Microphone Plays‎ > ‎

Farewell to Altamont

The Columbia Workshop

Farewell to Altamont

Nov 09 1946



CAST:

1ST NARRATOR, Eugene as an adult

2ND NARRATOR

ANNOUNCER

EUGENE, in his late teens

BEN, Eugene's brother; dry, bitter

LAURA JAMES

HELEN, Eugene's sister

ELIZA, Eugene's mother

GIRL (1 line)

1ST MAN (2 lines)

WOMAN (1 line)

2ND MAN (1 line)

LUKE (3 lines)

PAPA (3 lines)

DOCTOR




MUSIC: PRELUDE ... THEN IN BG


1ST NARR: (ECHO, NOSTALGIC) A stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


2ND NARR: A stone, a leaf, a door. These are the keys that unlock the marvelous memory of Thomas Wolfe, America's great prose poet. These are the magic words that carry us back into the lost country of his youth, back to Altamont, scene of Wolfe's novel, "Look Homeward, Angel." 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


ANNOUNCER: Thomas Wolfe was one of the great literary figures of this century. Physically big, vital as a personality, driven by a hunger to understand and experience life, he produced a number of monumental novels before he died, tragically, in the full flower of his talent, at the age of thirty-nine. Today the Columbia Workshop, radio's foremost laboratory of writing and production techniques, presents a dramatized segment from one of Wolfe's novels, "Look Homeward, Angel." This was adapted for radio by Elizabeth Lomax and is directed for the Workshop by Marx Loeb. The musical score is by Alexander Semmler.


MUSIC: OUT


ANNOUNCER: "Farewell to Altamont" from "Look Homeward, Angel" by Thomas Wolfe. 


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND 1ST NARRATOR--


1ST NARR: (ECHO) To each of us there comes a time when we must say farewell to the magic hills of our youth -- when we must set out to seek our fortunes on coasts more strange than Cipango, more far than Fez. But as the elfin door swings shut behind us, we give a cry of pain and sadness. For we shall not come again. We shall never come back again. 


2ND NARR: Eugene Gant was eighteen. He was going north to college. This was a strange circumstance, for he lived in a boardinghouse and was youngest of a hard-working brood dominated by a desperate sort of meanness about money. But the brood, for once, had agreed to do something for one member of the family, and Eugene was recognized as peculiarly sensitive and talented. So Eugene, at eighteen, was about to take his leave of the familiar surroundings.


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN ... WISTFUL ... IN BG


2ND NARR: Already the southern mountain world of his childhood was fading from his eyes. Already it appeared to him somewhat as a dream or a fantasy. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR A MOONLIGHT FANTASY ... THEN IN BG 


2ND NARR: The square of Altamont lay under blazing moonlight. Eugene stood on the corner by his father's shop, and read the letters on the faded brick. (FADES OUT)


EUGENE: (READS) "William Oliver Gant, Stonecutter."


2ND NARR: On the porch of the shop, the angels held their marble posture, frozen in the moonlight. And leaning against the iron railing, a man stood, smoking. (FADES OUT)


MUSIC: OUT


EUGENE: (NERVOUSLY) Is anyone there? (NO ANSWER) I say, is anyone there? 


SOUND: FOOTSTEPS ON WOODEN PORCH ... ECHO ON BEN'S VOICE


EUGENE: (ALMOST TO HIMSELF, ASTONISHED) Your face is pointed and yellow like old ivory, and you have that same way of smoking. And when you jerked your head towards that angel just now I thought-- (WITH FEAR, TO BEN) Who are you? 


BEN: (LAUGHS, LIGHTLY DELIVERS HIS SARDONIC CATCHPHRASE) Listen to this, would you? 


MUSIC: A BRIEF GHOSTLY CHORD


EUGENE: (FALTERS) Ben? Is it you, Ben? 


BEN: Yes. Who did you think it was, you little idiot? 


EUGENE: (SCARED) I wasn't sure. I couldn't see your face. (BEAT) I thought that you were dead, Ben. 


MUSIC: GHOSTLY CHORD AGAIN ... OUT BEHIND--


BEN: (OVER CHORD, LIGHTLY) Ahh! Listen to this, won't you? (BEAT, QUIETLY) No. No, I'm not dead. 


