In the painting, Rockwell portrayed an idyllic version of small-town America. In his sweet, safe universe, no child is ever in danger and no task is more pressing for an officer of the law than to spend a morning with a young runaway. After appearing on the September 20, 1958, cover of the Post, The Runaway began to grace the walls of countless diners and police stations throughout the country.
The Painting !!!
I can vividly remember the first time I saw Norman Rockwell's "The Runaway" painting. It spoke of small town America and what community policing is all about. It reminded me of just one of the many reasons I chose to go into law enforcement. Well, that and both my father and grandfather were officers!
As a young officer, I envisioned someday possibly recreating the "Runaway Scene" with my own children. Before I knew it, my twins were 14! So, in the summer of 2017, I approached Tome Hartnett (owner of Frank & Mary's diner), and asked if he would like to take part in the recreation. Tom was extremely supportive and offered whatever I would need. I paused and thought to myself, well we have a diner, we have a cook for behind the counter, we have the officer.....we need a kid! I asked Tom if he knew of a young man that could play the role of the runaway and he suggested his waitress' son Eli. So, the plan was in motion and a few days later we all met at the diner. I remember walking into the diner and introducing myself to Eli. One look at him and I knew he was the perfect fit!We took numerous pictures and the Cortland Standard was also there for a future story.
Next step was to make our recreation unique. I contacted local artist Brian Bancroft, who has done amazing chalk and oil work around town, and asked him if he would be willing to paint our picture. Brian was excited to take on the task and began right away. I did ask Brian to make one addition to our picture. I asked him to paint in a German Shepherd puppy. The reason being that Officer Ken Bush and myself put together the Cortland Police Department's K9 proposal a few years back, in hopes of starting up a K9 unit which had been absent for many years. I am sure I was a nuisance at times to Brian being that I would check in with him several times a week. Finally, I realized that if I kept bothering him, the painting would never be completed. So I let him do his thing.
In the meantime, I had to explain to my wife how much this painting was going to cost! Something I should have probably done before giving Brian the go ahead. Well, to my surprise, not only did she give me the ok, but she even offered to pay for it! She knew just how important this project was to me. She is also a smart woman and knew by her paying for it would mean I would owe her a lifetime of completing chores around the house!
After a few months, I received a call from Brian letting me know the painting was complete. I could not even wait until after work to pick it up. My long time friend and fellow officer, Cheyenne Cute, went along to get the painting. As we placed the painting in the back of a pick up truck, Cheyenne drove and I rode in the back watching over the art. The painting has since been framed by Cortland native and friend Kevin Penney, where it hangs behind my desk at 67 Main Street.