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John's Strange Behavior

Kay Fairchild, Stepmother

John's Strange Behavior

Jul 22 1940



ANNOUNCER, Don Hancock

KAY, troubled

JEN, Kay's friend

PEG, lovelorn stepdaughter

BERT, obtuse and unromantic

LOCAL ANNCR: You are listening to the WBBM Air Theater -- Wrigley Building, Chicago. Keep your dials tuned to this same station for another exciting drama, the story of "Kay Fairchild, Stepmother."

ANNOUNCER: (LONG PAUSE) Can a stepmother successfully raise another woman's children? Colgate All-Purpose Tooth Powder presents the real-life story of Kay Fairchild, a stepmother who tries.


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But now -- Colgate Tooth Powder presents "Kay Fairchild, Stepmother."


ANNOUNCER: If your husband suddenly found himself in serious trouble; if he should be faced with the prospect of losing his job under circumstances that deeply wounded his pride, wouldn't you feel hurt because he wasn't taking you into his confidence? Well, this is precisely the problem being faced by Kay Fairchild. She's certain that her husband John is in some kind of difficulty. The other night, he suddenly and mysteriously took a train for the state capital, giving Kay only the vaguest reasons why he had to go. He's still away, and she's had no word from him except a brief telegram. But let's join Kay. She's gone to visit her friend Jen Porter. It's the hour of twilight and the two women are sitting on the little balcony back of Jen's apartment looking down over the town of Walnut Grove. Listen--

JEN: Have you heard from John since he left, Kay?

KAY: (MELANCHOLY) Mm, just a telegram to say he'd arrived safely. I sat around for a while after dinner hoping the phone would ring. It did presently, but it was Bert Weston calling Peg.

JEN: Did Peg go out with him tonight?

KAY: Mm hm. They took the car and drove out into the country.

JEN: Is Bud at home?

KAY: He went somewhere with Tubby Ellis. To the movies, I think. Billy was in bed and Matty was listening to the radio. I tried for a while to knit. Tried to read a book, but I couldn't concentrate. (LIGHTLY) So I came over here to bother you.

JEN: (CHUCKLES) Oh, I wish you'd bother me oftener. Sometimes I get pretty lonely myself in the evening.

KAY: Ah, we're a pair of unfortunate old ladies, aren't we, Jen? Your husband gone; mine gone -- nobody to keep us company but ourselves.

JEN: I'm probably just as well-off without my husband. If he were here, he'd be pacing back and forth across the floor chewing his fingernails. I'd be able to tell from the faraway look in his eyes that he was thinking of a café in San Francisco or a casino in New Orleans. No, it's better that he's out there where he wants to be; where he doesn't have a wife to cramp his style.

KAY: Well, it's a pretty safe bet that John isn't spending the evening in a café or a casino. He doesn't go in for that sort of thing. But I'd surely like to know where he is spending it. Jen, I've thought of a thousand and one explanations for the way he's been acting. I'm sure the truth couldn't be as bad as some of the things I've imagined.

JEN: What are some of the things you've imagined?

KAY: Oh, I hesitate to tell even you. You know, Jen, being mayor of the town must give a man a chance to make some terrible mistakes. Maybe John's got himself into some kind of mess that's going to cause a scandal. Maybe he's got himself involved in-- Oh, Jen, it's terrible to say it. But I keep thinking that perhaps-- Well, he's mixed up in some sort of embezzlement.

JEN: Kay, you should have more faith in John than to believe that.

KAY: But, Jen, something must be going on that he's ashamed of -- or why wouldn't he talk to me about it? You know as well I do that he's not staying down there at the capital for days just to talk about routine political matters with the governor. And that's what he said -- routine political matters. Jen, he wasn't telling the truth.

JEN: Maybe not, Kay, but that's no reason why you should let your imagination go completely wild.

KAY: But if he's in trouble, I feel I should know about it. Oh, it doesn't matter what he's done, what's happened -- I'd do everything in the world to help him. But he won't talk to me. Makes me feel so - so useless, and so left out of things. What kind of a wife am I if he can't confide in me?

JEN: That sounds as though you blame yourself, Kay. You shouldn't do that. After all, you haven't done anything wrong.

KAY: Well, maybe not. But sometimes I feel a complete sympathy and understanding between us is impossible.

JEN: Why do you say that?

KAY: Oh, I don't know. He's older than I am. He's been married before and I haven't. And perhaps he-- Well, he's never really taken me seriously as a wife.

JEN: Oh, I'm sure that's not the explanation.


JEN: Oh, listen to that. 

KAY: Thunder.

JEN: I've been expecting it. Big black clouds have been piling up off there.

KAY: Mm hm. And there's a light breeze sprung up from the east, too. Ah, fresh and sweet, isn't it?

JEN: Mm hm. Smells as if we're going to have rain before long.


KAY: Ah, look at how dark it's getting. Well, let's see. Evenings like this set my blood tingling. But they aren't good evenings to be alone and worried about your husband.

JEN: Yes. 

KAY: The east wind can be pretty disturbing. Ah, your lungs aren't big enough to drink in all of it you'd like to. (CHUCKLES) I remember a night like this a long time ago. Seems like a long time. Just after I came to Walnut Grove. John and I were driving home [?]

JEN: (BEAT) Well?

KAY: (CHUCKLES SELF-CONSCIOUSLY) Well, it - it was a very nice night. Sometimes I wonder if I've found in Walnut Grove what I thought I'd find.


JEN: I guess nobody can answer that but you, Kay.

KAY: Even I can't answer it, Jen. I know I've been happy, but lately -- tonight -- I have a fear that something'll happen that may cancel it all out. 


