The masthead of this magazine's first issue, dated Aug. 16, 1954, listed the names of 51 full-time edit staffers, among them, under the rather amorphous heading of Assistants, Harvey Grut. Of that group, 50 have departed. This week Grut, the last member of the original masthead and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S art director for the past four years, is retiring. So ends an era.
In the summer of 1953, Grut was working in New York City, having arrived by way of Salt Lake City, his birthplace; Grosse Point, Mich., where he grew up; the U.S. Army; and the Pratt Institute of Design in Brooklyn.
One day Grut got a call from an old Pratt pal saying there was an opening at Time Inc. for a temporary layout artist. When Grut joined the staff of editor-in-chief Henry Luce's latest magazine, an as yet unnamed sports weekly, he found it numbered two—managing editor Sid James and his secretary. "But others arrived almost every day and soon we were planning the first dummy," says Grut. "I found out what a temporary artist did—cut and paste, lay out stories. But it was fun, exciting. Every time we'd close a section, Sid would throw a party."
Grut also recalls one SI cover jinx that struck before the magazine ever hit the stands. In the early days covers closed weeks in advance. "We had a horseman named William Woodward, his wife and a jockey plated and ready to go," says Grut. "On the Sunday the last bits of the magazine were going to close, Sid came in and said we had to change covers. Mrs. Woodward had accidentally shot her husband. We did it, but it cost us a small fortune."
In 1977 Grut stopped cutting and pasting to become an assistant art director and, in 1981, he took over as art director, only the third in the magazine's history. He will be succeeded by deputy art director Richard Warner. Now Grut is retiring to the life of a country squire, which is what he somehow seemed to be all along. Harvey has always fancied classic cars, expensive tweed sports jackets and the cuisine of Manhattan's finest restaurants. When Grut was sidelined at home recently with injuries suffered in an automobile accident, the owner of his favorite midtown restaurant had a three-course lunch driven up to his place in Brookfield, Conn.
Before the end of the year, Grut hopes to move into the new house he is having built in Lakeville, Conn. near three lakes with largemouth bass. Harvey plans to spend his time fishing, painting and pursuing his dream of buying a 1932 Packard Victoria convertible. If you know of one for sale, let him know.