J. Smith and Wife
J. SMITH.--Known to friends and relatives as "Johnny--good old Johnny" whom
you can touch for ten dollars and know that he'll not remind you of the debt
for fear of hurting your feelings. He is thirty-one years old, a bit shy, and
while not defeated by life, he has the resignation of thousands of his type.
He is mild, unassuming, and he believes in three things--God, printed
bulletins issued at the Office, and the Ten Commandments.
AND WIFE.--"Mary"--just an ordinary girl who has become an ordinary wife and
mother in the ordinary way. She was called "May" by the other girls behind the
candy counter at the five-and-ten before she married Johnny--but the name May
didn't fit her. It had a "party-girl" sound that she couldn't live up to. She
has been married to Johnny for ten years. She believes in God, Johnny, and
THE KEEPER OF THE GATE.--A kindly old man--wearied of seeing all the people
who pass his way.
THE VOICE.--A deep, kindly resonant voice. One that holds all the kindness and
compassion of all gods and all people. Not a ministerial voice--but one that
is of the earth and the dust of the road.
There are no sound effects in this radio drama. There is no striving for
dramatic effect. Its success depends entirely on the utter honesty and
absolute simplicity of the players' work.
ANNOUNCER.--The story begins.
THE VOICE.--"Therefore speak I to them in parables;
Because seeing they see not,
And hearing they hear not,
Neither do they understand.
Music.--Harp continues for a moment, then dims down and out.
(The voices of MARY and JOHNNY have an awed, hushed note ... two strangers who
are not sure of themselves nor at ease ... but finding themselves face-to-face
with beauty they haven't the words to express.)
MARY.--Gee-- Gee, it's--it's awful pretty, isn't it, Johnny?
JOHNNY.--Yeah-- Yeah--it's all right.
MARY.--Y'know what? It looks something like the gardens in Central Park--only
JOHNNY.--Yeah-- Yeah, it does, Mary.
MARY.--I-- I wonder how you'd get in there.
JOHNNY.--Well--I guess there must be a gate somewhere. People got to get in
MARY.--Yes-- Yes, sure they do. (With forced gaiety) They couldn't go climbin'
over the fence, could they?
JOHNNY.--No, I guess not. They'd look pretty funny. Sure--there's got to be a
MARY.--Sure-- Gee-- D'you s'pose they'd let us go in there?
JOHNNY (with false assurance).--Sure--why not?
MARY.--That'd be--swell, wouldn't it?
JOHNNY.--Yeah-- Yeah, I guess it would. You could walk around an' look at the
flowers. You always kinda liked them.
MARY.--Yeah-- Remember the time that friend of yours took us out to Long
MARY.--Yeah--that was him. We rode in the rumble seat--an' we brought back all
the flowers--dogwood they said it was.
JOHNNY.--Sure--sure, we had a good time, didn't we?
MARY.--Yeah-- Gee--we had 'em around the apartment for 'most a week. I never
saw flowers last so long.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--y'kept 'em till they were all dried up.
MARY.--Yeah--I know. I just kinda hated to throw 'em away. While they was
around I could sort of look at 'em and remember what a swell time we had.
JOHNNY.--Sure--sure you could.
MARY.--The geraniums an' things I raised out on the fire-escape were pretty--
the neighbors all spoke about how pretty they were. Mrs. Cohen asked me how I
brought 'em up so healthy and all--but somehow they weren't like the ones we
got out on the Island. You could close your eyes an'
smell 'em an' think you was right out in the woods.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--I guess that was because they grew kinda wildlike. Those
flowers inside the fence are something like 'em. If we could get inside--I--I
don't suppose they'd let you pick any--but you could look at 'em.
MARY.--Sure--sure that'd be just as good.
JOHNNY.--Say--say, ain't that a gate over there?
MARY.--Yes--yes, I guess it is. It looks like it's all gilt or gold.
JOHNNY.--It'd be gold. They wouldn't have no call to use nothing else.
