At the Forks

 

a collaboration of

Derek Davis, Connie Hatch, Kelsey Leljedal,

Linda White, the cast and many others

 

directed by Linda White

 

Character          (in order of appearance)         Cast

 

Katreona                                                                            Barbara K. Schaefer

Casey                                                                                               Will Kiner

Sissy                                                                                            Leona Hatch

William Molyneux                                                                            Ed Murray

Edward Molyneux                                                                             Ben Hatch

Rebecca Bird                                                                                   Anne Kiner

Lydia Bird                                                                                     Bonnie Houk

Powell Bird                                                                                   Derek Davis

William Rogers                                                                            Paul Schaefer

William Johnson                                                                      Steve Tomlinson

Martha Molyneux                                                                            Dori Fisher

John Molyneux                                                                         Ean Ammerman

Michael Meylert                                                                               Joel Fisher

Trudy                                                                                       Joanna Murray

Richard Bedford                                                                          Darwin Hatch

David Wilmot                                                                               Ferdie Marek

Levi Rogers                                                                                   Derek Davis

Daniel Little                                                                              Ean Ammerman

Thomas Ingham                                                                          Paul Schaefer

Mabel Spearman                                                                            Eileen Wylie

Nora Dilliard                                                                                 Barb Murray

Lavina Rinebold                                                                        Vivian McCarty

Sarah Ann Huckle                                                                       Colleen Engler

Jennie Rogers                                                                               Barb Murray

Maria Woodhead                                                                            Eileen Wylie

Mr. Gleockler                                                                              Darwin Hatch

Samuel Kilmer                                                                                  Ben Hatch

Gleason Lewis                                                                         Steve Tomlinson

Lily Davis                                                                                    Brenda Miller

Grace                                                                                      Anastasia Miller

Lesley                                                                                          Barb Murray

Amelia                                                                                      Joanna Murray

Drunk 1                                                                                      Paul Schaefer

Drunk 2                                                                                        Derek Davis

Drunk 3                                                                                      Darwin Hatch

Milo Baumunk                                                                                 Ed Murray

Stanley                                                                                            Joel Fisher

Lois                                                                                               Dori Fisher

Hettie                                                                                           Bonnie Houk

Mary                                                                                           Brenda Miller

Julia                                                                                         Anastasia Miller

 

Stage credits

Costumes                      Barbara K. Schaefer, Betty Walters, Linda White and cast

Lighting design                                                                             Scott Osborg

Sound design                                                                                 Derek Davis

Sound and light technician                                                             Connie Hatch

Set design and construction                                                                             

                                            Derek Davis, Darwin and Ben Hatch, Paul Schaefer

Refreshments                                                   Vivian McCarty, Florence Suarez

Historical consultants                                 Wilson Ferguson, Dick Holcombe, Sr.

Oral historians                                                                                                

                             Rita Gilbert, Russell and Rosemary Bennett, Louise Woodhead

Videographer                                                                              Allen Williams


 

SCENE 1--Chesapeake Bay, 1794

 

Half-darkened stage, sound of singing

 

SONG: "Haul Away Joe," Clancy Brothers

 

As the song dies down, a loud splash and water sprays across center stage. Voices speak with British accent.

 

O.S. VOICE 1

What was that? Somethin' went over the side.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

A barrel? Clumsy blighters.

 

O.S. VOICE 1

You think one of 'em's jumped ship?

 

O.S. VOICE 2

An' lose the chance of servin' in the best navy in the whole entire world?

 

both laugh uproariously

 

O.S. VOICE 1

Blimey, I suppose we oughter check on the wretches. Get 'em on deck and call the role.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

All right, ya scum, yer presence is requested topside. Get on up 'ere.

 

O.S. VOICE 2 [calling out]

Stevenson.

 

O.S. VOICE 3

'Ere, [whisper] damn yer hide.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

Denhouse.

 

O.S. VOICE 4

'Ere, though I'd rather be in hell.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

Molynuts.

 

O.S. VOICE 3

'At's Moyneux. [snide] Sir.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

Molyneux.

 

Silence

 

O.S. VOICE 1

It was 'im, 'e jumped.

 

O.S. VOICE 2

Arr, good riddance. Bloody trouble-maker, 'e was.

 

lights down


SCENE 2—Creekside, 2011

 

KATREONA, CASEY and SISSY, stand and kneel by a collection of flotsam cast off from the retreat of the creek's  flooding. Katreona jumps up, shaking off water that has just landed on the back of her neck.

 

KATREONA

Where did that came from?

 

CASEY

What?

 

KATREONA

I got splashed.

 

SISSY

Maybe a bird?

 

KATREONA

Sissy! DonÕt make me sorry I asked you to come. Even if you are my favorite niece. It was too much for a bird! ThereÕs still so much water everywhere!

 

SISSY

Why didnÕt you bring Martha?

 

KATREONA

She went with her dad to help out at Sonestown.

 

CASEY [picking up an object]

Yeah, they got it really bad. All this stuff that washed up from the flooding. It's horrible what happened to people this year. Three floods! Every town in the county got hit.

 

KATREONA

Hey! Don't just push stuff around. We're here to help get it cleaned up.

 

SISSY

Some of these things that floated down are really old cuz it dug up the whole creek bed. What's that you got? [she looks at what Casey picked up] 

 

CASEY

Some kind of... button?

 

Katreona takes it for a closer look.

 

KATREONA

I think it's from a British sailor.

 

CASEY

Come on, Aunt Katreona, how could a British sailor get out in the middle of Pennsylvania?

 

KATREONA

I saw one at the museum – not a sailor, a button like this.

 

CASEY

How could it get here?

 

KATREONA

It could have been from when William Molyneux came here.

 

SISSY

None of the Molyneuxs are British sailors!

 

KATREONA

IÕm talking about the first Molyneux. One of the founders of Millview back in the 1790Õs.

 

CASEY

I thought they came from France.

 

KATREONA

Maybe way, way, way back, but he was English, and he was impressed by the British navy.

 

SISSY

What's so impressive about the British navy?

 

KATREONA

It means that he was forced to join the navy.

 

CASEY

I wouldn't like that.

 

KATREONA

He didn't either. He jumped off the ship down in the Chesapeake Bay and walked hundreds of miles up to Pennsylvania.

 

SISSY

Did he have a family?

 

KATREONA

Yes, they didnÕt know what happened to him. He went back to get them later. It was pretty sad, but here's some real funny business about part of it...

 

lights down


SCENE 3—Molyneux cabin, 1814

 

WILLIAM MOLYNEUX, his son EDWARD (age 25) and the BIRDS–POWELL, LYDIA and daughter REBECCA (age 17)–sit by the broad, open place in the Molyneux log cabin.

 

WILLIAM [waving off a comment]

That's a thing I'm done with.

 

EDWARD

But you need to practice the recital, father, that you may perform it decently for your grandchildren.

 

WILLIAM [looking around in mock wonder]

Where are such scamps, Edward? I see them not.

 

REBECCA

We hope that you will see them soon, father. [pause, embarrassed] Father-to-be.

 

LYDIA

My impetuous daughter! Perhaps you should take less after me and lean more toward your father, good steady-as-she-goes Powell. [she takes Powell's hand fondly] Oh, do your reminiscence, William. It always gives me a stitch.

 

REBECCA

And I saw it but once before, when I was way tiny.

 

POWELL

Tiny indeed, my Rebecca – the first-born of non-savage stock in this wayfaring place.

 

REBECCA

You treat of it as though I were cause of such birth. I was but the result.

 

EDWARD [leaping up]

Ah, but such a result!

 

WILLIAM

Down, sir! [to the Birds]See, Powell, my dog doth foam at the mouth.

 

LYDIA [suddenly excited]

The mouth! Yes, do that with the mouth.

 

WILLIAM [with exasperation, partly mock]

For your pleasure alone, friend Lydia. Ahem. So, then. I was aboard ship in Liverpool with the young ones, John, Thomas and Elizabeth – [to Edward] you, ungrateful wretch, having gone to farm near Manchester–

 

EDWARD

To but make a living with a father having, we thought, absconded from us.

 

REBECCA

Was it a decent living you made?

 

EDWARD

Summat.

 

REBECCA

We girls–

 

EDWARD

Not so wee now.

 

REBECCA [pretended severity]

We girls earn so much as 75 cents a week in these parts. It can take us nowhere.

 

EDWARD

Which is why you will stay with me.

 

REBECCA

Oh? I thought it might be for... other reasons.

 

WILLIAM

Silence. [all quiet down, with good humor] Now, you want me to play the fool for your entertainment? Well then, I'll have your cooperation in the foolery. Places, everyone.

 

the group look both amused and confused

 

WILLIAM

There's a part for everyone. Powell, you're always the good fellow, namby-pamby sort, so you get to be evil for a bit. Stand over there. No, no, don't slouch – a little more life, look around, you're the naval official searching for my miscreant self. And Edward, you be the whisperer – I'm certain you've had practice in that of recent. Rebecca... hmmm, you will portray a loved one saying her last farewell – moon a bit, roll the eyes, that's it. And Lydia... Lydia, you could be one making her first sailing to the promised lands of America.

