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The Aldrich Family: Christmas Sketch

The Kate Smith Hour

The Aldrich Family: Christmas Sketch

Dec 22 1938



CAST:

KATE SMITH, host (1 line)

HENRY ALDRICH, teen

MR. ALDRICH, Henry's father

MRS. ALDRICH, Henry's mother

MISS STEVENS

JIM, another teen

and briefly heard VOICES




MUSIC: Aldrich theme. Fade for


KATE: The Aldrich Family, starring Ezra Stone and supported by Betty Field, Lea Penman, and Clyde Fillmore, is written for us each week by Clifford Goldsmith, whose current hit, "What a Life," is now playing at the Biltmore Theatre here in New York.


The scene opens in the Aldrich living room. Mr. Aldrich is enjoying the open fire. Mrs. Aldrich is wrapping packages.


MR. ALDRICH: Well ... it seems good to sit down here by this fire.


MRS. ALDRICH: It seems good to sit down any place. The fruit cakes are all baked and wrapped.


HENRY: (Door opens) Mother.


MRS. ALDRICH: I thought you had gone to rehearse your play, Henry.


HENRY: Do you think I ought to take Miss Stevens some kind of a present?


MRS. ALDRICH: Who is Miss Stevens?


HENRY: She's the one that's directing our play.


MR. ALDRICH: Is Miss Stevens giving you anything?


HENRY: I thought you shouldn't think about things like that, father.


MR. ALDRICH: You shouldn't. And let us hope Miss Stevens doesn't either.


HENRY: But don't you see, tonight is the night Miss Stevens decides whether Jimmy Bartlet or I get the leading part ...


MRS. ALDRICH: Then don't you think a present would look just a bit like bribery?


HENRY: In what way? ... It would just be a gesture of good will.


MR. ALDRICH: If all you want to give her is a gesture, you have my permission to do so.


HENRY: Isn't there anything around the house I could give her?


MRS. ALDRICH: Such as what?


HENRY: Well ... how about a silver vegetable dish?


MR. ALDRICH: Yes!


HENRY: All right. ... (his voice fades) ... (door closes)


MRS. ALDRICH: I wonder why it is, Sam, Christmas never seems the same.


MR. ALDRICH: Christmas has changed. We don't even have as much snow as we used to.


MRS. ALDRICH: And this is the first year since I can remember that we haven't been having a houseful of company.


HENRY: (Door opens) Mother.


MRS. ALDRICH: Henry! I thought you had gone!


HENRY: I just had an idea. Have you mailed that box of presents to Aunt Harriet yet?


MRS. ALDRICH: No.


HENRY: Couldn't I take some little thing out of that? Something she wouldn't even miss?


MRS. ALDRICH: Do you think that would be very nice?


HENRY: She'll only send you back most of it next year anyhow.


MR. ALDRICH: Can you promise Miss Stevens would do as much?


MRS. ALDRICH: Supposing you take Miss Stevens a fruit cake?


HENRY: Why didn't we think of that before?


MRS. ALDRICH: Be sure you take one of the pound cakes, dear. Are you listening?


HENRY: (Slightly off) Yes, mother. 


MRS. ALDRICH: They are in the pantry on the second shelf. The 5-pound cakes are on the first shelf.


HENRY: Yes, mother. Thank you, mother. Good-by. (Door closes)


MRS. ALDRICH: I don't like to admit it, Sam, but I do hope Henry beats that awful Jimmy Bartlet out for the part.


MR. ALDRICH: I never cared for Mr. Bartlet ... always showing off his money.


(Board fade on last two lines)


SEVERAL VOICES: Ad libbing. Out of the hum comes


MISS STEVENS: (A rather pleasing voice) Quiet, everybody! Quiet, please! (Voices die down) We can't rehearse with everyone talking, you know. (Voices fade)


HENRY: Good evening, Miss Stevens.


MISS STEVENS: Good evening, Henry. Everybody backstage until I'm ready for you, please. (She claps her hands)


HENRY: When are Jimmy Bartlet and I going to have our tryout, Miss Stevens?


MISS STEVENS: Right away, Henry. And I hope that no matter how I decide, neither of you will feel there was anything personal about it.


HENRY: Not so far as I'm concerned, Miss Stevens. Of course, Jimmy Bartlet may be a little jealous in the end. ... Here's something I brought you.


MISS STEVENS: Why, Henry!