MARY.--Yeah-- Gee-- It's so bright it almost hurts your eyes, don't it? It's
bright and shiny like my wedding ring was when I first wore it.
JOHNNY.--Yeah-- Yeah, you know, I wish I'd had a chance to get you a good
ring, Mary. I've been plannin' to for a long time--
MARY.--I know, Johnny--but don't you think about it. I was always happy an'
sort of proud wearin' that ring.
JOHNNY.--Yeah, but--but that was just a cheap one--only gold-plated. I'd have
liked to have got you a swell one--you know--solid.
MARY.--Sure--but that one was just as good--an' it meant the same thing. Why--
why, I wouldn't have wanted a better one--it'd just been ruined with my hands
in dishwater and washin' out the baby's diapers when he was little. Sure it
would. Why--why it'd just been a waste of money.
JOHNNY.--Well, just the same I'd a liked to have got you a better one. I
didn't have the money at the time--an' then later on--afterwards--it seemed
like somethin' always came along to take the money--gas bills--rent--shoes
MARY.--Yes--yes, I know. (With reassuring earnestness) But don't you never
worry none about that ring, Johnny. I was crazy about it. Sure I was--an' I
wouldn't have traded it for one with fifty diamonds in it that somebody else'd
give me. Gee--I guess not. Not for a hundred an' fifty. It was a swell ring.
JOHNNY.--Yeah, but-- Say, ain't that a guy sitting there by the gate?
MARY.--Yes. Do you s'pose he's kind of a guard?
JOHNNY.--I guess so. They'd have to have somebody to kinda take care of
MARY.--Sure--sure they would. (Timidly) Do you think you might ask him if we
could go in and just--just kinda look around? We could promise not to hurt
anything--just look--an' that's all.
JOHNNY.--Sure--sure I'll ask him. (Trying to hide how he hates to do it) Sure
--there's no harm in askin'. Lots of guys used to stop me on the street an'
ask me how to get places. Y'know, strangers in New York for the first time. I
don't know why they did it--but with hundreds of people on the street they
used to pick me out to ask.
MARY (proudly).--Well-they could see that you was a New Yorker--an' knew your
JOHNNY (complacently).--Sure--I guess that was it. I could always tell 'em
too--an' how they could get there easiest--on a bus or subway. Gee--I betcha
two or three used to stop me every day.
MARY.--I always thought you oughta had that job in the information booth down
at Grand Central. Gee--I betcha you'd have been swell there.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, maybe I would. I used to think about that sometimes when
I was standin' there waitin' for you. Remember when we used to meet there
before we got married to go to lunch together?
MARY.--Gee, yes--you used to always get there first. As I came down the steps
I could see you standin' there readin' a timetable like you was a big
businessman goin' out to Chicago or Toledo or Detroit.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--I betcha I've read every timetable they had. The guy back of
the desk musta thought I was a world traveler or somethin'. He used to say
"Hello" and "Well--where are you goin' today?" I betcha he'd know me right now
if I walked in there. I guess that's bein' pretty well known. I betcha there
ain't nobody else in all the thousands of people that go by there he'd
recognize right off like that.
MARY (with conviction).--No, I guess not ... Gee.... D'you remember the trips
we used to plan out of those timetables while we was eatin' lunch at the one-
JOHNNY.--Sure--for our honeymoon we was goin' to Washington, D. C.
MARY.--Yeah. We decided on that instead of Niagara Falls--it didn't cost so
much--an'--an' it was more educational, too.
JOHNNY.--I'm--I'm sorry we didn't get to go.
MARY.--Well--well, I'm not, Johnny. (Bravely) It's better like it was. You--
you get so dirty travelin' an'--well, we might have got sick or somethin'
eatin' in hotels--an' change of drinkin' water. (Seizing on thought) There's
somethin' that'll make you terrible sick. My aunt went out to Jersey some
place one time--an' she wasn't used to the water an' she was sick in bed all
the time she was there.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--but--just the same I wish we could have gone. But the furniture
cost more'n I thought it would--an' then the first month's rent on the
apartment in advance.
