DEMPSEY (71 years old) (hideous scream ... up then muffled).--Le'me go! Le'me
go, I tell ya! (Gasps) Gimme my cartwheel--it's MINE! Cartwheel--cartwheel--
CARTWHEEL! (Guttural) Cartwheel--(Gasps ... subsiding into moans)
DOCTOR (calmly, but firmly).--Better get a strait jacket, boys--and truss him
up. I'll be back in a moment. Don't leave.
Biz.--Footsteps, gradually up ... door opens ...closes ... moans fade, but are
sustained in background after door closes, occasionally intensifying.
DOCTOR.--Don't get excited--easy! (Slight pause) Are you his son?
SON.--Yes, doctor--I--I am. I guess he's--lost his mind--hasn't he?
DOCTOR.--No ordinary case, this. What--uh--what can you tell me about it?
What's this--"cartwheel" he speaks of?
SON.--It's a long story, doctor. It goes back more than fifty years. (Starts
fading) Back to when Dad was just a young fellow, working in the United States
mint, down in Philadelphia--
Biz.--Simulation of coin edge-rolling machine, up five seconds ... fade on
cue. Whistling of "Strolling through the Park One Day" picks up off mike and
approaches gradually, timed synchronistically so that end of music comes
simultaneously with placing of a large container of coins on bench.
DEMPSEY (20 years old).--There they are, chief--cut, blanched, and edge-
rolled--as pretty a batch of cartwheels as you ever set eyes on! (Clink)
Listen to it ring--no sound just like a cartwheel ringin', is there,
FOREMAN (unimpressed).--Guess not. Get 'em cleaned up in a hurry, Dempsey.
Just got word the president's bringing a party through this afternoon.
DEMPSEY (startled).--President Arthur? You mean he's coming here? To the
FOREMAN.--That's right. Garfield used to drop in pretty often, but this is
Arthur's first visit.
DEMPSEY.--Gee! (With surprise) Say, chief--look at this--LOOK!
FOREMAN.--What's eatin' ya?
DEMPSEY.--Why--the date on this-- (Quick embarrassed laugh) Why, chief--only
half of the eights was printed on this coin--just half of an eight and
it looks like a three--a 1384 silver dollar!
FOREMAN (desperately).--Good God, Dempsey--don't tell me that whole batch of
DEMPSEY (interrupting).--Oh, no, sir! Only these last few--only--
Biz.--Clink of coins, as if counting.
DEMPSEY.--Only three of them, sir.
FOREMAN.--Phew! You like to scared me to death! Let me see 'em.
Biz.--Jingle of coins.
FOREMAN.--Sure enough--thirteen-eighty-four instead of eighteen-eighty-four!
Only half of one of the eights.
DEMPSEY.--What'll I do, chief--toss 'em back into the bullion? There's only
three of 'em an'--
FOREMAN.--No, Dempsey. Don't do that! If we throw 'em out, the run'll
be short--better just let 'em pass. Forget it. And don't say anything to
anybody. Chances are nobody'll ever notice it anyway. (Laugh) Pretty slick--
(Clink of coin ... begin fading slow) a thirteen-eighty-four cartwheel.
(Laugh ... fade)
BLAKE.--Get closer to the phone, I can't understand you. (Pause) I can't be
wrong ... there were only three of those coins--I know, because I went
to the mint personally and talked to a young fellow named Dempsey, the very
chap who turned them out--now here's the point--you know enough about
collectors to realize what this means to me--what's that? Precisely. With all
three of those freak cartwheels, I'd have, without question, the finest
collection of American coin in existence. Get me the other one--I won't be
satisfied until I've found it. Hang the expense! (Start fading) I'd pay
$25,000 before I'd see anybody else get that coin. (Hang up)
Biz.--Cut dead ... hold three seconds.
