War bonds poster
RIPLEY – Ripley native Dexter Miller and his son, Jim, traveled from McAlpin, Fla., for the sole purpose of donating an original 1918 war bonds lithograph poster to Ripley Boy Scout Troop 246.
The poster, depicting the Boy Scout involvement in the third Liberty Loan Drive during World War I, had originally hung in the Ripley bank that later became the town hall, Miller said.
Miller presented the poster to Troop 246 at the Ripley United Methodist Church, where it will be hung on display.
The poster was illustrated by C.J. Leyendecker, who illustrated covers for the Saturday Evening Post for 40 years. The image from this poster appeared on the cover of the March 2, 1918 edition.
Miller’s aunt worked at the bank where the poster and others from the five Liberty Loan Drives hung during the war. She kept the posters after the war ended. When Miller’s sister passed away recently, he found seven Liberty Loan posters rolled up in a trunk. This was the only one that depicted the Boy Scout efforts in the drives.
“I thought, ‘it came from Ripley. It should go back there,'” Miller said. “I hereby dedicate it to you.”
Miller said he was watching a documentary in 1986 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty that showed this particular poster as one of the things associated with the statue. “That thrilled me to no end,” he said.
Scoutmaster Thomas Kelly, who received the poster from Miller, said that Troop 246 has many historical documents, but this one is the best. “Out of all the treasures we have I am proud of them all, but I am past proud of this one. This will be taken care of.”
During World War I, the Boy Scouts took part in the Liberty Loan Drives by selling bonds as a second-wave effort after the regular salespeople had covered the area. During five drives, the Boy Scouts were sold a total of 2,328,308 bond subscriptions totaling $354,859,262, Miller said.
Leyendecker produced more than 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post and is credited with popularizing the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat man in a red, fur-trimmed coat. He was a chief influence on Norman Rockwell, who served as a pall bearer at Leyendecker’s funeral in 1951.