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In the House Where I Was Born

Quiet, Please!

In the House Where I Was Born

May 28 1949




CAST:

ANNOUNCER

ERNEST CHAPPELL, the narrator

BOY, the narrator as a child

MOTHER, young woman in her twenties

WIFE, a young bride; European

COWBOY, who sings

BROTHER, Irish




CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


SOUND: A MOMENT'S SILENCE


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


MUSIC: THEME ... THEN IN BG


ANNOUNCER: The American Broadcasting Company presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell. "Quiet, Please!" for tonight is called "In the House Where I Was Born."


MUSIC: THEME ... END


---


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) Another year.


Another year and I've come back to the house where I was born.


Every year, I come back - just before Decoration Day. 


It's pleasant - some years. 


Some years, it's different.


Everybody ought to go back once a year to the house where he was born.


Just look around.


And remember.


And then go back to where he came from.


MUSIC: NOSTALGIC ... THEN IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) The house where I was born is old and weatherbeaten under the gray paint. And the old porch is gone. The big bay window where I used to sit and watch the snow on winter afternoons faces right out into the street now. And the wooden steps go right up from the sidewalk to the big double front door. 


The house was painted red when I lived there. Red with white trimmings. And there was a big caladium plant in the front yard - "elephant ears," my grandmother used to call it. Remember those things? My brother and I used to pull 'em up and make umbrellas out of 'em and Grandma'd jaw us till our ears hurt. Can't even tell where the caladiums were. And the old woodshed - that two generations of us had carved our initials on -- I remember "C.D.O., Eighteen Eighty-Four" -- and my brother's initials, Nineteen Oh Five. And all the others. That's gone, too.


And there was a dog, a little brown and white fox terrier. Her name was - Trixie, wasn't it? ... So many years ago.


MUSIC: OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) Here ...


SOUND: (HEAVY WOODEN DOOR OPENS)


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) ... was the living room. The "front room," we called it. The round oak base burner with the Isinglass in the doors where the coals glowed red of a winter's night. The couch in the corner. The table with the cracked marble top where the lamp sat. The round lamp with the yellow silk shade with the fringe. My brother and I reading the highly moral stories in "Happy Days" and wishing we, too, could be big league baseball players like Fearless Frank in the woodcuts.


And on a spring night like this -- just before Decoration Day -- Mother, sitting at the rosewood organ under the picture of Pharaoh's Horses, playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" ...


MUSIC: DREAMY ORGAN ... IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) ... for the Spanish War wasn't so long ago. And my father that was a battalion sergeant-major - hadn't come back from Chickamauga. And the scent of white lilacs coming in the windows. And the white lilac bush that was her pride is long gone now. But I can smell the white lilacs tonight.


SOUND: HORSE'S HOOFBEATS WALK BY ON PAVEMENT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And I can hear the clopping of horses' hooves on the pavement outside, the pavement they put down the year I started at school. And in the shadows of this bare old room, a glow comes slowly to life - and there is the old lamp beaming cheerfully across the brussels carpet. And the organ is playing. And I'm the little boy that looks up at her and plucks at her dress and begs:


Mama, tell me a story.


BOY: Mama, tell me a story.


MUSIC: ORGAN STOPS


BOY: Story, mama.


MOTHER: What shall I tell you about tonight, son? Isn't it almost time for bed?


BOY: Story first, mama, please.


MOTHER: Well, let me see. 

(RECITES)

The stag at eve had drunk his fill

Where danced the moon on Monan's rill

And deep his midnight lair had made

In dark Glenartney's hazel shade.


BOY: What's "Monan's rill," mama?


MOTHER: Why, it - it's a little brook -- a little creek way up in Scotland in the Trosachs where Roderick Dhu lived.


BOY: Well, why do they call it "Monan's rill," mama?


MOTHER: Why, I - I suppose it was named after somebody named Monan, son.


BOY: Oh. 


MOTHER: I suppose it's a very tiny little brook where the water is ever so cold. And it comes down from the tops of the mountains, through the glade, to the places where the stags live. And I suppose not very many people know where Monan's rill really is because it's very probably guarded by the Little People and the Fairies. And I don't think they like other people to come and drink at their rill.


