"One of the most loathed duties for a soldier is kitchen patrol, KP. Yet here is this recently discharged soldier gladly, even lovingly, peeling potatoes." (http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com/1945-thanksgiving-mother-and-son-peeling-potatoes.html)
Norman Rockwell's milkman had just arrived home from Europe after serving in the 9th Army Air Corps. Richard Hagelberg had survived 65 daylight bombings and fought at one of the biggest battles of all, D-Day. Now he was back on his dairy farm in Arlington, Vermont for the first time in five years.
Rockwell requested that he and his mother pose for his latest Thanksgiving painting. He had already tried two sets of models, neither of whom fit the bill. Now, he suggested to Hagelberg that he and his mother, Saara Hagelberg, pose. Initially, the returned soldier declined. However, after the painter offered him $15 for an hour's work, he obliged.
The Thanksgiving scene features a mother, in a simple dress and apron, peeling potatoes in a kitchen. Her son, garbed in his military uniform, joins her in the task. "One of the most loathed duties for a soldier is kitchen patrol, KP. Yet here is this recently discharged soldier gladly, even lovingly, peeling potatoes." The soldier is so relieved to be home. We can just imagine the conversation that is taking place. The memories must come flooding back to the soldiers of Thanksgivings past.
No longer forced to ration, the soldier's mother prepares a Thanksgiving feast: a pot of cranberries and a basket full of apples sit on the floor; on the red-and-white checkered tablecloth sit cabbage, collards and a large rutabaga. An orange and a lemon peek out from behind the salt and pepper shakers. A plump pumpkin brings colour to the scene.
Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on November 24, 1945. Rockwell offered the painting to Richard Hagelberg once it was completed, as he usually did to the models in his works, but Hagelberg declined. Perhaps it was because Rockwell had added 20 pounds and 20 years to Richard's mother. The painting found a home in the American Legion Post in Winchendon, Massachusetts. In the late 1970's, it was transferred to the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes circa 1945 courtesy