Jan 05 1931
BERT, the businessman
JACKSON, the porter
BABY, who cries and gurgles
VOCAL TRIO, who sing
ANNOUNCER: [The Great] Northern Railway presents "Empire Builders!"
MUSIC: THEME ... CROSSFADES WITH:
SOUND: TRAIN RUMBLES DOWN TRACK ... WHISTLE, BELLS, ET CETERA
MUSIC: FOR A SOOTHING, LYRICAL, REASSURING INTRO, THEN IN BG
ANNOUNCER: Tonight's Empire Builders playlet comes to you as a reminder that
with all the talk about "depression" there still are people and organizations
who are too busy working for good times to wail about hard times. The
territory served by the Great Northern Railway is busy creating prosperity.
And the Great Northern Railway itself is lending a hand in this constructive
The Great Northern Railway has made available to producers and shippers
throughout this great northwest empire a transportation service that
represents the acme in dependability and efficiency. Among the services
provided for shippers by the Great Northern are: fast through freights on the
long hauls between terminals; speedy package car service between important
shipping points; swift, long distance refrigerator train service for food
products; specialized equipment to serve such industries as the iron mines of
northern Minnesota; the copper mines of Montana, and the lumber interests of
Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Great Northern freight representatives as well
as travel bureaus are located in many of the cities from which this program is
broadcast. These expert traffic men would be glad to serve you.
MUSIC: UP, FOR A TRANSITION ... CROSSFADES WITH
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS (RUMBLE, OCCASIONAL BELLS AND WHISTLES) IN BG
OLD TIMER: Well! (HEARTY LAUGH) Well, dog my cats! If it ain't Bert Pond.
BERT: Hello, Old Timer.
OLD TIMER: Say, it's mighty good to be seeing you again, Bert. Quite a spell
since the last time we run into each other.
BERT: Mm, quite a spell. That was on the Empire Builder, too.
OLD TIMER: Yes, sir, it was.
BERT: Well, I - I can't say you've changed much, Old Timer.
OLD TIMER: No?
BERT: You're lookin' just about the same as ever.
OLD TIMER: (AMUSED) That so, Bert?
BERT: Yeah. Just about the same. I wouldn't say offhand that you look a bit
older'n you did then.
OLD TIMER: Well! Thanks, Bert.
BERT: Yeah, you sure do keep spry. It beats me how you do it.
OLD TIMER: Well, maybe it's because I don't do an awful lot of worryin'
anymore, Bert. You know, uh, I used to be a pretty good hand at worryin'.
Especially over things that it wasn't no good to worry about.
BERT: Yeah? Well, you never had any more worries than I had, Old Timer.
OLD TIMER: You _have_ been a powerful worrier, Pond. But me, I-- Well, I'm
slippin'. I can't do near as good a job of worryin' as I used to.
BERT: Well, you don't think it's 'cause you're, uh, pickin' up in years, do
ya, Old Timer?
OLD TIMER: No. No. Oh, no, it's not that. I just found out how darn foolish it
was. Right when I used to be gettin' in my heaviest worryin' lick, why, all of
a sudden, I find out that what I was worryin' about had up and gotten
BERT: You don't say.
OLD TIMER: Yes, sir. That's the way it always turns out.
BERT: Well, I don't know. Now, if you had _my_ worries--
OLD TIMER: Now, just how are things goin' anyway?
OLD TIMER: What?
BERT: Rotten. I'm tellin' ya, Old Timer, I ain't never saw times worse.
OLD TIMER: Now, now, now, now, now, Bert. You know better'n that. Why,
remember back in ninety-three when you had to sell your buggy to buy feed for
BERT: Yes, I - I do sorta remember somethin' like that.
OLD TIMER: Yeah. And then you had to borrow my rig so ya could go a-courtin'
Ella Semple. (CHUCKLES)
BERT: (MURMURS AGREEMENT)
OLD TIMER: You know, it always seemed odd to me that you two didn't get
hitched up along about then.
BERT: Yeah, well, I - I reckon we would have, only, uh-- Well, that year,
times was so hard.
