Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

A FASCINATING EVENING ON ELEANOR ROOSEVELT “ROMANCE” WITH LORENA HICKOK IN “HICK: A LOVE STORY”

A Fascinating Evening on Eleanor Roosevelt in “HICK: A Love Story”.

On being raised in a strong Democrat household in the 30’s in Western Ohio, I had to trek to the Eureka Theatre to see The Crackpot Crones / Theatre Rhinoceros  production of HICK: A Love Story” about  the romance between Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt.  This is all you want to know about the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt and then some.  Terry Baum takes on the role through voice sound and body language the role of reporter and close confidante of the first lady

Doris Faber who was doing research for a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park in May of 1978.  She found 18 filing boxes willed to the library by Lorena Hickok with the instructions “Not to be opened until ten years after my death”. Hick had died exactly 10 years earlier so the boxes could be opened. Faber found 2,336 letters from Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena dating from the 1930s right up to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Faber changed her plans and published a full length biography “The Life of Lorena Hickok: E.R. Friend” in 1980.  This biography inspired this production of a solo play.

This 2 hour production explores the love relationship of Lorena Hickok and wife of FDR from Roosevelt’s first Presidential campaign in 1932 through 1933.  The letters documented a fervent lesbian liaison between the reporter and the First Lady. Terry Baum brings to life the hard-living butch reporter in the precise opening scenes with telephone conversations with her New York bosses and the fluke that landed her an interview with Eleanor. Her description of their “honeymoon” in Nova Scotia was fascinating.

 

During the course of the evening the letters from Mrs. Roosevelt comment on the “secret affair” that FDR was having with his female secretary, the attempted assassination of FDR and the concern that Eleanor had for her husband.  We also learn that Lorena had to hand in her reports first to Louis Howe before they could go to the Associated Press which the reporter  did not like since it meant censorship.  Lorena talks about her trips to Canada with Eleanor and how happy they both were to be in each other company.  She boasts about her job as a head of the Federal Relief Plan and how she had a small sleeping room next to Eleanor’s room in the White House. On how on a trip together with the press to the Sequoias Hick’s hot-blooded personality caused a crevice with Eleanor reprimanding and ejecting Hick from public appearances with her.  At the end of the solo act Terry as Lorena boast to the audience “Eleanor needed one to hold her up and I was the one”.

Paula Barish plays the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt does not attempt to mimic the idiosyncratic upper-class voice of Eleanor in her off stage voice over reading bits of letters which was very wise.

“ HICK: A Love Story” runs through July 27th at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco.   The admission is FREE since the producers believe this little-known chapter of lesbian history deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible.

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