Thursday, April 6, 2017

Joseph Allen Minturn (1861-1943)

One hundred years ago today, on April 6, 1917, the United States, with its declaration of war on Germany, entered the Great War, what we now call the First World War or World War I. By the time of the armistice nineteen months later, more than 4.7 million men had answered the call to arms, and more than 110,000 had died in combat, of disease, and by other causes. One who served was Joseph Allen Minturn of Indianapolis, a lawyer, artist, and clubman remembered for being one of the oldest of the officers inducted into the U.S. Army for service in that long-ago war.

Joseph Allen Minturn, known as Joe, was born in Nelsonville, Ohio, on June 20, 1861, shortly after the start of the Civil War. He arrived in Indianapolis in the American centennial year of 1876 and graduated from Indianapolis High School in 1877. Minturn furthered his education at Pennsylvania Military Academy (now Widener University), where he studied civil engineering and chemistry and received his Ph.D. in 1880, and at the law school of Indiana University, completing his studies there in 1895. Minturn started a wood engraving business in Indianapolis in 1881, became a patent attorney in 1895, and was admitted to practice before U.S. Federal Court in 1895 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1910. In 1901, Minturn served in the Indiana State Legislature.

Just shy of his fifty-sixth birthday, Minturn enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1917. In June, the army imposed an age limit of fifty-four for enlistees, and Minturn was discharged. He promptly went to Washington, D.C., and, after a month of lobbying, was reinstated and ordered to report to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis in July 1917. As a newly minted second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps, he was next stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky and began learning about landscape drawing, military draftsmanship, and the new art of camouflage. Service at Camp Sherman, in Minturn's native state of Ohio, followed.

In July 1918, Minturn went overseas with the 309th Engineers, 84th Division, and became an instructor in camouflage and military sketching at Army Infantry Specialists' School in Langres, France. He acted as an observer on the Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel fronts and served at General Headquarters in Chaumont. Minturn was promoted to first lieutenant in 1918, to captain in April 1919, and was discharged after two years of service in July 1919. He was then fifty-eight years old.

Once returned to civilian life, Joe Minturn continued in his career as an author and illustrator. He had earlier written Inventor's Friend, or Success with Patents (Indianapolis, 1893), Price-Regulation Under Patents (Indianapolis: Minturn & Woerner, 1916), and The Puritans: An Historical Poem of America, etc. (Noblesville, IN: Butler Printing House, 1917). His book The American Spirit (1921), with illustrations by himself and others, is an account of Minturn's service in the army. (1) Next came Brown County Ballads ([Indianapolis], 1928), Frances Slocum of Miami Lodge, etc. (Indianapolis: Globe Pub. Co., 1928), and finally Historical and Other Poems (Indianapolis: Globe Publishing Co., 1939). (2)

Joseph Minturn was married twice and had two daughters. He was a member of the Methodist Church, Knights of Pythias, Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, American Legion, Indiana Society of Mayflower Descendants, and Service Club of Indianapolis. (3) Most of the information here is from the book The Service Club of Indianapolis, 1920-1955, compiled by Howard C. Caldwell (1955). For many years, Minturn was the club's oldest member. He had a farm in Hamilton County, north of Indianapolis, and a cabin, called "Miami Lodge," in Brown County, well south of the city. There he carried on his hobby of painting. Minturn was also of course an engraver and illustrator, and he was lifelong friends with Indianapolis artist and art instructor William Forsyth (1854-1945).

Joseph Allen Minturn died on April 3, 1943, at age eighty-one, and was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

(1) To see the book in its entirety, click on the link:

(2) The list of Minturn's books is from Ohio Authors and Their Books by William Coyle, editor (1962), and Indiana Authors and Their Books 1816-1916, by R.E. Banta, editor (1949), by way of the website Strangers to Us All: Lawyers and Poetry, here.
(3) Minturn, an amateur genealogist, was descended on his mother's side from John Howland and Elizabeth Tillie or Tilley of the original colony. In that descent, he was related to George W. Bush, Chevy Chase, Sarah Palin, and Ted Danson, among many, many others.

Joseph Allen Minturn (1861-1943), a photograph taken in January 1918 in Chaumont, France. Known as tallest man in his company at Fort Harrison, Minturn was best remembered by the men with whom he served for his age and for his snow-white thatch of hair.

Above, a number of illustrations from Minturn's book The American Spirit (1921).

Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Esther Friend (1907-1991)

Illustrator, commercial artist, ceramist, printmaker, and fine artist Esther Friend was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, in 1907. She began her professional career at age twelve when she created a Christmas poster for a neighborhood dry goods store for the grand sum of $2. At fourteen, she started work with a commercial art and advertising agency washing brushes. In exchange for her labor, she received not pay but instruction in drawing and illustration. Esther also attended the school of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Vogue School and spent a year studying art in Paris.

Esther Friend worked as a commercial artist in the same agency where she had, as a teenager, washed brushes. After ten years on the job, she approached Chicago publisher Rand McNally and Company with her portfolio and came away with an assignment to illustrate a children's book. It was the first of her eighty-five illustrated books, mostly to do with babies, children, pets, and farm animals. In her search for subject matter, Esther went to parks, playgrounds, dog shows, zoos, and the children's room at the local library. In addition to drawing pictures for small books, she collected small books, some dating back as early as 1804.

Esther met Carl W. Lichtenstein, her husband-to-be, at a summer place in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Born in Detroit in 1902, Lichtenstein (and his twin brother) grew up in Indianapolis, attended Public School 32, and graduated from Technical High School in 1919. Lichtenstein (and his twin brother) worked for the Flickinger insurance agency in Indianapolis. In 1933, following their summer romance, Carl W. Lichtenstein and Esther Friend were married. They lived for some time in Chicago and began taking lessons together at Hull House beginning around 1939. They also started a business making ceramic figurines and Christmas ornaments called Lichten Ware. Lichten Ware was sold in stores all over the country, from Hawaii to Florida, and is still available through dealers and collectors.

By the 1950s, Esther Friend and Carl Lichtenstein were in Indianapolis, where she continued in her career as an illustrator. She also exhibited her paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures. Esther Friend, a widow, died at Hooverwood nursing home in Indianapolis on December 13, 1991. She was eighty-four years old.

Above, a gallery of covers of books illustrated by Indianapolis artist Esther Friend.

A Lichten Ware figurine, created by Esther Friend and her husband, Carl W. Lichtenstein.

Esther Friend, a photographic portrait from Ruth Mac Kay's column "White Collar Girl" in the Chicago Tribune, December 12, 1947, page 38.

In observance of International Women's Day, March 8, 2017.
Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Picture for Presidents Day

February is the month of presidents, and for February and for our presidents, I would like to offer a piece of artwork by an Indiana artist. His name was Jim Baker, and like Abraham Lincoln, he was born in Kentucky and came to Indiana in his youth. In this case, James Wallace Baker was born on June 24, 1924, in Owensboro, Kentucky, right across the river from the Hoosier State. He graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and from 1946 to 1996 worked for the Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio. Jim Baker was a draftsman and historical illustrator of surpassing ability. He wrote and illustrated about a dozen small books on Ohio and American history. He was also creator of the historical comic strip Ben Hardy, which was known by various names and published from 1952 to 1965 and 1975 to 1979. The illustration below is of the homes and monuments of Ohio presidents, drawn for a portfolio called Portraits of Ohio Presidents, published by the Ohio Historical Society in 1968. Jim Baker died on December 29, 1995, in Columbus, Ohio, at age seventy-one.

Happy Presidents Day!
February 20, 2017

Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The International Day of the Cartoonist 2017

I would like to observe the International Day of the Cartoonist 2017 by remembering the international cartoonist Joe Szabo, who died last year at the age of sixty-five. I'm happy to say that Joe was also a Hoosier, if only for a while.

Joseph George Szabo was born on February 4, 1950, in Budapest, Hungary, just six months after his country fell under communist rule. According to items on the Internet, Joe graduated from the Academy of Journalism in 1974. I believe that to mean what was then or is now called Bálint György Academy of Journalism in Budapest. On July 19, 1975, Joe Szabo married Flora Toth, also of Budapest.

In a remembrance of his friend, Len Lear wrote that Joe "wanted to be a real journalist because he had a passion for justice, but that was impossible in Communist Hungary, where any deviation from the party line could mean unemployment, exile, prison, torture or even death." (1) Although he worked in the late 1970s as assisting managing editor for Magyar Nemzet (
Hungarian Nation), the largest daily newspaper in Hungary, Joe was dissatisfied with his comfortable position and his relatively prosperous life in his native country. "Journalists in a Communist country are considered a part of the political apparatus," Joe told Mr. Lear. "You're not a watchdog, just the opposite. You are a lapdog. You are not there to print the news or to be objective. You are there to make the authorities in government look good and not to deviate from the party line. You are basically a public relations person for the rulers and oppressors." In 1980, Joe and his wife fled from Hungary to the United States by way of Austria and West Germany (where he sought political asylum at the U.S. embassy). In December 1981, Joe arrived in a small town in Indiana, possibly Warsaw, Indiana.