MARY.--Sure--it costs a lot to set up housekeeping. It's the little things--
the pots an' pans an' salt an' sugar--an' stuff like that. Gee--gee, wasn't we
broke when we moved in?
JOHNNY.--I'll say we were--but the place looked swell, didn't it? Of course
the elevated went right by the windows.
MARY (quickly).--But I didn't mind that. Why--it was sort of company when I
was alone there in the daytime.
JOHNNY.--Well, it wasn't so much, I guess--but it was--was home.
MARY.--Sure--Why I brought some of the girls from the store up there an' they
were as jealous as could be. Sure they were. An' I showed them that picture of
you--the one you had taken out at Coney Island in the airplane--an' they all
thought you was handsome.
MARY.--Sure they did. Why, Maizie Greenbaum--she's one of the best girls they
got down at the Forty-fourth Street five-and-ten on the candy counter--
whenever they got stuck on a big shipment of toasted marshmallows an' couldn't
get rid of 'em, they just put Maizie on 'em an' they disappeared. Well, she's
a very valuable girl, an' Maizie said you was handsome enough to be in movin'
JOHNNY.--Yeah?--Well, gee. I--I always tried to keep dressed up a little. That
kinda makes a guy better lookin' than he really is, y'know. I--I guess I was
wearin' that coat with the belt around it when they took that pitcher.
MARY.--Yeah--I always meant to have Maizie come up for dinner some night--
JOHNNY.--Sure--that would have been nice. Why didn't you?
MARY.--Oh, I don't know. We just sorta lost track of each other--you got so
many things to think about after you get married. I s'pect she went right on
up to the top--an' maybe is the manager of some department now--maybe
cosmetics or jewelry.
JOHNNY.--Maybe not. Maybe she got married and gave up her career like you did.
MARY (modestly).--Ohhh. I didn't give up anything.
JOHNNY.--Sure you did. Why--if you hadn't married a mug like me there's no
tellin' where you'd have ended up.
MARY.--I'd have ended up just the way I started--in love with you.
JOHNNY.--Gee-- Gee--that's swell. I always kinda wondered if you might not be
MARY.--Sorry? No...No--I'm glad....Have you ever been sorry, Johnny?
JOHNNY.--No!--Gee--I should say not! Gee--no. Why--why, I don't know what I'd
done the last ten years without you.
MARY.--Well--well, you'd have got along all right.
JOHNNY.--No, I wouldn't. Why--why how do you s'pose I'd ever worked my way up
to be head shipping clerk at M. Lapeedus an' Sons if you hadn't encouraged me?
MARY.--Gee. I never knew you felt that way about it before. I thought
sometimes you mighta felt the baby and me was sorta holdin' you back from
gettin' same place maybe.
JOHNNY.--Gosh--I don't see what ever made you think a thing like that. If
you'd asked me I'd have told you. You don't wanta go 'round thinkin' things
like that. Gee--all you had to do was say somethin' an' I'd have told you how
MARY.--Sure--I know that. It doesn't matter, Johnny--nothing matters as long
as you love me.
JOHNNY.--Sure I do.... Here, let me show you how much. (Second's pause)
MARY.--Gee--gee--y'--y'better not do that, Johnny. The old guy's lookin' at
us. Maybe they don't allow you to do things like that here.
JOHNNY.--Well, say--I don't see why not. If a fellow can't kiss his own wife.
MARY.--Well--he might not know we was married. There's no way he could tell
just by lookin' at us y'know. He might think we was just bein' mushy sort of.
Y'--y'better speak to him an' ask him if we can go through the gate.
JOHNNY.--Okay--sure I'll ask him. (Hesitantly) You--you better come along over
with me--an'-an' then in case it's alright we can go right in.