 

LYDIA [to Powell]

What exactly was it you promised, sir?

 

POWELL

Prosperity followed by relaxation.

 

LYDIA

Should I ever see signs of the first, I will be delighted to embrace the second.

 

 

 

WILLIAM

The scene, now: the deck of a Liverpool merchantman, about to point its spars across the seas. But, aha! Trouble brews in a mean, constricted heart. Powell – could you give some effort to looking a bit mean and constricted? Ah, that's more like it. So, on board, a friend warns me – that's you, late-appearing son, whispering in my ear – "Bill," he whispers, "they hear in the navvy of your return and they make to arrest you as deserter." [Edward repeats the whisper] It's good if one of you ladies should overhear and appear to look shocked. Well done, well done. That's for certain-sure poor news. Not only would I be pressed again into the sea life, but certainly be grievously maltreated by my inferiors – of whom there be many. What to do? I look around and aha! I spy lying upon a capstan a moldy bread loaf – you may point it out to me, Edward, if you have a mind. Rapid and underhanded, I snatch a man-size morsel to my mouth and [he takes a handful of bread from the table and shoves it into his mouth] wordjuhaffaharfabobfurrapurrbloonderhettetmooron ["would you have a half a bob for a poor blunderheaded moron?"]

He mumbles, drools, lurches, playing the madman, clawing at his Edward, making faces at the women and rolling his eyes, then he spits out the bread.

And so, poor, befuddled officer Powell backs off in horror – horror, man, not raucous laughter – not recognizing this looney-tic as his would-be prey.

 

All are overwhelmed with laughter.

 

EDWARD

Then you came to survey for Dr. Priestley.

 

WILLIAM

Nay, nay, that was previous, when first I came – can you not keep the family history in a straight line? Priestley gave us all acreage, in the year 1794. We had but to clear and mark the lines. Before that, I worked a bit for Wallis.

 

REBECCA

Wallis? That name I have not heard.

 

POWELL

You have indeed. He is the one I told you of who sold the land all to Priestley. Wallis made the road across the mountain and down to Hill's Grove. It was for the surveying supplies.

 

LYDIA

Road! A grand name for that wiggly track of stones.

 

WILLIAM

When we settled on the land from Priestley, a man named Strong had been here before but had left. I built my miserable cabin across the stream from here, called then Strong's Branch. With no path yet, we could travel only by canoe.

 

LYDIA

Even with paths made, the trees overgrew them so thick we could see no sun at noon. [shudders] And that one supernal day –the darkness rolled sudden over us, like the end of the world.

 

EDWARD

That would have been the 16th day of June, 1806.

 

LYDIA

Close to that, surely. But how could you know? – you were not yet here.

 

EDWARD

It was recorded and published in England as a total eclipse of the sun.

 

POWELL

We heard nothing of it.

 

WILLIAM

The poor orphan offspring of Mother England are not worth such reports. So after a bit, poof, my cabin burned, and I constructed this as you see. And when I got back to England–

 

EDWARD

Mother had died, and so too my infant brother. Father, let us go no further with this, it roils me.

 

REBECCA

John Warren was with you surveying for Dr. Priestley?

 

POWELL

Yes, yes, a good man, true and diligent.

 

LYDIA

I miss him much. He is another who made me laugh.

 

WILLIAM

Dead a year. So it is for all in the end.

 

They sit quietly, musing for a few seconds.

 

POWELL

You and I, William, should together purchase his homestead, since it lies between us. Then these two will have a place handy to us, where we may oversee their... development.

 

REBECCA

Perhaps we are not in need of such oversight? And should not Mary, John's wife, be let to live there?

 

WILLIAM

I have thought alike. I will have the papers drawn up. Who lives there, we shall decide as the need is.

 

LYDIA

Paper. William – do  you have that paper, our old petition on taxes?

 

WILLIAM

Um, yes, yes. [he rummages a bit] Here now.

 

POWELL

What year was that?

 

WILLIAM [checking the paper]

The century year, 1800.

 

LYDIA

Read for these two that they may envision our "wealth" from that time. [to Edward and Rebecca] It lists our few possession as we requested that our taxes be reduced.

 

POWELL

Or removed.

 

WILLIAM [with overly dramatic flair]

Powell Bird--150 acres, 1 cow,  1 yoke oxen

John Warren--150 acres, 2 cows, 1 yoke oxen

William Molyneux--75 acres, 2 cows

Sarah Huckell--1 cow, 1 yoke oxen

 

LYDIA

Sarah's good husband died when he was at the Forks but a year.

 

EDWARD

How much were these taxes?

 

WILLIAM

For some a dollar annually, for John, one dollar and 56 cents.

 

EDWARD

The amounts seem not overly... taxing.

 

POWELL

When you have nothing, one dollar is a mountain without trail.

 

REBECCA

And now...

 

EDWARD

And now, you and I, together, forge the future.

 

lights down

 

SONG: "The Leaving of Liverpool," Clancy Brothers


SCENE 4—Creekside, 2011

 

Katreona and Casey pull a long, heavy item in and drop back exhausted. Sissy kneels and squints at something on the object.

 

SISSY

It says something.

 

CASEY

"Hi. I'm a big fat piece of wood the flood dug up."

 

SISSY

There's got a something carved in it. Some numbers, maybe? It's a year, a date!

 

Katreona jumps up.

 

KATREONA

Where? It's all full of mud. [she rubs at it with his sleeve] Eighteen.... 1810.

 

SISSY

Wow, that's really old. It's like treasure.

 

CASEY

It's got ax cuts in it. What do you 'spose it's from?

 

KATREONA

I know that date. I just can't quite remember...

 

SISSY

Why would anybody put a date on a log?

 

KATREONA

Wait, wait, oh.... I bet that's the one!

 

CASEY

The one and only log?

 

SONG: "Log, log, itÕs big, itÕs heavy, itÕs wood

     Log, log, itÕs better than bad, itÕs GOOD!...." Casey and Sissy sing it together.

 

KATREONA

There was a huge flood, maybe as big as this one, and it swept away a whole woolen mill in Folksville. All they ever found was a big iron dye kettle that washed down stream – that's at the museum – and all that was left of the mill was a single log. I bet this is it!

 

SISSY

There are lots of logs.

 

KATREONA

But the mill was built in 1810 – that's what I was trying to remember.

 

CASEY

What year was that flood?

 

KATREONA

I'm not sure.

 

SISSY

Really? Maybe you got hit by the log.

 

lights down


SCENE 5–Near Rogers Mill Site, 1816

 

WILLIAM ROGERS and WILLIAM JOHNSON, a man from the village, walk on stage, searching along the creek. bobbins and mill junk. Bird and stream sounds throughout.

 

ROGERS

Hard to comprehend that our mill at the Forks grew so rapidly over six years and is now taken by the flood. It wounds the heart.

 

JOHNSON

Aye. One hardship on top of another, Mr. Rogers.

 

ROGERS

'Tis a part of life and GodÕs will. If we send word to Lewis Lake, they can inform our wool suppliers and our customers when Lewis delivers his shipment of glass to Philadelphia.

 

JOHNSON

I will send my boy as messenger to Lewis. What is it the Indians called his place?

 

ROGERS

Eagles Mere, roughly translated.

 

JOHNSON

Perhaps we should send a man by horse to Philadelphia rather than wait for LewisÕs wagon. Otherwise, it will be six weeks before they would have word about the loss of our mill and consequently our good Kernsey cloth.

 

Casey and Sissy walk on and kneel by the creekbank.

 

ROGERS

I'll send Jonathan. Those youngsters are already foraging in the remains. It's good to see such enterprise. And thereÕs fresh-cut pine caught against rocks, most likely Mr. MolyneuxÕs, recently cut from that pine stand at his settlement. Such a rapid stream with short turns. I am surprised his timber would come this far. I wonder how Mr. LambertÕs gristmill made out?

 

JOHNSON

IÕve received no word as yet. This creek runs fast even when the water is low. I have a great respect for the men who pilot their log rafts. [chuckles] I thought the woolen business would be less prone to risks.

 

ROGERS

It pays to know the creek like the back of your hand. This time the hand has slapped us. Ah, look – one small part of the mill wall.

 

He points to the log that the Casey pulled from the creek. Johnson turns it over

 

JOHNSON

Is that all that is left of your labor?

 

ROGERS

Even the dye kettle lost. After all the work of pulling that cast-iron monster over the mountain from LewisÕs by oxen. It has apparently washed down the creek, yet this floating log washed but a short distance. The waters seem choosey.

 

JOHNSON

At least the mill outlasted the war with the British.

 

ROGERS

I was proud to provide the cloth for our American uniforms as well as a decent living for our workers.

 

JOHNSON

[pause] Sir, the men speak of leaving, seeing as there is no employment for the moment.

ROGERS [sighs]

We can hardly stop them.

 

JOHNSON

This settlement could be prosperous again if they stay.

 

ROGERS [shakes his head]

But how to support them? I have not the resources to provide for them without payments coming in. They will have to find their own way, just as my parents did when they left England.

