T. N. T. - Episode 11
NOTE: A response to the revival of the labor movement in the 1930s, this Don
Lee Mutual network program was broadcast from Los Angeles and included
interviews and dramas featuring pro-business, anti-union propaganda. The
show's sponsor, The Neutral Thousands (a.k.a. TNT), was actually a front group
originated by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants' and
Manufacturers' Association "in the belief that an apparently neutral women's
organization could aid in creating a public opinion favorable to their cause,"
according to A History of the Los Angeles Labor Movement, 1911-1941
(University of California Press, 1963). Actual membership was supposedly less
than three hundred, so the group was "neither neutral nor thousands." Most of
its funding came from another business front group which got the bulk of its
money from large corporations and banks.
T. N. T. #11
Wednesday, December 15, 1937, 8:15-8:30 p. m.
Theme: Music 10 seconds (fade to station anncr).
STATION ANNCR: The women of California speak. We bring you now the eleventh of
a series of T. N. T. dramatized radio broadcasts, sponsored by The Neutral
Thousands, an organization of California women who are demanding Industrial
Peace to maintain prosperity in your community. The events of this episode
reveal the tragedies that might occur in the course of a retail strike. Any
similarity in names or characters in this episode to real persons, living or
dead, or any similarity of events with true occurrences, is purely
coincidental, and this dramatization is fictional in regard to the incidents
NARRATOR: Three men are sitting in a small room at union headquarters. One of
them, Joe O'Flaherty, is cleaning an automatic pistol. The second, Jean Mason,
is idly throwing a pair of dice on the table, and the third, Clark Eddy, is
CLARK (he has a soft, cultured voice and talks like an educated man): Yes,
we're all ready to go ahead----Jean's men got in last night after finishing up
that job in the valley----they're a bit battered but ready to take over. Yes,
I understand perfectly----no violence if possible----Certainly, if they don't
start anything, we won't. Alright, sir, I'll keep in touch with you. Goodbye.
Joe, put that gun away and forget it. Our orders are to win this strike by
JEAN (interrupting): Oh baby, three seven[s] in a row--that means we're going
to win it.
CLARK: Shut up, Jean, and be sure to give your men that message--no
JOE (rough voice, typical gangster): More sissy stuff. We ain't playing post
office. Suppose that Sunday school stunt don't get us nowhere?
CLARK: We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. At any rate, I can promise
you that this strike is going to be won at any cost. Well, we might as
well go into the hall and get things started. Are all the members of the union
JOE: Yes; some of them didn't want to come, but I persuaded them.
CLARK (sharply): That means that you have been using your gangster methods
again. I tell you, I won't have it. Try them again, without orders, and I'll
send you back north.
JOE: Aw, you wouldn't do that, Boss, why it'd mean curtains for me!
CLARK: Get out of step and you'll see. Come on, let's go in and get this over
(Fade to sound: Loud murmur of voices. Sound of gavel. Voices die away.)
CLARK: Members of the drivers' union of the Downtown Furniture Store--you are
going out on strike tomorrow.
(Sound: Loud angry murmur.)
TAYLOR (typical workman): Mr. Eddy----
CLARK: Who're you?
TAYLOR: I'm Dan Taylor, I uster be president of this union before you butted
CLARK (interrupting): Well, what is it?
TAYLOR: What's the reason for this strike? We boys haven't any kick coming.
We're being treated O. K. at the store and it is a hundred per cent union.
(Sound: Loud murmurs of agreement.)
CLARK (smoothly): I'm not asking you if you want to strike. I'm telling you
that you're going to strike.
CLARK: You voted to ally this union to our brotherhood, didn't you?
TAYLOR: If you would call that voting, but----
CLARK (interrupting): When a union becomes affiliated with us, it loses its
identity--its power to decide questions for itself. We form the policy and
you've got to follow it.
TAYLOR: But still a strike, at this time of year, when we're working full
CLARK: Our program demands that the Downtown Furniture Store be closed as our
next step is to make this a closed shop town. I'm sorry for you fellows, but
in our fight, men can have no individual rights. The cause is everything.
They're only two hundred of you, but if the strike meant throwing ten thousand
out of work, we'd go ahead all the same. The strike is called for eight
o'clock tomorrow morning. That's all.
(Sound: Angry murmurs.)
TAYLOR: I suppose that means we've got to go out picketing. Do you want----
JEAN: That ain't no job for amateurs.
CLARK (interrupting): Mr. Mason has fifty experienced men who will take care
of that part of it. If we need your help we will call on you. Meeting
(Sound: Angry murmur.)
VOICES (ad lib): The Downtown Furniture Store--sorry your goods weren't
delivered, madam--we can't promise delivery--Downtown Furniture Store--no
deliveries--Downtown Furniture Store--we're accepting no phone orders--
Downtown Furniture Store--Sorry but the strike--strike--strike--
(Fade to sound: Automobile coming to a stop.)
