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'Gerber Baby' to visit Morrow on Saturday

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Elizabeth Taylor? No.

Humphrey Bogart? Not likely.

Ann Turner Cook, the real "Gerber Baby" -- whose infant portrait became the trademark of Gerber in 1931 -- will come to share her time and wisdom with visitors at the Morrow Tourist Center this weekend.

On Saturday from 11 a.m., to 3 p.m., Cook, who is also an accomplished mystery writer, will sign Gerber memorabilia and sell copies of her fourth, and most recent, book, "Micanopy in Shadow," a mystery novel set in the historic Florida town of Micanopy, just south of Gainesville.

The event will also be used to kick off the Morrow Tourist Center's newest exhibit entitled, "You've Come a Long Way Baby," a collection of baby memorabilia from the last 80 years. Organized by Kathryn Schwenger, a prominent curator from Canada living in Stockbridge, the exhibition of clothes, bibs, baby food cans, and other materials will stay on display from June to August.

Brenda Jenkins-Weeks, Main Street coordinator for the Olde Morrow Town Center, said the idea to invite Cook to Morrow came from a desire to take the display "one step further."

"Gerber is one of those American icons that you don't have to explain too much, because everybody knows about it," said Jenkins-Weeks. "There are a lot of legends about the Gerber Baby, that it was Liz Taylor or Humphrey Bogart, but it wasn't ... it was this lady.

"How many times in our life are we able to meet an icon like the Gerber Baby?" Jenkins-Weeks continued. She said the event will generate more community interest in the Morrow Tourist Center.

Cook, who said she is looking forward to the event, described the story of how Dorothy Hope Smith, an artist and close family friend who passed away in 1955, used movie film to capture the iconic image, which has carried the Gerber Brand for nearly 80 years.

"She would take movie film, and when she got an expression she wanted to capture, she would stop the film," said Cook.

Smith drew Cook's portrait from the film in 1928 and submitted it to the Gerber company later that year. Smith was paid $300 for her portrait when the company adopted it as their trademark three years later.

"I don't take any credit for it," said Cook. "Dorothy Hope Smith was talented in capturing the healthy curiosity that all healthy babies have ... that's why it became enormously popular."

Cook, a retired English teacher, said that her first manuscript wasn't published until she turned 75. She said she would give a message to seniors that "there is life after retirement.

"If you have had things that you have always wanted to do, but didn't have time before retirement, this is the time to explore that option," said Cook.

For more information, go to www.morrowtourism.com