Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Les Wathen

Ernest Leslie “Les” Wathen was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on July 22, 1895, according to his World War II draft card and the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Wathen was the oldest of three children born to Ernest and Louise. Wathen’s father was an Australian emigrant who worked at a brewery. Also in the household were Wathen’s paternal grandmother and three aunts. The family lived in Mount Vernon at 214 Lincoln Avenue.

The 1910 census recorded the Wathen family on Cottage Avenue in Mount Vernon. Wathen’s parents worked in a millinery store.

According to the newspaper The State (Columbia, South Carolina), February 27, 1983, Wathen studied at the Art Students League in New York City.

The State said Wathen served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Wathen signed his World War I draft card June 5, 1917. His home address was 115 Crary Avenue in Mount Vernon. He was a commercial artist at the McGraw Hill Publishing Company in New York City. He was described as tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Wathen’s mother was the head of the household in the 1920 census. In the household were Wathen, his two siblings and maternal grandparents. Wathen was an art director with a publishing house. They resided in Mount Vernon at 28 Urban Street.

The Sate said Wathen was a rotogravure editor for the Washington Post and Buffalo Courier Express. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Wathen drew In Our Hometown for the Washington Post where the strip ran from April 17 to October 9, 1921.

Wathen married Viola Frew on June 28, 1924. Their marriage was reported in the Buffalo Courier (New York) on the 29th. The paper said the newlyweds “are taking a motor trip in the east and will be at home after September 1, at No. 1 Elmview place.”

The 1930 census said Wathen, his wife and daughter Mary made their home in Lakewood, Ohio, at 1500 Bunts. Wathen was a salesman with a lithograph company. Ten years later, Wathen had the same job but a different address, 20695 Stratford Avenue in Rocky River, Ohio.

On April 25, 1942, Wathen signed his World War II draft card. His employer was Strobridge Lithograph Company at 1900 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lakewood city directories from 1951 and 1958 listed Wathen as a Strobridge Litho division manager.

Wathen passed away February 25, 1983, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to The State which published an obituary on the 27th. The paper said Wathen was an editorial cartoonist for Sun News and a member of the Cleveland Advertising Club.

—Alex Jay


Sun News would be the Myrtle Beach (SC) paper, lof of folks from Cleveland snowbird in that area.
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