OLD TIMER: Well, times weren't too hard for Ella. Warn't it in ninety-four she
up and married Joe Pike over in Bonners Ferry?
BERT: Yeah, 'twas June o' ninety-four. Y'see, uh-- I'd been waitin' fer times
to, well, pick up a little more.
OLD TIMER: I see. But Joe Pike warn't much set on waitin', was he? And he
warn't any better fixed than you were, Bert.
BERT: Not as well-fixed, I reckon. I had to live with his folks fer a while,
times were so hard. But if I'd known the poor times wasn't gonna last no
longer'n they did, well--
OLD TIMER: Say! Poor times never last as long as most folks figure they will,
Bert. They come around every so often but, before you know it, they're gone
BERT: Well, they're worse right now than they been since ninety-three anyway,
OLD TIMER: Great catfish and catamounts, Bert, you sure are forgetful. Say,
how 'bout that spell in nineteen hundred and seven, when you were stayin' up
nights figurin' how you was goin' to keep the sheriff away from that little
mill you had then?
BERT: Yeah, maybe you're right. I - I _was_ mighty worried then.
OLD TIMER: Yes. You was worried some in nineteen twenty, weren't ya, Bert?
Right after the government canceled those war contracts ya had.
BERT: I sure was.
OLD TIMER: And then, then you had the best years you ever had. Say, I guess
your mill's one of the biggest in the state now, ain't it, Bert?
BERT: Well, I - I should hope to tell ya. But I - I ain't takin' any chances
o' gettin' caught in _this_ here slump. The fact is, I'm on my way up there
right now. And when I get there, say--
OLD TIMER: Yes? And what's gonna happen when ya get there?
BERT: I'll tell ya what's gonna happen. First off, I'm goin' t' fire that darn
moonin' nephew o' mine faster'n catfish.
OLD TIMER: You are? Why, he's your superintendent, isn't he?
BERT: Well, he won't be after I get there.
OLD TIMER: Why, I always thought you was right fond o' your nephew. What's
BERT: Plenty. But the main thing-- Well, you see, about a week ago, I wired
him to cut the payroll in half.
OLD TIMER: Oh, scatter my chipmonks, Bert! You didn't do a thing like that,
BERT: Yep. I sure did.
OLD TIMER: Say. I'll bet he didn't do it.
BERT: What--? Wha--? What in thunderation makes ya think that?
OLD TIMER: Well, sort of intuition, I guess, Bert. You know, that nephew of
yours always impressed me as bein' pretty cool-headed.
BERT: (SCOFFS) Cool-headed as a horseradish! Here, you wait a second now. I'll
show you somethin'. Here. Here 'tis. You read this.
SOUND: RATTLE OF PAPER
OLD TIMER: Telegram, eh? Well, what's it about?
BERT: It's the wire he sent me when I ordered him to chop the payroll. Read
it. It's only two words long.
OLD TIMER: All right, Bert, thanks. Well, it says-- (LAUGHS) Say, it says, "Go
OLD TIMER: Only two words. Reckon he didn't need to finish it, did he?
BERT: No, but I'll finish him!
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) Now, now, now, Bert. Don't go to kickin' over the traces.
Say, how did your business last year compare with the business this year or
the year before?
BERT: Well, business the year before? Let's see. Less, way less. Eight per
OLD TIMER: Eight per cent! Well, well, well. And you want to cut the payroll
OLD TIMER: Say, Bert Pond, I'm plumb ashamed of you. Here, right when things
are due for an upturn.
BERT: Well, I'm goin' to play safe. That's what I'm gonna do. Why, uh, what
makes you think things are due for an upturn?
OLD TIMER: Why, Bert, they've begun to pick up already. Every sign is pointin'
better times ahead.
BERT: Huh! I got to see 'em first. No, sir, I'm not takin' chances. I'm gonna
whack that payroll down the minute I hit Milltown. Or the minute after.
Anyway, just as soon as I can bounce my nephew, and that, er, that _girl_ o'
his, out of the yard.
