The Home Front

 

a collaboration of Derek Davis, Helen Day, Barbara Murray, Bob Philips,

Carol Sones Shetler, Linda White and the cast

 

directed by Linda White

 

SCENE 1 – Little home, Nordmont, December 8, 1941

SCENE 2 – Tobias Little home, near Lewis Lake, 1814

SCENE 3 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1942

SCENE 4 – Speary cabin, Cherry Grove, 1812

SCENE 5 – Little home, Nordmont, early 1943

SCENE 6 – Sonestown Methodist Church, fall 1863

SCENE 7 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1943

SCENE 8 – Spearman cabin, North Mountain, October 1879

SCENE 9 – Little home, Nordmont, early 1944

SCENE 10 – Grimes home, Muncy Valley, November 1917

INTERMISSION

SCENE 11 – Sonestown clothespin factory, 1921

SCENE 12 – Little home, Nordmont, June 6, 1944

SCENE 13 – French countryside, August 1944

SCENE 14 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1944

SCENE 15 – Moyer home, Muncy Valley, time indefinite

SCENE 16 – Little Home, Nordmont, late April 1945

SCENE 17 – Sonestown railroad station, 1920

SCENE 18 – Little home, Nordmont, August 14, 1945

SCENE 19 – Muncy Valley tannery, 1908

SCENE 20 – Little home, Nordmont, late April, 1946

 

 

Character                    (in order of appearance)                   Cast

 

Felice Little                                                                                                  Olivier Magann 

Michael Little                                                                                                   Bob Phillips 

Delia Little                                                                                                           Ann Kiner 

Payton Little                                                                                                    Leona Hatch

Tobias Little                                                                                                 Richard Houck

Theophilus Little                                                                                           George Hasay 

Content Little                                                                                                      Helen Day

Miles Speary                                                                                                Richard Houck

Rachel Speary                                                                                        Amy Brian McGee

Sarah Speary                                                                                              Anastasia Miller

Mary Phillips                                                                                            Anastasia Miller

Susan Glidewell                                                                                              Brenda Miller

Anna Edgar                                                                                                  Mikaela Brown

Harriet Fiester                                                                                       Carol Sones Shetler

William Spearman                                                                                      Steve Tomlinson

Hortense Naylor                                                                                   Barbara K. Schaefer

George Young                                                                                                  Paul Schaefer

Samuel Naylor                                                                                                  Derek Davis

Gordon Phillips                                                                                                    Carl Price 

Carolyn Little                                                                                              Florence Suarez

Blanche Miller Grimes                                                                                  Bonnie Houck

Ralph Grimes                                                                                                 George Hasay

Rolland Boatman                                                                                              Derek Davis

Clyde Speary                                                                                             Steve Tomlinson

Captain Slate                                                                                                   Paul Schaefer

Crawley                                                                                                            Derek Davis

Chris "Sonsey" Little                                                                                       Bob Phillips

Tony DiAngelo                                                                                                   Joel Fisher

Jim Moyer                                                                                                          Ed Murray

Jimmy Moyer                                                                                                  Dave Verelst

Louise Moyer                                                                                                 Barb Murray

Barbara Moyer                                                                                            Joanna Murray

John Sinclair                                                                                                    Ferdie Marek

Pete Connor                                                                                            Shammah Magann

Terry Connor                                                                                                        Carl Price

Amelia Connor                                                                                                    Helen Day

Railroad Worker                                                                                               Derek Davis

J.D. Miller                                                                                                           Joel Fisher

Jenny Grace                                                                                                       Dori Fisher

 

Music

"Yankee Doodle," traditional, performed by Village Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps

"Battle of New Orleans," performed by Johnny Horton, written by Jimmy Driftwwood

"Battle Hymn of the Republic," performed by John Philip Sousa, written by Julia Ward Howe

"Likes Liquor Better Than Me," traditional, performed by the New Lost City Ramblers

"Keep the Home Fires Burning," performed by John McCormick, written by Ivor Novello and Lena Gilbert Ford

"Cleanin' My Rifle (and Thinkin' of You)," performed by Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra, written by Allie Wrubel

"Chattanooga Choo-Choo," peformed by the Undrews Sisters (Dori Fisher, Barb Murray and Barbara K. Schaefer), written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon

"In the Mood," performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra

"Roll on Columbia," written and performed by Woody Guthrie

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home," arranged and performed by Arthur Fiedler, written by Patrick Gilmore

"Fight for Your Right to Party," performed by the Beastie Boys, written by Adam Yauch and Tom Cushman

 

 

SCENE 1 – Little home, Nordmont, December 8, 1941

 

DELIA LITTLE, her husband MICHAEL and daughter FELICE are gathered around the battery-powered radio in their living room, riveted to President Roosevelt's speech.

 

ROOSEVELT

[fade in to] Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy... [the speech continues behind the talking]

 

FELICE

What does that mean, "infamy"?

 

MICHAEL

Evil, treachery.

 

FELICE

Who's evil, the Japanese?

 

DELIA

Hush, dear, we need to listen to this.

 

FELICE

You don't let me listen to my programs.

 

MICHAEL

We can't run the battery down. Anyway, you hear some of them.

 

DELIA

Would you both please – oh, he's asking for a declaration ....

 

ROOSEVELT

...that a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

 

MICHAEL

Good for him. Those bastards!

 

DELIA [pointing at Felice]

Michael!

 

MICHAEL

That's what they are.

 

Their daughter, PAYTON, comes running in.

 

PAYTON

Did you hear?

 

DELIA

Yes, dear, we did. War.

 

MICHAEL

If it wasn't for you two...

 

PAYTON

Us two? What?

 

MICHAEL

I'd enlist.

 

PAYTON

I heard at Sheila's. Her dad did. Will you get drafted, Dad?

 

DELIA

Your father is exempt because he's married.

 

MICHAEL

I could still enlist.

 

DELIA

Don't you dare! These children need a father. I need a husband. It's too much to ask.

 

MICHAEL

Look what those Japs did to us. Nobody wanted to go to war with them. Everybody asked President Roosevelt to stay out of it – it's their problem in Europe and the Pacific, it's not our war. It wasn't. Now I'll bet that bastard Hitler will declare war on us because he's in bed with the Japs. We should pound them both flat.

 

FELICE [starting to cry]

I don't want you to go away.

 

PAYTON

You could beat those Japs, Dad

 

MICHAEL [torn]

I have to think about this.

 

DELIA

There's nothing new under the sun. It was the same way in the American Revolution. Don't fight with the English, just dump their tea in the ocean. Then look what happened.

 

MICHAEL

We got freedom, that's what happened.

 

PAYTON and FELICE

Yeah!

 

DELIA

I know, but... Why must it be this way?

 

MICHAEL

My great – I don't know how many greats – grandfather Theophilus fought in the Revolutionary War before he came to Sullivan County – actually it was part of Lycoming County in those days.

 

FELICE

Theophilus? What kind of name is that?

 

MICHAEL

The name of a patriot. You should know about this.

 

FELICE

Theophilus?

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Yankee Doodle," traditional, performed by Village Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps


 

SCENE 2 – Tobias Little home, near Lewis Lake, 1814

 

TOBIAS LITTLE and wife CONTENT prepare for his father THEOPHILUS to move in with them while Tobias' brother Thomas and wife Lydia move to Ohio.

 

TOBIAS [reading]

"Children, obey your parents...."

 

CONTENT

What wonderful and appropriate words for today's worship, Tobias. Your father should be here soon.

 

TOBIAS

Thanks you, Content. Yes he will. Perhaps next week Papa will give the Sunday sermon for the family.

 

CONTENT

Wouldn't it be n ice if one day we could jave a Presbyterian church here, like we did in New Jersey?

 

TOBIAS

It would indeed, but I fear that day may be a long way off yet. Oh, here comes Papa now.

 

enter Theophilus carrying belongs. He sits.

 

TOBIAS

So, Father, you are not fleeing to Ohio with Thomas to escape the British?

 

THEO

I did not flee the British during the Revolution, and I would not flee them merely because they have burned our ill-placed capital, which should have remained in Philadelphia. And as you know, Thomas flees nothing. He goes to find his own home and a new life with Lydia. They have no need of this ridiculous war. War of 1812, my boot. It's 1814 and no bloody end in sight.

 

CONTENT

DonÕt be vulgar, Papa. It is the LordÕs day.

 

TOBIAS

Good that you can remain with Content and me.

 

THEO

I am grateful to you, son. With your mother passing so recently, itÕs a great comfort to have family to live with in my old age, here at LittleÕs Corner. But some day you may want to cross the mountain to the east to populate that land with little Littles.

 

TOBIAS

IÕm sure weÕll get there before too many generations. WeÕre a prolific lot. I have long wondered – during the Revolution, did you ever consider coming to a place like Lycoming County to live, to avoid the war?

 

THEO

Never. It was my duty to serve.

 

CONTENT

Even when you were a prisoner of war? You did not dream about a safe place like this?

