Microphone Plays‎ > ‎

The Neglected Crop

USDA Radio Service

The Neglected Crop 

Nov 16 1927




The Farmer's Spare Time 


A Radio Drama in One Act 


A Way to Keep Our Best Young Farmers On the Farm


Prepared by




Henry Allen --- a farmer, 

Martha Allen -- his wife, 

Bob Allen ----- their son,

Bill Hall ----- a neighbor, friend to Bob. 


Scene: Living-room of the Allen farm house.


TIME: The Present. 


[page 1]



ANNOUNCEMENT: We will now present a one-act radio drama, entitled "The Neglected Crop" or "The Farmer's Spare Time." This little play was prepared for this station by the United States Department of Agriculture. The characters, in the order of their first speaking, will be: Bob Allen, a vigorous young man about 19 years old; Martha Allen, his mother, who is plain, kindly, but fast aging; Henry Allen, the father and husband, who is outwardly as hard as nails; and Bill Hall, Bob's young neighbor and running-mate. Now then, let's imagine we are looking in on the plainly but comfortably furnished living-room of the Allen's farm house. The door directly facing us, leads to the automobile driveway. The door on the left leads to the kitchen. The door to the right to the bedrooms. The living room is empty. All ready! ----


(Clock strikes --- then a pause. Two persons heard off left in confused argument. Voices gradually become more distinct as Bob and his mother enter)

BOB: I don't care what he says! --- I'm going to town tonight!

MARTHA: But Bob, you'll be all used up.

BOB: Better be used up than rusted out----

MARTHA: You know how your Pa is ---- He says you're running around too much, ----- Who you going with?

BOB: Bill Hall. He's coming after me in their automobile. He'll be here pretty soon ---- I've got to get dressed.

MARTHA: I'm afraid of what your Pa is going to say ---- what he may do ----

BOB: Ah, he's an old fogey! 

MARTHA: Bob! Don't talk about your father that way!

BOB: Well, you know it's so. Look at yourself, Ma. You have a nice time don't you. Stay on the farm here all the time, and work your fingers off. Henry and Jim and Nancy had some sense. They got away from it. They're living in town. They go to ball-games, dances, and shows, and everything ----

MARTHA: Don't you like the farm? ---


BOB: It isn't that, Ma. I'd rather farm than do any work in town -- But when the work is done, I want to go somewhere where I can see things, and be with people. There's nothing doing around here. Pa don't seem to realize things have changed since he was my age. If he had his way, we might as well be quarantined.--- I'll let you know -- and him too, - I'm not going to stick around here and die of dry rot.

MARTHA: Pa wants you to have a good time, Bob. But you know how it is when you go. You come home dissatisfied and all tired out.

BOB: Who would enjoy things, when there's always a row when you go. 

MARTHA: Do you think you ought to go tonight?

BOB: Now, there's no use talking, Ma. I'm going. I don't care what Pa says. If he says much, I know where I can get a job in town ----

MARTHA: Sh-s-hush! There comes your Pa ------

BOB: All right --- I've gone to dress! ----- I'm going to town! 

(Sound of door slamming as Bob goes out door to right and sound of scraping and then heavy walking as Henry Allen enters from left.) 

MARTHA: Take off those boots, Henry. Your slippers are there by the chair.

HENRY: Clem Long was just telling me he thinks he is going to sell that strip of land down by the Spring Road.

MARTHA: Who to? Wasn't Mr. Merrill, was it?

HENRY: No, I guess Merrill's scheme fell through -- he was counting on that place. I'm glad it did fall through, though. If there ever was a crazy scheme, that was it. (Sarcastically) "Community park" that's what he wanted it for! Wanted me to chip in with the rest of the neighbors and buy that place -----

MARTHA: Yes, I know ----

HENRY: Wanted to make a ball diamond, a picnic ground, and a show lot of it. "A community play place" he called it. He wanted us to organize. Why, he even told Si Holloway that after things got started, "we" might build a 'community house', where the young folks could have dances and things.

MARTHA: Do tell!

HENRY: When I got through with him, I got him told all right. I guess he knows now what I think of his 'community' stuff. We didn't have any thing like that when I was young. My Pa before me never had it-- and never thought we needed it.

BOB: (Muffled call as if from another room) Ma!


MARTHA: Yes, son?

BOB: (As if from doorway at right) If Bill Hall comes before I get dressed, tell him to come in and wait, I'll be out in a few minutes.

