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This mural by Manuel Bromberg at the Geneva post office, 26 S. Third St., is titled “Fish Fry in the Park.”
This mural by Manuel Bromberg at the Geneva post office, 26 S. Third St., is titled “Fish Fry in the Park.”
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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1940s mural at Geneva post office was inspired by park scenes in the far west suburb

It took artist Manuel Bromberg eight months to complete the tempera-on-canvas work that people can still see as they stop in for stamps or to mail a package.

Artist Manuel Bromberg was 23 years old and just out of art school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when he was commissioned by a U.S. government-funded juried art competition called the Section of Fine Arts to do a mural for the Geneva post office.

“I headed out to Ottumwa, Iowa, to visit my sister,” the artist, then turning 102, told the Geneva History Museum earlier this year. “I ended up renting a small, empty dress shop. The store served as my studio, with living space upstairs.”

Artist Manuel Bromberg.
Artist Manuel Bromberg.
Provided photo

Bromberg said he came to Geneva to see the post office, “and, while I was there, I really tried to find something of historical interest or a great event in Geneva to use as a subject for the mural. But, as far as I could find, there was no such event to use. And then I happened to be walking through a park and found the infinite variety of life and the subject of people picnicking together to be both appealing and interesting. That’s how I decided to use it as the subject of the mural and soon spent my time sketching people and fun activities in a Geneva park.”

The result: “Fish Fry in the Park,” which can be seen inside the Geneva post office, 26 S. Third St.

He said it took him “eight months and 200 eggs” to finish the tempera-on-canvas work, for which he was paid $1,200.

It was his third post office commission. He’d previously been chosen to do murals for the post offices in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and Greybull, Wyoming.

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