DEMPSEY (dejected).--They always told me, Martha, that I'd make a lot of money
in the mint, but that I couldn't keep any of it. (Sigh) Gee, I never thought
I'd lose my job just because I told that coin collector about that cartwheel--
just think, Martha--once it was in my hands--I made it--and lost
it-- But I'll find another job--maybe before the baby is born. And mark my
words, Martha--some day, I'm gonna GET that cartwheel--yes, sir, I'm gonna get
it-- (Start fading) It may pass through a million hands, but some day I'm
gonna get it.
Biz.--Anvil ringing ... then hammer laid on anvil.
SMITH.--It'll cost ye a dollar, Morton. Might seem like a heap o' money for ya
to pay, but if ya send off to that place what I told ya about fer yer store-
teeth, th' hull thing won't run more'n five dollars. (A bit more severe) Do ya
WANT me t'yank out them teeth, er don't ya, Morton?
Biz.--Clink of silver dollar on anvil.
SMITH.--Set down then till I git m'pinchers, an' don't be wastin' my
time,'cause I got that bay mare an' them three other hosses t'shoe yet t'day,
an' I ain't hankerin' t'be delayed!
Biz.--Fade into horses' hoofs lazily approaching, on cobblestones ... wagon
wheels ... a bell....
AGGIE.--Oh, you kiddo! There's the hokey-pokey wagon. You got money,
Archie--why don't ya buy some?
ARCHIE.--Twenty-three skiddoo to you! I ain't gonna waste my silver dollar
that way, Aggie-- No, siree--I'm gonna hold onto it. Don't fergit--th'
Floradora Sextette is comin' to the Casino nex' Sa'rday.
Biz.--Cut ... fade in next speech.
EXECUTIVE.--While it is true that he impressed me as a very sincere and
capable fellow, comma, Dempsey's past record shows that he was discharged from
a job at the United States mint, period. This (start fading) indicates
questionable character, comma, and I'd rather not have him in our employ,
GAMBLER.--Unlucky at horses, lucky at blackjack! Twenty-one the old army game.
One seat open at blackjack, men, one seat open--
Biz.--Clink of silver dollar at table.
GAMBLER.--Goin' agin--blackjack, a dollar and up cards to the gamblers--
(Start fading) Unlucky at horses, lucky at blackjack. Twenty-one the old army
Biz.--Cut ... take on cue.
CLERGYMAN (projected, on piano mike, as if from pulpit into large
cathedral).--O Lord, let us be worthy of these, thy blessings, and let them be
acceptable unto thee, for it is more blessed to give than to receive.
MUSIC.--Offertory strains on organ ... up four measures ... fade, sustain in
background very lightly ... four separate clinks of money dropping in wicker
basket ... each a bit heavier ... last (fifth) sound of silver dollar clinking
in basket. Slight pause ... organ up ... fadeout on cue.
ANNA (a ribald laugh).--Oh, Jacques--merci beaucoup! Cela fera bien l'affair--
Now ze ma'mselle know why zey say DOUGHBOY!
Biz.--More laughter from Anna ... and man ... blending into combat, shells,
shrieking planes ... rockets ... sustain for ten seconds ... build to
crescendo, fade into gasp and groan of man.
PAT.--No use, Larry. Don't stick with me. (Breathless) I'm a goner--here--if
you make it back--give this medal to Ma, will you--and better take these
centimes--an' this cartwheel--I can't buy nothin' where I'm goin' now-- (Gasp)
Biz.--Three seconds dead silence.
DEMPSEY (55 years).--And when you get your pay, son, don't forget--ALL in
SON.--Aw, gee, Dad, you still expect to find that twenty-five-thousand-dollar
cartwheel, don't you?
DEMPSEY.--Sure I do, son. (Start fading) It may pass through a million hands,
BARKER.--Biggest and most stupendous show along the gay rialto! The one and
only Rudolph Valentino. The perfect screen lover, in "The Sheik of Araby,"
sensational hit of the silver-screen. Step right up, a few choice seats
MARY.--Two, please !
Biz.--Silver dollar clinking on glass ... BARKER up ... cut dead.