 

JOHNSON

Most Englishmen came here once the Revolution was settled in hopes of better living and owning property and that has come true for most.

 

ROGERS

And many families were persuaded to leave because the church found it less expensive to pay their way to America than to support their lives in England.

 

JOHNSON

Here, the churches can barely pay a pastor.

 

ROGERS

Because here, our Constitution has separated church from state. A good thing too. Our hard-earned money remains with us.

 

JOHNSON

Until the government taxes it away. Sir.

 

ROGERS [nods]

There is that. When brother Sam finally wrote that he was established in this country, my mother cried for joy. She had worried about his safety. But our three-month voyage over was trying upon her, body and soul. My younger brother died aboard ship. It well neigh destroyed her when we slipped his tiny body into the ocean.

 

JOHNSON

My wife gave birth once we reached these shores. I can gladly say my boy and his sister are Americans.

 

ROGERS

As are my younger brothers and sisters. [pause] Sam had established his woolen manufacture in New Castle, in Delaware state. Jonathan and I joined him. We were among the first to introduce power looms into America. Later, we heard of lands for sale in this remote part of Pennsylvania.

 

JOHNSON

How did you come to locate at the Forks?

 

ROGERS

My father contracted with Mr. Priestley for 124 acres. Now, praise be, Mr. Priestley is fully paid off.

 

Casey and Sissy walk off, holding something [Indian pot].

 

JOHNSON

Perhaps they have found some small remnant washed up from past times?

 

ROGERS

I have found Indian pots along the banks on occasion. Alas, my young brothers will be out of work until we rebuild.

 

JOHNSON

I forgot to mention: They hitched up the teams to the Conestoga wagons and had them taken high where the flood could not touch them.

 

ROGERS

Richard and David would prefer to work with horses than alongside people. [looks up] I had never seen forests so thick and high as these till I came here.

 

JOHNSON

There is little left of forest in England but for the KingÕs Forest, and with few rabbit or deer.

 

ROGERS

I am at peace with the rabbit and deer, but the wolves and painters declare war on me.

 

JOHNSON

The scream of a painter is one the devil himself would make.

 

ROGERS

Worse than the howls of the wolves?

 

JOHNSON

Both sounds could emanate from the devil, sir. I have spent many a night up a tree to evade the wolves. And spending nights in trees, I could not sleep for fear a painter hovered over me, smacking its lips. I thank God my family was not with me during those times.

 

ROGERS

I have a mind to rebuild here as soon as possible, perhaps that will encourage workers to stay. And I'd like to build another mill further down country. Think of it, Mr. Johnson: If one woolen mill were to flood out, we would have the other.

 

JOHNSON

And you could sell acreage to keep the families and bring settlers into the area. Your Indian Meadow is a good location for a village. Have the area surveyed. Sell lots. The missus and I would happily buy land from your family.

 

ROGERS

I will suggest such to my father and my brother Sam. How often does this creek flood? I have heard an Indian call such an inundation a one-hundred-year flood. So the next should happen only in 1916! Then in É 2016. Unless we stumble upon immortality, we with be gone long before either.

 

JOHNSON [shakes head]

I have heard that widow Huckell will give a piece of her land for a school. That would be another reason for settlers to remain. We should invite everyone to help clear the ground. The women can prepare a meal and the boys carry water. Could we not do this over, say, the nationÕs birthday this summer?

 

ROGERS

Indeed, I am looking forward to the warmth of summer. And you like to plan ahead. That is good.

 

JOHNSON [straightens up his bearing a little]

And perhaps, after autumn harvest, erect the school building.  I believe that sometime in the future, this area will be its own township, broken off from Shrewsbury. No disrespect intended to Mr. Lewis, sir.

 

ROGERS

I'm certain he would take none.

 

Both start heading off stage

 

JOHNSON

Perhaps a village at the Forks will have its own store, church and grist mill. Why not?

 

ROGERS

And we could place a cemetery over there on my hill. I'd be willing to give the land.

 

JOHNSON

Yes, sir. A future flood would not pull the bodies from the ground on the hillside.

 

ROGERS

Not to mention our privies.

 

JOHNSON

True, sir.

 

ROGERS

It could have been worse. Can you imagine if we had two such storms, on right after the other?

 

JOHNSON

Ridiculous! Such a thing could never happen.

 

lights down

 

SONG "Wasn't That a Mighty Storm," Rolf Cahn


SCENE 6—Creekside, 2011

 

Sissy and Casey walk on carrying Indian pot picked up in the mill scene.

 

CASEY

There's so much stuff along here it's scary. How will we ever find out who it all belongs to and get it back to them? Think of everything that's been lost in all those years and all those floods. People lost their houses, their furniture, their pictures – everything! And it just keeps happening.

 

SISSY

We lost our bridge from Lee and couldn't get the car out for three weeks.

 

enter Katreona

 

KATREONA

People down at Nordmont didn't have a road to get out after Lee.

 

CASEY

Everybody thinks you only get floods on the big rivers – that's what you see on TV – but the creeks here go wild. And where do those rivers get all their water from anyway? From our creeks!

 

SISSY

I heard somebody lost 300 acres of corn. Wow!

 

KATREONA

And some of the fields were washed right down to bedrock.

 

CASEY

One of the forestry guys says some places got ripped back to 5,000 years ago.

 

 

SISSY

Wow! [holds up the item they found] Maybe then this really is an Indian pot.

 

KATREONA

I thought the Fairgrounds would get hit pretty hard, but they came out OK, even if they had to cancel the Bowhunters and the Fall Festival. That was the first time they ever cancelled the Bowhunters, but the Fair went on because it was before Lee hit.

 

CASEY

When did it start up, the Fair?

 

KATREONA

1851.

 

SISSY

Wow!

 

CASEY

You say that a lot.

 

SISSY

There's a lot to wow about in this play. [to audience] Don't you think?

 

lights down


SCENE 7—Forksville Fair, October 1852

 

Interior of a barn as a rainstorm begins outside. Families run inside for shelter, with RICHARD BEDFORD, JOHN and MARTHA MOLYNEUX and MICHAEL MEYLERT and TRUDY, Some begin knitting or whittling; one man clutches a chicken and another prize ribbons. Thunder and rain sounds

 

MARTHA [shaking a handful of spun yarn at the door]

Far too often rain gets in the way of our free days. It werenÕt this way last year.

 

MOLYNEUX [nodding in agreement]

Perhaps the October clouds were not as interested in Mr. HeadleyÕs speech as the board would like. It's fine you want to preserve your spinning to receive a higher judging, but wouldnÕt it have been made useful for sheltering us from the elements, mother?

 

MARTHA

My craft would suffer more damage from exposure to rain than my head, John.

 

MEYLERT

For once I agree with your mother, John. If given ample notice I would have brought my plow under shelter to prevent its rust. I find it far too rude that the clouds here should open on Headley's speech when we called upon him all the way from Berwick to deliver it.

 

MOLYNEUX

Now, Mr. Meylert, I would hope you are not going to use this to make a case against holding the fair at the Forks again. It rains also in Laporte, or so I've heard. It has been a delightful second fair, before the damp – the children had a high time viewing their neighbors' animals and crops before the rain, and they will return as soon as it lets up.

 

TRUDY

I like the pigs best. There should be lots and lots and lots of pigs.

 

MOYNEUX

Everywhere, and in every situation, there should be many pigs.

 

MEYLERT

I am only backing our new constitution which, as you know, states that we should vote on revolving the fair each year. I have no doubt that Laporte, as the central location and county seat, will win over the two-thirds vote come next fall.

 

MARTHA

Doubts come in all sizes and from many directions, don't they, Mr. Meylert?

 

MOLYNEUX [feigning he hears something outside]

I believe I hear one of my geldings calling for assistance.

 

MEYLERT [inpatient over the interruption]

As the agricultural society grows in popularity we will need a spot with more permanent buildings to expand beyond cattle and pigs and corn. And horses! As I'm sure you know, the county seat is almost always selected as the most proper place for such an exhibition.

 

MARTHA

Well, Mr. Meylert, maybe your seat ain't so broad as many. And arenÕt we getting ahead of ourselves? If it is space you want, there's our Millview farm. [John beams and nods in agreement] John and his brother have land aplenty for plow matches and new exhibitions if tis that you want. To grow anyways we need to convince the county's Western Agricultural Society to combine their bitty fairs with ours.

 

TRUDY

What about goats! Are we gonna get goats?

 

MEYLERT

You are surely getting my goat. Pardon me, Mrs. Molyneux, but you stretch things to say ÒweÓ when no woman is among the 63 members of our Society. [Martha huffs in disgust] And as I see it, I did not agree to pay my hard-earned 50 cents per year to become part of a society open to all kinds and types. My money supports my right to vote and enter premiums in MY OWN fair.

 

TRUDY

Hippopotamus!

 

BEDFORD

Oh, hogwash, Michael. And watch your tone before the children! I am especially surprised with you. The constitution you find so sacred – remember that when we wrote it in March it was to be for the good of the county. [He pulls a wet copy from his jacket pocket].  