MARTHA: I'll tell him to wait. (Sound as of door closing

HENRY: Where they going now?

MARTHA: Bob is going to town with that Hall boy. 

HENRY: I'll see about that!

MARTHA: Now, Henry, don't storm at Bob.

HENRY: He was in town night before last. He wasn't worth shooting all day yesterday. And now he thinks he's going again.

MARTHA: Life does get monotonous here!

HENRY: When I was young, we never thought of chasing around to town. 

MARTHA: Why, Henry!

HENRY: Well, I mean we didn't head off to town every time we had a spare minute. Now then, folks around here scatter out in all directions like a covey of scared quail the first chance they get. Picture shows, dances, and ball games ---- yes, they go to town and sit on a plank and watch a ball game all afternoon. We used to play ball ourselves, not watch somebody else.

MARTHA: What can we do?

HENRY: It's gone on long enough. I'm going to stop it right now.


HENRY: You'll see how. Bob don't leave this house tonight. I'll be right back in a minute ---

MARTHA: Where are you going, Henry! ------ Oh-o-o-o-o- ---- he can't do that! (Sounds as if a chair is knocked over as she runs to door and calls in a loud whisper) Bob! -- Quick! 

HENRY: Here it is. Now we see whether he'll leave or not.

MARTHA: Put up that gun, Henry Allen! 

HENRY: If Bob leaves this house tonight, it'll be over my dead body!

MARTHA: No -- No, Henry. You can't do that.


HENRY: We'll see.

MARTHA: You can't force him, Henry. Even if you stop him tonight, there'll be other nights --- and other days. You'll just force him to leave us -- to quit the farm!

HENRY: He's drifting off anyway. I've seen this going along long enough. Either he stays or he goes. He can take his choice.

MARTHA: But he's our last boy, Henry ----

HENRY: Yes, and the only real farmer in the bunch.

MARTHA: It was hard enough to see Henry, our oldest boy, move to town. When Nancy got married that was hard on me, too. And then Jim left. But I could stand that. I thought it was for the best ----

HENRY: Yes, they were just surplus ---

MARTHA: Our children — surplus!

HENRY: Yes --- there were more of them than had a chance on the farm. Understand me, Marthy, I've got nothing against the town. The town is all right. It's a big help to us in giving a chance to the children who can't get a good living off the farm. Look at Jim, now, he's doing fine in town. But he would never have made a farmer in a thousand years. But Bob's different.

MARTHA: Yes, he told me today, he loved farming ---

HENRY: Yes, that's it. Bob has a way with livestock. He knows more about crops now than many an old hand. He has a way of arranging things, so he gets things done. He would have made the best farmer in these parts in a few more years.

MARTHA: Why do you say he "would have made the best farmer?"

HENRY: Can't you see, Marthy, he's losing interest in the farm. All this gallavantin' around here, there, and yonder is weaning him away from the farm. He's more interested in what's going on in town, than what happens to the crops. There's no use, we have got to make up our mind to it.

MARTHA: You mean he's going to leave us. Maybe he'll change and settle down after awhile.

HENRY: No. I tell you, this thing has gone on long enough. We might as well settle it once and for all tonight.

MARTHA: Please, don't Henry!- Don't drive our boy away from us --- away from the home and farm he loves. You won't will you? Say you won't.

HENRY: I'm going to give him his choice -----


MARTHA: But you know -----

HENRY: I know he's our best--- best for the farm; but he will have to make his choice.

MARTHA: You know what he'll say --- when you put it to him that way. You'll force him to choose to leave.

HENRY: Yes ------

MARTHA: (Sobbing) He's our boy --- When he's gone --- we've got nothing left. -----Nothing! ---

HENRY: (Tenderly) Nothing but ourselves, old girl. 

MARTHA: It will be awful lonesome ---- just us two.

HENRY: It won't be long now. ----- 

MARTHA: No, not long.

HENRY: Taken all in all, we've gotten along pretty well together all these years.

MARTHA: Yes. We've seen some hard times, Henry ---- and some good ones.

HENRY: Remember old Joel Scott's barn raising?

MARTHA: That was when we first started going together, Henry.

HENRY: So it was. And great times we had, too (Singing softly) "It was from Aunt Dinah's quilting party, I was seeing Marth-y home"

MARTHA: Do you remember that, and the husking bee!

HENRY: Yes, and the harvest festival!

MARTHA: And you haven't forgotten the singing school -- none of the neighbors would guess now you were the best singer around here.

