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Remembering Herblock

Tuesday, October 9, 2001; Page A28

How can I bear life without Herblock's cartoons? What will I hang on my refrigerator?

I have learned more about politics, history, current events -- everything -- from him. What a void there will be in my life.




I'll never forget the Herblock I saw at a dinner dance for the American Society of Newspaper Editors in the 1960s. The exuberant cartoonist was dancing with an equally exuberant Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo, the politically astute possum.

What a collision of talent!


Keedysville, Md.


My condolences to the leadership and staff of The Post on what must be a difficult year: Not only did they lose Katharine Graham, but now Herblock, one of the great institutions at the newspaper, is gone, too.

I was concerned that something was "up" with Herbert Block when I never saw a cartoon from him on our nation's recent tragedies. Now I know why, and I am more saddened that I never saw his response to the horrible events of Sept. 11.

I also, though, remember being touched by the cartoon he drew to memorialize Mrs. Graham -- St. Peter holding a newspaper headlined "Katharine Graham" and telling a cherub, "Call Horace Greeley and Joe Pulitzer and the rest, and tell them she's here."

Well, I now envision the same scene, but this time, St. Peter's newspaper says, "Herbert Block," and he tells the cherub, "Call Thomas Nast and the rest and tell them he's here."




In 1959 I was a young, pregnant woman working in classified advertising at The Post.

Herblock's office was down the corridor from a small restaurant in the building. One morning, I absentmindedly passed the women's restroom and inadvertently entered the men's restroom. When I realized my mistake, I tried to leave quietly, but no luck. Mr. Block was leaving his office, and he caught me. He realized how I was feeling and made a joke that put me at ease. He introduced himself, and we chatted for a few moments. I was a little red-faced, but at least able to laugh about getting caught.

A few days later, I received inter-office mail from Mr. Block. Inside was an original Herblock cartoon sketch of me sneaking out of the men's room. It was signed and had a personal greeting. It was a prized possession until a 1986 fire in my home destroyed it.

Mr. Block was a kind and gracious man, and I could always rely on his cartoons to make my day.


Peoria, Ariz.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company