EUGENE: Ben! Are you a ghost? 


BEN: (WITHOUT MOCKERY) No, I'm not a ghost. 


EUGENE: (NERVOUS CHUCKLE, LIGHTLY) I hope this doesn't mean, then, that I'm crazy. 


BEN: Why not? Of course you're crazy. 


EUGENE: (BEAT, SLOWLY) Then I'm imagining all this? 


BEN: (IRRITATED) How should I know? 


EUGENE: (WONDERINGLY) I mean, is this the town square of Altamont? Is that the drugstore, the courthouse, the jewelers'? Is this papa's shop? Is it you, my brother Ben, I'm talking to? Has all this ever happened? 


BEN: All what ever happened? 


EUGENE: All our life here in Altamont: our house on Woodson Street; papa's big roaring fires; his rampages; his trying to carve an angel! Our life here, Ben: our family all gathered 'round the kitchen table, eating Mama's huge meals -- Daisy, Steve, Helen, Luke. And your twin, Grover, who died of typhoid in St. Louis. I was just a baby then, but I remember him. I always thought of him as your angel, Ben. Am I right? 


BEN: How should I know? 


EUGENE: (WARMLY) And you, Ben. You were always my friend. Remember how you cuffed me, Ben, and told me to go out and get a haircut? And the next minute you'd give me a dollar bill or something. You were the only one who ever gave a darn about me. 


BEN: Eh, forget it. 


EUGENE: The nicest thing you ever gave me was that bicycle. You bought it with the money you earned on your paper route. Then you got me a route, too. And we used to walk out under the stars, and stop in the Greasy Spoon for coffee and doughnuts.


BEN: Forget it, I said. 


EUGENE: And everything else that happened to us, Ben: Mama buying Dixieland and taking in boarders, and me going off to the state university. (BEAT) You mean all that was just a - dream of some kind? 


BEN: I tell you, I don't know. 


EUGENE: And Laura James, Ben. I couldn't have dreamed her up. 


BEN: Are you still thinking about her, you little idiot? 


EUGENE: (PAINFUL NOSTALGIA) She still keeps coming back, Ben. Just like she was that summer at Dixieland, when we started to sit on the porch at night and talk. 


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN ... WISTFUL, ROMANTIC ... IN BG


EUGENE: She was slim and clean, and she had yellow hair plaited around her head, and green eyes. I thought she was plain and dull, but I began to sit with her at night. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION 


SOUND: NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND (CRICKETS, ET CETERA) ... DOOR CREAKS OPEN AND SHUT ... EUGENE'S STEPS ONTO WOODEN PORCH, IN BG


LAURA: Eugene? 


EUGENE: Oh, it's Laura James. 


LAURA: Come on out, Eugene. Here, I'll make room for you. 


EUGENE: Thanks. 


SOUND: CREAK OF SWING AS EUGENE SITS


EUGENE: (EXHALES) It's been a hot day.


LAURA: (CHUCKLES) You people here in the mountains don't know what heat is. You ought to spend a summer down on the Coast. 


EUGENE: You're from Little Richmond, aren't you? 


LAURA: Uh-huh. Do you know anyone from there? 


EUGENE: I know John Byum and a boy named Ficklen. 


LAURA: Dave Ficklen? Yes! They both go to Pulpit Hill. Do you go there? 


EUGENE: Yes. That's where I know them. 


LAURA: Uh, do you know the two Barlow boys? They're both Sigma Nu's. 


EUGENE: Yes, I know them. They're football men. 


LAURA: Uh, do you know Shooks Warren? He's a Kappa Sig. 


EUGENE: Yes. 


LAURA: What fraternity are you, Eugene? 


EUGENE: (BEAT, EMBARRASSED) I'm not any. I - I was just a freshman this year. 


LAURA: (BEAT, POINTEDLY) Well, some of the best friends I have never joined fraternities. 


MUSIC: WARM TRANSITION


HELEN: Well, my brother's growing up. You seem to have acquired a girl all of a sudden. 


EUGENE: Who? What are you talking about, Helen? 


HELEN: You know who I mean. Laura James. 


EUGENE: Ohh, she's not my girl. She wouldn't look at me. 


HELEN: I'd like to know why not! 