BLAKE.--Yes ... I'd still meet the price because it's worth it. But
something tells me my coin collection will never be augmented by the third and
last of those 1384 cartwheels. (Wistfully) Wonder where it is? Maybe it
doesn't even exist any more. Maybe it went down at sea or perhaps some old
granny is hoarding it in her attic chamber---or maybe--for all we know--right
this very minute, it's in the hands of a--
MOLL.--Thief! So that's what I am, eh? A thief just
because I'm taking a dollar of your filthy money to buy myself a bite to eat.
Well, I'm fed up, see? Here's your dollar--stupid--take a good
look at it--
Biz.--Dollar breaking glass.
MOLL.--It's the last one you'll ever see--you RAT!
Biz.--Pistol shot and groan ... very slight pause.
DIRECTOR.--Cut! That was putrid! Let's shoot the whole scene again, and for
Pete's sake, Barbara, let's HEAR that silver dollar hit the looking glass!
Biz.--Traffic noises ... build up ... fade ... sustain ... in B.G.
ELSIE.--It's only a dollar, Jim. Let's get one.
JIM.--But,Elsie--we don't need it, I tell you.
ELSIE.--But we will need it soon, honey.
JIM.--I know, but let's wait, Elsie. I never was a plunger.
ELSIE.--No, Jim--please! Let's get it now. I want it--Jim--
JIM.--But, honey, I--
ELSIE.--I've got a dollar, Jim--this old silver one. I've held it for a
long time--just for something like this--please, Jim--
JIM (sighing).--Oh, all right! But I can't see the sense of buyin' a baby
buggy 'fore we've even got a baby!
Biz.--Traffic noises up briefly ... blend into confusion of voices.
SPIELER.--The Indians on the reservations gather these precious herbs, barks
and bitters, nature's own ingredients for nature's own panacea, Dr.
Witherspoon's Magic Elixir. One dollar the bottle.
YOKEL.--I'll take one!
Biz.--Clink of dollar in tambourine ... begin to fade, shaking tambourine.
SPIELER.--Thank you! Who else wants it? (Fade) Dr. Witherspoon's Magic Elixir,
nature's own remedy for all man's ailments.
Biz.--Knock on door ... latch opens ...
BOY.--Telegram, sir, for Mr. Hemmingway.
BOY.--It's collect, sir--one dollar.
HEMM.--Oh--I see-- Uh--who sent it?
BOY.--No signature, sir.
HEMM.--Well, come, come, I can't pay for something unless I know where it's
from. After all, I--
BOY.--It's from Nevada, sir. Reno, Nevada.
HEMM.--Reno, Nevada? Here--here's the dollar.
BOY.--But this is only half a dollar, sir-- Oh--I beg your pardon, I
see--it's a cartwheel--thank you, sir.
Biz.--Ripping open telegram.
HEMM (Sotto).--"HAVE CHANGED MY MIND STOP TAKING MORNING PLANE HOME--RUTH."
Biz.--Crumpling of paper.
Biz.--Door slams... cut ... hold dead three seconds ... fade in next speech.
SON (40 years).--He's been acting pretty strange, Ma, since he went to that
MARTHA (60 years).--Cartwheel--that's all he ever thinks about--that
cartwheel. Wastin' his time--'cause you know he'll never see it agin.
Biz.--Cut ... hold dead three seconds.
SPIKE.--Come on, glutton, divvy it up. What's th' haul?
HYMIE.--T'ree or four C-notes, I guess, countin' all dis chicken feed. Geeze,
I didn't even leave dat cashier jack to keep a ladybug in hair nets.
HYMIE.--Say, Spike--look at dis! A cartwheel! Must be sort of an
antique, too--th' date's 1384. Geeze, dat must be way back in Buffalo Bill's
SPIKE.--Gimme it, ya dumb cluck. (Slight pause) Sure--jist as I thought--it's
a phoney! ya ignorant--how could there be a U. S. dollar in 1384 when Columbus
didn't even find th' place till 1776! Ain't ya never read yer civics?
