Child in the Dark
By ice rivers
I was still afraid of the dark when my father took me to my first movie. The scene of the fright was the Dryden Theater in the George Eastman House. I had already freaked out at the Elephant head "trophy"on the wall which we passed by on the way to the theater. The whole place struck me as scary.
We took our seats. The curtains were drawn and the lights went out. This was bad. I had no idea what was about to happen next so I covered my eyes. I opened them when the music came on, I wasn't afraid of music but this music didn't sound like any music that I had ever heard before or wanted to hear again.
I can't recall all of the processes and wonders and horrors that I experienced over the next ninety minutes other than wanting to get the hell out of the place. The movie was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring John Barrymore.
The film was silent but words were far from necessary. I realized that every time one guy drank a potion he turned into another guy and even though both guys were scary, the guy who appeared after the potion drink was so upsetting that I closed my eyes and prayed that he would go away before he hurt me.
I figure I was maybe four years old at the time which means this happened in 1950/51. The movie was free as were all the movies at the Dryden back then, that's why we were there in the first place. Barrymore's Dr Jekyll and Mr.Hyde was made in 1920. In 2020 that would be like a movie that was made in 1990. Barrymore's face and famous profile provided the hoorrifying special effects.
When we got home, I was very upset and so was my mother when she found out what movie we had gone to see that afternoon. She yelled at my Dad and that argument was almost as scary as the movie itself as if both of them had sipped a potion. Not only was this the day of my first movie but also the first time I saw my parents mad at one another.
It was a long time before we went back to the Dryden. The place still scared me but both my mother and my father assured me that I would have a better time. We all three went together. I didn't freak out at the elephant head and I knew the place was gonna get dark. Dark was never as dark when my Mom was around. This time what came on was a Tom Mix movie with Tom defeating the bad guys and riding away on his horse Tarzan.
I lost most of my fear not only of the movies but also of the dark. For every Mr. Hyde that threatened me, I could always count on a Tom Mix to save me.
Tom and Mom and Dad.