in her Roxy Theater studio
This section is not
about my family life. That would be a book in itself. But a few words...
I was married to a
beautiful girl, Joan Personette, in 1939. I didn’t know it at the time
but Joan had won a Joan Crawford look-alike contest. I think Joan Crawford
got the better of it. In addition to being beautiful, Joan was a fine
artist. I didn’t realize how fine at the time. Joan was a costume designer
for the Roxy Theater for many years—she did magnificent costume sketches,
exquisite in form and color, in my opinion the best ever done. Joan became
a wonderful painter. She was very modest, and never tried to sell her
paintings. Her work came to the attention of The National Museum of Women
in the Arts in Washington, D.C. This fine museum liked it so much that
they held an exhibit of Joan’s work in the important months of October,
November and December—and it was extended for an extra month.
Joan and I were legally
separated after four years. Not Joan’s fault at all. I guess marriage
was not for me because I never got married again or even considered it.
After eighteen years of separation, Joan went to Reno for a divorce. She
went with great reluctance—she associated Reno with divorce and gambling.
Once Joan got there, she found the country so beautiful she loved it,
and decided to stay. There she met Bryce Rhodes, a fine gentleman. Joan
and Bryce lived together for many more years, before she died in 1998.
Bryce and I are good friends.
and Nellie von Hoensheim
Joan and I had a son,
Johnny. When we became separated, Johnny was two years old and I didn’t
see him again until he was almost eight. Freud suggests that these young
years are very important for a little boy’s old man to be around. It’s
the greatest regret of my life that I wasn’t. When Johnny was eight I
visited him every Saturday and Sunday in Purchase, N.Y., and we’d play
games. A stroke of luck, and a little help from me, brought Bill Damon,
the fine golf teacher from Montgomery, to nearby Century Country Club
as golf pro. Bill gave Johnny hundreds of golf lessons, while I watched.
Soon Johnny became an excellent golfer, won the Club Championship a few
times, had a sixty-six at Westchester Country Club, also qualified for
the British Amateur. Johnny worked at Dreyfus & Co. until I retired.
Since then he has done a great deal of volunteer hospital work, which
Several years ago
Johnny went out to Reno to see why his mother liked it so much. He found
out and bought a house on a street with a lovely name, Mark
Twain Avenue, and has lived there ever since. We visit each other
a few times a year, and talk on the phone several times a week. Sometimes
we have arguments—we’re both right, of course. A few years ago I told
Johnny if my life were in peril and I was given the choice of one person
to come to my rescue, I would pick him. He said I was right, but only
after he’d had breakfast. I love Johnny very much. And I still love Joan.
Section: Card Playing