EUGENE: (MISERABLY) Oh, I don't know, Helen. 


HELEN: (SYMPATHETIC) Why, Slats, honey-- I believe you're in love. 


EUGENE: What if I should be? What good would it do me? A girl like Laura-- She's so - so elegant and rich-- 


HELEN: Why, what a way to talk! You're just as good as any wholesale merchant's daughter.


EUGENE: Oh, Helen, what's the use? Just look at this place. (WITH DISGUST) Dixieland. A cheap boarding house. Just look at the people who live here. Why, mama will take in maniacs and thieves -- anybody who can pay! 


HELEN: I know it, honey. But never mind all that. If Laura's as nice a girl as I think she is, she won't even notice Dixieland. She'll be too busy thinking about you. Talk to her, 'Gene. Make her forget everything but how splendid you are; how much you've read and all. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION


SOUND: NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND


EUGENE: That's why I say, Laura, that Aristophanes is a great fabulist. The great fabulists are all satirists: Voltaire, Swift--


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


ELIZA: (AGITATED) Eugene! Are you out here? 


EUGENE: Yes, mama. What's the matter? 


ELIZA: Who's with you, boy? 


EUGENE: Just Laura, Mama. 


ELIZA: Oh, son, you'll have to do something. Jannadeau just called up. Your papa's on the rampage again. He's been drinking! 


EUGENE: (EMBARRASSED, WHISPERS) Mama, for goodness sake--


ELIZA: He's coming this way, child. There's no telling what he'll do. He'll drive my boarders away. He'll ruin us. (TEARFUL) Oh, go and try to stop him. Head him off. Take him back to his own house. 


EUGENE: (RESIGNED) All right, Mama. 


LAURA: Wait, Eugene, I'll go with you. 


EUGENE: (BITTER) You stay where you are. 


LAURA: (SYMPATHETIC) Eugene, I want so much to help you. 


EUGENE: (SLOWLY) No, Laura. I'll handle this. But wait for me. I'll come back as soon as I can. 


MUSIC: GRIM TRANSITION


SOUND: QUIETER NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND ... EUGENE'S WEARY FOOTSTEPS ONTO PORCH


EUGENE: (SURPRISED, GLUM) Laura. I thought you'd be in bed by now. 


LAURA: Oh, no. I told you I'd wait, so I waited. How's your father? 


EUGENE: He's all right now. I got him to bed, finally. Helen is with him. 


LAURA: Eugene, your hand's wet. It's bleeding! 


EUGENE: It's nothing. 


LAURA: Poor hand. 


EUGENE: Laura. I'm sorry.


LAURA: What are you sorry for? What is there to be sorry for? 


EUGENE: (WEEPS QUIETLY)


LAURA: Oh, Eugene. Don't cry. My dear, let me kiss you. 


EUGENE: (MOVED, LOVINGLY) My dear Laura. My sweet, beautiful Laura. My lovely Laura! (BEAT, SIMPLY) I love you. 


MUSIC: WARM, ROMANTIC TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


EUGENE: Next day we walked out into the hills, Ben. We lay on our backs, in a field of daisies, watching the clouds sail by in the sky, and listening to the brook. The town was far away, over the hill. We were in another world, Laura and I.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


SOUND: MURMUR OF BROOK, IN BG


LAURA: 'Gene? 


EUGENE: Laura. Darling Laura. You are beautiful. 


LAURA: (CHUCKLES) I'm really not, you know. 


EUGENE: You are. You are. You're beautiful like a thing that flies, like a moth or a bird. I can't catch you. You're like spring, and--


LAURA: (UNHAPPY) Oh, 'Gene, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? 


EUGENE: What is it? What's the matter, dear?


LAURA: Eugene my dear, you're only a child. I'm a grown woman. 


EUGENE: I'm sixteen. You're only twenty-one. That's only five years' difference. That's nothing. 


LAURA: Oh, you don't know what you're saying. It's all the difference in the world. 


EUGENE: When I'm twenty, you'll be twenty-five. When I'm twenty-six, you'll be thirty-one. When I'm forty-eight, you'll be fifty-three. What's that? Nothing! 


LAURA: (DISAGREES) Everything. Everything. At my age, dear, most girls are thinking of getting married. What if I had begun to think of it, too? 