 

THEO

Safe? It was no safer here during the Revolution, Content. It was rife with godless heathens.

 

CONTENT

But wasnÕt the land owned by gentlemen, like Samuel Wallis?

 

THEO

That old ÒLand KingÓ might have held title, but the infernal Indians still ran the land.

 

CONTENT

The Indians lived up at Mount Lewis, Papa?

 

THEO

They made camps down in the valley, by the Muncy Creek. And the trail that passes through was used by the Susquehannock, the Delaware, the Muncees É I saw them, all kinds of the red devils.

 

CONTENT

You must be teasing me. You couldn't have seen them then, you were living in New Jersey. And Papa! What a way to talk about them.

 

THEO

Know the truth, Content. Many of the Indians worked for the British during the Revolution. They raided settlers on behalf of the Loyalists. This went on most often in the southwestern part of the county, but you can wager your boots you would not have been safe up here either.

 

CONTENT

Maybe they just wanted to retain their own way of life.

 

TOBIAS

They were plenty happy to take our metal pots, woven cloth and guns in trade.

 

 

CONTENT

But maybe they also wanted to keep their freedom.

 

TOBIAS

Ha!

 

CONTENT

IÕve heard that among some Indians, it is the women who make decisions for their people.

 

TOBIAS

Perhaps so. But now they are a conquered people. And you should be glad, because it is now safe for us to be here.

 

CONTENT

But it must be hard to lose your entire way of life, your freedom. Was not freedom the object of the Revolutionary war?

 

THEO

Our freedom, dearly won.

 

CONTENT

The freedom of the white man. I dream of freedom too. Freedom for women. [louder] Someday women may have the right to vote.

 

THEO

DonÕt be vulgar woman. It is the LordÕs day.

 

lights down

 

KRAFT DINNER COMMERCIAL

 

RUMBLE OF TRUCKS

SCENE 3 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1942

 

Delia works at the kitchen table, with Felice close by. Payton is doing homework in the corner. As the sound grows, Felice junps up in minor fright.

 

FELICE

What's that?

 

PAYTON

It's the troop convoy, dummy. It's taking all the soldiers to the train station. Or somewhere.

 

DELIA

How many times must I tell you not to speak to your sister like that?

 

PAYTON under her breath

A few more.

 

FELICE sitting again

So we had to beat up the English to become Americans. But now we're sending ships to the English because they're our ... what's that word?

 

DELIA

Ally

 

FELICE

Doesn't an enemy stay an enemy?

 

DELIA

Not forever.

 

FELICE

So the Japanese and the Germans won't be our enemies forever?

 

DELIA [stopping to think about it]

No. Well, probably not. That's an interesting question.

 

PAYTON

You better not ask that in school, Felichy-weechy. Boy, would you get it from the other kids. Death to the Japs and Hitler!

 

Michael stomps in from work.

 

MICHAEL [fuming]

We've got to sell that confounded car.

 

DELIA

Why in forever would we do that?

 

MICHAEL

It's not big enough.

 

DELIA

A bigger car would take more gasoline. Our ration coupons don't hardly get us through the week. Three gallons.

 

MICHAEL

A bigger car, I could drive guys with me to work in Williamsport. They call it the car pool. See, they add their gas ration cards in so we can tank up all together, and I might be able to get a B gas sticker, that would give us 8 gallons a week. And the guys would slip me some money. That'd pay for the car and then some.

 

FELICE

We could all go to see a movie in Mildred. They have flags in the families' windows with all those stars for the men in the war.

 

PAYTON

We could pick up Uncle Chris in Sonestown.

 

DELIA

They stopped making new cars after Pearl Harbor.

 

MICHAEL

Yeah, but I know where to get a used Packard pretty cheap.

 

PAYTON

Oh wow, a Packard. That's a super car.

 

MICHAEL [slightly chagrined]

It's kind of beat up – but it runs good. And with the war speed limit at 35 miles an hour – well, any car can do that.

 

DELIA

Everything's changing so much. I can't find stockings because all the nylon is used for parachutes.

 

MICHAEL

It's better than the Depression. I get good wages, better than ever before, and we can get enough for food.

 

DELIA

Good food! – we can afford it but we can't get it because we don't have the ration stamps but even if we have the stamps there's nothing in Charlie Vandine's store. We get stamps for half a pound of sugar a week! But where can you find it?

 

FELICE

What do you do, Dad?

 

MICHAEL

What do you mean?

 

FELICE

At work.

 

PAYTON

He makes airplanes to drop bombs on Tojo, smear him all over smelly Japan. Bam!

 

MICHAEL

I've told you – I can't talk about it. It's secret.

 

PAYTON [to Felice]

Suppose he told you, loudmouth, and you told loudmouth Molly, and there was a SPY listening.

 

DELIA

You're working 14 hours a day and you can't tell us what you're doing?

 

MICHAEL

It's important. It'll help us win the war. Payton, Felice – go outside and play for awhile.

 

FELICE

Why?

 

PAYTON

Because he's gonna tell Mom secrets that he doesn't want loudmouths to know about.

 

FELICE

Yeah, I wouldn't want you to hear anything secret.

 

Exit Payton and Felice.

 

MICHAEL

I work on shell lathes.

 

DELIA

What in the world is a shell lathe?

 

MICHAEL

They weigh about 10 tons and machinists smooth off the shell casings so that –

 

DELIA

I don't understand.

 

MICHAEL

The lathes trim a metal bar into a shell case....

 

DELIA

I still don't understand.

 

MICHAEL

OK, let's uh, leave it at that. "Loose lips sink ships." [waves at the window]

 

DELIA

Spies?! In Nordmont? [puts her fingers to the corners of her eyes] Ah so, slanty-eye Jap girl hide behind bush? Oh, she many bad Oriental hussy spy. Come up Muncy Creek in canoe from U-boat submarine. Tie her to a post and feed her apple pie!

 

MICHAEL

I'm just saying you gotta be careful with the war on. Anyway, U-boats are German. [gives Nazi salute]

 

DELIA

Never trust nefarious Axis partners. We work together like the Laurel and the Hardy.

 

Michael looks confused, then they both start to laugh and hug each other.

 

DELIA

Things are tough, but I guess they were just as tough in the old days.

 

MICHAEL

You bet. You know what I heard about one of the Spearys, around the time of the War of 1812, when the British burned the White House?

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Battle of New Orleans," performed by Johnny Horton, written by Jimmy Driftwwood

 

 

SCENE 4 – Speary cabin, Cherry Grove, 1812

 

MILES SPEARY and daughter RACHel are packing cloth bags with granulated maple sugar.

 

MILES

I hear it singing.

 

RACHEL

Singing? What?

 

MILES

The maple sap. Still it runs.

 

RACHEL

It is too late in the season.

 

MILES

Not so. It runs here all year. I hear it. Sarah and Michael collect from the taps.

 

RACHEL

It's your blood you hear, Father, pushing through your veins. You will need it for your expedition.

 

Miles attaches the buckets to a shoulder yoke hanging on the wall.

 

MILES

Oh, Rachel, don't exaggerate. It takes only time.

 

RACHEL

Shickshinny. How far is that, the walk from here in Cherry Grove?

 

MILES [begins to walk, as though pacing off distances]

I measure it with only my feet. It is as far this year as it was last year when first we moved from New Jersey, no farther.

 

RACHEL

Fifty miles, that at least. No wonder your mother christened you Miles.

 

MILES

Had she named me Leagues, it would be twice as far to go.

 

RACHEL

Names do not change distance. Sister Evie knows that. What would she say to her student who made such a declaration?

 

MILES

Smart one, Evie, savvy. She does well, teaching at the school. All my children do well. You carry as much burden as do I, you and Sarah, but of a different sort, to manage the homestead.

 

RACHEL

Six, without a mother.

 

MILES

Would you wish me to marry again?

 

RACHEL [amused and perhaps perplexed]

Would I? Would we all? Give you another wife and you would populate all of America, [she places a strip of fur on his shoulders] This will fit well under the yoke?

 

MILES

As before, it will again.

 

enter Sarah, who sets down her sap pail.

 

SARAH

Still it runs.

 

MILES [smiling]

Did I not say so?

 

RACHEL

Do not surrender to vanity, Father. What is the price now for the sugar?

 

SARAH

A shilling a pound, I hear.

 

RACHEL

A shilling.

 

MILES

That is it.

 

RACHEL

A shilling!? We are at war with England. Washington is burned.

 

MILES

I know that well enough, daughter.

 

RACHEL

And they would pay you in English shillings! That is treachery.

 

MILES

That is commerce.

 

RACHEL

Why don't they pay in good American dollars?

 

MILES

Because American dollars are not good. They teeter at the edge of solidity with Washington burned.

 

RACHEL [severe but accepting]

So you will accept these shillings.

 

Sarah helps settle the yoke onto Miles' shoulders.

