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The Old Lady Shows Her Medals

The Chase and Sanborn Hour

The Old Lady Shows Her Medals 

Jun 20 1937


HOST, Don Ameche





HOST: One of the grand old ladies of the theater and a grand trouper is Miss May Robson. She has never missed a performance in fifty-three years. She joins all of us in paying homage to the great and beloved dramatist Sir James Barrie. For us, she plays Mrs. Dowey in Barrie's immortal play "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals." Miss Robson.


ROBSON: Thank you, Don.


ANNOUNCER: "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals," with May Robson as Mrs. Dowey and Don Ameche as the soldier. It is Nineteen Fifteen and the streets of London are full of soldiers on leave. Mrs. Dowey has no son to come home to her, but having read the name of Private K. Dowey in a newspaper, she's pretended that he is her son and boasted about his letters to all her neighbors. But Private Dowey comes to London and hears that a strange woman is claiming to be his mother. Mrs. Dowey is sitting in her shabby basement room, a bundle of letters in her hand, when the angry soldier storms into the room. (FADES OUT)

SOLDIER: (HEAVY SARCASM) Do you recognise your lovin' son, missis? I am pleased I wrote you so often. (SHARPLY) Here, let me see them letters.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, please-- Please, mister--

SOLDIER: What's inside? (BEAT) Ah, nothin' but blank paper, huh? Well, we'll throw them in the fire.

MRS. DOWEY: Now, don't you burn them letters, mister!

SOLDIER: Well, they're not real letters.

MRS. DOWEY: Well, they're all I have.

SOLDIER: (IRONIC) I thought you had a son.

MRS. DOWEY: No. No, I never had a man nor a son nor nothin'. You know, I just call myself Missis to give me a standing, like.

SOLDIER: Oh, you'll have to explain better than that.

MRS. DOWEY: Well-- [It's true that my name is Dowey.]

SOLDIER: It's enough to make me change mine. But what made you do it?

MRS. DOWEY: Well, you see, it was everybody's war, mister, exceptin' mine. And I wanted it to be my war, too. Wouldn't you have a cup of tea while I'm explainin'?


MRS. DOWEY: Well, then, sudden like, the idea come to me to pretend I had a son.

SOLDIER: But what in the name of Old Nick made you choose me out of the whole British Army?

MRS. DOWEY: (GIGGLES, FLIRTATIOUSLY) Maybe, mister, it was because I liked you best. (GIGGLES) 

SOLDIER: Now, now, now, woman. None of that!

MRS. DOWEY: Well, you see, I read one day in the paper where the general was [assisted by Private K. Dowey, 5th] Battalion, Black Watch.

SOLDIER: Oh! [Well, I] expect that's the only time I was ever in the [papers. You little thought] that I would turn up! Or [did you?

MRS. DOWEY: I was beginning to] weary for a sight of you, Kenneth. (CORRECTS HERSELF) Mister, Mister!

SOLDIER: Tell me. How did you guess the "K" in my name stood for Kenneth?

MRS. DOWEY: Does it?!

SOLDIER: Yes, it does.

MRS. DOWEY: Well, it must have been a h'angel whispered it to me in me sleep.

SOLDIER: (CHUCKLES) Well, that's the only angel in the whole black business. Well, I hope you're pleased with me now that you've seen me.

MRS. DOWEY: I am. Very pleased. (INHALES) My, your mother must be terrible proud of you.

SOLDIER: (UNCONVINCING) Well, naturally.

MRS. DOWEY: I suppose you'll be goin' home then?

SOLDIER: Oh, after I've had a spree in London.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh! So your young lady's in London, eh?

SOLDIER: Why? Are you jealous?

MRS. DOWEY: Not me.

SOLDIER: You needn't be. She's a young thing.

MRS. DOWEY: Really? Oh! You surprise me. A beauty, no doubt?

SOLDIER: You may be sure of that. She's a titled person. 

MRS. DOWEY: She's what? (INHALES GRANDLY) Do tell me more about her.

SOLDIER: (PROUDLY) Her name is Lady Dolly Kanister.

MRS. DOWEY: Ohhhh, I read about her in the paper. It said she wore a dress of champagny [PRONOUNCED "sham-PAG-nee"] velvet with a dreamy corsage. [PRONOUNCED COR-sidge]

SOLDIER: Well, she sent me a lot of things, especially cakes, and a worsted waistcoat, with a loving message on the enclosed card.

MRS. DOWEY: Will you try one of my cakes, mister?

SOLDIER: No, not me.

MRS. DOWEY: They're of my own making. 'Ere's one.


MRS. DOWEY: (FEIGNS SURPRISE) Why - why-- Why, what's the matter, mister? Tell me.