EUGENE: (BEAT, AGITATED) Married! So, that's it! You're going to get married, huh? You have fellows, have you? You go out with them, do you? You've known it all the time, and you've tried to fool me. 


LAURA: No, my dear, I haven't said so. But there's nothing unusual about getting married. Most people do. (BEAT) Oh, my dear, don't look like that. Nothing has happened. Nothing! Nothing! 


EUGENE: (QUIETLY UPSET) Laura, my dear, my sweet-- Don't leave me alone. I've always been alone! 


LAURA: (REASONABLY) Eugene, listen to me. You'll forget this ever happened. You'll forget me. You'll forget - forget. 


EUGENE: (QUIETLY DETERMINED) I'll never forget. I won't live long enough. 


LAURA: (BEAT, REASSURING) And - and I'll never love anyone else. I'll never leave you; I'll wait for you forever. Oh, my child, my child. 


MUSIC: SOMBER TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


1ST NARR: (ECHO) And who shall say, whatever disenchantment follows, that we ever forget magic, or that we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple tree, the singing, and the gold? 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


EUGENE: We believed it, Ben. We believed all we said. Then--


MUSIC: BRIEF ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EUGENE--


EUGENE: Laura went home to Little Richmond for the holiday. I guess I never showed you the letter she wrote me, Ben. It came about three days after she'd gone, and the words semed to leap up off the page like her own voice. (FADES OUT)


LAURA: 'Gene. My 'Gene. Richard came yesterday. He is twenty-five, has a job in Norfolk. We are going off quietly tomorrow and get married. My dear, my dear, I couldn't tell you. I tried to. But I couldn't. I didn't want to lie. Everything else was true. I meant all I said. If you hadn't been so young-- But what's the use of saying it? Try to forgive me. But please don't forget me. Goodbye and God bless you.


MUSIC: BRIEF STINGING TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


EUGENE: Mama's boarders laughed at me, Ben. On the porch at Dixieland, they rocked -- oh, rocked! -- with laughter. That little fat girl from Charlestown. 


GIRL: (MOCKING SINGSONG) 'Gene's lost his gir-l! 'Gene's lost his gir-l! 'Gene's lost his gir-l! 


MUSIC: UP, FOR ACCENT ... THEN IN BG


EUGENE: And Mr. Hake, the flour salesman. 


1ST MAN: Don't let 'em kid you, big boy. Get another girl. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR ACCENT ... THEN IN BG


WOMAN: (AMUSED) You should worry, boy! You should worry! 


MUSIC: UP, FOR ACCENT ... THEN IN BG


1ST MAN: That's right. Get another girl! 


2ND MAN: Sure. Women are like streetcars. If you miss one, there's always another one along.

 

MUSIC: UP, FOR ACCENT ... THEN OUT


EUGENE: I couldn't take it. You were there, Ben. You and Helen. You remember how I ran around the house. I was like a wild animal, snarling and cursing. 


HELEN: (WORRIED) 'Gene! Where are you goin'? 


EUGENE: Leave me alone! 


HELEN: Ben! See if you can stop him. He's crazy.


BEN: Which way did he go? 


HELEN: Around in back. Go quick! 


SOUND: BEN'S RUNNING FOOTSTEPS ... THEN IN BG 


BEN: (PANTS, TO HIMSELF) Little fool. (CALLS) 'Gene?! (SEES EUGENE) Oh, there you are.


SOUND: STEPS STOP ... THUD OF EUGENE THROWING HIMSELF AGAINST THE HOUSE ... CONTINUES IN BG

 

BEN: 'Gene, you fool! What are you trying to do?

 

EUGENE: (TEARFUL AND FURIOUS, WITH EFFORT) I will kill you, House! Vile and accursed House, I'll tear you down! I'll bring you down upon everybody! I'll wreck you. House! 


SOUND: MORE THUDS ... PART OF THE HOUSE BREAKS AWAY ... CONTINUES IN BG 


BEN: Fool! What are you trying to do? Do you think you can bring her back to you by wrecking the house? Are there no other women in the world that you should let one get the best of you like this? 


