19 Chipping at Rushmore

The New York Public Library was an invaluable source for visual reference from the 1960s, but their section on clothing was limited by their tendency to clip photographs principally from fashion periodicals. If Stuck Rubber Baby had been a story about fashion models, I would have needed to look no further. But my characters came from a different cultural setting.

What saved the day was a friend's suggestion that I explore the collection of Sears catalogs archived at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. What a find! Not only was the 1962 Sears offering filled with pictures of the kind of clothes worn by "everyday folks," but there were also pictures of the lawn mowers, television sets, rollaway beds, and other mundane items (like the coffee pot shown above) that Toland and the gang would no doubt have had available for use at the Wheelery.

I subwayed home from FIT with an armload of photocopies and many big sighs of relief.

LETTER TO PATSY (April 30, 1992)

… The graphic novel slogs slowly along. It’s interesting to look back at the last letter I wrote you (about eight months ago). At that time I had finished four chapters. At present I’ve completed nine.

By page count I’m a bit over one-third of the way through. That proves I’m making progress, even though this thing takes so long that it seems like I’m getting nothing accomplished at all.

I often refer to SRB as "my Mount Rushmore."…