JEAN (anxiously): Joe, you're parked right next to a fire plug.
JOE: So what! Can you see any cop giving us a ticket, with Clark in the car?
JEAN (angrily): Look, Clark, the women are swarming in and out of that store
just like there was no strike called.
CLARK: But you'll notice they are all carrying their own parcels.
JOE: I hope they're all buying grand pianos or ice boxes.
JEAN: But they are patronizing it--that's the main thing. Listen,
Clark, don't you think it's time to change our tactics? We've tried peaceful
methods for a week and it hasn't got us anywhere. How long----
CLARK: Not much longer, Jean. See that truck that just drove up? Notice those
cans in it? They are full of acid and by the time the boys get through
throwing them on the windows, I guess they won't look so pretty. Signal them
to get started.
JOE (anxiously): Wait! Say, boss, look at that blind beggar leaning up against
that window selling pencils. Lemme get him out of the way before the fun
CLARK (grimly): Leave him alone, you fool--do you want to tip off our hand?
Signal them to go ahead, Jean.
(Sound: Screams, shouts, breaking glass.)
(Fade to sound: Telephone bell.)
JEAN: Hello. Yep, union headquarters. What is it?
JEAN (guarded voice): Say, Clark, it's some society dame. Says she's head of
some layout of coupon cutters and wants to know what they can do to (falsetto)
help the poor, down-trodden, drivers win their strike. (Natural voice) Shall I
tell her to go----
CLARK (angrily): No, you fool, give me that phone. (He turns on the charm.)
Hello, dear lady, this is Clark Eddy speaking. We can surely use your
services. Oh, no. Not picketing. There's a better way. Get a group together.
Go down to the Downtown Furniture Store--select something very expensive--a
solid gold tea set or a bronze statue--then demand that it be delivered inside
three hours. When they tell you that it is impossible because of the strike,
put on an act. Tell them that if they gave their employees decent wages
there'd be no strike. Then leave indignantly. The salesgirl will feel that the
strike's cheated her out of a big commission and will spread her discontent
among her fellow employees. Oh yes, the idea has been tried--it's worked
splendidly in other cities--you'll go this afternoon? Splendid. Thanks.
Goodbye. That's utilizing waste products, Jean.
JEAN: Suppose they offer to make delivery?
CLARK: She can say her husband didn't like it and return it, can't she? Or be
stuck with it. What do we----
(Sound: Knock at door.)
CLARK (annoyed): Come in. Well, what do you want, Taylor?
TAYLOR: Listen, Mr. Eddy, the strike's been going on now for three weeks, and
I'm flat broke. Why, the kids went to bed hungry last night for the first time
in their lives. I can't stand it no longer. I saw Mr. Quaker at the store just
now and he promised to give me back my job in the morning, and I'm going to
take it. Union or no union.
JOE (savagely): Oh, you are, are you? Maybe this----
CLARK (interrupting): Joe, put that gun back! Alright, Taylor, if that's the
way you feel, we can't stop you. Good morning.
TAYLOR: I'm sorry you're sore, Mr. Eddy, but----
CLARK: Never mind the apologies. I'm busy. There's the door.
(Sound: Slamming door.)
JOE (surprised): You're going to let that fink get away with it and have the
rest of those rats follow him?
CLARK: What do you think? Jean, you know where Taylor lives?
JEAN: Sure, over by the park.
CLARK: Well, this evening you and Joe----
(Very slow fade.)
JOE (guarded voice): Say, Jean, don't this remind you of the time when we were
running booze for Legs Pearl back in old New York and we got word to rub out
the Phoenix gang?
JEAN (guarded voice): Or the time we worked that snatch-up in Westchester. It
sure does. Those were the days! Still, this labor racket ain't to be sneezed
at. Look that's him coming now. Get going!
(Sound: Motor starting.)
GIRL'S VOICE: Oh daddy, did you bring anything to eat? I'm hungry.
TAYLOR: No, but I'm going back to work in the morning--then you will all----
(Sound: Burst of machine gun bullets.)
GIRL'S VOICE: Oh Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Oh!
CLARK: And if any of you other gentlemen think that you'd like to go back to
your jobs, just remember what happened to Taylor. The strike is going to be
won, regardless of your personal feelings. That's all. Get out--I'm busy.
(Sound: Door closing.)
CLARK: Well, Jean, what've you to report?
JEAN (disconsolately): Nothing good. One of the boys in the accounting
department of the Downtown Furniture Company just slipped me the news that
they are actually running ahead of last year, and now that they have brought
in that bunch of scabs, their delivery service is about back to normal. It
looks like we're licked.
JOE: I told you----
CLARK: Cheer up boys, we haven't really begun to fight yet. It's the
deliveries that are beating us. To make deliveries they have to have trucks.
