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Chemical Catastrophe

Baby Snooks and Daddy

Chemical Catastrophe

Jan 18 1940



CAST:

HOST, Edward Arnold

BABY SNOOKS

DADDY


NOTE: This is a sketch from the series "Good News of 1940."




HOST: And now, ladies and gentlemen, here's Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks.


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... A BRISK "ROCK-A-BYE BABY"


SOUND: APPLAUSE


HOST: For many years, Daddy -- played by Hanley Stafford -- has been interested in chemistry. In fact, he has a small laboratory set up in the basement and you can find him there most any evening, tinkering among his test tubes. Tonight, Daddy is at his little bench, experimenting. Listen.


SOUND: CLINK! OF TEST TUBES AND BEAKERS, ET CETERA


DADDY: Mm hm. Well, there it is. Yes sir, there it is! Ha ha! I have to say it, I'm really proud of myself.


SNOOKS: Hello, Daddy!


DADDY: Well, hello, Snooks. Have a look at this!


SNOOKS: I'm lookin', Daddy.


DADDY: You know how I did it?


SNOOKS: No.


DADDY: You see that little tank?


SNOOKS: Mm hm.


DADDY: That contains hydrogen. 


SNOOKS: Yes?


DADDY: The other tank contains oxygen; they're both gases. 


SNOOKS: Uh huh.


DADDY: I took twelve hundred and forty parts of the hydrogen and six hundred and twenty parts of the oxygen and mixed them in a cylinder. 


SNOOKS: Yes?


DADDY: Then I wrapped it in a towel and touched it off with a match.


SNOOKS: Yeah.


DADDY: It exploded twenty-two times -- and there's the result! Look at it!


SNOOKS: (BEAT) What is it? 


DADDY: A glass of water!


SNOOKS: Are ya thirsty?


DADDY: No, I made it myself!


SNOOKS: Oh.


DADDY: It took me three hours to make that glass of water.


SNOOKS: Why didn't ya get it from the sink?


DADDY: Oh, anybody can get water from the sink; the trick is to make it yourself.


SNOOKS: Whyyy?


DADDY: Why?! What would this world be today if everybody were satisfied to get water from the sink? 


SNOOKS: I dunno. ...


DADDY: What would we do if it weren't for great chemists and physicists like Paracelsus, Archimedes, Newton, and Millikan? What would we be doing? 


SNOOKS: Gettin' water from the sink? ...


DADDY: No! Look, they were men of science. Newton was the first man to discover the law of gravity. 


SNOOKS: Is it like gravy? ...


DADDY: It's a natural law that has to do with things falling down.


SNOOKS: Mm hm.


DADDY: If you throw a piece of chewing gum up in the air, what happens?


SNOOKS: It sticks to the ceilin'! ...


DADDY: I'm talking about outside where there's no ceiling! 


SNOOKS: (IMPULSIVE) I want some chewing gum, Daddy!


DADDY: Never mind that! I'm trying to explain gravity! 


SNOOKS: Oh.


DADDY: Newton discovered that all things have a tendency of attraction to the center of the earth. Everything must fall down.


SNOOKS: Like pants? ...


DADDY: Yes, pants, too. And Newton proved that was true. 


SNOOKS: Didn't he have no suspenders? 


DADDY: Yes, he had suspenders! Look at Millikan. 


SNOOKS: Where?


DADDY: He's a physicist. 


SNOOKS: Oh.


DADDY: He worked for years and years building a very complicated machine that weighed two tons. 


SNOOKS: To keep his pants up?! ...


DADDY: No. To split the atom. And he finally achieved his goal. I, er, suppose you know what he got when he split the atom?


SNOOKS: Eve. ...


DADDY: He got the Nobel Prize! 


SNOOKS: Whyyy?


DADDY: Because of his wonderful achievement! An atom is the smallest particle of matter known to man. In fact, it's so small, you can't see it. 


SNOOKS: How do you know it's there?


DADDY: Oh, I know, all right! 


SNOOKS: How?


DADDY: Because I studied allllll about it. Even when I went to college. My first three years, I took dietetics and medicine.


SNOOKS: Do you feel better now, Daddy? ...


DADDY: I feel fine. Run along and let me work!


SNOOKS: What're you gonna do?


DADDY: I'm conducting a little experiment and I don't want you to bother me. 


SNOOKS: I won't do nothin', Daddy.


DADDY: All right. Look, I'll show you how I make steam without any fire.


SNOOKS: Can you make ice cream sodas?


DADDY: I'm a chemist, not a soda jerker!


SNOOKS: Whyyy?


DADDY: Do you wish to observe this experiment or not?


SNOOKS: Observe.


DADDY: All right, now watch closely. I'm gonna put some iron filings in this little bottle. Now I add some sulfur--


SNOOKS: And some molasses.


DADDY: No, I add a little water. 


SNOOKS: (EXCITED) Is it gonna be ice cream soda?!


DADDY: (EXPLODES) I TOLD YOU I'M GONNA MAKE STEAM WITHOUT FIRE! Now look at the bottle! Watch what happens.


SOUND: FIZZING


SNOOKS: It's smokin', Daddy!


DADDY: There, that's steam. 


SNOOKS: (GIGGLES WITH DELIGHT)


DADDY: And see those little particles exploding and shooting out? Just like a volcano. Ha ha! How's that?


SNOOKS: (GIGGLES; THEN ABRUPTLY SERIOUS) No good. ...


DADDY: Whaddya mean? I made steam without fire! That's caused by spontaneous combustion.


SNOOKS: (MANGLES IT) Spontanees a-buh-shin'? ...


DADDY: Well, that's close enough. I just wanted to show you how steam is made. 


SNOOKS: (REALIZES, EXCITED) Oh! It's just like the kettle!