SOLDIER: (SOBERLY) Why, that's exactly the kind of cake her ladyship sends me.

MRS. DOWEY: (INGRATIATING) Mm hm. Is the waistcoat all right, mister? I hope the Black Watch colours pleased ya.

SOLDIER: Wha----t?! Was it you who sent me all those things?

MRS. DOWEY: Well, you see, I was afraid to give my own name; and, you see, I was always reading about Lady Dolly's in the paper.

SOLDIER: (ANNOYED EXASPERATION) Woman, is there no gettin' rid of you?!

MRS. DOWEY: Aw, you ain't angry, are ya?


MRS. DOWEY: (THRILLED) Oh, glory, glory, Kenneth! 


MRS. DOWEY: Nothing, nothing. Just - just Kenneth, Kenneth. Here - here's your tea.

SOLDIER: Well, here's to ya -- you old mop and pail, you.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, she's a woman to be envied, this, your mother.

SOLDIER: What? Oh. Oh, I-- I just let you think I had a mother. This party never even knew who his proud parents were.

MRS. DOWEY: (GLEAMING) Is that true?

SOLDIER: It's gospel.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, 'eaven be praised!

SOLDIER: Now, now, now, now-- None of that! I was a fool to tell ya. But don't think you can take advantage of it. Er, pass me the cake.

MRS. DOWEY: Kenneth, I daresay it's true we'll never meet again, but if we do, oh, I wonder where it will be?

SOLDIER: Well, not in this world.

MRS. DOWEY: Well, there's no tellin'. You know, I might turn up at the Front.

SOLDIER: You know, when I get back to the Front, I believe I will find you there waitin' for me!

MRS. DOWEY: With a cup of tea in me hand! And, Kenneth -- you know, we could come back by way of Paris!

SOLDIER: (LAUGHS) All the ladies likes to go to Paris.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, Kenneth, if just once before I die I could be fitted for a Paris gown with a dreamy corsage! [COR-sidge]

SOLDIER: You're all alike, old lady. You know, there's a song about it. 



Mrs. Dowey's very ill,

Nothin' can improve her.


But dressed up in a Paris gown

To waddle through the Louvre!


SOLDIER: Well, thanks for my tea. I - I'm afraid I must be gettin' on.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, Kenneth; where are ya living?

SOLDIER: (SIGHS) That's the question. You see, I've never been in London before. If you knew what it's like to be in this place without a friend.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, I do know what it's like to be lonesome, Kenneth. I've heard that the thing a man on leave longs for most in the world is a bath and a bed with sheets on it.

SOLDIER: You never heard anything truer.

MRS. DOWEY: Well, Kenneth, I have both. Now, there's the h'extra bed in the wardrobe, and there's the little bath. You could do yourself there pretty -- you know, 'alf at a time.

SOLDIER: (THOUGHTFUL) You know, now -- that - that tempts me. (DECISIVE) Old lady, if you really want me, I'll stay.

MRS. DOWEY: (OVERJOYED) Oh! Oh, Kenneth, Kenneth--!

SOLDIER: But, mind ya, I don't accept ya as a relative. You're on probation.


SOLDIER: Yeah. Now for that bath.

MRS. DOWEY: Remember -- 'alf at a time!

SOLDIER: And then I'm off to the theatre. Oh, say, now wait a minute.

MRS. DOWEY: What is it, Kenneth?

SOLDIER: (THOUGHTFUL) To the theatre. You know, it would be showier if I took a lady.

MRS. DOWEY: (YEARNING) Kenneth-- Kenneth, tell me this instant what you mean. Now don't keep me on the jumps.

SOLDIER: No. No, it couldn't be done.

MRS. DOWEY: Was it--? Was it me you was thinking of, Kenneth?

SOLDIER: Yes, but just for a moment. (REGRETFUL) Ah, but you - you have, er-- You have no style.

MRS. DOWEY: No, no, no! Not in this dress, of course. But, oh, Kenneth, you should see me in my black crepe!

SOLDIER: (CONSIDERS) Huh. Do you think you could give that face of yours less of a homely look?

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, I'm sure I could.

SOLDIER: Well, er, you can have a try at it. But, mind you, I won't promise anything. (LIGHTLY) It all depends upon the effect!



MRS. DOWEY: Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

SOLDIER: (AMUSED) Oh, please stop your hooraying, will ya?

MRS. DOWEY: Ohhhh! Three taxis and four theatres all in one week!


MRS. DOWEY: Oh, Kenneth, you've given me a glory time!

SOLDIER: No, it's you who's given me the glory time, old lady.