MARY.--Sure--sure I'll go with you. (Giggling nervously) Gee--with those
whiskers he looks somethin' like the old men we used to see ridin' on the
Second Avenue El, don't he?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, he does--uh-uhhh. Excuse me, Mister--
GATEKEEPER.--Welcome, my children.
GATEKEEPER.--You have just arrived?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, we just got here. We've been lookin' around some.
That's--that's a nice place you got inside the gate there. Are you the--the
GATEKEEPER.--I am the Keeper of the Gate. Yes.
JOHNNY.--It sure is a nice place. What do you call it?
GATEKEEPER.--The Elysian Fields.
JOHNNY.--Gee--gee, that's a swell name. The Elysian Fields--ain't that a swell
MARY.--Yeah--yeah, it just sort of fits in, don't it?
JOHNNY.--It sure does. Yes, sir, it's just sorta tailor-made. I betcha a lot
of apartment house owners would like to know about that name--it's got class,
you know, like Ravenfield Court an' Towanda Terrace. Gee--I betcha they
wouldn't have no trouble a-tall getting people to move into a place called
Elysian Estates--or Elysian Gardens. No--no, sir--betcha they wouldn't have a
MARY (low).--Johnny--Johnny--ask him about us goin' inside.
JOHNNY (low).--Oh, yeah--sure. (Aloud) Uh--Mister-my wife was just askin' me
if it would be all right if we went in there an' looked around a little.
Y'see--she kinda takes to flowers an' outdoor things--you know how it is--an'
we can promise you that we won't hurt nothin'.
GATEKEEPER.--What is your name, please?
JOHNNY.--Smith. J. Smith. This is my wife--Mary--J. Smith and wife I guess
they'd have us down under.
GATEKEEPER.--I'll see if your names are in my book.
JOHNNY.--Gee, that's--that's sure nice of you. I don't know how we got here--
or--or what we're doin' here. Y'see we took the boy--Tommy, his name is--he's
eight years old--on sort of an outin' this mornin'--I think it was this
mornin'--and somethin' happened--some kind of--of accident--
MARY.--Accident? Oh, yes. Something--something happened to the boat--
GATEKEEPER.--Then you both died this afternoon?
GATEKEEPER.--Yes, my son.
MARY.--No--no! That isn't right. We're not dead--We're alive!
GATEKEEPER.--It is only the dead who pass this way, my dear.
MARY.--But we're alive! Sure--we've got to be alive because we've only lived
such a little while.
MARY.--Johnny--tell him--explain to him--let him know that we aren't like he
JOHNNY.--Well--well, I don't know, Mary. Maybe something happened to us--in
the accident--it's all kinda like a dream--but maybe he's right.
MARY.--But he can't be right, Johnny! We ain't had a chance to do all the
things we planned to do!
MARY.--Gee--don't you see? Who'll take care of Tommy? He's just a baby--who'll
look after him?
JOHNNY.--Well--well, he'll be all right, Mary. Sure he will. His Granmaw--
she's crazy about him--she'll look after him.
MARY.--But don't you see? That's not me--it's me he wants. Gee--who'll see
that he does his lessons--an' that he don't fight with the boy in the tailor
JOHNNY.--Aw gee, Mary. You mustn't feel like that. We're here, an'--well, I
guess there ain't nothin' we can do about it. We--we just got to take what
comes along like we always have. Maybe--maybe we can get things fixed up when
we go inside.
GATEKEEPER.--You said the name was J. Smith and wife?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, that's it, Mister.
GATEKEEPER.--I do not find such a name in my book.
JOHNNY.--But-- Gee, it must--!
GATEKEEPER.--It is not here. I'm sorry.
JOHNNY.--Oh-- (making a dismal failure of showing he doesn't care) Oh, well,
it's--Well, it doesn't matter, I guess.
GATEKEEPER.--I'm sorry--very sorry. I really am.