KAY: All we can be sure of is that nothing's sure -- and that tomorrow won't be like today. Our lives move in cycles. Sometimes that's a good thing to remember. Sometimes bad. We're down in a dark valley that allows us to hope and be almost sure that we'll come out after a while on top of a hill. But we have to remember, too, that beyond every hill, there's another valley. And tonight I'm afraid that the road ahead for John and me is going to be -- downgrade.


ANNOUNCER: Knowing as we do that the political bosses are relentlessly forcing John Fairchild out of his position as mayor of Walnut Grove, we begin to wonder whether Kay's foreboding of dark things to come doesn't almost amount to a sixth sense.

But as Kay is lonely and pretty discouraged on this summer evening, her stepdaughter Peg is in a very different frame of mind. Her drive through the country with Bert has brought them to the top of a hill. They've gotten out of the car and stand now, leaning on an old rail fence, watching the gathering storm in the east.


PEG: Aw, gee, Bert. Don't you wish we lived in the country so we could take walks along old roads like this every night?

BERT: Well, that's a mushy idea.

PEG: Wouldn't you like to have a home of your own? Out here where it's oh-so-quiet, away from the noise of the streetcars and automobiles and trains?

BERT: Well-- Maybe. The city does grate on a person's nerves a bit sometimes.

PEG: Say you had a house built right here in this field, on top of the hill, with a front porch facing down that way. Think of sitting there in the evening and listening to the birds--

BERT: (AMUSED) Hey, look, why don't you put this in blank verse?

PEG: Oh, but it would be wonderful, wouldn't it?

BERT: Well, I don't know. I never thought much about living in the country. But it mightn't be a bad idea.

PEG: If you were building a house of your own here on the hill, what would it be like?

BERT: Well, I guess it wouldn't be a very big house. Just big enough so a guy'd have someplace to hide when his wife had company. Heh! And it wouldn't be stone or brick. I'd want it made of wood so I could burn it down if I ever got tired of it and wanted to go away.

PEG: (OFFENDED) Oh, Bert! Please don't say such silly things.

BERT: Ah, maybe I would want it made of stone after all, though. Maybe if I had a stone house to anchor me down, I'd get over that feeling of always wanting to be someplace else.

PEG: (INSINUATING QUIETLY) If you had the right kind of house, you'd never want to go away from it.

BERT: Well, of course I would have to have a wife. Yup, have to have a wife to scrub the floors and make the beds and cook a chicken on Sunday. I couldn't afford a housekeeper on the money I'd be making. Heh! Probably couldn't even afford the house.

PEG: (DESPERATELY) If the house wasn't so big, it wouldn't cost so much.

BERT: Say, how are you as a cook? I never thought to ask you before. Do you know how to stew a chicken for Sunday dinner?

PEG: ("I'M YOUR GIRL!") You just bet I do.

BERT: You know how to make sauerbraten with noodles?

PEG: I could learn.

BERT: And would you want to get calluses on your knees scrubbing the kitchen floor?

PEG: I wouldn't mind. But I could buy a mop, you know.

BERT: Hmm. Heh! Well, maybe you'd do all right in a little stone house. You'd like to have a go at it, wouldn't ya?

PEG: (STUNNED) Bert? Are you asking me to--?

BERT: I'm just asking you whether you're sure you'd like that chicken-mop-bedmaking routine.

PEG: (DEEPLY FELT) I know I'd like it. I know for sure I'd like it.

BERT: (CASUALLY DISMISSIVE) Well, that's all I wanted to know. Ah, you're a wonderful little kid, Peggy.


PEG: Bert, do you--?

BERT: Say, look, hadn't we better climb back in the car? That thing that just hit me on the nose was a drop of rain. Come on!

PEG: (OVERCOME WITH EMOTION) Bert, you're - you're-- Gee, I don't know what to say.

BERT: (AMUSED) What are you talking about?

PEG: You know what I'm talking about.

BERT: (CLUELESS) Well, suppose I do. It's still starting to rain. Come on, let's climb back into the jalopy. (MOVING OFF) The rain soaks the curl out of your hair, Kay won't recognize you when I get you home.


ANNOUNCER: For days now, Peg has been feeding herself on the idea that Bert has at last fallen in love with her, and it's clear that she interpreted those remarks of his on this night as a proposal of marriage. Maybe that was what Bert meant. Do you think so? If Peg should suddenly announce that she's going to be married, what effect would that have on Kay's already troubled mind? (ABRUPTLY UPBEAT) Your teeth should glisten when you talk! They should sparkle when you smile. They should feel smooth as satin against your tongue. Well? Do they? Well, of course they do, if you use Colgate All-Purpose Tooth Powder, for this remarkable dentifrice does all this and more for your teeth.  Yes, Colgate Tooth Powder performs this amazing "triple action." First, it cleans your teeth to dazzling natural brilliance. Second, it freshens your mouth and sweetens your breath. And third, it's safe and pleasant for gum massage. One - two - three! Three important benefits for teeth, breath, and gum massage from this one scientific dentifrice. Three mighty good reasons to try Colgate All-Purpose Tooth Powder today. So ask for it at any drug, department, or ten-cent store.


ANNOUNCER: Tomorrow, Kay spends an evening with her two stepchildren, and Peg asks some questions that set Kay to thinking and wondering. So tune in tomorrow and every day at this time, Monday through Friday, for "Kay Fairchild, Stepmother," brought to you by Colgate All-Purpose Tooth Powder.


ANNOUNCER: This is Dan Hancock speaking.

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ANNOUNCER: This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

LOCAL ANNCR: This is the WBBM Air Theater -- Wrigley Building, Chicago.