HYMIE.--I never had much schoolin'.
SPIKE.--Well, here goes dis phoney cartwheel into da spittoon!
Biz.--Clink of silver dollar on metal ... cut dead.
Biz.--Dice ... shaking.
HIGHPOCKETS.--Snake eyes an' lil Phoebe hide in de canebrake--talk, school
dice, TALK! 'Nunciate out loud. (Dice land) Hah! Seb'm done come!
Biz.--Crowd reaction ... surprise.
HIGHPOCKETS.--Shoot de wucks! Who gonna fade me? Dat all de cash money in dis
gatherin'? Ain't nobody got no mo' money?
Biz.--Crowd reaction ... ad libs ... "dass all," etc.
HIGHPOCKETS.--Sho nuff? Den I rolls.
Biz.--Dice shaking ... and landing.
HIGHPOCKETS.--Hah! Seb'm she is! School dice, ya done done it! De ruckus am
completed an' Highpockets say, "Aw reservoir, genmums."
Biz.--Crowd reaction ... resentment... gradually out.
PEE-WEE.--Highpockets, man, you is RICH! Yo' mus' make yo'seff th'ee fo'
HIGHPOCKETS.--Heah--take yo'seff dis heah cartwheel, son, an' go now an' git
yo'seff a bottle o' gin, o' sumpum else dat yo' craves.
PEE-WEE.--No, Highpockets! Doan gimme dis cartwheel! Gimme instead a
dolla bill. Dis heah cartwheel is yo' lucky pocket-piece, yo' voodoo
charm dat yo' done start wid befo' yo' win yo'seff all dat money.
HIGHPOCKETS.--Hesh yo' mouf, boy, an' make tracks. Highpockets kain't be
bothad wid money dat jingles--oney de kind dat rustles--(laugh)--go git yo'
gin, now, an' lee' me by-- (Start fading) I is sashayin' fo de bright lights--
git goin' now, an' (project) doan spen' yo cartwheel all in one place!
Biz.--Street noises ... traffic ... up, then sustain in B.G.
BUM.--Say, would ya give a buddy a dime for a cup of coffee?
SOAK (hic).--Cup o' coffee?
SOAK.--A dime for a cup of coffee? (Hic) But why should you charge me a
dime when I know where I can get it for a nickel? S'outrageous!
BUM.--Aw, ya don't git me, pal. I'm hungry--awful hungry! I ain't seen
food fer--fer three days.
SOAK.--You'd still reco'nize it. (Hic) Same old stuff. (Laugh) Here--take this
silver dollar--get TEN cups of coffee ...get TWENTY--get--(hic)-get goin'!
BUM.--Gee--thanks, buddy! (Slight pause ... then ... sotto) Sucker! That's 18
bucks so far tonight, an' the evenin's young!
Biz.--Build up traffic noises to peak ... slow fade-out.
NURSE.--Shall I give him another hypo, doctor?
DOCTOR.--Uh--I think not-- In his condition, I hardly believe he feels any
NURSE.--He cried out all through the night, doctor--mumbled something hardly
intelligible, except for an occasional mention of a--"cartwheel"--
DOCTOR.--Yes--I know. His son explained that to me last night. (Sighs) Just
stay with him, Miss Maxwell. He doesn't have much farther to go.
Biz.--Metronome, gradually up, then down and out under ...
SON (50 years).--I just wanted to thank you, Mr. Allison, for your sympathetic
handling of father's funeral.
UNDERT.--Not at all, Mr. Dempsey.
SON.--I've brought the insurance check with me to settle the bill.
SON.--Mother has endorsed it. Two hundred dollars. That's just about right,
UNDERT.--The amount is slightly less, I believe, Dempsey. Yes--just a hundred
and ninety-nine dollars, including the extra limousine--you've got a dollar
change coming, Dempsey. Do you mind taking this--cartwheel?
Biz.--Clink of silver dollar on desk.
Broadcast 1 August 1936
on The Columbia Workshop
Script by Vic Knight