BOY: Ahhh.


MOTHER: But they let the stag come every night if he wants to. And then he goes away. And the Little People ride on his back wherever he's going. And then they wake him up in the morning. And he takes them back to the rill.


BOY: Does Monan come there, too?


MOTHER: No, no, I don't think so. Monan's gone from there ever so many years ago.


BOY: Doesn't anybody ever see him?


MOTHER: No.


BOY: Doesn't anybody know him even?


MOTHER: I - I guess not.


BOY: That's awful.


MOTHER: Yes. It is, isn't it?


BOY: That's just about the awfulest thing that could happen, isn't it?


MOTHER: What, son?


BOY: Not having anybody know you.


MOTHER: Why, I - I hadn't thought of that, but--


BOY: Sing to me, mama.


MOTHER: Getting sleepy?


BOY: Uh huh.


MUSIC: ORGAN ... "BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC"


MOTHER: (SINGS)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightnings of his terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.


MUSIC: MOTHER'S VOICE FADES, BUT ORGAN CONTINUES IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And mother's song fades.


And the light grows dim.


And I am in darkness again in the house where I was born.


MUSIC: ORGAN GENTLY OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And this house where I was born is in a great city - when the wide streets are filled with crowds of people - and I remember again - so many things.


MUSIC: "SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK" ... NOSTALGIC, CALLIOPE-STYLE ... IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) The thunder of the elevated railways overhead on a warm afternoon in the spring. And the open streetcar clanging its way up the street. And my father, pointing and telling me that that's the first trip of the open streetcars up Broadway this summer. And the friendly policemen in a round-topped helmet, spanking me jovially with his nightstick as we crossed the plaza on the way to the Central Park Zoo. 


And the house where I was born.


Weary and happy in the cool evening. Climbing the brownstone steps into a high-ceilinged house with a fireplace in the front room. A great stairway. The long, inviting banisters. And a cat with a blue ribbon for a collar and the longest, sharpest claws in the world. And a telephone that you could talk even to Brooklyn with.


MUSIC: GENTLY OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) The house where I was born.


And now a sign on the front alongside the tall doors. A sign that says: "Swedish Restaurant." And still in the concrete sidewalk at the foot of the steps, the prints of my two shoes - that I could span with a hand. And my initials. And the date: Nineteen Hundred and One.


And I turn away from this house where I was born - for I've not done with my homeward journey yet.


MUSIC: FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) In the house where I was born, there is not one stone upon another - for the path of war led across its dooryard and destruction followed for all the people who dwelt in it. But the scent of lilacs is strong in the evening air even here. And before my eyes, the scene of desolation dims - and the house where I was born lives again. It's a spring evening and there seems to be music in the air and I feel happinesses again - as I felt them that night when I first brought home my bride. What was her name? Have I forgotten?


MUSIC: OUT


WIFE: (A EUROPEAN ACCENT) Carry me across the threshold, my love!


SOUND: (SHE GIGGLES AS HE GRUNTS AND CARRIES HER INSIDE)


CHAPPELL: Darling - (CHUCKLES) - this is home!


WIFE: A fine home, a wonderful home!


CHAPPELL: My people have lived here since the--


WIFE: Since the Thirty Years' War! You have told me that.


CHAPPELL: (CHUCKLES) Well, they don't build houses like this anymore, my love. (LAUGHS) See? The walls!


WIFE: All of stone from the quarry over there.


CHAPPELL: And the mortar! There is my great-great-great-grandfather's blood in that mortar.


WIFE: (LAUGHING, BUT SYMPATHETIC) Yea, I know. He drew blood from his own arm and spilled it into the mortar so that there would always be something of him in the house!


CHAPPELL: Well, it was also a charm, you know. The - the witch woman--


WIFE: I know. He - he paid her three silver pieces to tell them what to do to make the house stand forever.


CHAPPELL: How do you know so much about it?


WIFE: (AMUSED) You have told me so many times!