OLD TIMER: Girl, did you say, Bert?
BERT: Yes, he's been shinin' around a girl. She's been puttin' all these
hifalutin notions in his head.
OLD TIMER: Yes?
BERT: Yeah. Y'see, she's, uh-- She's one o' these here "social workers"!
OLD TIMER: Social worker, eh? Say, that sounds fine.
BERT: Not to me it don't. I don't aim to have no woman snoopin' around my
mill. Well, no Laura Gray's gonna run the mill anyway.
OLD TIMER: Say--! What name did you say?
BERT: Laura Gray's the name.
OLD TIMER: Laura Gray, eh? Say, uh, you'll have to excuse me a bit, Bert.
BERT: Hey, you're - you're not runnin' away, are ya?
OLD TIMER: (MOVING OFF) Oh, no, I'll be back.
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS UP, TO FILL A PAUSE
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS, TO HIMSELF) Now, if that ain't too good. With Miss Gray
right here on the Empire Builder. (LAUGHS)
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS CROSSFADE WITH:
MUSIC: FOR A TRANSITION, THEN OUT
BERT: Hey, porter! Here, porter!
JACKSON: (APPROACHES) Yes, sir, comin' up, sir.
BERT: What town's this?
JACKSON: Libby, sir. Yes, sir, this is Libby.
BERT: Eh, do we stop here long?
JACKSON: No, sir, only a minute or so. We'll be leavin' right away. Uh, beg
pardon, mister, I promised to get a pillow for a lady.
BERT: All right, porter, go along with your pillows.
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS AS MOTHER CLIMBS ON TO TRAIN
MOTHER: (DISTRAUGHT) I - I-- Mister? Can I - can I leave my baby here a
BERT: What? A baby? I--
MOTHER: (UNCONVINCING) Well, I've got to run back a moment. (GENUINE) Please.
BERT: Well, I - I s'pose--
MOTHER: (RELIEVED) Oh, oh, thank you. (QUIETLY BUT WITH GREAT EMOTION, TO THE
CHILD) Baby, baby mine, mother's got to leave you. I love you - baby. (SOBS)
Goodbye. (MOVING OFF, VOICE BREAKS) Goodbye.
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS AS MOTHER EXITS TRAIN
BERT: (GRUNTS IN SURPRISE AS SHE GOES) Well, I-- (UNCOMFORTABLE CHUCKLE)
LADY: Well, my my! What a sweet baby. Your grandchild?
BERT: (EMBARRASSED) No, 't ain't. Girl left it here.
LADY: Oh. Well, and what big blue eyes it has.
LADY: All in pink, too. Must be a girl. Is it?
BERT: (ANNOYED) How should I know? Girl left it here.
BABY: (MOANS A LITTLE)
BERT: (REACTS TO THE MOAN) Greeeeeat gosh-all-crabapples! What's that?
LADY: What's that?
BERT: Doggone it, that girl ought to be gettin' back here.
SOUND: BELLS, WHISTLES, IN BG
LADY: [Don't fidget so.?] It isn't good for babies. I've had nine myself and I
know. Now, _you_--
BERT: I tell ya, it ain't my baby! Some dratted girl left it--
SOUND: TRAIN STARTS DOWN THE TRACK ... SLOWLY PICKS UP SPEED AND RUMBLES ALONG
TRACK IN BG
BERT: Huh? What's that? Why, the train's startin'! Hey! Porter! Conductor!
Somebody! You're pullin' out and leavin' this kid's mother!
LADY: Well, I can't imagine any mother leaving her baby with a person like
you. I'm going right back to my seat.
BERT: Now, wait a minute! Listen here! (BUT THE LADY EXITS) Doggone it!
BABY: (STARTS TO CRY)
BERT: (TO HIMSELF) Aw, now--! Gosh-all-crabapples, she's startin' to cry, too.
Now what am I gonna do? Awwwwwwww, drat it!
BABY: (CRIES LOUDER ... THEN FADES FOR ...)
