Throwback Thursday – Holiday Cheer

Frank Borth Christmas cards. | Peggy Joyce Collection, Montauk Library Archives

A nasty horse named Humpty Dumpty gets a kick out of throwing riders. A bathtub morphs into a UFO and lifts off. A little girl wins a baby elephant in a mail-in coupon contest. A surfcaster hooks a mermaid off Montauk Point.

The imagination of the illustrator Frank Borth extended all the way from drawing skulls for mustard gas warnings to illustrating comic strips to creating funny Christmas cards for friends in Montauk after he and his wife, Bobbie, moved here year round in the 1940s. At various points (in 1992, in the case of the green one) they sent each of the three cards above to Peggy Joyce, who like Bobbie taught at the Montauk School and was extremely active in the community. The Joyce family donated the cards and other historical materials to the Montauk Library Archives.

Frank was also active in the community, creating the official East Hampton Town seal as well as what he called “an outdoor Christmas card” outside Ronnie’s Deli, a three-dimensional map of Montauk for the Montauk Businessman’s Association, a Souvenir and Treasure Map for White’s Drug and Department Store, an eight-foot outdoor Christmas candle for the Montauk Community Church, posters for a fire department turkey raffle, and a thank-you card for Greenery Scenery volunteers for the Montauk Village Association, among many other creative and lively cartoonish endeavors.

He was an entertainer as well as an artist, with people watching him paint letters in store windows, decorating a bar at the Montauk Lighthouse, and giving what he called “chalk talks” at the Montauk Yacht Club, as he explained in an oral history interview in 2002.

The library’s Local History Center has a new slideshow of holiday cards from the archives, including the ones by Frank Borth. Also new on the walls are a community slideshow of photographs of people’s pets, a lookback at 2023 Throwback Thursdays, and photographs from the collection of Clifford Windsor’s family.

Have a great holiday.

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