“Oh, look, Hugo!” She gave a little tremulous laugh that was more than half sob. He came over to her and read it, his arm around her shoulder.
“My son Hugo and my daughter Lil they are the best son and daughter in the world.”
A sudden hot haze before his eyes blotted out the words as he finished reading them.
When you try to do a story about three people like Sid Hahn and Mizzi Markis and Wallie Ascher you find yourself pawing around among the personalities helplessly. For the three of them are what is known in newspaper parlance as national figures. One n.f. is enough for any short story. Three would swamp a book. It’s like one of those plays advertised as having an all-star cast. By the time each luminary has come on, and been greeted, and done his twinkling the play has faded into the background. You can’t see the heavens for the stars.
Surely Sid Hahn, like the guest of honour at a dinner, needs no introduction. And just as surely will he be introduced. He has been described elsewhere and often; perhaps nowhere more concisely than on Page 16, paragraph two, of a volume that shall be nameless, though quoted, thus:
“Sid Hahn, erstwhile usher, call-boy, press agent, advance man, had a genius for things theatrical. It was inborn. Dramatic, sensitive, artistic, intuitive, he was often rendered inarticulate by the very force and variety of his feelings. A little, rotund, ugly man, with the eyes of a dreamer, the wide, mobile mouth of a humourist, the ears of a comic ol’ clo’es man. His generosity was proverbial, and it amounted to a vice.”
Not that that covers him. No one paragraph could. You turn a fine diamond this way and that, and as its facets catch the light you say, “It’s scarlet! No—it’s blue! No—rose!—orange!—lilac!—no—”
That was Sid Hahn.
I suppose he never really sat for a photograph and yet you saw his likeness in all the magazines. He was snapped on the street, and in the theatre, and even up in his famous library-study-office on the sixth and top floor of the Thalia Theatre Building. Usually with a fat black cigar—unlighted—in one corner of his commodious mouth. Everyone interested in things theatrical (and whom does that not include!) knew all about Sid Hahn—and nothing. He had come, a boy, from one of those middle-western towns with a high-falutin Greek name. Parthenon, Ohio, or something incredible like that. No one knows how he first approached the profession which he was to dominate in America. There’s no record of his having asked for a job in a theatre, and received it. He oozed into it, indefinably, and moved with it, and became a part of it and finally controlled it. Satellites, fur-collared and pseudo-successful, trailing in his wake, used to talk loudly of I-knew-him-when. They all lied. It had been Augustin Daly, dead