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS CROSSFADE WITH:
MUSIC: A LULLABY ... "GO TO SLEEP, MY BABY" ... FOR WRY A TRANSITION, THEN OUT
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS IN BG
LAURA: Back again, Old timer?
OLD TIMER: Yes.
OLD TIMER: And I reckon I've got some good-- Ah, well, I've got some news for
you, Miss Gray.
LAURA: Oh, don't be so formal, Old Timer. Call me Laura. And what's this news
you have for me?
OLD TIMER: Well, you know, after I left you here in the observation lounge,
then I ran into an old friend of mine. Bert Pond.
LAURA: Jim's uncle?
OLD TIMER: Yep. Jim's uncle.
OLD TIMER: Say, he's goin' to Milltown, too. Seems he's got one of his
"cautious streaks" on. Plannin' to do a lot o' whackin' and slashin' on the
payroll and such.
LAURA: I know. I saw the telegram he sent Jim.
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) I reckoned maybe you had. But, uh, did you happen to see
the answer Jim sent back?
LAURA: (LAUGHS) Yes. You know, Old Timer, it may sound awful but I guess
_I'm_ responsible for it.
OLD TIMER: Well, well, well. Well, I can't say there was any language wasted.
OLD TIMER: Say, and Jim's uncle all burned up over it.
LAURA: Oh, but - but it was so absurd, the thing he wanted Jim to do. Now,
imagine cutting the payroll in half when business is only seven per cent under
a year ago.
OLD TIMER: Eight per cent, Laura. Bert said eight per cent.
LAURA: Hm, that shows how close he keeps track of things. It _was_ eight per
cent -- but December sales cut it to seven.
OLD TIMER: Mm, well, you seem to keep a pretty close check on things, Laura.
LAURA: Well, I've seen the statements and the order sheets. And I've seen the
inventory of reserve stock and it's down to almost nothing. And advance orders
are already picking up. Oh, I tell you, Old Timer, there isn't justification
for _any_ cut in payroll.
OLD TIMER: Well, I've been trying to tell Bert that, Laura, but I dunno.
Y'know, sometimes I think Bert can't see any further than the end of his nose.
And he's stubborn as the [Ijj?].
LAURA: Oh, I know. But Jim won't cut the payroll. I told Jim if he carried out
those orders of his uncle's, well, that - that I wouldn't marry him. There!
OLD TIMER: Well, now, now. That sort of leaves Jim betwixt, between and
betwither, doesn't it, Laura?
LAURA: Well, how do you mean?
OLD TIMER: Well, if Jim don't make the cut, I reckon Bert'll fire him. Then if
you marry Jim, he won't have no job to keep up a home on.
LAURA: It isn't his job I'm worrying about, Old Timer. It's-- Oh, it's the
jobs of those other workers at the mill. You know, men with families and
children? And maybe nothing put aside. It's the children and mothers who'll
suffer most if - if this goes--
JACKSON: (CALLS, FROM OFF) Mister Old Timer?
LAURA: Oh, someone's calling you, Old Timer.
JACKSON: (OFF) Mister Old Timer?
OLD TIMER: Hello?! Why, here I am, Jackson.
JACKSON: (CLOSER) Doggone, Mister Old Timer, I been lookin' all up and down
the Empire Builder for you.
OLD TIMER: You have? Well, what about, Jackson?
JACKSON: 'Bout that baby. It needs you.
OLD TIMER: Baby? B--? Well, what baby, Jackson?
JACKSON: Mr. Pond's baby.
OLD TIMER: Bert Pond's baby? Well, scatter my chipmonks, Jackson. Say, what on
earth are you talkin' about?
JACKSON: Mr. Pond's done got a baby, Mister Old Timer.
OLD TIMER: He's what?
JACKSON: Is about a twelve pound baby gal. And cute? Doggone.
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) Good heavens, Jackson. This sounds scandalous.
JACKSON: Worse than that. It's calamarous.
OLD TIMER: It's what?
JACKSON: It's clamigeous.
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) Well, I'm afraid I don't quite understand.