Not knowing English, Joe struggled and was unemployed for a couple of years. He found work as a freelance cartoonist for a time. With a drawing printed on May 13, 1985, his political cartoons began appearing in the Philadelphia Daily News. They were also syndicated by Rothco and were chosen by Charles Brooks for his annual collection Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year in 1986, 1987, 1988, and possibly other years. (My collection is incomplete.) In 1987, under the byline Joseph George Szabo, Joe began publishing WittyWorld International Cartoon Magazine. The first issue was dated Summer 1987.

I have just three issues of WittyWorld (Nos. 2-4). As a cartoonist, I can say that is everything a cartoonist might want in a magazine. It is well designed and well made, and though there are only forty-eight pages in each issue, those pages are packed full of information. The regular departments are especially fine. They include a letters page; "Witty Wire," a compilation of cartoon news from all over the world; reviews of comic books and animation books by Frederick Patten, of cartoon books by Hongying Liu-Lengyel, and of journals by John A. Lent; "Cartoon Laboratory" on innovations in cartooning; a column on syndicates; a calendar of events; and classified advertisements. There are of course many articles and pictorial features as well. WittyWorld ran for several years. The last number I have found is Number 18, from Autumn/Winter 1994.

Joe Szabo published WittyWorld from North Wales, Pennsylvania, a borough north of Philadelphia. He seems to have moved to Pennsylvania from Indiana and to have lived there for the rest of his life. Even though he had escaped to the United States, he still had reason to fear political oppression and political violence. "Remember," he said, "Joseph Stalin had Leon Trotsky murdered in 1940, although Trotsky was many thousands of miles away in Mexico. In the U.S. and western Europe, where there is freedom of movement, dictators like Vladimir Putin have had journalistic critics murdered. They could do it here, too. You are never really safe." The targets of the cartoons he drew and those he published by other cartoonists were not just communist rulers or rulers in formerly communist countries. They were and are oppressors and tyrants of every color and stripe.

In 1990, Joe convened a meeting of cartoonists in Budapest as the Iron Curtain was coming down. He traveled to other parts of the world, too, to meet with cartoonists, to speak at and attend exhibits and conferences, and to lecture on cartoons and cartooning. He spent the last decade of his life conducting research and interviews for a planned book, The Image of America, showing how people the world over see his adopted home country. With visits to nearly seventy countries, he had enough material for a lecture series, one that he conducted in the United States and abroad. (He found that people in other countries have ambivalent views, though tending to the negative, of the United States. Some of those views are delusional at best. For example, some Spaniards--like one of our recent presidential candidates--are 9/11 truthers.) Joe Szabo was also author and compiler of The Finest International Political Cartoons of Our Time, published in 1992 by his own WittyWorld imprint.

"I'd rather be poor in America than rich in Hungary," Joe Szabo once said. (2) Although he was not materially wealthy--he and his wife reared their five children in a small apartment stocked with used furniture and books--Joe Szabo enjoyed the benefits of freedom with his family in a new country. Sadly, he died at his desk on February 2, 2016, in North Wales, Pennsylvania, just two days short of his sixty-sixth birthday. His obituary observed that "[h]e was a passionate risk taker, boundless world traveler, and world-class debater. He never once lost an argument. Joe's friends described him as having an infectious personality with a continuous thirst for knowledge." (3) I think it fair to say that he also had a thirst for freedom and a very keen interest--as cartoonists tend to have--in fellow cartoonists and in the craft and profession of cartooning, which is, if I might add, a fine and noble profession.

In memory of Joseph George Szabo (1950-2016) and of:

George David Wolinski (1934-2015)
Jean Cabut (1938-2015)
Philippe Honoré (1941-2015)
Bernard Verlhac (1957-2015)
and Stéphane Charbonnier (1967-2015)


(1) From "Joe Szabo, Local Voice for Courage and Justice, Has Been Silenced" by Len Lear on the website Chestnut Hill Local, January 6, 2017, here.
(2) Ditto.
(3) "Joseph George Szabo," from the Landsdale Reporter, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, posted on the website, February 9, 2016, here.

A cartoon by Joe Szabo from 1987 showing the magnetic pull the United States has for people who wish to express themselves freely and, by extension, to live freely. From Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 1987 Edition, edited by Charles Brooks.

Completed at a later date and backdated to January 7, 2016, in observance of the International Day of the Cartoonist.
Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley