the Circus Saints and Sinners. Mr. Hanlon was an amateur astronomer and actor and an authority on Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan.” He was buried at the Saint John Cemetery in Middle Village, New York.
Charles Davis Mitchell was born in Wilmington, Delaware on May 18, 1885, according to the Delaware Birth Records at Ancestry.com. Who Was Who in American Art (1985) has the same place and date. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, he was the oldest of three children born to Charles and Caroline. They lived in Camden, New Jersey at 401 North Second. His father was a contractor. Mitchell provided interior illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post as early as April 1907, and continuing into the mid-1920s.
Social Snapshots was another weekly feature he produced during the 1920s. In the second half of the 1920s, Mitchell contributed to The Delineator, Liberty, College Humor, McCall’s and others.
He has not been found in the 1930 census. His magazine contributions included Physical Culture, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal and Redbook. On August 22, 1938, they arrived, aboard the S.S Queen Mary, in New York City from Southampton, England.
Mitchell passed away March 30, 1940, in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the New York Times, which published the news on April 2. The article said he was 53 years old, which was incorrect, so most sources have 1887 as his birth year.
In the next census, they remained in Buffalo, but at 143 North Pearl. His father was a claims agent. According to his New York Times, October 25, 1963 obituary, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. In the World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976), Maurice Horn wrote, “…after freelancing cartoons to magazines around the country, he came to New York City in 1915. When WWI rolled around he enlisted in the Marines, became sports editor of The Leatherneck, the Corps’ publication, and was sent overseas with the American Expeditionary Force.” Russell signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1918. He resided at 136 East 16th Street, Manhattan, New York City. He worked for the Western Electric Company. His description was medium height, slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair. History of Buffalo and Erie County, 1914-1919 (1920) had this entry, “Russell, Clarence D.—1st-class Pvt., Co. F, 11th USM.”
He has not been found in the 1930 census. Famous Artist & Writers said, “He signed a contract with King Features in 1930.” According to E. Simms Campbell‘s January 29, 1971 obituary in the New York Times, “…C.D. Russell, creator of ‘Pete the Tramp,’ encouraged and advised him…” His strip Pete the Tramp, began on January 10, 1932. Snorky was one of three toppers he used on Pete the Tramp. A 1937 issue of the Judge printed instructions for his word game.
Before the paper and pencils are put back in the desk drawer, a neat game for groups of two, three or four is “Letter-Go,” an invention of cartoonist C.D. Russell, who is also the inventor of Pete the Tramp. Each player rules off, free-hand, a box containing twenty- five squares. This is done by making six horizontal lines about a half inch apart and crossing them with six more half inch apart vertical lines. The players then take turns in calling out letters. Each letter, as it is called, must be placed by each player in any one of his twenty-five squares, and no erasing either. The object is to make words horizontally and vertically. When all the squares have been filled in, papers are exchanged and scores totaled. A five-letter word counts 10, a four-letter word 5 and a three-letter word 2. Two-letter words don’t count at all. Neither do proper names nor foreign words. Also, adding an “s” on the end of a singular word to make it into a plural is just a waste of time. Your opponents will only allow you the singular. A perfect score is 100 — five five-letter words each way. But in stiff competition you should be able to pick up the marbles with anything in the neighborhood of 70.
Russell signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was a cartoonist for King Features. His description was 5 feet 8 inches and 165 pounds, with blue eyes and gray hair. He was involved in the founding of the National Cartoonist Society in 1946.
Russell passed away on October 23, 1963, according to U.S. Veterans Gravesites. However, the New York Times October 25 obituary said he, “…died of cancer Tuesday [October 22] in Kingsbridge Veterans Hospital, the Bronx. He was 67 years old and lived in Fort Lee, N.J.” That Tuesday date was used in the World Encyclopedia of Comics. He was buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. Pete the Tramp ended December 22, 1963. A list of his comic book credits is at the Grand Comics Database.
United Friends Entertainment.
The Pupils of School No. 2 Grandly Observe Arbor Day.
Class Graduation Photo
And We Appreciate the Fact.
Cartoonist of Much Promise.
Outshines All Others.
The Dasher…capsized and two forms were seen struggling in the water….
…Editor Joslyn forgot all the rules he had ever learned about rescuing drowning people in his eagerness to get an item and hastily taking out his note book began to take down the frightened utterances of the now almost exhausted young men. Claude Toles was also glued to the boat without power to render assistance. His artistic abilities did not leave him for an instant however and he was soon sketching the scene for the next issue of the Police Gazette….
…the two young men in the water had demonstrated to their own satisfaction that they could not swim they began to sink only to find that the water was only a little above their knees and that they in reality had been in no danger at all. They waded to shore…
…The incident illustrates the need of a life saving station and it is probable that Mayor Bundy will call the attention of the common council of Bohemia to the fact at the next meeting, also to adopt suitable resolution and prepare a leather medal for Messrs. Joslyn and Toles who by leaving the young men alone allowed them to reach the shore in safety.
“I ought not to stop speaking without adding that the success of this exhibit is due largely to the co-operation of Mr. Toles, who from the first has given a great deal of his time to the details of the work, and without him the exhibition could never have been.”
Claude E. Toles, a former well known resident of this city died last evening at 6 o’clock, at the home of his father-in-law, Dr. E.G. Drake, at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson. A telegram to that effect was received in the city last evening by the deceased’s mother, Mrs. Estelle M. Toles, widow of the late Wallace Toles, who resides at 503 Baldwin street. The particulars of the unexpected demise of the young man have not been learned. For a couple of years past he has resided in Baltimore.