A retired Massachusetts state trooper who was featured in a prominent Norman Rockwell illustration has died according to the Associated Press. He was 83 years old.
Norman Rockwell created over 4000 original works in his lifetime, a fraction of which can be considered icons of Americana. One of those works is The Runaway, a 1958 illustration for the Saturday Evening Post.
The illustration features a young boy on a diner stool with a runaway knapsack on the ground beneath him. A state trooper leans over from an ajacent stool and counsels the wayward lad. The trooper was Staff Sgt. Richard Clemens Jr., Rockwell’s neighbor in real life. The pair lived in the Berkshires at the time.
The artist asked Clemens to pose with the boy, Ed Locke, in a local Howard Johnson’s diner. Rockwell produced the illustration from photographs taken on location.
In 2008, Clemens and Locke were reunited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the work. Locke, who was eight at the time of the illustration, is unable to recall most of the details from that day but one thing remains clear in his memory: Clemens let him wail the police siren.
While Clemens had a copy of The Runaway in his house, it was not his favorite Rockwell.
“One of those I like best is ‘Freedom From Want,’ where everybody is sitting around having dinner and mother is bringing in a turkey and putting it down,” he told the Albany Times Union. “If you look closely, everybody sitting at the table has a glass in front of them. And every glass has water and in the water there’s ice. That’s the kind of detail he could paint.”