HENRY: It's just a ... fruit cake.


MISS STEVENS: It must be enormous.


HENRY: It's only a pound one.


MISS STEVENS: Now, Henry! ... That must weigh at least 5 pounds!


HENRY: Yeah? ... Five pounds? ... Hmm....


JIM: (Approaching. His enunciation is perfect ... and he probably wears glasses) Good evening, Miss Stevens.


MISS STEVENS: Good evening, Jimmy Bartlet. 


JIM: Here is a gift I just happened to bring you. 


MISS STEVENS: Jimmy!


JIM: It's a fruit cake.


HENRY: About how much does it weigh?


JIM: Three pounds.


HENRY: Three. ... That's just a nice size ... if you can't get a 5-pounder, of course.


JIM: I bought it at Jones's Bakery.


HENRY: Oh ... your mother didn't have time to bake it?


JIM: My mother doesn't have to bake, I'll have you understand.


HENRY: I'll bet she doesn't know how to.


JIM: My mother happens to be spending the holidays abroad. Where is your mother spending hers?


HENRY: She's sick of Europe. This year she's staying home.


JIM: Would you excuse me while I speak to my chauffeur? (Voice fades)


HENRY: Imagine!


MISS STEVENS: After all, underneath, Jimmy is a very fine boy.


HENRY: Underneath. ... Nice-looking fellow on the stage, too ... provided he doesn't face you head on, of course. ... But maybe you could have him play the part so that he keeps his back to the audience.


MISS STEVENS: Henry.


HENRY: I hope I don't seem to be running him down, Miss Stevens.


MISS STEVENS: No ... no ... not at all.


HENRY: Jimmy would look very good playing opposite Phoebe Anne ... if Phoebe could just wear some slippers that didn't have any heels on them. ... You know what I mean? So Jimmy wouldn't look so runty beside her?


JIM: Who looks runty?


MISS STEVENS: All right, boys. For the time being, Henry, you will read the lead and Jimmy can be Henry's uncle. On the stage, please.


JIM: From the beginning?


MISS STEVENS: From the beginning.


HENRY: Yes, Miss Stevens. (The microphone remains with the two hoys. We hear them mount the steps on the stage. Miss Stevens is slightly off) Could you stand over there, please, Jimmy?


JIM: It seems to me this is where I would stand.


HENRY: (Patiently) Miss Stevens, could you please ask Jimmy to stand over there?


MISS STEVENS: Is there any particular reason, Henry?


HENRY: He's right between me and the audience.


JIM: But this is the natural place for me ... or do you want me to stand some place that is contrary to my whole character?


HENRY: Miss Stevens, would you mind asking Jimmy once more to stand over there? Or must I muss up his character?


JIM: I'd like to see you dare to muss me. 


HENRY: Oh, you would, eh? 


SOUND: A book drops to the floor. 


MISS STEVENS: Boys!


HENRY: I'll have him moved in just a minute, Miss Stevens! 


MISS STEVENS: Henry! 


JIM: Let go of me! 


MR. ALDRICH: Henry Aldrich!


HENRY: Yes, father! ... Are you here? 


MR. ALDRICH: I certainly am! 


HENRY: Did you want something, father? 


MR. ALDRICH: I do.


HENRY: Yes, sir.


SOUND: Henry going down the steps and then walking.


HENRY: Is somebody in the family sick, father?


MR. ALDRICH: Just come here, please.


HENRY: Yes, father.


MR. ALDRICH: (Lowers voice slightly) I want to ask you something. Did you take a fruit cake from the pantry shelf?


HENRY: Yes, sir.


MR. ALDRICH: Was it a 1-pound or a 5-pound cake?


HENRY: I picked up ... I suppose ... you mean there's a 5-pound one missing?


MR. ALDRICH: Will you please go to Miss Stevens and explain the circumstances and tell her you would like to have the cake back?


HENRY: But I can't do that, father! 


MR. ALDRICH: Why not? 


HENRY: Well ... she might have eaten it.


MR. ALDRICH: The entire 5 pounds? Do you realize that your mother went to considerable trouble to bake that cake for a poor family that is going to have little else for Christmas?


HENRY: But couldn't I at least wait until Miss Stevens has decided which of us is to get the leading part?


MR. ALDRICH: Perhaps you would prefer that I ask her!