JACKSON: Mr. Pond, ever since he had the baby, he's been wantin' this and
wantin' that and wantin' t'other thing. He don't know what it is he is
OLD TIMER: Well?
JACKSON: S'pose I don't mind but I wish he was more [calm and friendly?]-like.
OLD TIMER: Well, is there anything particular that he's wantin' now, Jackson?
JACKSON: Yes, sir. You.
OLD TIMER: Me?
JACKSON: He's wantin' you, Mister Old Timer.
OLD TIMER: Well, I'll have to run up and see what all this excitement is
about. Say, uh, will you excuse me, Laura?
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS CROSSFADE WITH:
MUSIC: "GO TO SLEEP, MY BABY" AGAIN ... FOR A TRANSITION, THEN OUT
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS IN BG
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS HARD) Bert Pond! If this ain't a sight for sore eyes!
(GENUINE) Say, that's a mighty pretty baby you've got there holdin' on to that
nose o' yours. Is it a boy or girl?
BERT: (VERY NASAL, PINCHED NOSE) Good gosh-all-crabapples, how should I know?!
Fifty people have asked me that already!
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) Now, now, now, Bert, calm down a bit.
BERT: Here I was, sittin' all alone, and a woman has to come and leave this
baby with me.
OLD TIMER: So, you've been takin' care of the baby for her?
BABY: (COOS HAPPILY, IN BG)
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) Now, I sorta gathered from Jackson that the baby was
frettin'. And now here I find her cooin' and smilin' as fine as you please.
BERT: Yeah? Well, that's 'cause she got a hold o' my nose. She likes to hold
on to it. If I don't let her hold on to my nose, she whimpers.
OLD TIMER: (CAN'T UNDERSTAND BERT'S WEIRD NASAL PRONUNCIATION) What?
BERT: (ANNOYED) Whimpers! Whimpers!
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS)
BERT: She whimpers until I let her hold my nose again.
OLD TIMER: Oh, whimpers.
BERT: Yes, and everybody's laughin' at me, too.
OLD TIMER: (CHUCKLES, GENTLY) No, no. Not laughin', Bert. Just smilin'. You
know, you know, it always makes people feel kind of good to see a baby makin'
over an old fellow like you or me.
BERT: Well, it ain't _me_ she likes. It's my nose! Now, you look now, I'm
gonna take her hand away. Here, here. Here ya are, baby. Here. Now.
BABY: (STARTS TO WHIMPER, IN BG)
BERT: (NO LONGER NASAL) See how much better I can talk now?
OLD TIMER: Er, yes. Yes, but the baby don't seem so pleased. Yeah, looks like
she's cloudin' up to cry.
BERT: Now, now, now, now, now, baby. See, Old Timer, what'd I tell ya?
OLD TIMER: Now, here, wait. Wait a minute. Have you tried lettin' her hold
BERT: No. But maybe she _would_ do that. Now, let's see. Here, here baby,
here, here, here. There ya are. There ya are. Pretty watch. (LAUGHS) Watch go
"tick-tick," huh? (LAUGHS)
BABY: (STOPS WHIMPERING, STARTS TRYING TO SAY "WATCH.")
OLD TIMER: (CHUCKLES) Now, y'see? She's stopped frettin' already.
BERT: Sure she's stopped frettin'. That's a mighty fine watch. That's the
watch the club give me.
OLD TIMER: It looks like a dandy watch to me. Looks like a railroader's watch.
BERT: Yeah, keeps perfect time just like a railroader's watch, too, and
everything. Yeah, ya see them things there on the fob? Y'know, they're -
they're gold nuggets from Alaskay.
OLD TIMER: Say, it sure is a purty watch. But, hey! Hey! Look out!
SOUND: CRASH OF WATCH ON FLOOR
BERT: Ohhh, dratted gosh! She threw it on the floor.
OLD TIMER: Shatter my chipmonks, that - that's just what she's done. Well,
didn't ya hear me holler?
BERT: Ah, yes, yes, I heard ya holler, after she'd gone and done it. And the
watch the club give me, too.