HENRY: I had to sing -- I never made much hit with you, the way I showed up in the spelling matches.

MARTHA: I'll never forget the big picnic out at Mr. Black's place, either. And how the boys teased you, when you slipped away from the fishing party to take me rowing on the lake.

HENRY: Those were the days, Marthy! Those were home-grown recreations. All of us took part. We didn't just sit back and look on and let somebody try to amuse us, if they could. We didn't get a lot of city made entertainment. Folks took an interest in each other, too. Now, country folks are getting like city folks, a lot of them don't hardly know their neigh-


bors, that is, in a real friendly sort of way.

MARTHA: Yes, Henry, and you were a leader in those days. You were my big, handsome hero. You were just like ---- just like Bob is now.

HENRY: Huh --- Bob! Our boy, Bob. Chasing off to amusement parks and professional ball games in town --- and goodness knows what else.

MARTHA: Henry, I have an idea. Couldn't we revive some of those old pleasures we used to love?

HENRY: How you mean?

MARTHA: Get up some of those old time parties -- for Bob and William Hall, and the other young folks around here.

HENRY: It's no use. They won't pay any attention to us old folks. (Sound of knocking as if at door) Come in! (Enter Bill Hall)

MARTHA: It's William Hall. 

BILL: Good-evening, Mrs. Allen. Good-evening Mr. Allen. 

MARTHA: Come in, William. 

BILL: Mrs. Allen, is Bob ready? 

MARTHA: Sit down, William, he'll be ready soon. 

BILL: No, thanks. I'll just go back out to the car and wait for him. 

HENRY: Sit down, Bill! 

BILL: Yes, sir. You and Mrs. Allen look so serious; has anything happened?

MARTHA: There was something I wanted to say to you -----

BILL: Oh, is that it. I'll bet I know what's coming now. I'm in for a lecture. Mother has just been giving me one.--Says I am getting too interested in chasing off to town. Wants me to cut it out.

MARTHA: You've guessed partly right, William. But I'm not going to lecture you. I want your help.

BILL: Sure. Fire away. If there's anything I can help, just let me know.

MARTHA: Henry and I have been talking about old times. We used to have great fun around here. We thought you might like to help us revive some of the old recreations. Something like an old husking bee or a spelling match or a picnic.


BILL: (Laughing) Wow! Can you beat that! Excuse my laughing, Mrs. Allen. You can't get young people interested in that old stuff. I guess that was all right in its day. It was probably the best you could do when you were young. It was the natural thing to do then --- but not now.

HENRY: The boy is right, Marthy. That wouldn't suit this jazzy generation. They want their amusements ready made -- and handed to them.

BILL: No, sir, it's not that. Now if you wanted to get up a local show troupe, or start a ball team, or a dancing club, or something like that I might be able to help. Here comes Bob, he'd be in for that, too. 

(Enter Bob)

BOB: I'm all dolled up and ready to go, Bill. Are you ready? Good-bye, Ma.

MARTHA: Just a minute, Bob.

BOB: What's the trouble, now? 

MARTHA: Your father has something to say to you.

BOB: Well! ---

BILL: Yes, Bob. Mr. Allen has a great scheme. He and your mother say they'll help get the old folks interested all around the neighborhood. Isn't that the idea, Mrs. Allen? ---- We're going to get up a dance club, get our music by radio; with some of the other stuff for the older people.

MARTHA: Why, William, I never ------

BILL: And we are going to get up a show troupe --- but, the first thing we're going to do is to start some athletic teams. That'll be a great way to get to town. What'll we call the team, Bob. Give it some snappy name, something that'll advertise our farms and this community ----

MARTHA: You mean you'd go off to town to play.

BILL: Sure, but it would be our community team. We'd put this farm community on the map.

BOB: I'm for that. The only trouble is we've got no place for an athletic field.

HENRY: That's all right, son. I'll attend to that. I'll see Merrill and the other neighbors. We'll buy up that Clem Long's land for a community park. 

BOB: Fine, Pa!

MARTHA: You said that like your old self, Henry!


BILL: Great!

BOB: Well, Bill, I guess if we're going to town, we'd better start. We can talk about this on the way in.

BILL: To town nothing! Let's ride around the neighborhood and get some of the other fellows in on this. There's no time like now. Won't you come along with us, Mr. Allen?

HENRY: Sure ----- Get your things on, Marthy. We can all help in this. There's one crop this community has neglected long enough. We need some home-grown recreations --- and we're going to have them.

The End