 

MILES

An English pound sterling is worth four American dollars and 30 cents. A shilling then is worth 20 cents and a little, so the 70 pounds of sugar I carry would bring 15 of our dollars. If our dollars could be found or trusted. But with the shillings I will purchase goods to bring back in weight what I carry out – that or more. And within the month I will make the trek again to bring back as much.

 

RACHEL

We have hundreds of pounds of sugar.

 

MILES

I have excellent shoes.

 

Miles walks out door with his yoke.

 

lights down

 

USED FAT PSA


 

SCENE 5 – Little home, Nordmont, early 1943

 

Felice is reading in the corner. Payton drops bombs from a paper airplane with booms. Delia makes a shopping list.

 

DELIA

Could you bomb a little more quietly? Anyway, it's time for The Shadow.

 

PAYTON

Great!

 

Payton turns on the radio. Felice does homework. We hear an ad for war bonds, followed by The Shadow opening credits.

 

FELICE

I've bought enough savings stamps to get a bond next time at school. Anne Marie got Harrington's ice cream for bringing in the most milk weed pods that they use for ... for –

 

DELIA

Life preserver vests because it floats really well. That's wonderful, dear. Payton, where did you put the can for the bacon fat? We have to turn that in at the store.

 

PAYTON

Huh?

 

DELIA [yelling over the radio]

The bacon fat can. Could you please turn that down? [Payton turns down radio and gets can]

 

FELICE

What do they use bacon fat for?

 

DELIA

Making munitions, gunpowder. I don't know how that works. And I don't know what they do with all the silver foil we save from gum wrappers and cigarette packs.

 

PAYTON [jumps and shouts behind Delia's back]

The Shadow knows! [tries to imitate Shadow laugh]

 

DELIA

Payton!

 

PAYTON

Gunpowder made out of a pig. Woowee. [goes back to the radio.]

 

 

FELICE

Did you get a letter from Daddy?

 

DELIA

Not yet.

 

PAYTON

He's liberating the Pacific. I can't hear The Shadow if you keep talking.

 

FELICE

Are you scared for him?

 

DELIA

Of course. I wish he hadn't been drafted. I thought being married with two children he would stay exempt. Now they want every man they can find. Your Uncle Chris may get drafted too. He'll be 18 soon.

 

FELICE

I wish we could get better food.

 

DELIA

Everything's disappearing. You can't buy shoes or silk or most canned food. We have to turn in our old toothpaste tube to get a new one, isn't that peculiar ? It's good that we have a wood stove, because the Giffords can't get enough coal to keep warm. If Payton and I didn't cut our own firewood, we couldn't buy that either.

 

Payton turns off the radio.

 

PAYTON

There's never been another war like this one, huh?

 

DELIA

This has tied the whole country in knots. The one good thing is they're not fighting over here. In the Civil War – did you know that the most important battle of the Civil War was fought right in Pennsylvania?

 

FELICE

At Gettysburg. We studied that last year.

 

PAYTON

If they'd had bombers back then we would have blown those Confederates all to heck and gone.

 

DELIA

Payton, it wouldn't have been as easy as that. They were fighting all over the country, the North against the South.

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," performed by John Philip Sousa, written by Julia Ward Howe

 

SCENE 6 – Sonestown Methodist Church, fall 1863

 

MARY PHILLIPS, SUSAN GLIDEWELL and young ANNA EDGAR are making socks, bandages and a quilt for soldiers.

 

MARY

I had hoped more ladies would have come to make socks for our Union soldiers.

 

SUSAN

Could be as they're canning their vegetables.

 

ANNA

There, I see grandma coming, and she is carrying something.

 

MARY

Well, at least that's one more.

 

SUSAN

Whatever it is, it looks like a lot.

 

enter HARRIET FIESTER

 

HARRIET

My sister has sent along some yarn she can't use because of her rheumatism. For the war effort.

 

SUSAN

Yarn is surely scarce – and cotton too, from the South's embargo.

 

MARY

Over at the Rogers' mill, wool is also at a premium.

 

HARRIET

My grandson Wallace threatens to run off to the war. Only thirteen! I don't know how long his mother and I can restrain him.

 

MARY

They shouldn't wish for battle so young, war is not fun and games.

 

SUSAN

Too many have gone already and left our farms without laborers.

 

HARRIET

More answered the recruiting call than even the government requested.

 

ANNA

Even poor Mrs. Sones' husband Isaac is away.

 

SUSAN

And her expecting her 12th baby.

 

HARRIET

Is it really her 12th?

 

MARY

I wondered why a 45 year old man would volunteer, but could be because so many of his sons and nephews went. Perhaps he thought he could protect them.

 

SUSAN

So many are possessed with the fightin' fever.

 

ANNA

And papa thinking the South would surrender within four months time. [yelps]Oh, I've pricked my finger.

 

SUSAN

Try not to bleed into the weave.

 

HARRIET

Not all have the fightin' fever. I heard a detachment of troops marched into our mountains. They were looking for draft resisters from over in the Fishing Creek Valley. Some of our own boys might be out there too.

 

SUSAN

Do you really think that's happening?

 

MARY

Lila claims she saw camp fires up North Mountain. And it's said troops went door to door in Columbia County as well as searching the wilderness.

 

SUSAN

It hurts deep through, so many killed and dying of disease. Death and more death. The Simmons lost two sons, as did the Stevensons. And poor Peter Sones – such a fine, lively boy to die so young and so far from home, and such agony for his mother and father.

 

HARRIET

I brought a letter with me that talks of that. It's from Simpson, Mrs. Simmons' boy that was killed, likely the last he wrote. Listen here: "Cousin Peter Sones has died of a bayonet wound that pierced his lung. I took charge of returning his body to Uncle John. I had to borrow thirty dollars from friends to send him by rail. Then two dollars more for the telegram to bear the sad news to his parents. Jacob Stevenson, I am told, was taken with a rifle ball in the upper arm and bled too severely. Though attended for a day, in the end he could not survive."

 

SUSAN

Even to preserve the Union, can anything recompense such horror? We simply must not dwell on it. [working to change subject] I have finished this pair of socks, Anna. Would you like to slip in a piece of paper with your name on it?

 

ANNA

Why? I didn't make them.

 

SUSAN

You're such a good helper. And you never know, after the war, a good looking soldier just might seek you out to thank you.

 

ANNA

I'm too young for any boyfriends.

 

MARY

Many a young lass has attached her identity to items they're sending off, dreaming of such an ending.

 

ANNA

Those are gushy teen girls, not me!

 

SUSAN

Strange thinking of the lives of soldier's lost for freedom's cause, but no talk of women's causes. We can birth 'em and send 'em off to war, yet women have no say. No say, no vote.

 

ANNA

Maybe by the time I'm grown up, women will have the rights and all that everyone else has.

 

MARY

Anna, what we've said here should go no further. Not everyone would agree with us.

 

ANNA

I won't say one word, but I won't forget either. Sure would be interesting to see who'd fight for a woman's right to vote.

 

lights down FIBBER MCGEE mileage rationing

 

SCENE 7 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1943

 

Delia and Felice enter from back door with baskets and armloads of vegetables.

 

DELIA

Time to start canning.

 

FELICE

I'll help.

 

DELIA

You most certainly will.

 

FELICE

This looks like more than last year.

 

Delia and Felice process the vegetables as they talk.

 

DELIA

It's been an excellent growing season.

 

FELICE

Payton never wants to help with the canning. She says she shouldn't have to do it, that it's "sissy women's work."

 

DELIA

At least she cut the firewood this morning. She has no idea what woman's work is in war time. I'd love to see her work as hard as women do in factories.

 

FELICE

They don't do the kind of work daddy did.

 

DELIA

Oh yes they do.

 

FELICE

Really!?

 

DELIA [points to poster]

They rivet airplanes and run machines like your fathers' lathes – oh, I wasn't suppose to talk about that. Women pack gunpowder into shells. They're not sissies, I'll tell you. They even have Negro women working in some factories.

 

FELLICE

In the same room?

 

DELIA

That I couldn't say. Here, wash the tomatoes. Where did Payton go?

 

FELICE

She said she had to get some stuff.

 

The two work in silence for a few seconds, then we hear increasing clanks outside. Payton enters with a box of metal junk which she dumps on the floor with an explosion of noise.

 

PAYTON

Whew! That's heavy.

 

DELIA

Payton Little! Are you out of your mind?

 

PAYTON

What? I picked things up for the scrap drive.

 

DELIA

I told you there's nobody here in Nordmont to take it.

 

PAYTON

Somebody has to. It's the law. The Boy Scouts in Dushore picked up five and a half tons of newspapers.

 

FELICE

It's not any kind of law, it's all volunteer.

 

PAYTON

Who's going to volunteer to get this?

 

DELIA

You are going to volunteer to put it back in that box until we can find some place to accept it.

 

PAYTON

Aw Mom, I was just trying to help out. You know.

 

DELIA [relenting]

Yes, I know.

 

PAYTON

Did you get another letter from Dad?