 

MOLYNEUX

Looks a mite soppy, Mr. Bedford.

 

BEDFORD

Readable enough, for all that. ÒAct I: This society shall be called the Sullivan Agricultural Society, its object is the promotion of agriculture and mechanic arts within the bounds of the county.Ó At the inaugural fair last year we all agreed we should make sure all was done proper.

 

MEYLERT

Of course, of course. I am all for bettering the county as much as you, lord high president. I just want to make note that the Western Society may not share our expansive ideals, and they do not at all have as grand locations as we in Laporte.

 

TRUDY

Are there lots of pigs in Laporte?

 

MOLYNEUX

There are indeed, though most are apprentice bacon.

 

TRUDY

What? No fair!

 

BEDFORD

For now, let us focus on enjoying this fair. Our winter organization meeting is coming soon enough. And keep in mind – many of our members are keen on rotating the fair to the top of the county, in Dushore.

 

MEYLERT

Dushore? It isnÕt even a proper borough!

 

BEDFORD [ignoring him]

I must  have Ingham, as Society Secretary, make note that we need to be busy as field bees to finish the incorporation papers from the State Agricultural Society.

 

MOLYNEUX

I believe the storm is clearing off.

 

BEDFORD

Then we'll soon be "right as rain" so we can get back to awarding premiums for domestic manufacturing and field crops. This second annual fair has already exceeded my best expectations. It takes a lot more than a few raindrops to stop the Sullivan County Agricultural Society Fair.

 

MOLYNEUX [smiling at the child]

And the rain helps grow very fat pigs.

 

 

TRUDY

And goats?

 

MOYNEUX

And goats.

 

lights down

 

SONG "Four Wet Pigs," sung by Barb Murray


SCENE 8—Creekside, 2011

 

Katreona and Sissy sift through the flotsam they found. Casey, off stage, is moving stones.

 

CASEY O.S.

Hey, neat – there's some kind of cave here. The entrance must have been covered over, and the flood washed it clear.

 

KATREONA

There are caves all over.

 

CASEY O.S.

I never saw this one before. Wait... a... minute. Oh man, oh man, wait'll you see this.

 

Casey runs in holding something. Sissy runs to check it out.

 

SISSY

They're all messed up.

 

CASEY

Buttons!

 

KATREONA

More buttons?

 

CASEY

I found them on a coat that's all rotted away.

 

SISSY

On a skeleton?!

 

CASEY

No, just a coat by itself.

 

SISSY

Aw! Why would there be a coat in a cave?

 

CASEY

Robbers! Brigands!

 

KATREONA

They didn't have gangs of robbers around Forskville. But there was the Underground Railroad.

 

SISSY

I read about that, taking slaves up to Canada. Did it come through right here?

 

KATREONA

I don't think so, but they had to find places to hide the slaves at night.

 

SISSY

I hope... I hope people in the county wanted to get rid of slavery...

 

lights down


SCENE 9–Mass Meeting, August 16, 1854

 

Two women, MABEL SPEARMAN and NORA DILLIARD are seated, three men, LEVI ROGERS, DANIEL LITTLE AND THOMAS INGHAM, stand behind them, listening. DAVID WILMOT is finishing his speech at lectern

 

WILMOT

And so in conclusion –

 

ROGERS

[standing, sotto voce, leaning on table]

Bless the Lord, Wilmot's been at it nigh on three hours.

 

WILMOT

I have most tellingly outlined the opinions of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, and other Democrats of the burgeoning republic. I have shown that in no wise did they envision slavery as an enduring institution within our blessed country. I now stoutly maintain that I adhere to every doctrine in relation to slavery laid down by Jefferson or by Madison. I adhere to the democracy as laid down in the Declaration of Independence – and I claim no affinity whatsoever to that degenerate race of office-seeking politicians who today call themselves Democrats.

 

Wilmot holds up his hands to signal the end of his speech and the men stomp their feet, yell and applaud, then disperse and talk in groups. Spearman, still seated, nods but remains otherwise quiet and somewhat severe.

 

LITTLE

That should put the Missouri-leanin' bustards in their place.

 

 

 

ROGERS

Leave us hope so, Dan'l. The idee that ye can but flip a penny to choose if a new state be slave or free! The Kansas-Nebraska Act is for the damned. It's beneath the thinkin' of a decent human being.

 

INGHAM

Un-Christian also. I hear the Wesleyan congregation in Millview has split from the orthodox Methodists for that reason.

 

this catches Spearman's interest; she stands and joins the group.

 

SPEARMAN

It shocks the conscience that good church people would turn their eyes from the obscene indignity of owning a fellow man.

 

ROGERS [ignoring her]

You plannin' to ask, Tom, as we ought to forsake the Democrats altogether, start that new party?

 

INGHAM [waving paper]

The Republican Party, yes. I plan to read this resolution [shows papers] putting forth their wholly anti-slavery principles. The Whig Party is on the trash heap, they have nothing left to offer, and the Democrats have forsaken the nation's founding principles. The times are changing in a vast lurch. As Free-Soilers, we must change with it.

 

SPEARMAN

Those are not the only changes required by the times and human circumstances.

 

LITTLE

I'm sure there are others, Miss Spearman, though we may not all agree on what they ought to be.

 

 

SPEARMAN

The vote for women. It is a simple, direct and wholly reasonable request. You speak of equality among mankind, but mankind includes women.

 

Dilliard has been listening, seated, but suddenly rises and moves toward the group.

 

ROGERS

Man-and-womankind. That's a mouthful for ya.

 

SPEARMAN

Our mouths are all we have to vote with, Mr. Rogers, since we cannot affix our mark to a ballot, even in these threatening times.

 

DILLIARD

We have our hands, Mabel, and our feet and our minds. These do us ample duty without the infernal nuisance of making lasting mistakes at the ballot.

 

ROGERS

Oo hoo! Got us some diff'rence of opinion here.

 

SPEARMAN

We could air our opinions in legitimate debate if given the power of the vote.

 

DILLIARD

Rubbish! It would simply drag us down to the level of men.

 

LITTLE

Now ladies, ladies....

 

ROGERS

Let 'em have at it, Dan'l. This is more fun than a hog fight.

 

Wilmot joins them

 

ROGERS [laughing]

Ah, David, ye stirred the waters. [points to the women]They froth!

 

WILMOT

Let the waters froth – and the Democrats also. The "loyal" members of that party will shout and shudder and call us down, no doubt. I saw a few of their number exit rapidly to report the news.  I expect as they will assemble to give their own reading on it all and spew more pabulum that passes for solid food.

 

ROGERS

It would do us good to sniff out them in the surroundin' counties as might think like we do.

 

WILMOT

Good thinking, Levi. Would you be willing to act on a committee to do such "sniffing"? And you, Tom?

 

Ingham nods his assent. Rogers starts to add his agreement but Spearman breaks in.

 

SPEARMAN

I would be interested in joining the group.

 

Wilmot looks embarrassed. Dilliard looks disgusted.

 

WILMOT

It might prove difficult to find an, ah, convenient place for a woman.

 

SPEARMAN

Perhaps if the committee brought along a cooking stove?

 

 

LITTLE [attempting to diffuse the tension]

President Shipman has already made you head of his standing committee, ain't he, Tom? Now, what's a standing committee do anyway?

 

ROGERS

Why I'd suspect they... stand around.

 

as the joke progresses, the whole group gradually breaks up with laughter

 

WILMOT

To, of course, discuss what we stand for.

 

LITTLE

As Free Soilers, we for sartain can't stand pat.

 

INGHAM

And I am to be chair? Can I stand the honor?

 

ROGERS

Stand tall, Tom!

 

INGHAM

I think I must sit lest an embarrassing accident overtake my nether regions.

 

Ingham sits. The laughter trickles on.

 

DILLIARD

I'm afraid I can't stand any more of your ribaldry.

 

SPEARMAN

Nor I.

 

exit Spearman and Dilliard

 

ROGERS

Found them some kind of common ground after all. [slaps his knee and laughs]

 

LITTLE [again changing the conversation]

I fear a bloodbath coming in Kansas territory from this accursed bill.

 

ROGERS

Some from the North done gone there awready to plump up the anti-slaver ranks.

 

INGHAM

Those that can afford the journey. I cannot, and would rather stay to contend for a seat in the state assembly.

 

WILMOT

Go to it, Tom! I am thinking on a run for governor.

 

ROGERS

Well, ain't that sumthin'.

 

LITTLE

Yes, but what?

 

laughter again

 

WILMOT

God help us if there be full war between the states.

 

ROGERS

Aw, I don't think as it can come to that. Tempers wind down in time.

 

lights down, SONG "Peace in the Valley," Elvis Presley


SCENE 10—Creekside, 2011

 

CASEY

Boy did they get the wrong idea.

 

SISSY [irate]

You think there should be slaves?!

 

CASEY

Not that, dingle-brain, the war. It went right on to the Civil War, just uh... a couple years later.

 

KATREONA

Seven years.

 

CASEY

Well, if you have to get technical.

 

SISSY

Did a lot of people from the county fight in the Civil War?