JOHNNY.--Oh--oh, well, that's all right-- It's not your fault. There's--
there's no cause for you to feel bad about it.
MARY.--But--but couldn't there be a mistake maybe--Y'know there's so many
Smiths. Gee--there was a couple right in our block--and--
GATEKEEPER.--There is no mistake, Mary Smith.
JOHNNY.--Gee--well, do you think maybe they might not have got around to
puttin' our names down yet? Maybe if we was to just wait around a little--
GATEKEEPER.--No, John Smith--it would be useless to wait. You see--the names
here recorded are of those who have done some great unselfish deed during
their lifetime. Some noble act in which they forgot themselves and gave all
they had to comfort or to save another. They--and they only--may pass through
JOHNNY.--Gee--gee, that's pretty fine. But--but we never done nothin' like
that, did we, Mary?
MARY.--No--no, we're just kinda--ordinary.
JOHNNY.--Yeah-- But what becomes of ordinary people--like us? Gee--isn't there
some place that--
GATEKEEPER.--Of course--there is a place for you--just beyond here. You'll be
very happy there--because it has beauty too--but a different kind of beauty.
As far as your eyes can see are golden streets.
JOHNNY (trying to cover his disappointment with false enthusiasm).--Oh, well,
that's--that's pretty fine, isn't it? --Sure--sure, that'll be great, won't
MARY.--Yes--yes, just great, Johnny.
JOHNNY.--Sure--Why, I betcha--I betcha you never expected to see nothin' like
that, did you?
MARY.--No--I should say not. That's pretty fine all right.
GATEKEEPER.--Perhaps I'm wrong--but you don't seem very happy about it.
JOHNNY.--Oh, well--well, yeah--we're happy, all right. At least--I am. Mary's
a little--a little disappointed, maybe.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--y'see she's always had streets. Nothin' but streets--with
buildin's all around. Kinda crowded an' dirty, if you know what I mean. She
always wanted a place outa town--commutin' distance, y'know--not a big house--
just a little one--but with a yard an' maybe a tree or two--a maple or maybe a
poplar. I always intended to try an' get her somethin' like that--but I--I
just couldn't seem to make it.
MARY.--It wasn't your fault, Johnny. It was the money.
JOHNNY.--Sure--sure--but it was my business to get the money, wasn't it?
Well--you can see how it is, Mister. I don't want you to think we're tryin' to
push in or anything like that--because we ain't. It's just that we saw these--
these Elysian Fields first and got the wrong idea, that's all. Y'see when you
been walkin' on streets all your life, it's kinda hard to get all excited
about more streets--even if they do happen to be made of gold.
GATEKEEPER.--I understand. And I'm sorry. But I can't alter the rules.
JOHNNY.--No--no, sure you can't. Gosh--we wouldn't ask you to do that. Gee,
no--we wouldn't want you to get in trouble over us. Why, every place has got
to have rules to keep things runnin' right. The place I worked at--M. Lapeedus
and Sons--got out a little book of rules--with M. Lapeedus' pitcher in front.
A lot of people used to ask me to do things that wasn't allowed--y'know,
personal favors--but I never did it. If I felt myself weakenin' I just looked
at Mr. Lapeedus' pitcher an' that sorta kept me from yieldin' to temptation.
Sure--I'd say to myself--"Mr. Lapeedus wouldn't make no exceptions for
nobody--that's why he's the big shot that he is." I worked for him for goin'
on twelve years an' I never broke a rule.
MARY.--Yes, you did, Johnny. You broke a rule the time that--
JOHNNY.--Oh, yeah--yeah, I did. That was the day the baby was born. Y'see
there was a rule that no employee was supposed to leave the building before
five-thirty without gettin' permission from the head of the department. Well--
they called me from the hospital about five--an' told me that everything was
all right an' it was a boy. Well. Gee--I was so excited I felt like dancin' a
jig or somethin'. You can understand maybe how a guy would feel in a spot like
that. I waited until five-twenty--an' then I couldn't stand it any longer. I
just got my hat an' left without sayin' a word to Mr. Corcoran, who was my
boss. Gosh, I guess I was out of my head or somethin'--leavin' ten minutes
early with Mr. Lapeedus payin' me for a full day's work.