 

DELIA  [she takes if from her apron pocket]

He's going to some island but the censors cut out the name. See? So many holes it's like a lace doily. He sends his love to –  they even sliced that out when they scissored the other side. Can't we even have that? They cut out little pieces of my heart. [works hard to keep from crying]

 

FELICE

But he's all right?

 

DELIA

He's not hurt. But I can read between the lines. There are terrible things going on there. So many dead boys. So many. I don't think we can know how violent it is.

 

FELICE

I'm glad nobody gets killed back here.

 

PAYTON

Sure they do. Jimmy told me about a murder. Over at Muncy Valley.

 

DELIA

Don't tease your sister.

 

PAYTON

No, it was real. Way back, around 1880. This guy named Spearman ...

 

MUSIC  "Likes Liquor Better Than Me," traditional, performed by the New Lost City Ramblers


 

SCENE 8 – Spearman cabin, North Mountain, near Sonestown, October 1879

 

WILLIAM SPEARMAN stumbles in, drinking for a bottle, pistol in his polster. His daughter, HORTENSE NAYLOR, runs in.

 

HORTENSE

Father, you know what condition whiskey puts you in.

 

SPEARMAN [draws pistol and points it at her]

One more word about my "condition," dear daughter, and I will place a ball straight into your skull.

 

HORTENSE [shrieks]

Oh Father, not that again.

 

SPEARMAN

I come all the way from Brooklyn for quiet and mountain scenery, and what do I get? Female yammering from you and your mother, and now an empty bottle. Was ever a man more beset? [yelling at the doorway] Young! Young, where are you, you useless devil?

 

GEORGE YOUNG runs in, half scared.

 

HORTENSE

Take care, George, he's at it again.

 

GEORGE

It is not civil to point a pistol at your daughter.

 

SPEARMAN

Keep out of my business. You're the hired hand, not my conscience. You got my whiskey in town? Hand it over.

 

GEORGE

You said nothing about getting whiskey for you.

 

SPEARMAN [lurching upright]

Liar!

He points the pistol at George who dashes out. Spearman lumbers after him. We hear crasshing and a pistol shot. After a few seconds, Spearman reenters, the pistol pointed down.

 

SPEARMAN [somewhat sobered]

I don't think I should have done that. Probably not.

 

HORTENSE

Where is George?

 

SPEARMAN

Outside.

 

HORTENSE

You didn't...?

 

SPEARMAN

I did, somehow. Umm, would you ask your husband to bring, um, Mr. Young inside?

 

HORTENSE [shouting out the door]

Samuel, where are you? Give a hand here.

 

Exit Hortense.

 

SPEARMAN

No whiskey? Man can't do a simple chore.

 

Spearman puts his pistol in his waist and staggers out. Hortense and SAMUEL drag George's body in.

 

SAMUEL

He's done it this time.

 

HORTENSE

We'd best stay out of his way. Sometinmes Pa just gets crazy when he's drunk.

 

SAMUEL

Time for you to hide behind the outhouse – again.

 

HORTENSE

Not again.

 

They rush out. Spearman staggers in with bottle and starts drinking, laying pistol on table, pokes corpse.

 

SPEARMAN

Devil, telling me you didn't bring my whiskey. Ha!

 

Sounds outside.

 

PHILLIPS

Let me go in alone. I can handle him.

 

SPEARMAN [picks up his pistol]

Come in, all of you. Let's see how many more brains I can blow holes in. [to the corpse] I'm not a good shot at long range.

 

GORDON PHILLIPS enters carrying rifle.

 

SPEARMAN [reaching for pistol]

I'll ventilate your head.

 

 

PHILLIPS

If you raise your pistol, I will shoot.

 

SPEARMAN [leaping up and opening his shirt]

Shoot then. Kill a poor raving drunk!

 

PHILLIPS

Oh, come along, man, you know you can't stay holed up in here forever. Give it up.

 

SPEARMAN [deflating]

I suppose you want to take me to Laporte? To the sherrif? Oh why not. [to the corpse] You'll wait here for me, won't you?

 

Spearman sticks the pistol in his holster. Phllips leads him out.

 

O.S. NARRATOR

Spearman spends an interesting few hours in Laporte.

 

Samuel comes in, looks closely at the corpse. Hortense enters.

 

HORTENSE

That idiot judge let him loose. C'mon, we have to get out of here.


They exit. Seconds later, Spearman staggers in.

 

SPEARMAN

Justice! Justice for the inebriated! [he swills hooch and talks to corpse and audience.] Judge Ingham, fine upstanding man. He understood when I explained it was an accident. Even when I explained several different ways in which it was an accident. [nudges corpse]Estimable man, he let me keep my pistol. Don't like that Laporte Hotel, though. Terrible whiskey. Brittle windows when you shoot holes in them. Ought to get better windows. Where's family? Hiding in the woods, are they? Good, let 'em stay there. I need to rest.

 

Spearman's head begins to nod. We hear voices outside..

 

PHILLIPS [whispers]

He's asleep.

Samuel and Phillips charge in and grab Spearman, who reaches for his pistol and struggles like a berserker.

 

SPEARMAN

Foul oath! Foul oath!

 

SAMUEL

Is that deputy coming?

 

PHILLIPS

He's on his way.

 

SPEARMAN

Stark ranting nonsense!

 

Hortense sidles in, bedraggled.

 

SAMUEL

Where the devil were you?

 

HORTENSE

Behind the outhouse.

 

SPEARMAN

Unprintable epithet!

 

SAMUEL

You'll get yours, you raving lunatic.

 

O.S. NARRATOR

And he did. William Spearman was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to the penitentiary where, after a few months, he died. Nothing further was heard of his family.

 

lights down   

 

V MAIL PSA

SCENE 9 – Little home, Nordmont, early 1944

 

Payton sits at a side table, drawing. Delia and Felice are wrapping cookies in paper and packing items into a shoe box.

 

DELIA

Wrap them as tightly as you can without breaking them. This is the biggest box we're allowed to send.

 

FELICE

We should send him something really nice, maybe ... a Dutch apple pie.

 

DELIA

It would spoil before he got it.

 

enter CAROLYN LITTLE, Michael's mother

 

CAROLYN

Chris got his draft notice. He'll have to leave as soon as he graduates. I'm so worried that – [Delia nods toward the children so Carolyn won't upset them] And what are my darling grandchildren up to today?

 

FELICE

We're sending a package to Daddy. How long will it take to get to him?

 

DELIA

There's no way to know. It's the same way there as here, sometimes a whole month of letters and things come at once.

 

CAROLYN

He'll love cookies. MichaelÕs always had a sweet tooth. He used to eat sugar by the spoonful! Now all he gets to eat over there is that horrible Spam and powdered eggs.

 

FELICE

Powdered eggs?! That would stick to your mouth, you couldn't swallow them.

 

DELIA

They mix them with water.

 

PAYTON

I'm finished. See?

 

She holds up a crayon drawing of a battle scene.

 

DELIA

That's very ... well done, Payton, but ... I don't think we should send him things about the war.

 

PAYTON

Why not? That's what he's doing. Killing the Japs.

 

DELIA

He needs something to take his mind off all the killing, something to look forward to. He needs to think about us, about home.

 

PAYTON

You want me to draw a bunch of flowers or what?

 

CAROLYN

Draw yourself. He'd like to look at that.

 

PAYTON

I'm not good at faces.

 

FELICE [peering closely at her]

I've noticed.

 

DELIA

You'll think of something – Felice, we need to put some more crumpled paper around the cookies or they'll end up all crumbs.

 

PAYTON

How many soldiers get killed in a war, you think?

 

CAROLYN

Back in the Civil War, they say half a million people died, soldiers and also civilians.

 

PAYTON and FELICE

Half a million?!

 

DELIA

That's why your father needs to get his mind away from all that. It's worse than any of us can imagine. We're so lucky that the fighting isn't happening here, because so many innocent people get killed.

 

CAROLYN

In the Great War – the first world war – 20 million or more died in Europe, and half weren't fighting, they were just in the way.

 

FELICE

That's awful.

 

CAROLYN

Yes, it was. There had never been anything like it before. My dear Jonathan was there.

 

PAYTON

What was it like?

 

CAROLYN

Nothing he would talk much about. Few of the boys did.

 

DELIA

It must have been very different, though, with women not working outside the home for the war.

 

CAROLYN [surprised]

You didn't know? We most certainly did war work outside the home. We did almost everything then that they are doing now in this war. I made uniforms. Blanche Miller in Muncy Valley, she married that Grimes fellow – she was one of the very first ever to join the services, in 1917. Created quite a to-do at home, as I recall.

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Keep the Home Fires Burning," performed by John McCormick, written by Ivor Novello and Lena Gilbert Ford


 

SCENE 10 – Grimes home, Muncy Valley, November 1917

 

BALANCE MILLER GRIMES is standing. Her husband, RALPH, sits, holding a rifle.

 

BLANCHE

Ralph, there's something I must tell you.

 

RALPH

What can it be – go ahead.

 

BLANCHE

I have joined the Naval Reserve Forces.