SOUND: THUDS STOP AS BEN SCUFFLES WITH EUGENE IN BG


EUGENE: Let me go! Let me go! What's it matter to you? 


BEN: (FIERCELY) Don't think, fool, that I care. You're hurting no one but yourself. Do you think, idiot, that anyone cares if you kill yourself? No. No. I don't care what you do, you know. I simply want to save the family the trouble and expense of burying you. 


EUGENE: (EXPLODES) Let me go! I'll kill you! 


SOUND: BRIEF FISTFIGHT! ... BEN AND EUGENE GRUNT WITH EFFORT ... FIGHT ENDS WITH THUD OF BODY AGAINST WALL


BEN: (VIOLENT DRY COUGHING) 


EUGENE: (DULLY) Did I hurt you, Ben? 


BEN: (COUGHS) Don't be a fool. Of course not. 


EUGENE: (WORRIED) Ben, you're hurt. You're sick, Ben! 


BEN: (DISMISSIVE, LIGHTLY) Ahh! Listen to this, won't you? (TRIES TO LAUGH, BUT COUGHS; BEAT) Go into the house, 'Gene. Wash yourself. You ought to comb your hair once a week, you know. You can't go around like a wild man. (BEAT; PLEADS WITH SOFT, BITTER INTENSITY) You little bum. I want you to learn sense. Get away from this house, this town, as soon as you can. Try to amount to something. None of the rest of us had a chance. Do you get that? 


EUGENE: Sure, Ben. I get it. 


BEN: (SLOWLY) Let's get out of here -- go to town. When was the last time you ate anything? 


EUGENE: I don't know. Yesterday sometime. 


BEN: Come on, let's go. (BEAT, SHARPLY) For Pete's sake, boy, don't stand there looking at me like that. Can't you forget about her? 


EUGENE: (DISTRAUGHT) No! She keeps coming back all the time, Ben. All the time. 


MUSIC: DESPAIRING TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


1ST NARR: (ECHO) Come up into the hills, O my young love. Return! Where is the day that melted into one rich noise? Where is the music of your flesh, the rhyme of your teeth, the dainty langour of your arms, your slender fingers to be bitten like an apple? O my young love, return not into life, but into magic, where we have never died, into the enchanted wood, where we still lie, strewn upon the grass. Come up into the hills, O my young love: Return, return, return-- (FADES OUT) 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION


SOUND: ECHO ON BEN'S VOICE


EUGENE: Do you think I just imagined her, Ben? 


BEN: How should I know? 


EUGENE: What I mean is -- if we're really here on the square of Altamont, standing here in papa's shop-- 


SOUND: HOLLOW SCRAPING OF A MARBLE ANGEL COMING MOMENTARILY TO LIFE


EUGENE: (STARTLED) What was that? 


MUSIC: BRIEF EERIE ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


EUGENE: Did you see that, Ben? 


BEN: (UNINTERESTED) Did I see what? 


EUGENE: That angel there! One of papa's angels! It lifted its arm! 


BEN: What of it? It has a right to, hasn't it? 


EUGENE: (QUIET, UNEASY) Yes, only-- I've always heard--


BEN: (QUIETLY DISMISSIVE) Ah! Fool, do you believe all you hear? 


EUGENE: No. Because if I did I wouldn't believe that you--


BEN: (BEAT) That I what?

 

EUGENE: You are dead, Ben. You must be dead. I saw you die. I tell you, I saw you die! Don't you remember? 


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN ... UNEASY, IN BG


EUGENE: (REMEMBERS) The front room upstairs at Dixieland; the room that the dentist's wife has now. Don't you remember, Ben? Mama and Papa sent me a telegram at the university. 


ELIZA: (THE TELEGRAM) "Come at once. Ben has pneumonia." 


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EUGENE--

 

EUGENE: When I got to Dixieland, they were all in the parlor: Mama, Papa, Helen, Luke. It was three in the morning. (FADES OUT) 


SOUND: DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS ... EUGENE'S STEPS IN


ELIZA: (PLEASED) 'Gene. My son. My baby! 


EUGENE: (COMFORTING) Mama.


HELEN: Hello, Slats. How are you, honey? 


EUGENE: Oh, hello, Helen. 


HELEN: Look at him, Luke! He's grown four inches since he went away. Well, 'Gene, cheer up. Don't look so blue. 


