A Mile High and A Mile Deep
Episode #9

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Avatar Astro1
Posted Aug 14, 2003 - 5:51 PM:


Wyllis Cooper

Sunday, August 17, 1947
10:10-10:30 PM EDST (Network)

Monday, August 18, 1947
10:00-10:30 PM EDST (WOR)

Fri. Aug. 15, 2:00-5:00 PM Studio 15
Sun. Aug. 17, 8:00-10:00 PM Studio 15

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


ANNCR: Your story for tonight, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and featuring Ernest Chappell, is called “A Mile High and a Mile Deep”



LINCOLN: How old would you say I am, partner?
I bet you wouldn’t guess in a million years.
This beard would fool you, I s’pose. Quite a set of whiskers. You’d probably guess me around sixty, sixty-five.
Well, I’m not sixty, sixty-five, partner.
Can’t guess huh?
Well, I’ll tell you. I’m thirty-four.
(HE LAUGHS) Wouldn’t think it, would you?
Practically everybody where I come from wears a beard.
Silver Bow County.
Butte, Montana. Mile high and a mile deep.
Why, the city of Butte is almost exactly a mile above sea-level. And the copper-mines go down through the solid rock of the Bitteroot Mountains more than a mile.
Mile high, mile deep - get it?
See, this mountain that Butte sits on was pretty near solid copper once. Still a lot of it there, but in seventy or eighty years, they’ve cleaned out a lot, too. That mountain’s like a honeycomb now, with drifts and stopes and tunnels and crosscuts going every which way down under. Miles and miles of tunnels, bored out of living rock at about a million levels. Used to have a joke they’d tell visitors that went down in the mines: “where’s the nearest saloon?” one feollow’d say, and the other’d come right back. “One mile from here,” he’d say. “One mile, straight up.” True, too. Gives you a funny feeling, doesn’t it.
If you’re underground you can think about the people up top, riding around in their automobiles, buying groceries, talking to people - all that, and never giving you a thought maybe. And if you’re walking down Broadway you could maybe give your imagination a workout thinking about guys in hard hats ‘way down there in the bowels of the mountains, pecking away at the seams of copper with seventeen thousand million billion tons of rock pressing down on ‘em, and the heat sucking the sweat out of ‘em and turning ‘em into rags … yeah. I should say so.


Oh, it’s different today. The mines are air-conditioned now mostly. They’ve got ventilating plants three-quarters of a mile underground that’d serve a town of two thousand. Great big rooms full of machinery forty-fifty feet high, and every bit of it brought down piece by little piece, down a shaft maybe as big as you kitchen door.
You’d be surprised what men and machinery can do, partner. (A PAUSE) And then again you’d be surprised by what men and machinery can’t do. A mile underground.
I found out.
I’ll say I found out.
I found out the hard way, partner.


LINCOLN: I wish you didn’t have that light on.
It hurts my eyes.
See, there isn’t much light down there in the copper mines. Some places there isn’t any light at all.


LINCOLN: Some places there’s just hot, heavy darkness.
And silence.
Like a grave.
Only in a grave there’s a nice heavy coffin to keep the earth from pressing down on you.
Down there, there’s nothing. Just the naked rocks.
And they’re awful close.


LINCOLN: You know, it’s a curious thing. There isn’t much of the earth’s surface that people haven’t seen. Sure, there’s a few blank spots on the map, but throughout the millions of years the earth’s been here, people have learned a lot about the outside. They’ve even got a pretty fair knowledge of what’s down in the ocean. But the inside of the earth: you don’t know much about that, do you? See, the earth’s about eight thousand miles from one side to the other. And a few people have been down maybe a mile, a mile and a half. The deepest mine in the world is just a scratch on the surface.
The rest is a mystery.
There’s a few people who have a pretty good idea what the rest of it’s like.
There’s … maybe a half a dozen who know.
Me, for instance.
I know.
That’s what I wanted to tell you about.
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Avatar Astro1
Posted Aug 14, 2003 - 8:53 PM:


