Cruise and Liner History: Selections from the Gift of Thomas C. Ragan to the Wolfsonian Florida International University Library…
During his March 1933 inaugural speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) promised Americans a New Deal, while also pledging to initiate a Good Neighbor Policy with Latin America. Departing from the interventionist “gunboat diplomacy” of his distant cousin former President Theodore Roosevelt, FDR encouraged the expansion of trade and tourism as the key to US relations with its neighbors to the South. Founded by Albert V. Moore and Emmet J. McCormack in New York in 1913, the Moore-McCormack Company benefitted from FDR’s advocacy for American commercial shipping and from government subsidies for steamship lines servicing Latin American destinations. In the late 1930s, the company marketed three of its ships—the SS Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay—as the Good Neighbor Fleet, a conscious echo of the president’s inaugural pledge.
Born in Iowa, Ada Peacock went to England as a young woman. She attended Heatherley’s Art School in London with her husband Gerry Peacock. They left London for Buenos Aires so that Gerry could manage an advertising agency there. They only intended to remain for a couple of years, but the political situation meant that they would be unable to bring their money out, so they remained there for the rest of their lives.
She painted gouache pictures mostly in the 1940s or earlier, of authentic Argentine people, their costumes, and their lifestyles. Earlier, in England and New York, she had designed costumes for several musical revues. In Argentina she designed menu covers for Ada Peacock was a watercolor artist – mid 20th Century – from Iowa. She married an advertising executive and later moved to South America. A series of her paintings were commissioned by the Moore-McCormack Lines and used as menu covers.
A SAMPLE OF ADA PEACOCK’S MENU COVERS…
While her colorful palate is entertaining, her attention to authentic detail reveals much more. The following caption was found attached to the back of one of her paintings for Moore-McCormack: “In the old days, the Cholas (native girls) would sit around a big vessel and chew corn, which they would then spit into the vessel to make a delicious pale gray drink. It had to stand for a while until it fermented. Then it was ready for market. The customer has the usual wool in her hand as the women are always making wool thread for weaving. The baby carried on her back has sugar cane in her hand, which is given to children in place of candy.” In the January 1942 edition of Woman’s Home Companion magazine provided a view of the way Ms. Peacock’s art has been carefully inter-woven with cultural education and appreciation. The magazine featured a two page spread of a cut-out paper doll named “Rosita – Our Good Neighbor”.