 

KATREONA

Oh yes. The men joined the Union army and the women helped out at home.

 

SISSY

What kind of help could they do in Forksville?

 

KATREONA

Some of them worked in the woolen mill that made cloth for the Union soldiers' uniforms.

 

CASEY

Wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute! You said the mill got flooded away and there was just your favorite log left.

 

KATREONA

They built a new one.

 

SISSY

A new log?

 

KATREONA

A new mill. Stop asking questions and listen for awhile.

 

lights down


SCENE 11–Woolen Mill, 1862

LAVINA RINEBOLD and SARAH ANN HUCKLE, mill workers, take a short lunch break. They eat from lunch pails while talking.

 

LAVINA

The orders are comin' through so fast we barely got time to pack 'em.

 

SARAH [glancing out over the creek]

I do love that bridge. Been up for ten or so years and I never tire of lookin' on it. It's... graceful, for somethin' that big.

 

LAVINA

That's Sadler Rogers' work. Built the Hillsgrove bridge too – well, drew up the plans. This was his first. Only 18 years old when he carved out the model with his jack knife, heard say. That man has magic hands.

 

SARAH [holding up her hands; carries cups to water pail]

No magic in these clumpy things. Just enough use to fold up itchy cloth.

 

LAVINA

Mr. Osler runs the mill like a tight ship. With the piecin' rate put up for the war, it's a better livin', but it don't leave me much time to live. [gets water]

 

SARAH

I'd as soon die of overwork than get shot up like those poor boys at Antietam. So many, so many dead and hurt. Oh! I shouldn't be saying, with your man bein' down there. You hear who else has joined up, hereabouts?

 

LAVINA

Sadler Rogers, he's gone, and the rest of the Rogers men except Moses, cause he's runnin' the store. Samuel and Joel Molyneux I know, Henry Hunsinger, George Pardoe, the Warburtons and the Hottenstein boys – lord, I can't keep track.

SARAH

We shouldn't be fightin' betwixt us, North and South. It's 'sposed to be one country.

 

LAVINA

Says Mr. Lincoln. Ain't what Mr. Jefferson Davis says.

 

SARAH

The volunteers, they thought the war would go on but a couple weeks. It's gotten so bad.

 

LAVINA

Used to be I liked the smell of wool, you know, now I'm right sick of it.

 

SARAH

Anyways, I'll be gettin' out of it soon.

 

LAVINA

That so?

 

SARAH

Yup!

 

LAVINA

I heard suspicions on it, like you was bein' courted serious.

 

SARAH

It's true.

 

LAVINA

Who be it, you don't mind the askin'.

 

SARAH [beaming]

Mr. Jacob Snyder

 

Lavina gives her a strange look

 

LAVINA

Now hold a minute. That... Your name's Sarah Ann Huckle?

 

SARAH

For certain. You know it.

 

LAVINA

And Jacob Snyder, he's the widower?

 

SARAH

That's him.

 

LAVINA

And his wife afore....

 

SARAH

Don't push at it. She was of the name Sarah Ann Huckle also. Before the marriage, that is.

 

LAVINA

So you would be Sarah Ann Huckle number two?

 

SARAH

We are to be married. I will be Sarah Ann Snyder.

 

LAVINA

Number two.

 

SARAH [frustrated]

I can't help the name! I was born with it.

 

LAVINA

Does Mr. Snyder kind of... fix on certain things?

 

SARAH [angry]

He maybe just thinks he's a fortunate man to find a woman like me.

 

LAVINA

Double the Huckle, double the luck?

 

SARAH

Well, the world's a lucky place there don't be two of you.

 

LAVINA

Now, you know I'm joshin' at ya. Ain't a better lady in Forksville or the county or the whole Union than you.

 

SARAH

You think so?

 

LAVINA

For honest and true. No matter what your name be.

 

The two woman look at each other steadily then start laughing.

 

SARAH

It's time to get back in and fold.

 

LAVINA

Once our boys get rid of slavery down South, they can start up here.

 

exit Lavina and Sarah. lights down

 

INTERMISSION


SONG, "Woolen Mill Girls," adapted from Hedy West, sung by Dori Fisher

 

SCENE 12—Creekside, 2011

 

Katreona holds a knobby object in his hands.

 

SISSY

Do you think that was a good idea? To have the same name as the first wife?

 

KATREONA

It worked out for them, I guess. I don't know what this is.

 

CASEY [looking over her shoulder]

Something electric?

 

KATREONA

I guess.

 

SISSY

What's that hanging off it?

 

KATREONA

Hey – didn't Mr. Holcombe go by a little while ago?

 

CASEY

Yeah.

 

KATREONA

I bet he could tell us. He knows all about old machinery. I'll see if I can catch up with him.

 

exit Katreona

 

SISSY

What you suppose it was really like  back then?

 

CASEY

Back when?

 

SISSY

Before. It must have been so different, you know? Not just there was no Internet or anything. I mean no cars? Have to walk everywhere or ride a horse? People must have been tired all the time.

 

CASEY

You get used to it, I guess.

 

SISSY

I wouldn't like not having a TV.

 

CASEY

You could listen to the radio.

 

SISSY

The radio?! All they do is play music and sell stuff.

 

CASEY

I'll bet they had better programs once. Sitcoms and stuff. I mean, if there wasn't TV....

 

SISSY

But you couldn't look at them.

 

KATREONA [running in]

Mr. Holcombe said it's a part from an old radio.

 

SISSY

You must have heard us talking.

 

CASEY

That doesn't look like any kind of radio.

 

KATREONA

It was very different then. He says this is maybe from around 1920 or 1930.

 

CASEY

Before TV.

 

KATREONA

Decades before. He said to make it work, you had to have three different kinds of batteries, one to run the electric current – because it was before people had electricity in their houses – and one to run the tubes, and... umm, I'm not sure about the other one. You could hardly hear what was going on with all the static, and the station would drift off, as you had to keep tuning it all the time.

 

SISSY

Sounds like a lot of work just to listen to a radio.

 

KATREONA

But it would be pretty exciting if you'd never had one before. Like you getting your first iPod.

 

CASEY

Yeah. Well, I don't have one yet.

 

SISSY

Jeez. Really? Hey, your birthday's in a couple months.

 

CASEY

Maybe. That would be cool.

 

KATREONA [looking down at the radio piece]

Imagine! The first time somebody heard a radio broadcast....

lights down


SCENE 13–Forksville store, October 18, 1924

 

MR. GLEOCKLER, the storekeeper, kneels next to a ponderous radio, his ear held to it as his fingers move a dial slowly. JENNIE ROGERS and MARIA WOODHEAD chat as they wander the shop, looking at the wares. During scene, men slowly come in and collect to listen to the broadcast. Static throughout

 

JENNIE

I do not like these new fashions, Maria.

 

MARIA

Bobbed hair and those flapper skirts do seem undecent.

 

JENNIE

The war – well, the peace, I 'spose. It's done something to the nation 's sense of dignity and morality.

 

MARIA

Mr. Gleockler, what is that you're fiddling with?

 

GLEOCKLER

Trying to tune this thing in, get a station. Ain't easy.

 

screen door sound. first man enters, stands looking at Gleockler

 

JENNIE

Is that a radio? We've been thinking on gettin' one – Melvin has – but it looks mighty troublesome.

 

GLEOCKLER

It ain't if you know what you're doin'. I don't. Yet. Wait, got somethin'. [Wheaties commercial] Nah, went away.

 

 

MARIA

You can try another day.

 

GLEOCKLER

No. Can't. This is the day. Boy!

 

MARIA

What do you mean?

 

GLEOCKLER

Red Grange! First broadcast of him ever.

 

screen door sound. second man enters and also stands still, watching the radio like it's a foreign beast

 

MARIA

Who in the wide world is Red Grange? That's an odd name.

 

GLEOCKLER

Spose it's a nickname. Lyle Grange's son. 'Member? As moved off back 15 years or some.

 

JENNIE

'Twas 1908. I remember because... I don't rightly remember why I remember. He was a tyke. The son. I think he was called Harry.

 

GLEOCKLER

Biggest football player in the country. University of Illinois. 12 touchdowns last year, just a sophomore. Some say there's never been better.

 

screen door sound. third man enters, points to the radio

JENNIE

I couldn't say, that's for certain. Football! I don't know what all I'm sposed to think on next. [to Maria] Have you made plans for Thanksgiving supper?

 

MARIA

Much as usual, Jennie. Used to be we had but a rooster as main course, now we're up to a turkey. Goose for Christmas. Tradition for us says onions, rutabagas, preserved string beans and pie. Mince meat or pumpkin, depending.

 

JENNIE

Depending on what?

 

MARIA

Depending on as the pumpkins set right, otherwise the mince only.

 

JENNIE

We're getting us an inside bathroom, I tell you that? No more  washtub in the kitchen for a bath.

 

MARIA

We got ours back two years.

 

JENNIE

Oh.

 

screen door sound. fourth man enters, elbows his way through two others to get close to the radio

 

GLEOCKLER

Got it! Jest in time–kickoff.

 

JENNIE

Is that good?

 

GLEOCKLER

Start of the game.