MRS. DOWEY: (LAUGHS) Just wait till I tell everybody how this being the last night, we had real champagny ["sham-PAG-nee"] wine! 

SOLDIER: Ah, they'll never believe that.

MRS. DOWEY: Ahhh, for them as doubts my word, look. 'Ere's the cork.

SOLDIER: (LAUGHS HEARTILY) Oh, you're a great one! (BEAT, SOBERLY) You know, lady, I'm - I'm sorry this is the end.

MRS. DOWEY: Kenneth--? You mean--? Is it--? Is it time for you to go?

SOLDIER: Oh, no, no. No, not yet. There's a fella outside waitin' for me; I - I told him to give me until the last minute and then whistle when it's time.

MRS. DOWEY: (HEARTBROKEN) When it's time? Oh-- Oh, Kenneth--

SOLDIER: Now, now, listen, you promised to be gay. We were goin' to help one another.

MRS. DOWEY: Yes, yes, Kenneth.

SOLDIER: Say, have you noticed -- you've never called me son?

MRS. DOWEY: Have I noticed it? I was afraid to, Kenneth. You see, you said I was only on probation. (EAGERLY) Kenneth? Will I do?

SOLDIER: Now, now, woman, don't be so forward. Wait until I propose.

MRS. DOWEY: Propose for a mother?

SOLDIER: But why not? (A LIGHTHEARTED PROPOSAL) Mrs. Dowey, you funny old thing--


SOLDIER: --have I your permission to ask you the most important question a neglected orphan can ask of an old lady?

MRS. DOWEY: Now, then, look here. None of your sauce.

SOLDIER: For a long time, Mrs. Dowey, you must have been aware of my - my sonnish feelings for you.

MRS. DOWEY: Oh, you go on. Wait till I get my mop to you!

SOLDIER: If you're not willing to be my mother, I swear I'll never ask another.

MRS. DOWEY: (PLEASED) Oh, Kenneth, Kenneth--

SOLDIER: Tell me. Was I a well-behaved infant, mother?

MRS. DOWEY: Not you, sonny; you were a rampaging rogue.

SOLDIER: Was I slow in learning to walk?

MRS. DOWEY: The quickest in our street. (LAUGHS, STOPS SHORT) Oh! Was that the whistle?

SOLDIER: Oh, no. No, no, not yet. Now, uh, listen. I sent in your name as being my nearest of kin, and your allowance will be coming to you weekly.

MRS. DOWEY: (THRILLED) Hey! hey! hey! (STOPS SHORT, SERIOUS) Hold on. Is it wicked, Kenneth?

SOLDIER: (CHUCKLES) Well, I'll take the responsibility for it in both worlds. You see, I - I wanted you to be safeguarded just in case anything happens.

MRS. DOWEY: (WORRIED) Oh, Kenneth!

SOLDIER: (REASSURING) Oh, but don't worry now. I'll - I'll come back. And, mind you -- you have that cup of tea waiting for me. Ahhh, come on over here and sit on my knee, will ya?

MRS. DOWEY: (GIGGLES) Oh, don't jump me up and down like that, Kenneth! Oh, what big knees you've got. (CHUCKLES) 


MRS. DOWEY: What fun we'll have writing to each another! Real letters this time!

SOLDIER: Ah, you must have been a bonny thing when you were young.

MRS. DOWEY: Ah, go on with ya!

SOLDIER: You know, that scarf is awfully becoming on you.

MRS. DOWEY: Well, blue was always my colour--


MRS. DOWEY: (SADLY) Oh, Kenneth--

SOLDIER: (SOLEMNLY) Old lady, you're what home means to me now.


SOLDIER: Now, now, now, you know, you - you promised not to cry.

MRS. DOWEY: I'm not cryin'. It - it's just a cold I got in me head. (WEEPS, IN BG)

SOLDIER: Bad for me, but I know it's worse for you.

MRS. DOWEY: Yes. At least, the men have medals to win. Oh, you will come back, Kenneth?

SOLDIER: Ohhh, why, of course I will. All covered with mud--

MRS. DOWEY: And medals. Oh - oh, Kenneth, so many don't ever come back. But I'll have my medals, too. I'll have all the times we've spent together, the champagny ["sham-PAG-nee"] cork and the-- 


MRS. DOWEY: (QUIETLY EMOTIONAL) Ohhhh. Ohhhh. And - and the letters you're going to write to me. Real ones this time. And - and, Kenneth, this - this kiss.



HOST: For Miss Robson and myself, thank you. The Chase and Sanborn Hour -- with W. C. Fields, May Robson, Grisha Goluboff, Dorothy Lamour, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and Werner Janssen -- continues in just a moment.