 

RALPH

That's madness, Blanche. What can you be thinking?

 

BLANCHE

I am thinking of serving our country. Just as you have enlisted in the army. We buy Liberty Bonds and observe meatless and wheatless days once a week and we try never to waste food –

 

RALPH

Or speak ill of our country's war efforts, under pain of imprisonment under the new law.

 

BLANCHE

I don't think they need a law for that. And I may not be able to vote, but I have served as a volunteer on the Council Of National Defense. Women are working in the wartime factories – they make aeroplanes, for goodness sake!

 

RALPH [waving the rifle]

But a woman in the armed forces? That is not natural.

 

BLANCHE

Ralph, you are being a fuddy-duddy.

 

RALPH

Don't call me that, I hate it.

 

BLANCHE

Women across the country are prepared to join the Naval Reserve Forces, thousands of them.

 

RALPH

What in the world will they call you?

 

 

BLANCHE

A yoeman, third class.

 

RALPH

What, for heaven's sake, does a "yoeman third class" do?

 

BLANCHE

Whatever she is told to do by a superior officer. Third class members perform mostly clerical work.

 

RALPH

Oh. So you wouldn't be firing a rifle or throwing grenades, that sort of thing.

 

BLANCHE [jumping up, horrified]

Of course not. They will never allow a woman to carry a gun in battle. It is terrible enough that all the Fritz and Hunter boys will be fighting in trenches. And the boys from the Little family. Americans in Europe fighting Germans! Such a sorry situation.

 

RALPH

Yes, it is. The Huns want to take over the entire continent. It would shift the world balance of power. But once we have defeated them – and we will – we need never fear Germany again.

 

BLANCHE

Just like you, I must have an active part, Ralph, to see that this happens. I will do so. Why, even foreign arrivals are enlisting. IsnÕt there a young man from Italy who signed up?

 

RALPH

Yes, Achille Piccari. A good man. He left his good job at the acid factory in Nordmont to do his part. He will go far, I can assure you.

 

lights down

 

 

 INTERMISSION

 

SCENE 11 – Sonestown clothespin factory, 1921

 

SOUND OF SAW DYING DOWN

 

CLYDE SPEARY and ROLLAND BOATMAN set up work near the "split gang" saw.

 

ROLLAND

You're gonna have to watch yourself at the split gang, Clyde. Almost had me an accident there.

 

CLYDE

Can have it just as bad outside of work, I hear. Achille Piccari, that Guinea, got stabbed. He was foreman at the acid factory, back when I worked there. Jumped by Dom Seclo – ever meet him? hot head – stabbed him 41 times, coroner said. Poor guy had just got his US citizenship. [checking out split gang] Looks a mite aggressive. What's it do anyway? They just put me on.

 

ROLLAND

Well, see, the way it all works – say, you was up the acid factory, Nordmont?

 

Rollland taps clothespins together, changing direction with his hands the way he does with his speech.

 

CLYDE

Just said so. Got closed couple years back. Tore it down and sold for junk.

 

ROLLAND

Anyways, way it works here – say, I didn't know much about the acid factory.

 

CLYDE

The timber got sawed up and charred to charcoal in the ovens and then put into the coolers to bank till it smothered out, then piled into the shed, then loaded into boxcars. Had a big fire there early on, burned up a bunch of wagons and cordwood. Built it back.

 

ROLLAND

So what's that acid? Charcoal don't look like acid.

 

CLYDE

They made what they called by-products, wood acetate, you dissolve it so it's a liquid, mix it up with lime and dry it out in pans in the kiln. Shipped it off in bags to make smokeless powder. So when the war got over, that was it for that end of things, couldn't make money to keep the rest going, I guess.

 

ROLLAND

So what we got here [bursts into giddy laughter] – say, you go by bobsled in winter? Went by bobsled last winter, off to an oyster supper in Dogtown, 8 couples in 3 feet of snow, got really cold. Barney Starr, he run the store.

 

CLYDE

Yeh, went by bobsled for fun and the music. Fiddle playin'. [getting infuriated at the delays] Now you ever goin' to get round to tellin' me the work here so I can take my hands out of my pockets?

 

ROLLAND

Sure. Sure. This here's the split gang, like I said – say, how much you earn at the acid factory?

 

CLYDE

Thirty-five cents the hour.

 

ROLLAND

Same pretty much as here, give or take.

 

CLYDE

But I don't earn nothin' you don't tell me about runnin' the machines.

 

ROLLAND

Oh well, that's easy enough. [goes back to puttering without saying anything more]

 

CLYDE [frustrated]

That's the split gang, Rollie. What you're workin' at.

 

ROLLAND

What I said.

 

CLYDE

It makes clothespins.

 

ROLLAND

Not all by itself.

 

CLYDE

It needs you and me to help it along, maybe? So if I knew how it worked, I could make it go happier?

 

ROLLAND

Well, I been tryin' to tell you.

 

CLYDE

You go right on ahead.

 

ROLLAND

The way it all works – say–

 

CLYDE

Nope. You say.

 

ROLLAND [takes up pieces of wood to demonstrate]

You're a tough bird, Clyde. First off, the chunker saw cuts up the logs into four-foot lengths, then the ree saw – this is all steam powered – cuts boards from the lengths. Then – this is our part – the split gang runs a whole mess of saws to cut the boards into little squares. After that, they go on the drum where they get cut to size for the clothespins.

 

CLYDE

So how'd you have that accident you said? Stick your hand in somewhere?

 

ROLLAND [upset]

Lord, I told you, was an almost accident. I had the glove on, see – always wear your glove around the plit gang, Clyde – and I had a board that was kind of jumpin', and I was pushin' on it with one hand, reached into the ree saw to get a board with the other hand, and before I knowed it, it grabbed my glove, so I jerked back and that pulled my glove off and the glove went right on through.

 

CLYDE

That was close.

 

ROLLAND

My fingernails was tore off. One was clear off and the other one hung with just a little bit of skin on the sides.

 

CLYDE [bemused]

Your fingernails yanked off. Almost an accident.

 

ROLLAND

Yeah, lucky it didn't hurt me.

 

CLYDE

Didn't hurt you.

 

ROLLAND

Up at the stave factory, men lose fingers right and left. [laughs] Know what they do?

 

CLYDE

They pickle them up in alcohol in a jar for everybody to look at. I heard that, but I don't believe it.

 

Lunch whistle

 

ROLLAND

Lunch time, about. Let's you and me go over and look for ourselves, see if it's true.

 

CLYDE

After seein' that I'm supposed to eat my lunch?

 

ROLLAND

Sure, we can share. Ellie packed me upsome of them little sausages.

 

lights down

 

RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT OF D-DAY LANDING.


 

SCENE 12 – Little home, Nordmont, June 6, 1944

 

Payton and Felice come in to radio. Delia is ready the newspaper.

 

PAYTON

We're gonna chase ol' Hitler right up a tree.

 

DELIA [more to herself than Payton]

Nothing's that simple.

 

FELICE

We are winning, aren't we? That's what Miss Davis said at school.

 

DELIA

We're winning, but it's a long way from over. That poor boy, Grant Snyder in Sonestown, just killed in Italy. And it's especially ... it's terrible in the Pacific, and we don't hear half of that.

 

PAYTON

I bet I can break the code.

 

FELICE

What code?

 

PAYTON

That Dad's using to tell us where he is.

 

DELIA

I don't think your father is using a code.

 

PAYTON

All the soliders do. Sometimes you read the first letter of each paragraph and that spells it out.

 

DELIA

I've tried that and it doesn't work.

 

PAYTON

But there are other kinds of codes. Like the beginning of the third word in every sentence, stuff like that.

 

FELICE

That''s silly. How are we going to know what the code is? Only Daddy would know and he can't tell us.

 

DELIA

And the censors would cut so many holes in it you couldn't figure it out anyway.

 

PAYTON

Wha time is it?

 

DELIA

5:30.

 

PAYTON

C'mon, Shelia said they're going to burn Hitler in effigy!

 

FELICE

What's that mean?

 

DELIA

It means burning stuffed clothes that look like Hitler.

 

PAYTON hurriedly putting on her jacket

Uncle Chris is going over there. We're going to zoom through Europe. Wow. Wish I could see that.

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Cleaning My Rifle (and Dreaming of You)," performed by Clive Dunn, written by Allie Wrubel

 

SCENE 13 – French countryside, August 1944

 

Four men enter from behind the audience, soldiers on patrol. LIEUTENANT SLATE calls a halt.

 

LT. SLATE

Looks like a good spot, weÕll stop here a minute. Enjoy your R&R while you get it. Crawley, on me, weÕre gonna scout ahead. We move out as soon as we get back.

 

One soldier stands to the side, looking unsure of what to do.

 

LT. SLATE

Sgt. DiAngelo, does that kid need a personal invitation, or is he just playing the strong, silent type?

 

Slate and Crawley exit.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Drop your gear and grab some real estate, kid.

 

PVT. SONESY

Yes sir.