It was January 26th, 1932.
It doesn’t seem like sixteen years ago.
It seems like six hundred.
My father was assistant superintendent of one of the big mines, and I had pretty much the run of the place. They used to let me guide parties of tourists down below; take ‘em down and answer all the silly questions, see they didn’t get lost or smacked by a car load of ore or lose a shoe in the mud…you know.
I knew that mine pretty well; about as well as anybody. Nobody, though, knows all the passageways down there. I told you there’s hundreds of miles of ‘em that are known. Also, there’s some that nobody knows about.
I’d had a party down at the 3700 foot level. Eight of ‘em, I remember; four women and four men, politicians and their wives from Pennsylvania. And Louie Sullivan was with me. Lad about my age that I used to run around with. His first time underground. I’d asked him to come along half a dozen times, but he always turned me down. Claustrophobia, isn’t that what you call it? Fear of enclosed spaces? Yeh.
I can still see Louie, standing there with a raincoat on (it’s damp down there, you know) and a hard wat with a miner’s lamp on it, breathing through his mouth and the sweat pouring down his face as I dropped the gate on the cage and rang the signal to take it away.


LOUIE: Hey, wait - ain’t we going?

LINCOLN: Ah, the cage’s pretty full, Louie.


LINCOLN: It’ll be right down again.

LOUIE: I don’t like this, Link.

LINCOLN: (LAUGHS) Ah, cut it out, Louie.

LOUIE: Can’t breathe down here.

LINCOLN: Keep your shirt on; we’ll be out in a few minutes.

LOUIE: And I don’t like the cage, either.

LINCOLN: Well, it’s the only way to get out.

LOUIE: It goes too fast.

LINCOLN: You’ll get used to it.

LOUIE: Not me. You’re never going to get me down here again. How long before the cage’ll be down again.

LINCOLN: Few minutes. Oh, say, you want to see something?

LOUIE: See what?

LINCOLN: The Indian writing?

LOUIE: What Indian writing?

LINCOLN: Over here in this cross-cut.

LOUIE: I don’t want to see it.

LINCOLN: Come on; we got time. You ought to see it.

LOUIE: What is it?

LINCOLN: Nobody knows. When they headed in this cross-cut about eight years ago they busted right into a tunnel that was already there.

LOUIE: What?

LINCOLN: Yeh. Can you imagine that? 3700 feet underground, a blind tunnel -

LOUIE: You’re crazy.

LINCOLN: I’m telling you. And Indian writing is on the wall.

LOUIE: I don’t believe it.

LINCOLN: Come on and look. It’s right here.

LOUIE: I’ll take your word for it, Link.

LINCOLN: No, no kidding. I won’t let you get lost. Come on.

LOUIE: Well - you go first.

LINCOLN: Light your lamp, there’s no light in there.

LOUIE: Listen, Link -

LINCOLN: (AWAY A LITTLE) Come on, come on. The cage’ll be back down in a minute.

LOUIE: (SUDDENLY PANICKY) Hey, wait! Wait for me!

LINCOLN: (OFF) Well, come on!

LOUIE: Where are you? Where are you -

LINCOLN: (OFF) Here! Come on!

LOUIE: (SCRAMBLES OVER ROCKS A LITTLE WAY) Gee, don’t go away like that, Link!

LINCOLN: (CLOSER) Light your lamp. Here, I’ll light it. Hold still.


LINCOLN: That’s my last match. There. Okay?

LOUIE: I don’t like this place.

LINCOLN: Picture’s right here.

LOUIE: Where?

LINCOLN: Here, down close to the floor. See?


LINCOLN: See? The face?

LOUIE: Yeah. It’s … horrible.

LINCOLN: Flames?

LOUIE: People.

LINCOLN: Yeh. Kind of scary.

LOUIE: Did - did you say they found the place like this?

LINCOLN: Busted right into it.

LOUIE: How could anybody get in here to draw those pictures?

LINCOLN: I don’t know.


LINCOLN: Nobody knows. (A PAUSE) Must’ve been a passage of some kind up to the surface at one time, I s’pose.

LOUIE: What - what d’you suppose it means?

LINCOLN: I don’t know.

LOUIE: Where does this tunnel go?

LINCOLN: I’m going to find out some day.

LOUIE: Hasn’t anybody ever been down there?

LINCOLN: You couldn’t get one of these miners to go down there for a million bucks.

LOUIE: Nor me.

LINCOLN: Well, I’m going to explore it some day, by golly.