MARY.--Mr. Lapeedus was nice about it, though, Johnny.
JOHNNY.--Sure--he's a swell guy--an' just like he always says at all the
employees' banquets--a sort of father to all the people that work for him. Mr.
Corcoran sent him up a full report of what I did an' why--an' you know what he
did? Well--any guy who wasn't as big an' understandin' as Mr. Lapeedus would
have fired me--but he sent down word that I was only to be docked half a day's
pay for walkin' out that way ten minutes ahead of time. Gee--he's a swell
guy--I wish you could meet him, Mister.
GATEKEEPER (with quiet meaning).--Yes ... Yes--I'm looking forward to meeting
Mr. Lapeedus--if he ever comes this way.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--you'll like him. I betcha he'll get in those Elysian Fields
without no trouble at all. I betcha they'll reserve a whole page for his name
in that book of yours. Yes, sir--he's a big shot. I--I guess you kinda had a
quiet laugh all to yourself when you thought of two people like us tryin' to
get into a grand place that's sort of reserved for big guys like Mr. Lapeedus.
GATEKEEPER.--I didn't laugh, Mr. Smith.
JOHNNY.--Well, I--I guess we'd better be movin' along an' not take up no more
of your time. Gee--I guess I been talkin' your arm off an' keepin' you from
doin' somethin' important.
GATEKEEPER.--No. I was just about to leave when you came along.
JOHNNY.--Oh--you're closin' up for the day?
GATEKEEPER.--Yes. There'll be no more wanderers on this road until tomorrow--I
hope. Well--good night, my friends.
MARY.--Good night, Mister.
GATEKEEPER (away).--The place you seek is just beyond.
MARY (second's pause).--Gee-- Gee, it's quiet--isn't it, Johnny?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--so quiet it kinda hurts your ears. Well--I--I guess we better
get along to the place he told us to go.
MARY.--Yeah--yeah, I guess we better. Only--
JOHNNY.--Only what, Mary?
MARY.--Nothing--only-well--I don't suppose we'll ever be back at this place
JOHNNY.--No--no, I guess we won't. Why?
MARY.--Well--do you think we could just look through the gate before we go?
Not open it, y'understand--just look through. It'd be somethin' to remember--
somethin' to kinda think about--I don't know just how t'tell you what I mean--
but somethin' kinda like those flowers we brought back to the apartment.
Somethin' that would kinda remind us that there are swell things--beautiful
things--even if we can't ever have 'em.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, I know what you mean. Gee, no--I don't think nobody'd
care. That couldn't do no harm--just lookin' through the bars. I don't see how
they'd have any rule against that. Sure--you go ahead an' look.
MARY.--Well--ain't you comin' with me?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, sure--I'll come along if you want me to. (Second's pause)
MARY (breathlessly).--Gee--gee--it's so pretty it sort of takes your breath
JOHNNY.--Yeah, it's--it's all right.
MARY.--It makes you feel-- Oh, come on, Johnny--let's go on to where we
JOHNNY.--You don't want to look at it no more?
MARY.--No! No--I'm all through lookin'--
JOHNNY.--But--aw, gee--aw, gee, Mary--don't do that!
MARY.--I'm all right--I'm all right, I tell you!
JOHNNY.--Please, Mary--please don't cry--there ain't nothin' that's worth you
MARY.--But I'm not cryin', Johnny. Honest I ain't. Besides--even if I was, it
wouldn't mean anything. Don't I always cry when I'm happy? Sure I do. All
women do that, I guess. Gee--a woman cryin' don't mean nothin'. Just nothin'
at all. I'm just kinda--kinda tired. That's all it is.