OLD TIMER: Well, now, here, I'll pick it up. (BENDS OVER WITH EFFORT) Maybe 't
ain't busted. (RISES) Say, er, the crystal's broke, though.
BERT: Does it, uh, does it run? (NO ANSWER) I, er, I says, is it runnin'?
OLD TIMER: Mmmm, no. No, no, Bert, I - I don't hear no "tick-tick."
BABY: (WHIMPERS, IN BG)
OLD TIMER: Ah, but the nuggets ain't hurt none, though.
BERT: Say, now, now, look here. Doggone it, the baby's startin' to fret again.
OLD TIMER: Well, I guess she didn't like it, Bert, when you laid her down on
the seat after she threw the watch on the floor. Y'know, babies are mighty
touchy sometimes. Now, you'd better pick her up again.
BERT: Yes, I guess you're right. Here. (PICKING UP BABY) Here ya go now, baby.
Here. Say! Old Timer?
OLD TIMER: Yes?
OLD TIMER: What? (CHUCKLES)
BERT: Aw, doggone me, now, why don't I look what I'm doin'?
OLD TIMER: Bert, I - I guess you don't know much about babies. Oh, but, uh, by
the way, uh, did you happen to see any package or - or letter or anything that
might have been left with the baby?
BERT: No, I don't-- (REMEMBERS) Yes, yes, yes. There _was_ a package. But I--
Oh, I give it to the porter to throw out. There wasn't nothin' in it but some
OLD TIMER: Oh! (LAUGHS) Dish towels?
OLD TIMER: (LAUGHS) I reckon, Bert, that - that that _was_ a mistake.
BERT: Heh? Say, Old Timer, now - now what are we gonna do here now?
OLD TIMER: Well, now, there's just one thing, I reckon. Say, there's a girl on
this Empire Builder, Bert, who I understand's a mighty good hand with babies.
Say, I'll go fetch her.
BERT: Ah, that's fine, good. Is it someone you know, Old Timer?
OLD TIMER: (SLOWLY MOVING OFF) Yes, and I figure you're gonna know her right
well, too. Y'see, Bert, she's Laura Gray!
BERT: Ah-- Er, what?! (AFFECTIONATE, TO THE BABY WHO'S NOW CRYING VERY LOUDLY)
Here, here, now, now, now, now, now, now. Here, here, here, here, here. Ootsy-
wootsy. Heh, heh, heh. Ootsy-wootsy. Ya darn little skeezix! (LAUGHS)
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS CROSSFADE WITH:
MUSIC: FOR A TRANSITION, THEN OUT
SOUND: TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS TWICE ... EFFECTS IN BG
BABY: (NOT FRETTIN', JUST WORDLESSLY "TALKIN'")
LAURA: Oh, the darling baby! Here. Oh, I must hold it.
BERT: Heh, well, ya - ya better be careful, Miss. You'd better be careful
where you hold it.
LAURA: Oh, uh, well, I don't mind a little thing like that. (TO THE BABY) Do I
OLD TIMER: Say, you folks, now - now give me time to interduce ya. Ahh, Mr.
Pond, Miss Gray. Uh, Miss Gray, uh, Bert Pond.
LAURA: (PLEASANT) Er, how do you do, Mr. Pond?
BERT: (CURT) How do you do?
LAURA: Well, baby and I are going to have to leave you right now ... [?]
OLD TIMER: Say, I - I reckon the maid on the Empire Builder can maybe help out
in just such an emergency as this, Laura. You see, uh--
LAURA: Why, yes. [?]
BERT: Say, now, uh, young lady, don't you keep that baby too long. Tain't
LAURA: (POINTEDLY) Nor yours, Mr. Pond.
BERT: Heh, is that so?
LAURA: (CHEERY AGAIN) I'll be right back.
BABY: (EXITS WITH LAURA)
BERT: Heh! Well, I never. So. So that's Laura Gray, is it?
OLD TIMER: Yes. That's Laura Gray.
BERT: Heh, well. (PAUSE) Well, um, do you think she'll bring the baby back?
OLD TIMER: I don't know. Anyway, what difference does it make to you?