 

as the broadcaster talks, the men get more excited, snorting and batting at each other

 

BROADCAST VOICE [fading in and out with static]

–newly built Memorial Stadium, from which we make the inaugural broadcast, with the infamous Illinois star Red Grange for the first time before a radio audience. The University of Michigan Wolverines are lined up for the kickoff – a nice boot, going almost to the end zone, and, yes, Grange has it – will you look at that young man go, sheer greased lightning, up the sidelines, cutting back – he's escaping tacklers like a ghost, I don't think a man has touched his uniform – he's in the clear, still picking up speed, good gravy, he's going to do it, running that ball back the entire length of the field – a touchdown for Red Grange and the Illini in the very first minute of the game – 95 yards without a stop for a drink or a hot dog, against a team unbeaten in its last 20 consecutive games.

 

GLEOCKLER [pumping his arms]

That's our boy.

 

JENNIE

He ain't hardly. [to Maria] Your Stanley, what year is he at Penn State?

 

MARIA

It's his third, in agricultural studies. Takes him three trains to get there, then he has to find a ride or walk the last ten miles. Not so convenient. But when he graduates, he wants to teach. Better than the fifty cents a day he got first time, raking hay as a youngster.

 

JENNIE

Mine started early for free, pickin' apples and milkin' the cows and soppin' up the maple syrup and muckin' the bee hives. That's farmin'.

 

 

 

MARIA

Bringing in the agricultural extension has helped the young folks a whole big bit. Stanley, with the 4-H, he raised pigs, got prizes and sold them to get money for college.

 

screen door sound. a fifth man enters, mouths questions, stands amazed as the others explain what happened

 

JENNIE

Stanley's an enterprising boy.

 

MARIA

He studied Latin his last year of high school, up Canton. Had to go there because there's but three years at Estella.

 

JENNIE

Which school he start out at?

 

MARIA      

Black Water Run – closed back eight years or so. First few grades, he had to  write on a slate. Weren't but two books for him to read, and you know how he's always reading.

 

JENNIE

He ever get the paddle for behavior?

 

MARIA

Stanley? Aw, no. He come home with welts from the paddle, I'd of welted him a couple myself to stress the point.

 

GLEOCKLER [whooping, crowd sounds]

Done it again! Grange got hisself another touchdown. 67 yards.

 

two of the men join hands and dance a jig together

 

JENNIE

That's nice. How many touchdowns they get usual in a game?

 

GLEOCKLER

There's no usual. Maybe six or seven.

 

MARIA

I heard points like 30 or 40.

 

GLEOCKLER

Get six points each for a touchdown.

 

JENNIE

That sounds excessive.

 

the five men go nuts, high-fiving and jumping around as Lancaster talks

 

GLEOCKLER [ear pressed back to the faded radio sound]

Hush now. [crowd sound] Glory! Don't believe it. He done it again. Another touchdown! 56 yards. Three in the first ten minutes. [turns and half whispers] Know what them Michigan boys said? Said they'd "bottle up" ol' Red, he wouldn't do nothin'. Ha!

 

Sound of phone ringing, 2 shorts, 2 longs.

 

JENNIE

That your line, Maria?

 

MARIA

I'm one short before the longs.

 

JENNIE

You ever make one of those long-distance calls, out of the area?

 

MARIA

Oh sure, to get to find Stanley at Penn State.

 

JENNIE

How's that work anyway? The idea scares me some.

 

MARIA

You just do the one long ring and wait for the exchange at Jennings store, then you give her the number and she puts it on through.

 

JENNIE

Bad as football.

 

GLEOCKLER [crowd sound]

Gulldang! Plumb plain unbelievable. Red Grange – again. Four touchdowns, and it's just the first quarter. He could run clean round the world.

 

the men are so amazed they can hardly react

 

JENNIE [sotto voce to Maria]

For all I care. I'm going to get me this kerchief and I should pick up cigars for Melvin.

 

MARIA [looking uncomfortable]

To bring smoking into the house...

 

JENNIE

I'm not bringin' it, it's already there. You Wesleyans, I know as you don't allow smoke and alcohol. If Melvin weren't already set on the first, I'd be happy enough with that part. But what I don't – and it ain't against your religion, Maria, just my personal point of view – I don't go with havin' no dancin' and no card playin'. If you don't bet money and don't get too squishy close to your partner, where's the harm?

 

MARIA

Flinch, that game in a box, and Old Maid, we allow them, and at those folk parties, they do group moving around to English music.

 

JENNIE

I'd call it dancin'.

 

MARIA [smiling]

I would too – but I don't say so.

 

They laugh quietly together. Gleockler turns off the radio. The men start drifting out.

 

GLEOCKLER

Lost the sound. Don't know where it goes. Into the atmosphere. Said Red Grange won't be playin' in the second quarter anyways. Already beat Michigan flat, single-handed. That'll go right down in history.

 

MARIA

You never know where history's going to or where it will land till it gets there.

 

lights down

 

SONG, "Varsity Drag," Frank Black Orchestra


SCENE 14—Creekside, 2011

 

CASEY

Do you think Sissy will go to college?

 

KATREONA

Of course! Everybody goes to college now.

 

CASEY

If they're smart like her.

 

KATREONA

Oh, don't be silly. Everybody needs an education in today's world. Anyway, you're halfway smart. [pause] I'm kidding. You're at least two-thirds smart.

 

Sissy comes on holding an old tag from a utility pole.

 

SISSY

Look what I got!

 

KATREONA

What is it?

 

SISSY

Wow! There's something you don't know?

 

KATREONA

Maybe a few things.

 

SISSY

Wow! Who would have thunk it!

 

CASEY

Sissy!

 

SISSY

IÕm just having fun. OK, Sor-ry

 

Sissy hands the item to Casey

 

CASEY

Some letters. R... F or E... and C or – I think it's a C.

 

KATREONA

Let me see.

 

SISSY

Here we go. Again.

 

KATREONA

What? I can't look at anything?

 

SISSY

Sor-ry. Again.

 

Katreona and Casey both give her a stern look

 

SISSY

OK. I am. I am. Now where did I see something that looked sorta like that? Hmmmm, hmmm...

 

CASEY

I wonder how far back it goes?

 

SISSY

Oh, I think my grandfather would know.

 

KATREONA

How?

 

SISSY

He had one of the first farms that got electricity through the rural electrical coop. The R... E... C.

 

KATREONA

Wait a minute... you knew what the letters meant?

 

SISSY

Hee hee.

 

lights down


SCENE 15–Roadside by farmer's field, 1937

 

Two men, GLEASON LEWIS and SAMUEL KILMER, with shovels and pry poles look down into a hole they're digging.

 

SAMUEL

Leastways, it's dried out some. Ain't flowin' up out of the ground like it did after the flood. 1936! That'll be a year to remember. Glad we don't too often get water like that.

 

GLEASON

Once every hundred years, they say.

 

LILY DAVIS walks on, carrying a bucket of cold water and dipper and basket with a couple sandwiches

 

SAMUEL

They say it, but do they know it? E-lec-tricity. Damn – [notices Lily] pardon me – ain't it amazin'? Puttin' these poles in the ground and in jest a month or so, e-lec-tricity.

 

GLEASON

Where's Herbert got to, Mizz Davis? Said he was gonna help with this here.

 

LILY

I don't rightly know. I spect though as he's on his way.

 

GLEASON

Herbert's way goes sometimes the byway, lyin' back under a tree.

 

LILY [trying to act incensed]

Now that ain't for you to be sayin'. He knows how 'portant the electric co-op is.

 

SAMUEL

Never thought it would happen. Had those meetin's at the grange, but you never 'spect much, know what I mean?

 

GLEASON

Helps as we been doin' co-op business with farmin' since day one. Buy our plows together an' share 'em.

 

Sam hits and digs out rock

 

LILY

Been a full year or so since the Rural Electrification Act got signed.

 

GLEASON

Some said it should of moved faster. They ain't got sense. Takes time for things to happen, an' this been mighty fast, y'ast me, specially you consider it's a whole new thing like's never been done afore.

 

SAMUEL

Course, there's them opposed an' make a mighty stink. Always is.

 

GLEASON

They'll come round.

 

LILY

Licender, over to Shunk, he says electricity's the work of the Devil.

 

SAMUEL

The Devil! Thought he was Licender's best friend.

 

GLEASON

Mason thinks as you don't plug up the sockets, the electricity'll leak out and fall all over, get lost. Wonders why you don't put the pole boxes up in the attic so the current can run down hill.

 

SAMUEL

But now Corbin Lewis, over to Hillsgrove, he has his own hydroelectric turbine, runs wires right on through the trees and sells some of the output, so I hear. It just ain't all that efficient.

 

GLEASON

When we get the co-op lines through, first, we need to put it in the barns. That's where the effort gets most saved.

 

LILY

Now jest hold on! What about the house? I can go and jest plug in the electric iron. No more havin' the fire goin' all summer when it's 90 degrees just to keep the clothes without wrinkles.

 

SAMUEL

Petry says the co-op members, we'll all have to pay if the loan falls through.