JOHNNY (the disappointments of years overtaking him).--Tired. Yeah--I'm tired,
too. Awful tired. Tired of bein' just ordinary--common--tired of bein' made to
feel we don't belong--that we don't amount to nothin'--that we're just wash-
MARY.--Johnny--Johnny--you mustn't feel like that--
JOHNNY.--But it's the truth, ain't it? Why go on kiddin' myself? All my life
I've pretended I didn't care--an' I made up stories about how this one an'
that one thought I was the works--but they didn't--they didn't even know I was
MARY.--Johnny--you mustn't say things like that--they ain't true!
JOHNNY.--Sure it's true! They didn't even know I was alive--an' now--now they
don't even know I'm dead ... I'm still nobody ... an' you're a nobody too just
because you married me! That ain't right. There ain't no reason for them to
put you in my class just because you're my wife! There ain't no sense in them
makin' you cry--I tell you it ain't right!
MARY.--But I'm not cryin', Johnny--I told you-- Gee--
JOHNNY.--We didn't ask to come here, did we? He said we died this afternoon. I
thought when you died you died--but, no--it's just like it's always been! Even
here they got a gate to keep people like us out!
MARY.--But, Johnny--don't you see--the man said this place was sort of
special--for people that have done somethin' swell--somethin' big an'
JOHNNY.--But we never had a chance to do nothin' like that--
MARY.--No--I know we didn't, Johnny. But it doesn't matter--we don't have to
go in there. Why, we can be terribly happy any place as long as we're
together. Sure we can. (Trying to turn his attention) Why, don't you remember
how happy we were last night when we were gettin' ready for the trip? Gee--
don't you remember how excited we were?
MARY (Still trying).--An' this mornin'--gee--little Tommy was up before
daylight, he was so afraid we'd miss the boat! Y'know he's goin' to look just
like you, Johnny, when he grows up. I couldn't help noticin' when he went down
the steps this mornin'--he's got the same way of walkin' an' the same way of
holdin' his head.
JOHNNY (yielding a little).--Do you--do you think so?
MARY.--Sure. An' he talks like you, too. He's got the habit of kinda smilin'
at the same time.
JOHNNY.--Yeah?... (With loyalty to her) But he's got your eyes. Say--he sure
was excited about goin' on the boat, wasn't he?
MARY.--He didn't talk about nothin' else for days!
JOHNNY.--Yeah--remember how his eyes stuck out when I came home and told him
how I'd got Honorable Mention in the limerick contest an' they was givin' us a
boat trip clear to Boston?
MARY.--Gee--d'you think I could ever forget it? You know what he done? He
showed your name in the magazine to all the kids in the neighborhood!
JOHNNY (pleased but trying not to show it).--Did he do that? Gee--I guess if
he saves it he can prove to everybody that his old man wasn't a dumbbell,
MARY--Sure--I guess it ain't everybody that gets his name in a magazine that
goes all over the country like that one. It was in great big type, too.
JOHNNY.--J. Smith--Honorable Mention. That's nearly as good as bein' on one of
them rolls of honor, ain't it? J. Smith--Honorable Mention!
MARY.--That's right. Gee--that'll be somethin' for him to show people all
right. An' I betcha he'll tell 'em how brave you were when the boat caught on
JOHNNY.--When the boat?--Gee--ain't that funny? I'd almost forgot all about
that--it seems so long ago.
MARY.--It was just last night--don't you remember? We was all asleep in the
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah--an' the smoke woke me up!
MARY.--Sure--an' you opened the door an' there was fire everywhere.
JOHNNY.--Yeah--that's right--somebody was yellin' that the boat was sinkin'--
an' to get in the lifeboats!
MARY.--But we couldn't find any--they'd all gone away an' left us!
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah--I remember Tommy cryin'--he was so scared!
MARY.--Then the fire came all around us--you couldn't breathe--
JOHNNY.--An' we jumped!