 

Sonesy sits ona rock, digs around in his pouches and produces a letter from home and reads. DiAngelo stis next to Sonesy.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

DonÕt mind the Lt.. His crankiness is government issue. YouÕre from Jonestown or something like that, arenÕt cha?

 

PVT. SONESY

Sonestown, yeah. ItÕs in Pennsylvania.

 

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Gotcha. So whatÕs the big news from Sonestown, Sonesy?

 

PVT. SONESY

Huh?

 

DiAngelo indicates Sonesy's letter

 

PVT. SONESY [Sheepishly]

Oh, itÕs just a letter from my ma.

 

 

SGT. DIANGELO

I didnÕt figure it was from FDR. WhatÕs going on back home?

 

PVT. SONESY

She's talking about my brother Mike and trying not to say anything about him fighting the Japs. And she says  that Davidson Township High School basketball is undefeated, but next week we play Bernice and theyÕre pretty tough.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

So the old perfect record is gonna get the kibosh?

 

PVT. SONESY

More than likely. And then she talks about the big church social last week. One of the old geezers was really bopping on the dance floor when his trousers dropped clean off.

 

both men chuckle

 

SGT. DIANGELO

I bet his suspenders snapped. I hope he was wearing underwear. That must have been a real gas.

 

PVT. SONESY

You bet, parties back home É well theyÕre just aces.

 

Sonesy begins to choke up. DiAngelo shifts uncomfortably.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Hey, Sonesy, you got a girl back home?

 

PVT. SONESY

Me? Nah. I graduated from school and was on the next train to boot camp. You?

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Do I have a girl back home? You joshing me? [He pulls out a picture and hands it to Sonesy]

 

PVT. SONESY [confused]

This is Mae West.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

I know who it is, ya yutz. [taking the picture back] SheÕs a real dish, isnÕt she? I reckon she loves me, she just doesnÕt know it yet.

 

PVT. SONESY [laughs]

Is that how it works?

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Sure does. You want a girl back home too? Here. Lana Turner – sheÕll be a good woman for ya.

 

Sonesy chuckles, puts picture in pocket.

 

PVT. SONESY

Thanks.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Hey, no sweat. You gotta have something over here to think about or youÕll go bonkers. Might as well be a dame.

 

PVT. SONESY

Is that what you think about when you think about home?

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Yeah, mostly. Sometimes I think about a tall glass of lemonade.

 

PVT. SONESY

Lemonade?

 

SGT. DIANGELO

You knucklehead – didnÕt you ever notice how lemonade tastes like a summer day? When I get home IÕm gonna drink a bathtub full of lemonade.

 

PVT. SONESY

I wish you luck with that venture.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Okay, wiseguy, what are you gonna do when you get home?

 

PVT. SONESY

First thing, IÕm gonna spend the night on my back porch. ItÕs got a tin roof, and when it rains, the rain hits and it pops and cracks just like steak frying in a pan. ThatÕs what IÕm gonna do. Spend a week sleeping on that back porch.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

OK, Sonesy, thatÕll be our goal – gettin you home to that back porch.

 

PVT. SONESY

You donÕt have to call me Sonesy. My name is Chris. Chris Little. [holds hand out]

 

SGT. DIANGELO

You donÕt look like a Chris. I think you better stick with Sonesy. [shakes hand] I'm Sergeant Tony DiAngelo. You want to know something, Sonesy?

 

PVT. SONESY

What, Sergeant?

 

SGT. DIANGELO

I wish we were back home. Mae West is a sure sight prettier than your ugly mug.

 

both men laugh. Slate and Crawley enter at a trot.

 

LT. SLATE

Pack it up, Sergeant DiAngelo, and make it toot sweet. ThereÕs a troop of the FuhrerÕs finest having lunch just over that ridge. We aim to make it the last bit of sauerkraut sandwich theyÕll ever enjoy.

 

Slate and Crawley trot out.

 

PVT. SONESY [clearly terrified]

Tony? WhatÕs going on?! I donÕt wanna die É

 

SGT. DIANGELO [grabs Sonesy until they are almost nose to nose]

You cut that out now! You hear me, Sonesy! [Sonesy continues to look terrified and babble] Roll your flaps up and listen to me. You know how to count to ten?

 

PVT. SONESY

Ten? ... Sure I can count to ten.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Then stay on my tail, drop when I do, shoot when I do and keep counting to ten in your head. ItÕll keep you from thinking about É

 

PVT. SONESY

Okay, Sarge.

 

SGT. DIANGELO

Stay with me, Sonesy, weÕre in some deep T.S. here, and we donÕt wanna FUBAR it. Got me?

 

PVT. SONESY

I wonÕt, I promise.

 

they move out.

 

PVT. SONESY

WhatÕs T.S., Sarge? And FUBAR?

 

 

SGT. DIANGELO

T.S. means tough shÉ uh, situation. And IÕll tell you what FUBAR means when there arenÕt so many ladies present

 

indicates audience, they exit after the rest of the troop

 

lights down

 

SOUND OF CRUISING AIRPLANE

 

 

SCENE 14 – Little home, Nordmont, late 1944

 

Payton comes in swooping like a plane.

 

PAYTON

I want to be a plane spotter.

 

DELIA

You're too young.

 

PAYTON

Caleb's only 12 and he's doing it.

 

FELICE

But he's smart.

 

PAYTON [makes dving sounds and pretends to hold binoculars to scan the sky]

That looks like a Messerschmidt. Call it in!

 

DELIA [squats and points, taking her mind off her fears]

No, look at the red sun painted on it. It's Japanese, a Konetchiwa, or a Sushi! Those devils!

 

PAYTON [awed]

How do you know that stuff?

 

DELIA

Give me the direction it's flying so I can call it in. Quick!

 

PAYTON

It's, uh, I think –

 

FELICE

Headed north by northwest, steady as it goes.

 

PAYTON

Hey!

 

FELICE

You think I don't know anything because I'm younger than you, smarty pants?

 

lights dim. The family continues to pantomime plane spotting

 

NARRATOR

Humor – humanity's saving grace. And since humor is timeless, we hear first from General Patton:

 

GEN. PATTON'S SPEECH

 

NARRATOR

And a local incident from any time or place.


 

SCENE 15 – Moyer home, Muncy Valley, time indefinite

 

LOUISE and JIM MOYER prepare supper in the kitchen.

 

JIM

Bet they thought it was fun til things got turned around – or should I say upset.

 

enter teenage son JIMMY

 

JIMMY

I heard you say "turned around," so I did. What were you talkin' about?

 

JIM

Just recallin' your little run in with the law. Devilment night.

 

LOUISE

That poor old woman. Never bothered a soul.

 

JIMMY

We didnÕt mean nothin' wrong.

 

LOUISE

What do you mean, "nothin' wrong"?  Poor Lizzie could have had a heart attack.

 

JIMMY

I heard Chub and Jack figgerin' how to work it.

 

JIM

And you're just loiterin' to lend a hand.

 

JIMMY

It was their idea. I can still hear Jack sayin', "I hope she ain't usin' it."

 

LOUISE

Your hand prints are nowhere on that outhouse?

 

JIMMY

I was scared as a rabbit when the sherrif come up the walk. Thought he was gonna cart me off to jail.

 

enter younger sister BARBARA

 

LOUISE

Glad you told the truth. Made it a lot easier.

 

 

JIMMY

Not for me, no way easy.

 

BARBARA

WasnÕt too nice for ol' Joe, LizzieÕs neighbor, neither. [Jimmy signals her to be quiet.] Soon as he felt the outhouse rumble, he was scramblin' off with his shirttails flyin'. He sure didnÕt want Lizzie to know he was using her facilities.

 

LOUISE

So there was somebody inside! James Moyer, what were you boys thinkin'? I guess you weren't. C'mon now, time to wash up. Mr. Sinclair'll be here any minute.

 

JIMMY

What are we having? IÕm starved.

 

LOUISE

My specailty, browned hamburger gravy.

 

BARBARA

Outhouse special! [mother gives her a glare] What's for dessert?

 

LOUISE

Never you mind. Get cleaned up. Oh look, here comes John. Jim, would you go meet Mr. Sinclair?

 

JIM

Evenin', John. Supper's 'bout ready. Sure hope you're hungry.

 

JOHN SINCLAIR enters.

 

JOHN

Here Louise, I brought some flowers for you.

 

LOUISE

Oh, thank you so much.

 

JIMMY

Bet you could tell us about some good Halloween pranks, Mr. Sinclair.

 

JOHN

Well ... I do remember lighting paper bags full of...

 

LOUISE

That'll be enough. Don't give Jimmy any more ideas.

 

JOHN

And, um, we sort of dismantled Al Phillips' old jalopy and reassembled it in on the roof. [tries to stifle laughter] But we never tipped over an outhouse. Jimmy, what did old Joe llok like when he came stumbling out with his pants down? He seems to turn up in all the wrong places with his pants down.

John takes off  his coat, pulls something out and slips it under the coat on a chair.

