In 2007, the Forest History Society became the fortunate recipient of the Rudolph Wendelin Papers, 1930-2005. This collection comprises the personal papers and artwork of Rudolph “Rudy” Wendelin (1910-2000), who is the best known artist behind the United States Forest Service mascot and spokesman “Smokey Bear.” In addition to the widely recognized and much beloved Smokey Bear, Wendelin produced imagery for the U. S. Forest Service; conservation-focused drawings, sculpture, and commemorative stamps; and, upon retirement from the Forest Service, political cartoons for a Northern Virginia newspaper.
While processing and describing the diverse materials from this collection, I came across sketches and storyboards for the environmental film The Adventures of Junior Raindrop. Wendelin created the artwork for this 1948 Forest Service project, in which a “delinquent raindrop” learns the need for good watershed management. Educating students about the water cycle and soil erosion, Junior Raindrop contains such delightfully bizarre lines as “He’s formed a gang, and they’re whooping it up for a flash flood!”
Watch the bandit raindrops and learn a little about watershed management:
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