MARY.--Yeah--you had Tommy in your arms--
JOHNNY.--And the water--it was terrible cold--
MARY.--Like ice! It made you numb all over!
JOHNNY.--But we started to swim for the lights on the shore--
MARY.--They were a terrible long way off--
JOHNNY.--Yeah--too far, I guess. I used to be a good swimmer--but I got kinda
MARY.--You was holdin' us both up, Johnny--me an' Tommy. Gee--I don't see how
you even got as far as that life preserver--
JOHNNY.--Gosh--gosh, I was glad to see that floatin' on the water. If it'd
only been a boat or somethin' we could have all held onto it till somebody
came along an' picked us up--
MARY.--Sure--but even I could see that one life preserver couldn't hold up all
three of us--they're only made for one. Gee--didn't we have a time gettin'
Tommy into it an' fixin' it so's it wouldn't come off--!
JOHNNY.--Yeah. He didn't want us to leave him, did he?
MARY.--No--but he promised he wouldn't cry when I asked him not to an' told
him we were both goin' for help. An' he kissed me goodbye, Johnny (her voice
breaking). He kissed me right here on the forehead because the life preserver
kept me from gettin' close to him.
JOHNNY (haltingly).--Gee-- Gee--I didn't mind dyin', did you?
Music.--Start harp very dimly in the distance.
JOHNNY.--I wasn't afraid--because I knew he'd be all right.
JOHNNY.--Nobody minds dyin'--for somebody they love.
MARY.--Sure they don't-- Besides--we aren't dead, Johnny--because Tommy's
still livin'--and he's us--you an' me together--
JOHNNY.--Sure--only he's better'n us--he'll grow up to be as big as the love
you an' me have for each other--because he was born from that love--
MARY.--Yeah--we were just ordinary--but he'll be the kind that'll do some
wonderful thing like that gateman said--somethin' you an' me never had a
chance to do--somethin' unselfish an' fine. Why--maybe that's why you an' me
died so he can do that, Johnny--
JOHNNY.--Sure--maybe we did.
Music.--Harp grows louder.
THE VOICE.--Oh, my children--come unto me--
MARY.--Listen--did you hear someone speak, Johnny--?
JOHNNY.--No--no, I didn't hear anything--
THE VOICE.--Those who dwell here with me have given much for my sake--but thou
hast given more than any of these--for thou hast given all of little.
MARY.--Don't you hear it, Johnny? It's a voice I've heard somewhere before--
THE VOICE.--Do ye not know that I smile on the foolish things of the world
that I might put to shame them that are wise; do ye not know I choose the weak
things of the world that I might put to shame the things that are strong?
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, I hear it, Mary. Only--only it isn't a voice--it's more
THE VOICE.--See--"I will go before thee, and make the rough places smooth; I
will break in pieces the doors of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron--"
MARY (in awe).--Johnny--Johnny-look. The gate's standin' open--wide open,
MARY.--I didn't touch it, Johnny--honest I didn't. I hope nobody'll think--
THE VOICE.--The gates never will be closed against such as ye. Come unto me--
and I shall wipe away every tear from thine eyes, and death shall be no more;
neither shall there be mourning nor crying, nor pain any more. Can ye not hear
MARY.--Johnny--the voice--it's speakin' to us--didn't you hear? It's askin' us
to come on--to come in the gate--
JOHNNY.--Yeah--yeah, I heard--but--but we don't belong there. That's not our
MARY.--Maybe not--maybe we ain't never been nothin'-- Maybe we ain't never
done nothin'-- But maybe somebody wants us just the same-- Maybe--maybe--they
do, Johnny-- Let's go see--
Music.--Harp up for a few moments ... dim down and out. ...
Originally broadcast over CBS in 1934
Subsequently broadcast 26 March 1938 on The Columbia Workshop
and 27 February 1947 on Family Theater
Script by Charles Tazewell