OLD TIMER: Yeah, I figured that, Bert.
BERT: And I - I don't think much of that mother, though. Leavin' her baby here
and not comin' back.
OLD TIMER: Oh, you don't, hey?
BERT: No, I don't! Throwin' her baby on somebody else's hands to take care of.
OLD TIMER: Well, Bert, I wouldn't be too critical until I knew somethin' about
what her problems were. You know, uh, maybe she's had a - a eight per cent,
er, reduction in her income and it's reducin' overhead.
BERT: Say, now, Old Timer, what are you trying to--?!
LAURA: Well, here we are again, folks! A wink of a minute and now baby's fresh
as a rosebud. But to keep them can be very expensive.
BERT: Heh! Well - well, I was, uh, I was just thinkin'. When times get better,
I, uh, I might provide for this here baby.
LAURA: Well, I'm sure that would be too big an expense for _you_, Mr. Pond.
BERT: Oh, is that so? Well, let me tell you somethin', young lady. I own the
mill at Milltown. I'm Jim Pond's uncle, that's who. Uncle of the fellow you're
LAURA: Yes. But now I - I think maybe I'll break the engagement.
LAURA: Because I'm afraid that, well, we wouldn't agree, you and I. You're
such a confirmed pessimist, you'd just make life unhappy for both Jim and me.
BERT: Well, I-- Why, what do you mean? Me, a pessimist?
LAURA: Mm, worse than that, Mr. Pond. You're a calamity-howler. You're one of
the very men who _make_ depressions -- who go about at the least flurry,
lopping off payrolls and frightening business! Oh, maybe you think you're an
"industrial leader," but you're just a big industrial scarecrow!
BERT: Now you look here, Miss Gray! Don't you know that times is hard? I'm
cuttin' my payroll because I--
LAURA: Oh, you never cut "payrolls." You just cut wages! And every man, woman,
and child in America is on your payroll, whether they have jobs or not! And
directly, or indirectly, you have to feed them and clothe them. Oh, the sick,
the aged, the orphaned and the foundling -- like - like this baby here -- are
on your payroll, and Old Timer's payroll, and mine.
BERT: Why, I - I never heard o' such a thing.
LAURA: Oh, yes, you have. But you haven't listened. Why America's payroll --
its "invisible payroll" -- runs into millions, even in the very best of times
when every able-bodied man is employed.
BERT: You mean like, uh, like these here community chests?
LAURA: Well, that's just one part of the invisible payroll. And every cut you
make on that "visible" payroll -- the one you see and keep books on -- every
cut you make on _that_, merely adds to America's big "invisible" payroll that
you and I have to help pay.
BERT: Well, I - I must say -- I - I never looked at it quite like that.
LAURA: Mm, I _know_ you haven't! You've only thought in terms of profits and
dividends -- instead of in terms of human life and happiness. And when you
don't think in terms of happiness and life, you're cutting profits. You know,
unhappy suffering people don't buy much.
OLD TIMER: Say, Laura's right about that, Bert.
LAURA: Right now, your profits have fallen only seven per cent. And - and, if
you're sensible, Mr. Pond, they won't drop anymore. They'll gain!
BERT: Gain?! Awww--
LAURA: Absolutely! Why, the world is just about ready to start buying again.
Supplies _are_ down. Why, your own reserve stocks have almost vanished. And
your part of the world, Mr. Pond, will start buying more than ever before --
from you, if you don't keep them from it.
BERT: Why, what d' you mean? "Keep them from it"?
LAURA: By cutting production, efficiency, quality, and, most of all, buying
BERT: Yes, well, that all sounds very well in theory, Miss Gray, but -- heh
heh! -- in _practice_ now--
LAURA: Oh, you have to be shown, do you? All right. Here's your example. This
_baby_ -- asleep here, deserted by her mother. That baby had a job, though
just being a baby, that her own mother could care for, bringing joy and
contentment and hope and, oh, everything worth living for -- to mother. And
the mother had a job, too: _being_ a mother. Why, they were the two greatest
jobs in the world.