CHAPPELL: (CHUCKLES) So I have! (LAUGHS) And - and real glass in the windows, too!


WIFE: Yes! And the stove - with the hand-painted tiles.


CHAPPELL: Well, there's not another one like it in the whole village.


WIFE: And - and it's ours!


CHAPPELL: And we'll take it to America when we go.


WIFE: (BEAT, SADLY) Do you - do you really want to go to America?


CHAPPELL: Why, of course I do. Well, you do, too. Don't you?


WIFE: Could we not be happy here, we two?


CHAPPELL: Why, we could be happy anywhere. But, in America--


WIFE: I know. We will be rich and I'll have two dresses and someday we'll have a motorcar even. But--


CHAPPELL: But what?


WIFE: It's so - so far from this house where you were born and - where I hoped our children would be born.


MUSIC: SWEEPS IN SADLY ... THEN IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And the scent of lilacs is strong again in the air -- as the voice of the beloved woman fades away into shadow and forgetfulness. And the house where I was born is swallowed up in the night. And I am alone again.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And the house where I was born is a 'dobe shack somewhere in the Texas panhandle. And the wide plains of the West stretch away endlessly beyond it. 


MUSIC: "I RIDE AN OLD PAINT" ... IN BG, OUT GENTLY AT [X]


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) Now, the corral gate is broken, the bunkhouse roof is gone - and horned toads squat on the decrepit porch where I played "cowboy and Indians." I look above the door, the brand is still there - the brand that looks in the early darkness like Rafter "A" but it might be "Two Up and Two Down" or a Running "W." And there's a dry, dusty smell about the place and - an echo of almost forgotten songs quiver on the air. For the Chisholm Trail went right past our place, all the way from Belton up to the north fork of the Canadian and Abilene. And I've seen white-faced bawlers by the thousands go past our gate. [X] Heard the riders' voices in the hot noons and the long, moonless nights.


COWBOY: (SINGS)

I ride an old Paint and I lead an old Dan

I'm off to Montana for to throw the houlihan

They feed in the coulees and water in the draw

Their tails are all matted-- (FADES)


MUSIC: FINISHES THE SONG AS THE RIDER'S VOICE FADES ... THEN IN BG


SOUND: HOOFBEATS ... IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And the long, slow song of horses' hoofs is music to the ears of a lost, forgotten Texan who'll never come back to stay, to the house where he was born, to lay flowers on the grave up there on the little hill under the cottonwood tree.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And the house where I was born is a sod-roofed cottage in the peat bog country of Ireland.


MUSIC: "ROSE OF TRALEE" ... BEHIND CHAPPELL--


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And I am nineteen - and returned for a visit with the old folks after three years in America where I've become all Yankee. And my brother and I sit before the door and talk at evening about the strangeness of the new world - and its customs. And the customs of the other people beyond the various seas. And it's this very day, thirty-five years ago, in Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen.


BROTHER: (IRISH ACCENT) And I'm betting you there'll be war in Europe before the year is out, m'lad.


CHAPPELL: (A YOUNG MAN) Ah, that's just talk. 


BROTHER: It's just talk that has started every war the world has ever seen. Why, Kaiser Bill is just waiting for somebody to set the world alight. Aye, and it's many a good lad'll come to his end a-puttin' it out.


CHAPPELL: Well, we'll never get in it.


BROTHER: You mean the Americans?


CHAPPELL: Yes.


BROTHER: Heh. I don't know about that.


CHAPPELL: We're too far away. Let the English and the Germans fight it out.


BROTHER: All very well to say, but you'll see.


CHAPPELL: Well, you won't go.


BROTHER: Oh, I - I'm not so sure about that either.


CHAPPELL: Fight for the English?!


BROTHER: Well, I - I wouldn't like that very much, sure enough. But there's some very good Irish regiments in the British Army. The Inniskilling Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and - and the Dublin Fusiliers.


CHAPPELL: Now, you stay out of it.


BROTHER: Ohhhh, I-- 


CHAPPELL: Well, you can't go and leave the old folks alone.


BROTHER: Well, if I was as young as you--


CHAPPELL: (LAUGHS) Cut it out! Why, you talk as if war is just around the corner.


BROTHER: And that's just exactly what I think, too.


CHAPPELL: Well, all right. But I'll be back in the States long before your war arrives. And I'll stay there, too.


MUSIC: TWISTED, OMINOUS VERSION OF "IT'S A LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY" ... THEN "ROSE OF TRALEE" IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And I left the house where I was born, the smoky, damp little hut beside the road to the sea. And I have not seen it again, save when it comes Decoration Day time, and I go back, unbeknownst to my brother, and look in at the door to where he sits, an old man puffing his pipe alone by the peat fire. And, once -- it was long years ago -- the village priest sat with him and I heard my brother speak of me:


BROTHER: Aye, could have been very different, Father - if me brother'd've come back from the War. Ah, he was a fine young lad, Father. And him and me, eh - well, we could have done something with the place. But-- Ah, it's too late now.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And there was a day, on the ranch in the Texas panhandle, when a tall, young man in Levi's and high-heeled boots saddled and bridled a horse and said goodbye to an old man, shook hands with half a dozen cowhands and a Mexican cook, and rode away toward the railroad that was to be the first lap of a long, long journey. And I remember I turned and looked back at the house where I was born. And someone was singing an old song somewhere:


COWBOY: (SINGS)

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,

As I walked out in Laredo one day,

I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen,

All wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.


MUSIC: JOINS IN ON LAST LINE AND FINISHES THE SONG ... UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And here again, in the house where I was born, I stand again beside the walls of stone mortared with the blood of my great-great-grandfather. And, in my arms, I hold a weeping woman.


WIFE: (WEEPS) Don't go. Don't go and leave me. (CONTINUES TO WEEP IN BG)


MUSIC: FOR A PARTING ... IN BG


CHAPPELL: But it'll be only be for a little while, my dearest. Only till I can earn enough money to send for you.


WIFE: (DISTRAUGHT) I'll never see you again.


CHAPPELL: (REASSURING) Oh, but you will. America really isn't so far away.


WIFE: It's across the sea! Across the sea! (SOBS) Stay.


CHAPPELL: Dear, we've been through all this before. Now, now, be reasonable. In six months, a year-- Now, don't, darling.


WIFE: Let us stay here, both of us. This is our home. This is the house where you were born!


CHAPPELL: Look at me, love. 


WIFE: (STOPS WEEPING) My dearest--


CHAPPELL: I love you. It will be such a little while. You will come to America. And we'll be so happy. And so rich. It's such a little time to wait. You know it is.


WIFE: I love you. Kiss me.


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And I kissed her. And I went away. And I have never seen the house where I was born, except in dreams -- dreams such as this dream tonight -- when the ruins lift and - and form themselves for a little moment, in the darkness. 


She came to America. And the day she arrived, I was drafted. I was never able to find her again. But then, she was never able to find me, either.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) In the house where I was born, there is no memory left of me. 


MUSIC: CALLIOPE ... "SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK" ... SLOW AND SAD, IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) Only the two prints of a child's shoes in the concrete remain as a memorial that I once lived. The house where I was born has forgotten me. 


MUSIC: OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) And the house where I was born -- where my little brother and I played in the caladium bed; it has almost forgotten me, too.


MUSIC: MOURNFUL ... THEN IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) There's a pack of yellowed letters somewhere in the house, lost behind a beam in the attic maybe. A pack of yellowed letters with "Soldier's Mail" in the place where the stamp should go - and my name and an A.P.O. number in the other corner. The letters are full of names like Albert ... Le Somme ... Chattancourt ... Dead Man's Hill ... Consenvoye ... Brabant ... Names like the faded letters on an ancient palimpsest, obscured by newer names written over them: Omaha Beach ... Bastogne ... Okinawa. They're all names of places where men have died. And one day, they'll all be forgotten - please, God.


MUSIC: OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) I remember one of those names -- those first names. 


I won't tell you the name of the town. 


A clean little town it was, with red-roofed houses. 


A dirty shambles in October Nineteen Eighteen. 