EUGENE: How is he? 


HELEN: While there's life, there's hope. He's not gone yet. 


PAPA: (BURSTS INTO TEARS, WEEPS IN BG)


EUGENE: How did it happen? 


LUKE: (QUIET ANGER) It's this cursèd cold barn. If that boy dies it's because he couldn't keep warm in this cold house. 


ELIZA: (MILDLY ADMONISHING) Luke, you oughtn't to talk that way, son. (SEEMINGLY UNAFFECTED, MATTER-OF-FACT) Ben caught the flu from one of Daisy's children. I couldn't keep him in bed. He moped around here a week, and finally I said to Mr. Gant, I said, "Mr. Gant, I believe I'll call the doctor."

 

LUKE: That's what should have been done in the first place! 


EUGENE: (EXASPERATED) Never mind! Never mind! Why bring that up now? Get on with it.


HELEN: Well, to make a long story short, Ben's been desperately ill 

all week with pneumonia. 


PAPA: (WEEPS A LITTLE LOUDER)


HELEN: (ANNOYED) What's the matter with you, Papa? 


PAPA: (MELODRAMATIC) To think that this must come upon me. Old and sick as I am! What have I done that God should punish me?! (CONTINUES TO WEEP IN BG)


HELEN: (INTERRUPTS, FURIOUS) You shut up! Shut your mouth this minute! I don't want to hear any more from you! I've given my life to you! Everything's been done for you! And you'll be here when we're all gone! You're not the one who's sick! 


ELIZA: (MILDLY REPROVING) Children! We must try to love one another in this hour. Besides, 'Gene, I'm not so sure Ben's as bad off as he looks. 


HELEN: Mama, in pity's name! How can you bear to talk like that? Are you never going to wake up?!


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


DOCTOR: (GENTLY) All right. You'd better come now. This is the end. 


HELEN: (CALMLY) Dr. Coker, is there nothing more you can do? Have you tried everything? I mean -- everything? 


DOCTOR: Everything. Not all the king's horses, not all the doctors and nurses in the world, can help him now. 


HELEN: How long have you known this? 


DOCTOR: (THOUGHTFUL) For two days. From the beginning. For ten years! Since I first saw him, at three in the morning, in the Greasy Spoon, with a doughnut in one hand and a cigarette in the other. 


EUGENE: (BITTER) That terrible paper route. 


ELIZA: (QUIET DESPAIR) If I had known. Oh, if I had known. 


DOCTOR: My dear woman, we can't turn back the days that have gone. We can't turn life back into the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We're a flash of fire -- a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we're three cents worth of lime and iron, which we cannot get back. 


HELEN: (SADLY, TO EUGENE) Poor Eugene. You'll miss him more than any of us. 


DOCTOR: (TENDER, FOND) Old Ben. When shall we see his like again? 


LUKE: (REALIZES, LOW, SLOWLY) I guess Ben's gone.


HELEN: You sit here with Mama, 'Gene. You're her youngest. 


SOUND: HELEN'S STEPS TO DOOR, WHICH CLOSES AS SHE EXITS 


EUGENE: Mama? (NO ANSWER) Mama, mama? (NO ANSWER) Mama, answer me! (NO RESPONSE, SOOTHING) Mama, he wasn't afraid to die. I saw it in his eyes. He looked at us just like he always did. He wasn't afraid. (A PRAYER, LOW) O God, whoever You are, be good to Ben tonight. Show him the way. Whoever You are, be good to Ben tonight. Show him the way. 


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG


1ST NARR: (ECHO) We can believe in the nothingness of life; we can believe in the nothingness of death, and of life after death. But who can believe in the nothingness of Ben? Like Apollo, he came, a god with broken feet, into the gray hovel of this world. And he lived here a stranger, trying to recapture the music of the lost world, trying to recall the great forgotten language, the lost faces -- the stone, the leaf, the door. (LOW) O Artemidorus, farewell! 


MUSIC: UP, FOR TRANSITION


SOUND: ECHO ON BEN'S VOICE


EUGENE: I tell you, you are dead, Ben. I saw you die. 


BEN: Fool. I'm not dead. 