DADDY: That's right. And do you know why steam comes out of the kettle?


SNOOKS: Mm hm.


DADDY: Why?


SNOOKS: So Mommy can open your letters. ...


DADDY: Oh, she does, eh? 


SNOOKS: (YES) Hmm.


DADDY: Well, what does she think she'll find out?


SNOOKS: (BEAT, SLOW AND VERY COY) You know. ...


DADDY: I don't know anything! And what are you making yourself so wise about? 


SNOOKS: (GIGGLES) I dunno.


DADDY: Well, stop it! (MUTTERS UNHAPPILY) Might as well be living with a couple of policemen. ...


SNOOKS: Huh?


DADDY: Nothing. Go away and let me work! (TO HIMSELF) Can't call my soul my own.


SNOOKS: What's in this bottle, Daddy?!


DADDY: Huh?


SNOOKS: What's in this bottle?


DADDY: Oh, it's a new kind of poison. I've been working on it a long time.


SNOOKS: What are you gonna do with it?


DADDY: Oh, I'll find a use for it. 


SNOOKS: (SUSPICIOUS) What are ya lookin' at me for? ...


DADDY: Snooks, I'd like to try something.


SNOOKS: (QUICK AND NERVOUS) No, ya ain't!


DADDY: Oh, Snooks, come here; don't be silly. It has nothing to do with the poison. 


SNOOKS: Then put the bottle down!


DADDY: Oh, I didn't even know I was holding it. 


SNOOKS: (SKEPTICAL) Hmm.


DADDY: Now this stuff happens to be rat poison. 


SNOOKS: (IMPULSIVE) Make a rat, Daddy!


DADDY: I can't make rats!


SNOOKS: Whyyy?


DADDY: Because no chemist, no matter how great he is, can make a living thing. Living things are born and each one has a - a special use. 


SNOOKS: What was I born for?


DADDY: (BEAT) There are some questions that even science can't answer. ... But, here, I'll show you something. Now, this beaker contains a number of elements. 


SNOOKS: (EXCITED) Elephants?!


DADDY: Elements! 


SNOOKS: (DISAPPOINTED) Oh.


DADDY: They're really basic salts: potassium, magnesium, carbon, sulfur, and stuff like that. 


SNOOKS: Looks awful, don't it?


DADDY: Snooks, in that beaker, there is a man.


SNOOKS: Huh?


DADDY: Startling, isn't it? 


SNOOKS: Yeah.


DADDY: There's everything in that beaker that goes to make a man. But, of course, you can't see him.


SNOOKS: Is he the little man who wasn't there? ...


DADDY: Don't be facetious. Now you can see how wonderful chemistry really is. You can take a human being and break him down into ninety-eight cents worth of chemicals.


SNOOKS: How do you know?


DADDY: I just did it. Look at that beaker.


SNOOKS: There's a man in there?


DADDY: A complete one; broken down, of course. I've got him in that jar.


SNOOKS: A broken down man.


DADDY: That's right.


SNOOKS: What'd ya do with his hat? ...


DADDY: Oh, it wasn't a man to begin with. It's all the component parts that go to make the whole person. Man is composed of those chemicals.


SNOOKS: Well, make him live again, Daddy.


DADDY: I told you, it can't be done! Nobody has the power of creation. I can assure you that a man would be a horrible monstrosity if a chemist made him.


SNOOKS: Did a chemist make Uncle Louie? ...


DADDY: You leave Uncle Louie out of this! 


SNOOKS: I didn't say nothin'.


DADDY: Your mind keeps wandering all the time. Can't you pay attention to anything I teach you? 


SNOOKS: Mm hm.


DADDY: All right. Now, what's in that jar?


SNOOKS: Uncle Louie. ...


DADDY: Well, yes, in effect. But it might be anybody. Now I'm going to show you what you can do by using some of the same chemicals and mixing them with others. 


SNOOKS: You make Aunt Sophie.


DADDY: No. Here's what I make. Now, what is it?


SNOOKS: A firecracker.


DADDY: Right. 


SNOOKS: (GIGGLES) Shoot it off, Daddy!


DADDY: I will, in a minute. But I want you to understand that this is not the same as an ordinary firecracker. This is perfectly safe and harmless.


SNOOKS: Did you make it?


DADDY: Yes -- and I intend to make all the fireworks you shoot off on the Fourth of July. 


SNOOKS: Whyyy?


DADDY: Because there won't be any danger of your hurting yourself! Besides, it's cheaper.


SNOOKS: Oh. Well, shoot it off!


DADDY: All right. Now you hold it and I'll light it.


SNOOKS: No, I'm afraid to hold it.


DADDY: Oh, don't be afraid! I've worked on this thing for months! I know it's perfectly harmless.


SNOOKS: Then you hold it and I'll light it! ...


DADDY: Okay. Look, just to show you how safe it is, I'll hold it between my teeth. 


SNOOKS: Uh huh.


DADDY: (THROUGH CLENCHED TEETH) Now-- Now, go on, light it.


SNOOKS: All right.


SOUND: MATCH STRUCK! ... FIRECRACKER FIZZLES BRIEFLY


SNOOKS: Nothin' happened.


DADDY: (THROUGH CLENCHED TEETH) Didn't I tell you?


SOUND: MASSIVE AND LENGTHY EXPLOSION!


SNOOKS: Safe, ain't it, Daddy?


DADDY: (CHAGRINED) Oh.


SNOOKS: Are ya hurt?


DADDY: No. I was going to have that tooth pulled anyway. Come on, let's get out of here.


SNOOKS: (LAUGHS GLEEFULLY)


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... "ROCK-A-BYE BABY"


SOUND: APPLAUSE ...


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