A thin, pale, ugly scar slanted downward into her left eyebrow. It gave her a disdainful, raised-eyebrow look that made some people uneasy. However, from the viewpoint of a ten-or-eleven-year-old boy, I thought she had a cool, quizzical expression that was nifty.
It was not until much later I learned the sordid story behind the facial scar and two ugly scars on her shoulder. Her jealous, overbearing husband, during one final, furniture-smashing, bottle-shattering, insane rampage, had brutally attacked her.
It brought their ill-fated marriage to an end.
Emma and I hit it off well from the start. Shortly after I moved into the new flat, my mother and Agnes went out on a double date. Emma volunteered to hang around and keep me out of trouble. What did she do? She took me to a movie.
We discovered that both of us were eager to see a scary new film that was the talk of the town, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” It was showing on the east side, at the nearby Orpheum Theater. Or was it the Bagdad? I don’t remember. I think it was the Orpheum.
She caught me by surprise.
Only minutes after Agnes and my mother walked out the door, she turned to me and said, “Well, Byron…how would you like to go see Jekyll and Hyde?”
“No kidding? Hey…terrific!”
Off we went.
Frederic March’s performance in that 1932 version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror story was incredible. He won an Oscar for his berserk portrayal of the gruesome Mr. Hyde. And I ate it up. Every minute.
(In Hollywood today, it’s still debated exactly how they achieved the Jekyll-Hyde transformation scenes. It had a chilling effect. And the secret has never been revealed.)
Emma was less enthusiastic. But she did enjoy Miriam Hopkins’ sensitive portrayal of the tantalizing trollop.
On a gloomy, rainy Saturday in March 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as president, taking over under terrible circumstances. He addressed a worried and weary nation in a short, twenty-minute address that marked the start of the long, long road back.
‘My friends,” he said, “…Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
He faced a monumental task.