EUGENE: Is this the square then, Ben? Is it you I'm talking to? Is this moonlight in the square? 


BEN: How should I know? (CHANGES SUBJECT, MORE SYMPATHETIC) When are you leaving Altamont, 'Gene? 


EUGENE: Tomorrow. 


BEN: When are you coming back? 


EUGENE: Why, at the end of the school year, I think. 


BEN: No. You're not. 


EUGENE: What do you mean, Ben? 


BEN: You're not coming back, 'Gene. Do you know that? 


EUGENE: Yes. I guess I know it. That's why I came here to Papa's shop -- to tell his angels goodbye. 


BEN: Why do you want to leave, 'Gene? 


EUGENE: I want to find - something, I guess, Ben. 


BEN: Fool, what do you want to find? 


EUGENE: Myself, and an end to hunger. And the happy land. For I believe in harbors at the end. O Ben, brother, and ghost, and stranger, you who could never speak, give me an answer now! Will I find it? 


BEN: (QUIETLY) There is no happy land. There is no end to hunger. 


EUGENE: And a stone, a leaf, a door? Ben? Will I find it in strange lands? 


BEN: I cannot speak of voyages. I never got away. 


EUGENE: Your flesh is dead and buried in these hills, Ben. My unimprisoned soul haunts through the million streets of life, living its spectral nightmare of hunger and desire. Where, Ben? Where is the world? 


BEN: Nowhere. You - are the world. 


MUSIC &

SOUND: A WEIRD, EERIE CLANGOR AS THE ANGELS SLOWLY COME TO LIFE AND DANCE WITH A PONDEROUS MARBLE TREAD ... THEN IN BG, IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


EUGENE: (ASTONISHED, SCARED) Ben! Do you see it?! 


BEN: Yes. 


EUGENE: The angels are moving! They're beginning to dance! 


SOUND: AS THE DANCING ANGELS TAKE FLIGHT, THEIR HEAVY STEPS DROP OUT DURING THE FOLLOWING--


EUGENE: Ben, look! Papa's marble cherubim! It's flying! 'Round and 'round! Ben! Look at them! Look at them! 


BEN: What of it? They have a right to, haven't they? 


EUGENE: Not here! Not here in Altamont! It's - it's not right! (ACCUSINGLY) Ghost! Ghost! 


BEN: Fool! I tell you, I'm not a ghost! 


EUGENE: Then what are you?! 


BEN: (LIGHTLY) Ahh, listen to this, won't you? 


EUGENE: Where are you going? (NO ANSWER) Ben! You're - you're fading away! Come back! Ben, my brother, my child! Don't leave me! Don't leave me! 


BEN: (LAUGHS MERRILY) Ah, listen to this, won't you? Listen to this! (FADES OUT)


MUSIC: UP, FOR A MYSTICAL CLIMAX ... THEN WITH CALM WISDOM, IN BG


1ST NARR: (ECHO) I have journeyed far from the mountains of my youth. Upon coasts more strange than Cipango, more far than Fez, I have searched. But my search has been in vain. And so, remembering what my brother told me on that square so long ago, I have resolved to search in that other land that lies within. In the City of Myself, upon the Continent of My Soul, I shall find the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven -- a stone, a leaf, a door. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR CURTAIN


ANNOUNCER: This has been a feature production of the Columbia Workshop, radio's foremost laboratory of writing and production techniques. Elizabeth Lomax adapted the "Farewell to Altamont" sequence from the Thomas Wolfe novel, "Look Homeward, Angel." Marx Loeb directed for the Workshop and the musical score was specially composed and conducted by Alexander Semmler. In today's cast, Ted Osborne and Martin Wolfson acted as narrators. The role of Eugene Gant was played by Larry Robinson. Others in the cast included Joe DeSantis, Dorothy Sands, Fran Heflin, Ethel Everett, Barry Hopkins, Art Carney, and John Amrhein. Next week, the Columbia Workshop will present an original farce, "The Man Who Could Bring Pictures to Life," written by George Fass and directed by Albert Ward.


MUSIC: IN BG, UNTIL END


ANNOUNCER: Saturday night is good listening over CBS. Stay tuned now for Larry LeSueur, famous correspondent, over many of these same stations. This is Don Baker speaking for CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.


Comments