Double Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950sDouble Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950sDouble Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950sDouble Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950sDouble Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950sDouble Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950s

Mint double deck of the Brown & Bigelow "Boys Town" cards, made in the 1950s, featuring scenes of the home and facilities on all suited cards. Boys Town was founded as an orphanage by Father Flanagan in 1917, nearly 100 years ago. For those who have seen the hugely popular film from 1938 starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, Father Flanagan and his home are a symbol of hope and help for at-risk children.

The backs depict a boy carrying another boy, and beneath the image the words "He ain't heavy, Father . . . he's m'brother!" In the 1940s, the image and phrase became the motto for Boys Town, but according to Wikipedia both have additional history:

"In 1884 James Wells, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, in his book "The parables of Jesus," tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling someone asked if she wasn't tired. With surprise she replied, "No, he's not heavy; he's my brother."

"In a 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled `The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit' he relates the following anecdote: `Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: `He's na heavy. He's mi brither."'

"The first editor of Kiwanis magazine, Roe Fulkerson, published a column in September 1924 carrying the title "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", the first use of the phrase exactly as it is rendered in the song title.

"The phrase is also associated with Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. Flanagan came across a line drawing of a young boy carrying his brother in the Christmas 1941 edition of the Louis Allis Messenger. The caption read "He ain't heavy Mister—he's m' brother!" It was created by Mr. Van B. Hooper who later became the editor of Ideals. The drawing was reprinted in the first issue of Ideals in December 1944. Flanagan felt that the drawing illustrated the work done at Boys Town and received permission from the company in August 1943 to recreate the drawing in color with the caption `He ain't heavy, Father . . . he's m' brother.' The phrase became the motto of Boys Town.

Each deck has 52 cards, plus 2 Jokers, one of which describes the facility and one of which describes how to get additional cards. The cards are bridge size, measuring 89mm x 58mm, and come in the original Boys Town box.

The cards are mint. One is still sealed in the wrapper, while the other was removed from the wrapper to be inspected and photographed for this listing. The box is in excellent condition.

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Item ID: T00002712

Double Deck Brown & Bigelow “Boys Town” Playing Cards, c.1950s

$30 USD

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