 

JIMMY

See, we heard all this gruntin' while we was pushin'. Then Joe barrels on out shoutin' about an earthquake. Then Lizzie hears the racket and comes out with a flashlight – ÒWhoÕs out there?Ó

 

John and the kids start to laugh.

 

LOUISE

Supper's ready, when you finish laughing at the unfortunate. Barbara, please say grace.

 

BARBARA

Let's bow our heads. God is great and God is good. Now we thank him for our food.

 

EVERYONE

Amen.

 

Louise passes out potatoes and gravy.

 

BARBARA

You can dump the gravy into the hole I made in my mashed potatoes, Ma. It's like lookin down into – uh – [looks at her mom and stops, shovels food into her mouth] Mom, this is great.

 

JIM

Hope you brought along some good jokes for after supper, John. This outhouse situation has put a lid on laughin'. So to speak. [John and kids start to laugh again]

 

LOUISE

Jack and Chub should have better sense with their father a minister and all. And you! I taught you better.

 

JIMMY

The sheriff told me, "Your prank caused Lizzie some property damage. But instead of arresting you, I have a proposition.Ó

 

JIM

Quite a useful proposition. LizzieÕs outhouse never looked so good. The windows are sparklin' clean, and that broken step looks brand new. So good come out of bad.

 

JIMMY

Tomorrow I gotta get the rest of LizzieÕs chores done.

 

Louise and Barbara clear the dishes. John picks up his coat, palming whatever was under it.

 

JOHN

Time for me to be on my way.

 

JIM

No after-dinner jokes?

 

JOHN

No time for that.

 

LOUISE

And you haven't had dessert.

 

He holds his hand out to Jim who grabs it to shake and jumps back with a shout. John doubles over in laughter.

 

JIM

I should of known. Buzzed me! Lord, that's like a big electric shock.

 

JOHN [taking off his coat again]

I might have appetite for dessert after all. What's on the menu?

 

LOUISE

Hot fudge lava cake.

 

JOHN

I could have a slice of that.

 

JIM [to John]

Browned hamburger gravy and hot fudge lava cake. Yup, good to get our minds off outhouses.

 

lights down

 

NEWS BROADCAST OF PACIFIC WAR

 

SCENE 16 – Little Home, Nordmont, late April 1945

 

Delia is just shutting off the radio

 

DELIA

Why don't the Japanese just give up?

 

PAYTON

They'll have to. Our bombers are smashing them flat and then we'll invade Japan and that's it.

 

DELIA

But they keep it up and keep it up. Punk Walters – Sissy says she thinks he's part of some team getting ready to invade Japan. The Japanese keep dying and our boys keep dying.

 

PAYTON

Dad won't die.

 

FELICE

We haven't had a letter in a long time.

 

PAYTON

Shut up! He won't die.

 

DELIA

Payton! I won't have that language with your sister. Or anyone else.

 

Felice starts crying. Payton looks ashamed but can't bring herself to apologize.

 

DELIA

Tell your sister you're sorry.

 

FELICE [still weeping]

It's not her fault. I just want Daddy home. I want it to be the way it was.

 

PAYTON

That's what I want too

 

Felice and Payton hug each other in a very spontaneous way.

 

FELICE [picks up a newspaper showing Roosevelt's funeral]

I felt so bad when President Roosevelt died.

 

DELIA

He was a good man. He had been president for longer than anyone in history. I can hardly remember what it was like before. [gestures the two over to her]

 

PAYTON

Did you hear about Punk's brother, Albert Walters?

 

DELIA

What dear?

 

PAYTON

He was in a tank corps with General Patton's army. They were the first ones to get across the Rhine River into Germany. Bam, pow, they wrecked those Nazis good. Got 2000 prisoners.

 

FELICE

I don't want to hear any more about the war. Can we take down the blackout curtains?

 

DELIA

Yes, they said we could now. And they're going to stop holding the air raid drills. The Japanese airforce is pretty completely destroyed.

 

Felice begins to remove the curtians.

 

PAYTON

It looked spooky when they did the bombing drills, running around with the red cellophane over their flashlights so they wouldn't show up to bombers.

 

DELIA

When your father comes home, it's going to be a different world.

 

PAYTON

What will it be like?

 

DELIA

The country's become something it didn't used to be. We're lucky, some ways, living where we do. We haven 't had to change that much. No trains full of soldiers coming through and Red Cross ladies standing on the platform to hand them coffee and donuts. We've lived on what the land provides, and it's been that way as long as most people here can remember. I don't think it can stay that way. When these boys come back, they will have been all the way around the world, seen things we can't imagine. Even if most of it has been pretty bad, they'll have seen good things too. They'll bring the good things back and likely they'll try to hide the bad. They won't want us to know that part.

 

PAYTON

We've had bad things too.

 

DELIA

Only little bad things, not the big ones your father has had to see. What you saw on the newsreel in Mildred, they're terrifying, but they don't show us the worst part. But let's think about pleasant things.

 

PAYTON

You know what Grandpa Charlie was talking about?

 

DELIA

What dear?

 

PAYTON

The Eagles Mere Railroad. It went up from Sonestown. They had big flatcars that people could sit on right out in the open and not have to look out windows.

 

DELIA

It's been gone for at least 15 years. It was a lot of fun.

 

FELICE

You rode on it?

 

DELIA

When I was six or eight years old. It used to confuse the summer people who came to Eagles Mere.

 

PAYTON

Why?

 

DELIA

Because they had to change trains to go on such a short trip.

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," peformed by the Undrews Sisters (Dori Fisher, Barb Murray and Barbara K. Schaefer), written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon


 

SCENE 17 – Sonestown railroad station, 1920

 

AMELIA and TERRY CONNOR and their son PETE have just stepped down from the Williamsport and North Branch train. A railroad worker behind them hauls baggage form the North Branch train to the Eagles Mere train.

 

PETE

Where are we?

 

TERRY

Sonestown.

 

PETE

Why do we have to change trains?

 

Worker loads more suitcases onto baggage cart.

 

AMELIA

Because this train doesn't go up the mountain to Eagles Mere.

 

PETE

Why doesn't it go up the mountain to Eagles Mere?

 

AMELIA

Because the two tracks are different sizes.

 

PETE

Why are the two tracks different sizes?

 

AMELIA

I don't know. Maybe somebody measured them wrong.

 

PETE

Why would somebody measure them wrong?

 

AMELIA

Why don't you go find a log to play with?

 

PETE

Auntie Amelia, he's not in a classroom.

 

TERRY [assuming Expert Expression]

The wide gauge track is standard and more stable, so it's used by all the major railroads. The narrow gauge is simple to set up and better for climbing steep slopes.

 

PETE

We could walk up the steep slopes. I walked up a steep slope last week.

 

RAIL WORKER [to Pete]

But I can't lug all this luggage up a steep slope. So we need to put it on the other train. See?

 

PETE

Oh. What are the buildings with all the smoke?

 

RAIL WORKER [pointing in a semicircle]

We've got a sawmill, a stave factory, a washboard factory, a clothespin factory, and a novelty factory. Not bad for a "nowhere" town, huh?

 

PETE

A clothespin factory?

 

TERRY

A whole factory to make barrel staves?

 

RAIL WORKER [a little put off]

We were thinkin' of having one factory just make the top half of the staves and another one do the bottom halves, but everything got so busy the idea got lost.

 

TERRY [oblivious to sarcasm]

I wonder if they couldn't work out some kind of mechanism for moving the baggage between trains.

 

RAIL WORKER

Then I'd be out of a job.

 

PETE

You have a fun job.

 

RAIL WORKER

Why don't we trade? I'll ride up on the train to your fancy hotel. You move all these trunks around.

 

PETE

Then I wouldn't get to go up the mountain. I like mountains.

 

AMELIA

Pete, stop bothering people.

 

RAIL WORKER

It's OK. You come to the right place, Pete. Why don't you take one home with you?

 

PETE

One what?

 

RAIL WORKER

A mountain.

 

PETE

You can't take a mountain home. They're too big!

 

RAIL WORKER

How do you know? You ever tried?

 

PETE

Daddy, can we –

 

AMELIA

For goodness sake, stop being silly.

 

TERRY

Aunt Amelia, he's got a very inquiring mind.

 

AMELIA

So does a cat. Or a turtle.

 

Worker seems shocked.

 

TERRY

Aunt Amelia!

 

PETE

I'm not a turtle!

 

RAIL WORKER

You're a tortoise.

 

PETE

What's that?

 

RAIL WORKER

They're like turtles but a lot smarter. They win races.

 

PETE

Can they race up mountains?

 

RAIL WORKER

I never asked one.

 

train whistle

 

AMELIA

It's time to get on the train. We can go on that open car with the benches. You'll get to see everything on the mountain while we go up.

 

PETE

OK. Hold onto me tight, Daddy. I don't want to fall off.

 

Exit Connor family

 

RAIL WORKER [to audience]

Good thing I didn't tell him about when the engine fell off the curve. More than once.

