Hardie Gramatky's Story

Life in New York City for two illustrators

Hardie used to love to tell a story on his wife, who illustrated under her maiden name of Dorothea Cooke and did many covers for Jack and Jill magazine in the 50s. In the late thirties, she had illustrated a textbook of Spanish grammar. One picture was of a woman in a frilly nightgown lying in bed. It was a low gown, certainly nothing to be censored, but the publisher called up to tell them that the book had been "banned in Boston" because of it! My father would tell friends the story and add with a chuckle, "That will sell a lot of books elsewhere."

During the early forties, the City was populated with lots of characters. Hardie and Doppy would go to a place where old-time actors and actresses congregated and they would find people who loved to pose. One time, however, a Russian model, Mr. Magner, was posing in their apartment and decided that he would like to cook for them. He wouldn't take no for an answer. It was a very hot July day as he cooked a dozen cabbage-and-egg pies in their small kitchenette. The smell of the cabbage permeated everything, and it seemed as if the day would never end. When Magner finally left, my parents tossed the pies in the garbage and went out to dinner, ready to put the day behind them.

Doppy remembered the specific day when they both thought that, yes, they were going to make it. In 1940, Putnam's was sending Hardie by boat up the coast to be one of the speakers at a huge book fair at Boston Garden. While my parents were on board, Hardie received a telegram from his agent, Barry Stephens, saying that he'd gotten a job for Collier's magazine, his first.