I couldn't hear the shells from the seventy-sevens bursting in the streets. 


I couldn't hear what the chaplain was saying to me. 


I could just see a dirty-faced man in a helmet moving his lips as he bent over me. 


It was very quiet. 


And very lonely. 


I didn't even hear the shell that killed him and the other man that was standing alongside him. 


It was quiet - for a long, long time. 


And then I heard a little boy's voice. 


And I said to myself:


"Why, I'm home.


That's my voice.


That night before Decoration Day so many years ago."


And it was.


BOY: Mama, tell me a story.


MOTHER: What shall I tell you about, son? 


BOY: Story, mama.


MOTHER: Well, let me see. 

(RECITES)

The stag at eve had drunk his fill

Where danced the moon on Monan's rill

And deep his midnight lair had made

In dark Glenartney's hazel shade.


BOY: What's "Monan's rill," mama?


COWBOY: (SINGS)

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,

As I walked out in Laredo one day--


WIFE: (DISTRAUGHT) Don't go. Don't go and leave me.


MOTHER: And I suppose not very many people know where Monan's rill really is because it's probably very closely guarded by the Little People.


BROTHER: Many a good lad that'll come to his end puttin' out the blaze.


WIFE: Across the sea! Across the sea! Oh, stay!


COWBOY: (SINGS)

I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen,

All wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.


BOY: It's just about the awfulest thing in the world, mama. Not having anybody know you.


MUSIC: ORGAN ... "BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC" ... THEN IN BG


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) They set a marble tomb above my shattered self, seeking to do me honor thus, to recompense the searing days, the crawling nights I died in. "He lies here deep," the graven letters say, "He lies here deep, unknown to all save God."


O, sweet it is, they say. O, sweet it is to die the battle death. 


Yes. It is sweet.


As gall is sweet and wormwood, so is death.


I died.


I felt the bitter fire, the cleaving steel, the pain.


I am content.


Yet I am weary in my sentiments. The sleep of death is not so very deep. 


Lately, the spring has come and yesterday a tiny root of some green thing has split the stones apart wherein I lie. Its tender, questing fingers seek my hand - as mine sought flowers on some yesterday forgot. 


Above my head, the hushed clang of arms, the measured tread of sentinels that guard my bed, forbid me sleep.


My face is dim in Eternity now. But, once, you knew me. Perhaps you wept to hear that Sergeant Death had spoke my name. Is it you that I hear through the dust, O, my brother? Is it your little song that I hear, O, my mother? 


I, in my tomb of marble?


I, in my tomb of stone?


I am the Chief of them all.


I am the Chief of the Dead.


I died. And, dying, became a mystery.


To every mother, her son.


To every brother, his brother.


To every soldier, his comrade.


I, the Chief of the Dead.


I was content to lie here, masked in uncertainty, having the homage of all of you here in my marble tomb. I was content, I say. Yet now spring comes again as I saw it once before that day I died. Is it your hand that rests on the stone, O, my sister? Is it your tear - that falls on the stone, O, my wife?


MUSIC: UP AND OUT


CHAPPELL: (NARRATES) I hear the trumpets now. 


The volleys sound. 


The sabers flash against a sun I may not know. 


I may not rise. 


I have my duty. Here. Alone. 


I, in my tomb of marble.


I, in my tomb of stone.


I am the Chief of them all.


I am the Chief of the Dead.


MUSIC: THEME ... THEN IN BG


ANNOUNCER: "Quiet, Please!" for tonight was called "In the House Where I Was Born." It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. And Ernest Chappell was the man who spoke to you.


CHAPPELL: Others in the cast were Betty Wragge, Cecil Roy, Lotte Stavisky, and J. Pat O'Malley. Special music for "Quiet, Please!" is by Albert Buhrmann.


Now, for a word about next week, here is our writer-director, Wyllis Cooper. 


COOPER: Thank you for listening to "Quiet, Please!" My story for next week is called "Tanglefoot."


CHAPPELL: And so, until next week at this same time, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.


MUSIC: THEME ... END


ANNOUNCER: This is ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.




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