LOUIE: Well, you can do it some other day. Let’s get out of here.

LINCOLN: Why don’t you come with me when I do it, Louie?

LOUIE: Listen, Link, if I ever get out of here you’re never going to get me down here again. Not never.

LINCOLN: Don’t be such a sap.

LOUIE: Come on, let’s go. I got a bellyful. I’m scared.

LINCOLN: What are you scared of? What’s there to be scared of down here?


LINCOLN: Sure. What was there to be scared of? The entrance to the lighted drift we’d just come from was only twenty feet away. The cage to take us back to the surface would be there in a couple of seconds. I stepped around a fall of rock that I knew like I knew the back of my hand and there was the mouth of the passage. But it wasn’t the right mouth. There was nothing out there but blackness. Thick, crawling blackness that plucked at the feeble lights in our hats. And there was a wind blowing. There shouldn’t have been any wind. And then Louie Sulllivan yelled at me.

LOUIE: (OFF) Link! My light’s going out!

LINCOLN: And I said don’t be silly these lights can’t go out. But the light on his hat flickered and died. And then my light went out, too.


LINCOLN: Sixteen years ago this coming 26th of January. Little kids that were just out of their didies then have grown up and gone away to that war you had, and come back heroes. Girls that were still in their didies have kids of their own now. People that were what you might call in the prime of life then have died of old age since. And I haven’t seen - well, I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
You want to know what happened down there that afternoon, two-thirds of a mile below where the snow was falling and the people were going about their business.
Maybe you might have been in Butte that Tuesday afternoon. You’d remember the headlines in the Standard-Post about me, Lincoln Pendarvis, Junior, son of the well-known mining executive, and Louis W. Sullivan, son of Mr. And Mrs. Vincent de Paul Sullivan, about us being lost.
I heard about the search for us.
It was one of the biggest, most frantic searches in the history of Butte.
It went on for weeks, almost.
They scoured every inche of the workings.
Except the tunnel where the Indian pictures were. You couldn’t get those superstitious miners to go in there.
And, of course, they never found us.


LINCOLN: I don’t want to get excited and emotional about this, partner.
It would be so easy to; and maybe before I get through, I may blow my top. If I do, you just go along with me, and listen. I don’t know whether you’re going to believe all this or not. I don’t particularly care. I’ve got something to get off my chest, and that’s what I’m up to. You can flip off your radio when I get done and say “that guy’s nuts” if you want to. It isn’t going to make a particle of difference to me. I happen to believe what I’m telling you, because I’ve seen it, but you make up your own mind. Only thing is, I want you to remember that I didn’t get excited and holler at you , and try to scare you. So take it or leave it, partner. I’ll personally feel a good tell better for having told you, and that’s enough.
So our lights went out.
So we weren’t’ where we thought we were at all.
We were lost, 3700 feet down in the earth.
And I’m scared, only I know that if I let Louie known I’m scared there’s going to be trouble, the way he is. So I said give me a match, Louie, I said, and I’ll light our lamps again.

LOUIE: I haven’t got any matches.

LINCOLN: And I remember that the match I used before was my last one, and so I didn’t say anything for a minute, and pretty soon Louie began to cry in the day.


LINCOLN: and I tried to shut him up. I said, hey, cut it out, Louie, they’ll be down here after us in no time. And Louie kept right on crying, and I said, Louie do you hear me we’ll be out of here before dark and we’ll ride over to Meaderville and we’ll have a big Italian dinner, I said. I said we’ll have spaghetti and some of that hot sausage with peppers, and we’ll have a big veal cutlet and ravioli, and we’ll get Dominick to bre3ak out a bottle of Barbera, and all the time I’m talking I’m getting hungrier and hungrier, and Louie’s sitting there in the dark kind of crying

LOUIE: Mama …

LINCOLN: and I go on talking about food and red wine and stuff, and pretty soon I notice Louie isn’t crying any more, and I stop and listen


LINCOLN: and I figure I’ve talked him out of his crying for a while and I say how’s about it, Louie? You go for that, huh? That Meaderville business?


LINCOLN: Louie …



LINCOLN: Louie! (PAUSE) Louie! Say something, will you? Has the guy fainted? Louie! Where are you? (PAUSE) Listen, Louie, don’t do that to me! I can hear you breathing -

TOM: That isn’t Louie you hear, son.