 

GLEASON

That's horse hockey an' you know it. Says right in the agreement, if he could read, ain't none of us individual liable.

 

LILY

Lester thinks the wires'll [points upwards] fry your brains.

 

SAMUEL

Might fry his, maybe. Power companies, they put out the lies like that. [starts digging furiously]. Glad we ain't got too many holes to go.

 

GLEASON

Could of been many times the worse with the lines like the power companies use. They need to put the poles close together and hang the wires all off cross beams.

 

 

SAMUEL

Expensive! That's the power companies. Like they know anything.

 

LILY

So why you need less poles here?

 

GLEASON [slow and distinct]

Because we'll be usin' copper... weld... conductor.

 

SAMUEL[leaning on his shovel]

Dang, Gleason, use the confounded English or whatever language.

 

GLEASON [lecturing, with expansive gestures]

You got three copper wires that's wrapped around itch other, like a lady's braid but not quite, one of 'em's got steel in the middle with the copper 'round it, see, makes it all stronger so it don't sag, an' if it don't sag, you can go longer 'tween the poles, so it's less poles, an you don't, like the power companies –

 

SAMUEL [angry]

Power companies!

 

GLEASON

– you don't, like the power companies think you do, need the cross beams. Not so many poles, no cross beams, it's cheaper. That's the way of it.

 

SAMUEL

Your mammy teach you that?

 

GLEASON

My mammy tried teach me to make buttermilk pancakes like Mizz Davis here, but I weren't listenin'.

 

They all laugh to break tension, then Gleason and Samuel start digging again. Samuel, more furious than ever, hits a rock.

 

SAMUEL

Dagblast Herbert! He needs to get hisself out here. This is goin' too slow.

 

LILY

You leave my man alone.

 

Gleason hits a rock.

 

SAMUEL

Hit it again. [Gleason  hits it again] Nope. The cliff just moved an inch. Don't think you're gonna get it out.

 

GLEASON

We're gonna have to start a new hole.

 

SAMUEL

We gotta work it fast 'fore the power companies move on in.

 

They take a break

 

GLEASON

There you go. Always you an' the power companies.

 

SAMUEL

It ain't jest me. They been bringin' in spite lines to the west.

 

LILY

Spite lines – what's them?

 

SAMUEL

Happened soon's FDR signed off on loanin' money to start up the electrical coops. Before the act, power companies said there weren't no use botherin' to bring electricity to the farms, nobody out here needed it and wouldn't pay the companies a return. The power companies had hog of it all. That's why we ain't got but 10 percent of American farms electrified. It's 80 or some such percent in Sweden.

 

GLEASON

An Sweden ain't but hardly civilized.

 

LILY

Farmers don't want electricity?! Ha! Herbert said the county signed up every which way soon's the word on the co-ops come out.

 

SAMUEL[leans forward, conspiratorially]

Then, when the REA act got put through, the power companies come in quick like the Easter Bunny an' run lines out along the main roads and hooked up the easy-pickin' big farmers so that the co-ops hadn't nobody left but the little fellahs like us, which wouldn't make the co-ops enough to pay back the loan.

 

GLEASON [pushing Samuel's buttons]

You ain't a little bit socialist, now, air you, Sam? Or could be communist?

 

They state work again.

 

SAMUEL [angry again]

Don't you "socialist" nor "communist" at me! Don't care what it gets called, without the government gettin' into this we wouldn't be havin' no electricity – not you, not me, not nobody out in no man's land. And it ain't the government diggin' the holes, it's you an' me so's we can get the poles in the ground. Power companies! All they care about is the almighty dollar.

 

GLEASON

Push it down some, Samuel, yul make the trees shake.

 

 

LILY

The REA ­– they're gonna lend us to buy equipment too? Irons and like that?

 

GLEASON

You betcha. An' washin' machines. I read it right in the report. Ain't been but a year and there's a hunnert electric co-ops set up acrost the country. How many signed on in Sullivan so far, Sam?

 

SAMUEL [pulls a paper from his back pocket]

32, looks like.

 

GLEASON

What I said, what I said! Affordable power! Light on every farm! Electricity – yer extra hired hand!

 

SAMUEL

Now if you don't sound like a advertisement on "Amos an' Andy."

 

GLEASON [pointing]

Lookit – ain't that Herbert trudgin' up the hill?

 

SAMUEL

Bout time. [shouts] C'mon there, Herbert, 'fore you miss all the work.

 

GLEASON

Things gotta turn 'round in this Depression. Can't hardly live, can't sell our crops. Some places, Midwest – can you believe, they burn corn for heat 'cuz it's cheaper'n coal. Burnin' up a good food crop just for fuel  – ain't that a sin?

 

LILY

Hope that don't never happen again. Still, everybody's gotta live. Even the power companies gotta live.

 

SAMUEL

Not off us, they ain't!

 

LILY [laughing]

Look at us, yellin' over things we can't even see.

 

SAMUEL

Well, I see clear enough we got holes to dig.

 

GLEASON

Sam, you cain't see holes theirselves, they's invisible. You can see only around they's edges, what's holdi' 'em up on they's sides.

 

SAMUEL

Gleason, you take everything, what they say? Too literal?

 

LILY looking into the distance]

"Holes to dig and miles to go before I sleep."

 

SAMUEL

Par' me, Mizz Davis, but what the heck you talkin' about?

 

Gleason waves off stage to Herbert to come up, then stomps off the get him.

 

lights down

 

SONG, "They'll Never Keep Us Down," Hazel Dickens


SCENE 16—Creekside, 2011

 

Casey comes running in from stage right, skids to a stop, breathless.

 

CASEY

The whole town musta burned!

 

SISSY/KATREONA

What?!

 

CASEY [holding up a burnt sliver of wood]

A big, huge pile of burned up wood.

 

KATREONA

What a minute – so this didn't just happen?

 

CASEY [still half out of breath]

It's from the flood. The creek bank's washed down and there're these monster pieces of wood that were buried there, like super hunks of charcoal. You think there was another city here before? Like how they found Troy buried under a whole pile of other cities?

 

SISSY

Troy's right up on Rt. 14.

 

CASEY

Not that Troy – the real Troy. In the Trojan Wars. They found it.

 

SISSY

It got lost?

 

KATREONA

There wasn't any other city here before Forksville.

 

SISSY

And Forksville never burned down.

 

KATREONA

Not all of it.

 

CASEY

Some of it?

 

KATREONA

The church burned.

 

CASEY

No it didn't. It's still right there.

 

KATREONA

That's the new church.

 

CASEY

It doesn't look new to me.

 

SISSY

She means it's the new one since the old one.

 

CASEY

Huh? Double-talk.

 

SISSY/KATREONA

The old church burned down and they built the new one in the same place.

 

CASEY

When did that happen?

 

lights down


SCENE 17–Rt. 154, by Methodist Church, April 1955

 

fire burns behind audience. GRACE, AMELIA and LESLEY look on.

 

GRACE

"By fire next time..." Such a fine building. Hope it doesn't get to the school.

 

LESLEY

How did it start?

 

AMELIA

Leaves, I heard, somebody--I'm not gonna say who – was burning leaves up near the wall and I guess, the wind, got under the siding. Nippy wind for April.

 

LESLEY

Can we help somehow?

 

AMELIA

Best we stay back, let the firemen handle it.

 

loud metallic sound

 

LESLEY

What?!

 

GRACE [surprised]

The bell from the steeple.

 

AMELIA

800 pounds. Had to hit pretty hard. Probably smashed.

 

LESLEY

Glad the fire was on this side of the creek anyway. Think, if it'd got into all the stores. We already got fewer shopping places than we did 20 or so years back. It hit the general store or the post office, I don't think they'd ever rebuild.

 

AMELIA

Or it could have gone up the mountain. Some of those forest fires, it's took four or five hundred men to backfire and turn the blaze.

 

GRACE

Let's not talk about that.

 

LESLEY

Superstitious?

 

GRACE

I just don't like asking for bad luck.

 

AMELIA

Luck won't get the church back. That'll take hard work.

 

LESLEY

You think so? You think it'll get put back up?

 

AMELIA

I'd bet my bottom dollar on it. We got the people and the Lord's going to show the way.

 

Lesley begins to snigger

 

GRACE

What's so dang funny about that?

 

LESLEY

'Tain't that. You hear back when that hotel caught fire.?

 

GRACE

I don't remember nothin' like that.

LESLEY

Ah, it was way on back, little after 1900. The Seeley House hotel, sat over at what's now the firehouse. See [starts to break up], the way I heard, the firemen – they just had buckets then to fight the fire – they come and found some barrels of whiskey--

 

AMELIA [interrupting]

They weren't firemen!

 

LESLEY

 – what was "in danger," as they say....

 

Three men stagger and lurch on from the wings, kicking a barrel ahead of them, singing "Roll out the barrel..." One of the men stops the barrel and puts his fire bucket down, tries to turn the spigot

 

MAN 1

Whatchu dune?

 

MAN 2

Gotta... gonna gemme, get me some, more some...

 

MAN 1

Stew much. Fill up tha' whole bucket, stew much. Even fer you.