 

lights down, worker exits

 

 

Horns and noisemakers, kids yelliing, general racket in the street.

 

SCENE 18 – Little home, Nordmont, August 14, 1945

 

Payton and Felice charge in and tear around the kitchen beating on pots with big spoons.

 

PAYTON

The war's over. We beat the Japs!

 

FELICE

We can eat anything we want. And buy enough gasoline to drive all the way to Wilkes-Barre.

 

PAYTON

Dad will be coming home. Maybe tomorrow.

 

FELICE [chanting and banging]

Woo woo woo woo woo woo.

 

Delia comes in, grabs Felice; they dance around each other.

 

DELIA

Oh my God, oh my good Lord. It finally happened.

 

FELICE

When will Daddy be back?

 

PAYTON

Tomorrow!

 

FELICE

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.

 

DELIA

Stop, wait a minute, listen to me.

 

The kids stop and stare at her expectantly.

 

DELIA

Your father has to finish his tour of duty.

 

FELICE

But the war's over.

 

DELIA

Soldiers sign up for a certain length of time and they have to stay until that time is finished. Your father won't be released until April next year.

 

PAYTON

Next year?!

 

DELIA

That's not so long to wait after all this time.

 

FELICE [moping]

It's forever.

 

DELIA

I wish he was here right now, but at least it gives him a job to do for another few months. The women who worked in the military plants, they aren't needed to build tanks and airplanes, so they'll be let go. They knew that when they were hired. The factories have to make room for all the soldiers when they come back.

 

FELICE

Sheila's dad was a farmer and he's still a farmer and he didn't have to go to war. I guess he was lucky.

 

PAYTON

I want to be a soldier when I grow up.

 

DELIA

I would be a lot happier if you were a farmer.

 

PAYTON

Now the war's over, we'll all have a telephone right in our home.

 

DELIA

That's right. They'll start putting wires through everywhere.

 

PAYTON [prenteding to call]

Hello. I'd like to speak to Mr. Truman, please. Yes, at the White House.

 

FELICE

When did the electricity come through down here?

 

DELIA

It came down from Hunter's Lake into Muncy Valley, back in 1908, I think. When the old tannery was still there.

 

 

FELICE

I want Daddy home right now.

 

DELIA[brightening]

You know what we'll do? We'll spend all the time until your father comes back planning a huge party for him. How about that?

 

Dance music [IN THE MOOD]starts up quietly

 

FELICE

A big cake and piles of candy and popcorn and a Dutch apple pie. And ginger ale.

 

PAYTON

And root beer. And old man Hazen can play his fiddle.

 

FELICE

And we'll dance.

 

DELIA

We'll dance and dance and dance.

 

PAYTON

I bet they danced in Muncy Valley when they got electricity.

 

MUSIC "Roll on Columbia," written and performed by Woody Guthrie


 

SOUND of tannery

 

SCENE 19 – Muncy Valley tannery, 1908

 

J.T. MILLER, tannery superintentdent, looks out his office window; JENNY GRACE, his secretary, sits at a typewriter.

 

JENNY [turning on lamp]

Electricity!

 

MILLER

So they say. Powered by the water from the Hunter's Lake dam. It has supplied Eagles Mere for some years

 

JENNY

It exhibits great progress.

 

MILLER

Yes, doesn't it?

 

JENNY

You seem unsettled of late, Mr. Miller, if you don't mind my saying.

 

MILLER

It shows?

 

Jenny starts to say something but instead begins typing.

 

MILLER [musing again at the window]

A fellow named Bump started the first tannery in 1867.

 

JENNY

Bump?

 

MILLER

Bump.

 

JENNY [hititng the typewriter keys hard]

Bump.

 

MILLER

The place burned after about five years, he built it up again, went bankrupt. A year or so later, Mr. Stevens came down from New York state. [forms a banner with his hands] " D.T. Stevens & Son." He experienced a fire also but rebuilt and expanded the operation.

 

JENNY

Harley Quail said he was a fine gentleman who supported the ministry.

 

MILLER

Though the workers were none too pleased that he forbade liquor in the town. They had to sidle off to Sonestown on Saturday nights.

 

JENNY

You were superintendent then?

 

MILLER

With Stevens until he sold to U.S. Leather in 1893. And on now, another 15 years. It's been a good run, for me, for the town. Yes.

 

JENNY

You look sad. Are you thinking of leaving?

 

MILLER

Wouldn't you consider it about time?

 

JENNY

With things doing so well? I don't know.

 

MILLER

Doing well. Mr. Stevens built up the business from 150 hides a day to 750. Buffalo mostly. Now we're at 150 again.

 

JENNY

Harley Quail said that the pile of shot pulled form those buffalo hides came to a full ton of lead.

 

MILLER

Harley has an expansive mind. But that was quite a heap of lead. We had 120 workers at peak. Made Muncy Valley the lead town this side of Hughsville.

 

JENNY

So much activity then! Three full classrooms in the school and students standing in the corners. All those Poles you hired at $1.35 per day. Frank Magargle's general store, Hyman Herr's clothing, Bernice Miller's millinery, two blacksmiths, two hotels. Oh my. You must feel proud.

 

MILLER

As proud as I can be, considering.

 

JENNY

Considering what, Mr. Miller?

 

MILLER [long sigh]

You have always been good at keeping secrets, Miss Grace. Company secrets?

 

JENNY

I would hope so, Mr. Miller.

MILLER

I must share this with someone or I will burst. U.S. Leather will be closing this operation within the year.

 

JENNY [horrified]

Close the tannery?

 

MILLER

In Jamison City as well. Perhaps all their area holdings.

 

JENNY

Close the tanneries? Why ever would they do that?

 

MILLER

The hemlock timber is exhausted. Its bark is the only local source for tannin. And the call for leather is receding. That is your progress, Miss Grace.

 

JENNY

It ... it will destroy the town.

 

MILLER

I fear so. But what is left will bloom with electricity. A light in the wilderness, Miss Grace. We must accept what the Lord dispenses.

 

lights down

 

MUSIC, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," arranged and performed by Arthur Fiedler, written by Patrick Gilmore

 

SCENE 20 – Little home, late April, 1946

 

Michael is pacing. Delia is unpacking his war gear.

 

MICHAEL

I'll find a job, don't worry so much. I've got the 52-20 money coming – twenty dollars a week for 52 weeks. We've got time.

 

DELIA

Maybe I shouldn't have quit at Sylvania. But they needed to make room for the boys returning home.

 

MICHAEL

We aren't "boys" any more. No one who came back from there is a boy.

 

DELIA

I didn't mean it that way. It's just what everybody says.

 

MICHAEL

What are those factories making now the war's over?

 

DELIA

Washing machines and cars and refrigerators – everything they couldn't make during the war that wore out. And houses – new houses, the news says they will be going up everywhere.

 

Payton and Delia burst in from school. Felice hugs her father.

 

FELICE

Daddy, daddy, daddy.

 

MICHAEL

That's me.

 

PAYTON

Wow, I can't believe all the stuff we're learning about the war. Lots of things you never heard about here.

 

DELIA

It's wonderful the censorship's gone.

 

MICHAEL [trying to pry Felice off]

You're harder to shake off than the Japs.

 

DELIA

Michael – maybe it would be better if we don't use that word any more.

 

MICHAEL

Word...? You want me to go back over and kiss them? [getting a little angry]You didn't have to fight those sons of –

 

DELIA

None of us has to fight them anymore.

 

MICHAEL [struck by the thought]

Yeah, well, I guess not. OK, let's not talk about them. Not that way, anyhow.

 

PAYTON

You don't tell us much about fighting the ... those guys.

 

MICHAEL

No. I don't and you're better off for it. Get off and do your homework. And you, little one, [to Felice] better just get off. You're wearing me out. [pries her loose]

 

FELICE

You can't wear out a daddy.

 

MICHAEL [far off look]

You can get 'em pretty worn down.

 

DELIA

Go on, straighten up your room.

 

Felice and Payton exit to bedroom.

 

DELIA [hugging Michael tightly]

I missed you so much I was getting sick. I found three white hairs and my face broke out.

 

MICHAEL

Looks like you patched it up pretty good. I showed your picture to the guys and they just about passed out, made them so homesick. They said I was the luckiest man alive.

 

DELIA

You're lucky to be alive. I'm so thankful. But ... do you think you'll ever be able to settle down and just ... be here?

 

MICHAEL [still looking distant]

Yeah. I think so. I know it's over, I just can't feel it. The war – it felt like it would go on forever. That was the worst part, thinking it would never stop.

 

DELIA

But it is over, so we should celebrate. It's time to ask everybody to celebrate with us.

 

MICHAEL

Great idea. Hey kids! C'mon back out. [goes to the door] Everybody, c'mon in here. It's over – it's really over.

 

The cast come out and take their curtain call.

 

DELIA

And you can party in the other room.

 

MUSIC, "Fight for Your Right to Party," performed by the Beastie Boys, written by Adam Yauch and Tom Cushman

 

THE END