TOM: Tom.


TOM: Tom McDonald.

LINCOLN: Tom McDonald! Where did you come from, Tom?

TOM: Back there.

LINCOLN: Where’s Louie?

TOM: He went back there.

LINCOLN: Back where? Down the tunnel?

TOM: Mm-hm.

LINCOLN: Why, he was so scared…

TOM: He’s not scared any more.

LINCOLN: Well, that’s funny. Say, I’m sure glad you came, Tom.

TOM: Sure.

LINCOLN: You got a match, Tom?

TOM: Match? No.

LINCOLN: How’m I going to light my lamp?

TOM: I don’t think you are going to light it.

LINCOLN: Well, how am I going to get out of here, then?

TOM: What?

LINCOLN: I said how’m I going to get out of here, then?

TOM: Oh. (PAUSE) Why, I don’t think you are going to get out of here, Link?

LINCOLN: What’d you say?

TOM: (GETTING UP) Come on with me.


TOM: With me. (MOVES AWAY A LITTLE) Come on.

LINCOLN: Where are we going?

TOM: (AWAY) Back there.

LINCOLN: With Louie?

TOM: (OFF) With all of us.

LINCOLN: All of who?

TOM: (OFF) Come on, Link.

LINCOLN: Where are you?

TOM: (OFF) Right here.

LINCOLN: I hear you breathing, but I can’t -

TOM: (OFF) That’s not me, Link.

LINCOLN: What! Well, who else is there? (PAUSE) Who is it I hear? Tom! Answer me!

TOM: (OFF) Why, son, that’s the earth you hear breathing.


LINCOLN: And that was when I remembered that Tom McDonald had been buried in a cave-in a year before … and they’d never found his body.


LINCOLN: I smacked my head against the walls as I followed Tom’s footsteps down the twisting tunnel. I stumbled in the wet black darkness. I called to him - Tom! Hey, Tom! -- and the only answer was plodding footsteps ahead of me.


LINCOLN: What could I do? I didn’t dare to stop! I had to follow him! And we walked on and on, and it was always downhill, and I was so tired I could hardly take another step. And there seemed to be a little glow of reddish light ahead. And the footsteps went on and on. I wanted to stop and rest, but I could hear him ahead of me, and somehow I knew if I stopped I’d never catch up with him again. And then the footsteps halted, and the voice spoke again.

TOM: Stop right there, Link.

LINCOLN: Are we nearly out of here, Tom?

TOM: Be still…

LINCOLN: And the little glow of reddish lights began to grow brighter. And I looked around to see where it came from; I looked around to see who this was that was pretending to be a man dead for a year; I looked around to find my friend who had disappeared in the darkness. And there wasn’t anybody. I stood there alone, and the light got brighter and brighter. And I heard Tom’s voice.

TOM: Don’t move, Link.

LINCOLN: And I heard Louie Sullivan’s voice.

LOUIE: Don’t be afraid, Link.

LINCOLN: And the light got brighter and brighter, and I still couldn’t see anybody, and then suddenly it seemed like a great curtain was flung aside, and the place was brighter than day: brighter than ten thousand days.


LINCOLN: And I still heard Louie’s voice.

LOUIE: Stand still, Link.

LINCOLN: And I heard Tom McDonald’s voice.

TOM: Look down, Link. Look down.

LINCOLN: And I looked down.
I looked down into flames that leaped at me from a thousand miles below me: red and green and blue and colours I never knew existed. Its was like looking down from a mountaintop on a whole world afire, and the flames leaped and pulsed like the beating of a great heart as I looked at them there below me, and then -

LOUIE: Watch, Link.

TOM: Watch….watch…

LINCOLN: And in the sea of flames below I thought I saw a face….a face that filled the whole world, it seemed, and it was a cruel face, but somehow a serene face and its eyes gazed into mine
And then it faded
And then I heard the voices again

TOM: You saw her, Link.

LOUIE: We saw her.

LINCOLN: And I tore my eyes away from the flames below - And there stood Louie. And Tom MacDonald. And I said without any surprise at all
Yes, I saw her.
It was the face in the Indian picture back there, wasn’t it?