BERT: Hmmm. Well--
LAURA: The mother had another job, too, Mr. Pond, until you made that first
payroll cut -- er, the small one in Milltown. When she lost that job, _three_
jobs were gone. Whom did you give them to?
BERT: Who did I give them to?!
LAURA: Yes. Whom did you give them to? Oh, I - I don't want to try to imagine
what the mother's job is now. Let's just think about whom you're giving this
baby's job to. That orphans' home.
BERT: Now, look here! No orphan home's gonna have _this_ baby!
LAURA: Oh, don't be too sure about that. You forget that I'm a social worker.
And I can place this child where it's best for it. Why, you couldn't begin to
care for it.
BERT: (FLUSTERED) Well, now, couldn't, er, couldn't you and, uh, Jim and I,
uh, couldn't we sorta all together-- Well, uh-- Oh-- (PAUSE, GENUINELY) Now,
look here, I want to _help_, Laura.
LAURA: No, I'm - I'm afraid not. You see, Mr. Pond, this - this payroll
slashing is sort of epidemic. One does it, and another follows. Just because.
And "just because" is many a person's reason. Not just a woman's reason. And
if you make that fifty per cent cut at the mill-- Well, I'm going to cut Jim
off, too. Just because.
BERT: Now, now, now, please, Miss Gray, don't - don't you go doin' that. Why,
why, why, think of this baby!
LAURA: Oh, must - must I do _all_ the thinking, Mr. Pond?
BERT: No. No. Yes! Oh, well. Very well then. (CHUCKLES) All right, I - I
_won't_ chop the payroll. Darn me! I'll add _to_ it! From now on, you're goin'
to be our efficiency expert! And--
LAURA: And as nearly this baby's mother as - as I can possibly be.
LAURA: Oh, look. He's awake.
BERT: (LAUGHS) The darn little skeezix! (LAUGHS AND MAKES PLAYFUL "BOOCHY-BOO"
SOUND: TRAIN EFFECTS CROSSFADE AS
MUSIC: TOPS HIM ... SEGUES INTO POP SONG "CHEER UP, GOOD TIMES ARE COMIN'"
VOCAL TRIO: (SINGING)
Good times are comin'!
Good times are comin'!
So cheer up!
Let's be carefree
And start a-hummin'!
Then all your troubles
Will clear up!
Make life a song and a dance!
Give care a swift kick in the pants!
Just yell, then tell
The world you're happy!
Good times are comin'!
So cheer up!
MUSIC: FADES FOR ...
ANNOUNCER: Ten years ago, when hysterical people were weeping over a so-called
"business depression," a great metropolitan newspaper came out boldly with the
slogan "Nineteen twenty-one will reward fighters!" Every reader of that
newspaper saw himself as a potential fighter. Every manufacturer and every
businessman who read that slogan took heart. Nineteen twenty-one _did_ reward
fighters. Nineteen thirty-one, too, will reward fighters. Business is far from
dead. It must be fought for. And those who fight will reap the rewards now, as
ten years ago.
The Great Northern Railway and the Western Pacific Railway are jointly engaged
in a fifteen million dollar project, notably, the California Extension, now
under construction and to be completed and ready for operation early next
year. The Great Northern Railway faces this year of nineteen thirty-one with
MUSIC: "CHEER UP, GOOD TIMES ARE COMIN'" ... FILLS A PAUSE ... FADES FOR ...
ANNOUNCER: Tonight's Empire Builders playlet again featured Harvey Hays as the
Old Timer. Laura Gray, the social worker, was Lucille Husting; Bert Pond was
Bob White; the baby, Betty White; and the mother, Bernardine Flynn.
This is Ted Pearson speaking. Empire Builders comes to you every Monday night
from the Chicago studios of the National Broadcasting Company.
LOCAL ANNOUNCER: And this is Westinghouse, KYW -- the Chicago Herald and
SOUND: BEEP OF THE NETWORK'S AUTOMATIC HOURLY TIME SIGNAL OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE
Originally broadcast: 5 January 1931