Suppose something happened to those trucks----
JEAN (awed): You mean----
CLARK: Their trucks are stored at night in their garage. Now, if that burned
JOE: Haven't they got the scabs sleeping on the third floor? I don't mind
bumping off a guy in the way of business, or even to oblige a friend--but,
when it comes to croaking seventy-five----
JEAN: No, they're at a hotel three blocks away. Worse luck----
CLARK: And if they weren't you'd do as you're told like the rest of us. Jean,
tonight about eight get three trucks and load them with gasoline and get all
of your boys together and we'll . . .
(Slow fade to sound: Auto coming to stop.)
JEAN (guarded voice): There, that's the garage--that big three-storied
CLARK (guarded voice): Your men ready to move in?
JEAN (guarded voice): Yep, see those three trucks down the block, the boys and
the gasoline's in them.
CLARK (guarded voice): Alright. Have ten of them throw the gas against the
woodwork; smash in windows where you can. Let five rush each doorway and
saturate the cars. Go ahead. No, wait. Which way do the fire engines come?
JEAN (guarded voice): Down that side street over there.
CLARK (guarded voice): Alright, blockade it with a truck, then dump it over so
that they can't get through. I guess that's all. Get busy!
(Sound: Crash of glass. Shouts. Cries of "Fire." Shots. Fire engine bells.
JEAN (Excitedly): There she is, Clark, look at those flames shoot up! An'
listen to that gasoline exploding! Sounds like the Fourth of July.
CLARK: Forget it! How about the delivery trucks? They're the important things.
JEAN: Every one's gone up in smoke.
JOE (panting): Better pull out, chief, the cops are coming.
(Sound: Siren. Shots.)
CLARK: Yes, I better get back to headquarters. Stick around, Jean, and see
what happens. Alright, Joe, step on it.
(Sound: Auto starting.)
CLARK: Well, Jean, what's the good word?
JEAN (triumphantly): Good word's right. Every truck out of commission for
good. The Downtown Furniture Store won't make any deliveries until they buy a
new fleet and get them shipped from the East. I suppose now we order out the
drivers on the Parkers Store and Snows? How about it?
CLARK: I'll find out. You know I can't move without orders--give me the phone.
Hello, central. I want long distance. Long Distance? Please connect me with
Seattle. I want to speak to Mr. Dan Boone at Union Headquarters.
(3 seconds pause.)
MRS. OCHS: The sketch which you have just heard is an example of what is
happening all over our beloved nation. Strikes and deeds of violence. Instead
of being the one haven in a storm-tossed, war-wracked world, labor and
industry have chosen this holiday season to engage in battle. Our streets are
full of pickets bearing banners, in hands that should be filled with bundles.
In thousands of striker's homes, wives who should be purchasing gifts are
wondering where the money for food is coming from. Children to whom the
holidays are dedicated, are facing privation instead of joy. Factory chimneys
have forgotten how to smoke, the wheels of industry turn only creakingly. Is
this right? Is this necessary? Must it go on year after hate-filled year? Is
there no solution? Yes, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.
Are not the union organizer and the manufacturer fellow Americans? The striker
and the strike-breaker worship the same God--the God whose command was "Peace
on Earth, Good Will to Men." The same star-sprinkled flag is draped on the
wall of the manufacturers association and the union hall. We all believe in so
many of the same things that it seems almost criminal that our differences can
cut so deeply. This is the time of year for giving and forgiving, for turning
a new leaf and forgetting old wrongs. So, cannot we meet, not as union members
and employers, strikers and scabs, but only as men and women, each seeking
unselfishly to achieve justice, peace, harmony? Nineteen hundred and thirty-
seven years ago, three men saw a star in the sky. Because they were wise
beyond their generation, they followed that star and it led them to Him who
was, above all, the emblem of peace. If we are wise, we too will follow a star
along the path that will lead to industrial peace. Let us remember that there
never was a good war, nor a bad peace, that no strike was ever settled on the
picket line; that every dispute has eventually been settled around the
conference table. Women of California, we, your sisters of The Neutral
Thousands need your help. Join us in our crusade to outlaw the strike and the
lockout; to bring Industrial Peace to our suffering state. Help us to make a
world in which all men and women of good-will can truly find peace. In which
the holiday spirit lasts throughout the entire year. Membership in T. N. T.
carries no dues and no assessments. For added information call TRinity 2531
N O W. TRinity 2531. Lines are now open. Call TRinity 2531.
This is Bessie Abbott Ochs speaking for The Neutral Thousands.
Theme: (6 seconds).
ANNCR: Offices of The Neutral Thousands are open every Wednesday evening
following this broadcast. You can telephone TRinity 2531 N O W.
The opinions and suggestions expressed by the programs you have heard,
represent the opinions and suggestions of The Neutral Thousands and not
necessarily those of this station. This station assumes no responsibility for
the correctness or accuracy of the statements and opinions expressed.
This is the MUTUAL DON LEE BROADCASTING SYSTEM.