A Mile High and a Mile Deep

Episode #9
Aired 1947-08-18
Length: 29:03
Size: 6.7 MB
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A Mile High and a Mile Deep


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,

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
fellow'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 Mercury St.
Arizona St. 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 your 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

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.


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 hat 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

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

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 Sullivan 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

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 inch 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 know 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


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 break 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: Mamma ...

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: By himself?

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.

I sat there in the dark for quite a while, I guess, before I spoke again.
You know, unless you've been down there, you haven't any idea how quiet it is
that far underground. There isn't any echo when you speak; your voice is just
as flat as if you's talking into a blanket.

And you think you hear things: you think you hear somebody walking in the
dark, and you listen, and it's nothing but the blood pounding in your ears.
You listen close, and you hear a sound you never heard before in all your
life: the sound of your heart beating.

And in the dark ...

With your matches gone ...

And somebody there with you that says he's a man that's been dead for a year

He didn't speak for quite a while, either.

I didn't know whether he was still there, or not.

I called to him. Tom, I said. Tom McDonald.

He didn't answer. He was letting me think things over.

Letting me decide I'd better follow him if I ever hoped to get out of there.

What did he mean, though, he didn't think I was going to get out?

Where did he want me to go?

I thought of the Indian pictures; the terrible face, the flames, and the
figures of the bearded men.

What else was there back in that tunnel, where Tom McDonald wanted me to go?

I felt my hair begin to rise, and he spoke again, right in my ear:

TOM (CLOSE) Come on, Link. Get up.


LINCOLN: I got up.

I listened for his footsteps.

I heard him speak again (TOM: Come on) and I made up my mind.

I followed him into the blackness.


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


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 colors 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 saw -

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 McDonald. 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-shaven. 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 of men
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 Field 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 Perrazzo.

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.