 

MAN 3

Yer turnin' it the wrong way. The faucet thing. Turn it other way.

 

MAN 1

Why?

 

MAN 3

'At's sway it works. Works 'at way. 'Member?

 

MAN 2

Stew much.

 

MAN 1

Ain't never, no how, no way possible too much. Nobody ain't invented yet too much.

 

MAN 3

Yul spill it.

 

MAN 1

Lick it. Lick offn the groun'.

 

MAN 2

Yer drunk.

 

MAN 1

Fish tails! 'At's fish tails. Ain't been drunk since Saturday.

 

MAN 3

Iss still Saturday.

 

MAN 1

Huh! Maybe I'm drunk.

 

drunks exit, kicking barrel, singing "Roll out the Barrel. Enter MILO BAUMUNK

 

MILO

Unholy mess, if you'll pardon the expression. Good thing they wet down the old road. That kept the fire from getting to the school and even the woods. That would have caused problems.

 

AMELIA

Sure would, Milo. Catastrophe, I'd say.

 

MILO

Guess we'll need to get started pretty soon.

 

GRACE

For what?

 

MILO

Plannin' the new church.

 

LESLEY

You serious?

 

MILO

I've got the sawmill lumber, and they have insurance.

 

GRACE

We need to find some place to hold the services while we're workin' on the replacement.

 

AMELIA

The Community Hall.

 

GRACE

I'll run talk to the Women's Society, see if they could trim it up more church-like.

 

exit Grace

 

AMELIA

Lemme check on somethin'.

 

Amelia goes into the audience and quickly returns

 

LESLEY

And if the Community Hall ain't big enough, we can move to the Fire Hall.

 

AMELIA

That bell landed straight down, looks solid, so we got somethin' sure to start with.

 

MILO

An' seein' God's on our side, we'll finish it, guaranteed.

 

lights down,

 

SONG, Have Thine Own Way," sung by Barb Murray


SCENE 18—Creekside, 2011

 

SISSY

Looks like they finished it OK.

 

CASEY

Right on the same foundation.

 

KATREONA

Well, you know what I heard?

 

SISSY [sarcastic]

Oh, I'm all ears.

 

KATREONA [carefully inspecting Sissy's head]

Hmm, yes, looks like you are.

 

Sissy swats at her and pouts

 

KATREONA

OK, if you don't want to listen, that's fine. I just thought you might want to know about the time they wanted to turn Forksville into a reservoir.

 

SISSY/CASEY

What??!!

 

lights down


SCENE 19– Forksville Fair, August 1966

 

During a horse pull. LOIS, MARY, JULIA, HETTIE and STANLEY talk. Horse pull sounds throughout.

 

STANLEY [looking off stage, excited]

7,000 pounds, Blackie! That ainÕt nearly as much weight as you pull during harvest! [horse pull #1, 5 counts] That horse's got one hoof tied up to his ear.

 

LOIS

Hottenstein'sÕs got hisself a team to beat this year. The rest can try what they can, but they're gonna have to wait till next year.

 

STANLEY

If there's gonna be a fair next year.

 

HETTIE

Aw, Stanley, donÕt get started on that again. You think the commissioners would allow such when the citizens are dead set against it?

 

STANLEY

The army engineers say they gotta dam the Loyalsock up here so's to dilute the pollution to the Susquehanna when the water flow's low.

 

LOIS

Whatever does that even mean? [horse pull #2, 5 counts]]Dang, Maestro, you can handle more weight!

 

MARY

It means if the dirty water the Loyalsock MenÕs Club donÕt want getting in their precious Susequehanny is backin' up at Barbours, now it'll back up and flood sideways here behind some dam.

 

LOIS

What? At the fairgrounds?

 

STANLEY

Not just the grounds, the state park too. The beach will be like a cess pool. The Resource Conservation people, they said a 250 foot high dam and 1100 acre lake would be on state game lands, by Shanerburg Run.

 

MARY

They think they got the right to change Route 154?

 

[horse pull #3, 5 counts]

 

STANLEY

That's it for them.

 

LOIS

What's the next class?

 

STANLEY

7,500 pounds. Now listen at this. The Loyalsock Watershed Conservation Association spilled the beans [pulls out an issue of The Sullivan Review. Enter JULIA while he's reading.] Ahem. ÒThat if a large dam is built with Federal funds anywhere in the Loyalsock watershed, all of the high land surrounding the reservoir will also be condemned and taken by the Government to build roads and to control and restrain activity about the reservoir in order to prevent contamination of the submerged areas and flood banks.Ó

 

JULIA

The danged govÕment! Too much government, too little concern.

 

HETTIE [leaning over ahead of them in the crowd]

DonÕt everybody go frettin'. As I heard from Fred Fiester, he is goin' to straighten it out with The Sully hisself. The true aim of the dam – he's said this, listen – is a water-run electrical producing facility. He says the cost for it all to produce electricity would be too much anyways, seeing the little size of the local population and the cost to carry it outside the area.

 

MARY

So the fair'll be solid for next year. Anyway, the Agricultural Society has gone through worse.

 

LOIS

With but one cancellation!

 

STANLEY

That was World War II, right?

 

LOIS

1944, but it weren't the war as did it, what happened was the spread of polio. The same disease that felled FDR.

 

JULIA

The horse-pullin' survives it all, no matter. My grandparents saw some flood around the start of the century when the ice smashed through the fence and washed it away. But the Fair still went on. That's when the society members decided to buy more land. [horse pull #4, 5 counts]

 

LOIS

Lookit Buddy, he's about give it up. Sometimes a horse just don't want to pull.

 

HETTIE

My grandparents told as how they were afraid the first horse pull would close the fair 'cause it brought such a crowd. 1927 or thereabouts –  eighteen hundred come to see nine teams pull. And that was after all games of chance got cancelled, so you couldnÕt even win money on betting.

JULIA

There was years the fair had fifteen hundred for the half-mile horse race on that sand and clay track, but that didnÕt last long.

 

HETTIE

Before automobiles, my uncle said, the fair was the closest form of entertainment.

 

LOIS

And a nice way to supplement an income!

 

[horse pull #5, 5 counts]

 

MARY

Lois, that's because you have won premiums in every category for 15 years! If I had your magic touch with the canned goods and needlework and floral display, baked goods, home grown vegetation and all that else, I'd be richer than that Croesus fellow.

 

STANLEY
What I read, the Society paid $15 in 1895 just to bring in a real photographer.

 

LOIS

How much you think that'd be in todayÕs money?

 

HETTIE

$50-60 or more. And those outside peddlers would bring in shooting galleries, rattlesnakes, a barber, and bands. That keeps things peppy, alive.

 

STANLEY

O.J. LittleÕs steam carousel. Before the First War he'd come in from Long Island to run the merry-go-round.

 

[horse pull #6, 5 counts]

LOIS

The merry-go-round, my grandma used to ride it in Mildred. That's where they kept it between the fairs.

 

HETTIE

Sullivan County does have a grand old fair. Judy sung it right: Òmeet me at the fair, donÕt tell me the lights are shining any place but there.Ó

 

MARY

That was St. Louis, way back.

 

JULIA

We're as good as any St. Louis. And don't have to go half so far. Well, that's that.

 

STANLEY

I need get me another corn dog.

 

LOIS

Always eatin'. You'd bite the nose off a steer.

 

SONG, "Meet me in St. Louis," Judy Garland


SCENE 20—Creekside, 2011

 

SISSY

Wow! Glad that didn't happen. That would have been worse than any flood.

 

CASEY

My mom always said Agnes –

 

SISSY

Angus!

 

CASEY/KATREONA

No, Agnes!

 

CASEY

– was the worst, back in 1972, but now she says this year was way worse.

 

SISSY

There's no way to know, 'cause you can't know everything that ever happened here.

 

CASEY

At least we got to show part of it.

 

KATREONA

With the help of everything the creek dug up.

 

CASEY

C'mon, Aunt Kitty, don't let the junk take all the credit. What about the actors?

 

SISSY

What about them?

CASEY

Don't they deserve one of your "wows"?

 

SISSY

Wow!

 

CASEY

They ought to come on out here.

 

KATREONA

Wait a minute! First, you know who deserves the biggest "wow" of all?

 

CASEY

Who?

 

KATREONA

The people who were hit by all these floods and never gave up. And everybody who helped them find their way out of them – because that's the kind of people we have in Sullivan County.

 

CASEY

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

 

SISSY

Who said that?

 

CASEY

I did.

 

KATREONA

Come on, everybody, let's stand up and give a big cheer for the mighty Sullivan County Survivors and the best friends they could ever have!!

 

SISSY

Wow, wow, wow!

 

pause while the audience responds

 

SISSY

Yup! "Tomorrow is another day." I said that.

 

KATREONA

And so did Scarlett O'Hara.

 

CASEY

Jeez.

 

KATREONA

Now it's time for the actors to come out.

 

SISSY [aside]

We have to toss in a few hams to go with the preceding cheese.

 

SONG, "The Story of the Mighty Mississippi," Mike Seeger

 

actors come out to take their bows

 

THE END