HENRY: I'll ask her. ... I'll ask her. ... You wait here a minute. (Walking) Miss Stevens, could I ... (clears throat) speak to you about something?


MISS STEVENS: I'm busy right now, Henry. 


JIM: (Approaching) Miss Stevens, would you mind taking this? 


MISS STEVENS: What in the world is it, Jimmy? 


JIM: I asked the chauffeur to go and get you a larger cake. 


MISS STEVENS: You shouldn't have done that, Jimmy!


JIM: It wasn't any trouble, I assure you. (Voice fades)


HENRY: Could I say just one word, Miss Stevens?


MISS STEVENS: Don't tell me you have one that is even larger, Henry.


HENRY: No, ma'am. ... It's a funny thing, but ... when my mother baked that cake I gave you she made a little mistake.


MISS STEVENS: I'm sure that no matter how she made it it will taste delicious.


HENRY: But the trouble is ...


MISS STEVENS: Now don't apologize.


HENRY: But when she baked it she accidently put some poison in it.


MISS STEVENS: Henry!


HENRY: It's deadly poison. And my father would like it back.


MR. ALDRICH: I'm sorry, Henry, but did you explain that we want the cake for a poor family that won't be having anything else for Christmas?


MISS STEVENS: With the poison? 


MR. ALDRICH: What poison? 


HENRY: In the cake. 


MR. ALDRICH: In what cake?


MISS STEVENS: I see. ... (she almost laughs) Won't you come with me, Henry? I left it in this back room. (They are walking)


HENRY: My father doesn't always hear very well.


MISS STEVENS: Isn't it lucky we didn't pass the cake around to everyone?


HENRY: It certainly is. 


MISS STEVENS: Here we are. ... 


HENRY: It's dark in here.


MISS STEVENS: Perhaps there's enough light coming in from the street lamp so we can see. ... There it is. ...


HENRY: Yes, Miss Stevens.


MISS STEVENS: Henry, do you mind my asking you something?


HENRY: What about?


MISS STEVENS: Would you be too disappointed if you didn't play the lead opposite Phoebe Anne?


HENRY: I see. ... You're giving it to Jimmy Bartlet?


MISS STEVENS: I'm simply asking you, Henry.


HENRY: Yeah?


MISS STEVENS: Something tells me Jimmy Bartlet is a rather lonely boy ... much more so than any of us might imagine.


HENRY: Lonely? ... With a chauffeur in the family?


MISS STEVENS: Even with a chauffeur. I happen to know that on Christmas Day his mother and father will be in Europe ... as they were last Christmas.


HENRY: Well ... ?


MISS STEVENS: Would you like to come downstairs on Christmas morning in an enormous house ... with no one to say Merry Christmas to you but a chauffeur and a butler and a housekeeper? ... Don't you think he'd be just a bit happier that day if he knew that some place he had some friends who thought quite a bit of him?


HENRY: In spite of his looks?


MISS STEVENS: In spite of everything ... even in spite of all his money. ... What would you think, Henry ... if we should give him the lead?


HENRY: Don't you think a little home-made fruit cake would cheer him up just as much? He said he'd never had any.


MISS STEVENS: I don't believe anything could mean quite so much to him as that part, Henry.


HENRY: I know. ... But I'd planned on it quite a little myself, Miss Stevens.


JIM: (Approaching) You aren't going to go on with the tryout, Miss Stevens?


HENRY: The tryouts are all over.


JIM: They're all over!


HENRY: That's what I said, they're all over!


JIM: I understand. ... Then I'm out.


HENRY: What do you mean, you're out? You poor dope. ... You get the lead!


JIM: I don't really, do I? 


MISS STEVENS: Didn't Henry say you did? 


JIM: I know ... but ... 


HENRY: I never did like the part. ...


MISS STEVENS: Look out the window, boys. Under the street lamp ... the snow is starting to fall. ... Have you ever seen such large flakes?


MR. ALDRICH: Henry!


HENRY: I've got it, father! (To Jim) Listen, Funnyface, if you aren't doing anything else on Christmas why don't you come over to our house for dinner?


JIM: I'd like very much to, only the help have instructions not to let me out of their sight.


HENRY: How much help have you got?


JIM: Three.


MR. ALDRICH: (Off) Henry!


HENRY: Well, bring them along!


JIM: You don't mean it, do you?


HENRY: Why not? We'll just set four more places! Coming, father!


MUSIC: "That's Silly."

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