TOM: You saw her.

LINCOLN: Who - who is she, Tom?

TOM: That is Mother Earth, son.


LINCOLN: No, I wasn’t surprised.
Tom McDonald stood there on the brink of that sea of flames and looked at me and talked to me, and I knew it was Tom McDonald, even though I knew tom McDonald was dead. I recognized him: Tom McDonald when I knew him had been clean-shave. Now he was wearing a beard like some patriarch out of Holy Writ. But there was no doubt in my mind. I can hear that dry voice of his, as matter-of-fact as it had ever been.

TOM: The Earth lives, son.
The Earth lives just the same as we do.
She gives us all the gifts she thinks are good for her children, and some of her gifts she’s still keeping till we’re ready for them.
She’s a good mother to us all; but when we don’t do right, she can be a terrible mother.


LINCOLN: And I swear, the flames leaped higher when he said that.

TOM: She asks very little from us, son.
But what belongs to her, she takes.
All of us belong to her.
To Mother Earth.

LINCOLN: Then the sea of flames below us seemed to make a kind of great music that was almost a voice chanting something that I knew I ought to understand, but I couldn’t quite get. And as the flames reached higher again and the music rolled up at us and in their light I saw hundreds, thousands, millions o fmen and women, standing on the same ledge we were standing on, gazing down into…into the face of Mother Earth, dim in the raging fires. And the flames rose higher and the music sounded louder and suddenly the flames swept up to us, to all the millions of people I had seen, and I heard Tom McDonald’s voice again through the music and the roar of the flames.

TOM: Mother Earth takes us now.
You are the one That is Left.
You will know what to do.

LINCOLN: And the flames fell back again, and I was all alone.
Alone with Mother Earth.
It was dark again, but I could see.
I could see the smile on her face.
And I knew.


LINCOLN: And so I’ve come to tell you, partner.
I said I don’t care whether you believe me or not.
I know what I believe. I know what I learned.
I know that this place under the city of Butte, Montana, county seat of Silver Bow county, population 1940 37,081, elevation above sea level approximately one mile … I know that this place is not the only one in the world where there’s a gateway to Mother earth and her fires. I know there is one back of a certain hangar at Templehof in Berlin. I know about one near Mono Lake, in California. There is one a few miles from Haverstraw, New York; and there are many others.
No, you can’t find them partner.
And the reason why nobody has ever heard of them is simple, have you guessed it? That’s right. Nobody ever comes back to tell about them.
There’s just one or two other things to tell you, and then I’ll be going.
Every year, one of these..I’ll call them Gateways…every year one of the Gateways supplies the people for Mother Earth. It was Butte in 1932. Last year they came from a place in Mexico where there’s an ancient Maya ruin.
In the years between we who are left go out and bring people back to our underground caverns…to wait.
You’ve heard of people disappearing…
There was that man who disappeared from Room 307 of the Finlen Hotel in Butte.
The girl named Lucienne, from down on Mercury Street, in Butte.
People who drop out of sight and are never heard of again? That’s what becomes of them.
They belong to Mother Earth.
Incidentally, remember I told you about the Gateway behind the hangar on Templehof Field, in Berlin? Wasn’t there a man and a woman who disappeared a couple of years ago, in Berlin?
Quite well-known people?
Don’t worry about them.
They belong to Mother Earth, with all the rest.
This year it’s our turn again, in Butte.
We haven’t got quite enough people yet.
But we’ll get them.
Mother Earth takes what belongs to her.
So…maybe some night you’ll wake up suddenly in the dark, and you’ll hear somebody breathing, when you know there isn’t anybody there.
Maybe you’ll believe me then.
We’ll see partner, Won’t we?


ANNCR: You have been listening to Quiet, Please. Tonight’s story, A Mile High and A Mile Deep was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. The man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.

CHAPPELL: And Lon Clarke played Louie Sullivan. Tom was Edgar Stehli. The music was composed and played by Gene Parrazzo.
And now for a word about next week’s Quiet Please story, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: Next week we have the story of a murderer by proxy, and the fate that overtakes him. It’s called “Mirror, Mirror On the Wall”.

CHAPPELL: And until next week, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.


ANNCR: This program came to you from New York.
This is the Mutual Broadcasting System.
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