Below 5th Avenue

Episode #52
Aired 1948-05-31
Length: 28:56
Size: 13.3 MB
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Quiet, Please!

Wyllis Cooper

No. 51


MBS – WOR – Mon. May 31, 1948 – 9:30-10:00 PM EDST
REH – Mon. May 31, 1948 – 2:00-5:00 PM EST STUDIO 2
8:00-9:30 PM EST STUDIO 15

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


ANNCR: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents “Quiet, Please!” which is written and directed y Wyllis Cooper, and which features Ernest Chappell. “Quiet, Please!” for tonight is called, “Below Fifth Avenue”.




GREEL: (SORT OF SQUEAKS IN DISMAYED SURPRISE) (RECOVERING HIMSELF) You’ll just have to excuse me – sudden sounds and things like that –


GREEL: I;m just so upset – I’m coming – I’m coming, I’m coming! For heavens’ sake!


GREEL: Yes, yes here I am.


GREEL: Hello, he’s not here! He – what? I say he’s not here. Me? I’m – I’m his – ah – manservant. No! No, I am not here. Oooh. (RESIGNED NOW) All right. All right, no, I will not have you coming here. I’m just in a tizzy, you can’t come here! What?


GREEL: Hello? Hello? Huh!


GREEL: Heck!


GREEL: I declare I’ll never get adjusted. Television, radar, wars, Russian Bolsheviks, people flying across the ocean every which-way – it wasn’t like that in my day!
My, I wish I had a bottle of beer. Oh, no! what am I saying! Ugh! I never want to drink beer again! No, sir, it certainly wasn’t like this in my day! There wasn’t anybody flying every which-way across the ocean in my day – not till this young fellow did it.. Well, sir, when I heard he was going to fly the ocean, I just said to myself, I’m going out to Roosevelt Field and watch him take off, for after all didn’t he used to fly the mail right smack over our house in South Pekin, Illinois, practically every night? I just felt like an old friend, and I simply had to see him take off, and so I went out to Roosevelt Field, and my, what a journey that was. And of course I got there too late, and all I was a lot of grease-ball mechanics standing around and sharking their head and feeling sorry for Lindy. Well, I had my revenge, take if from me. I took a girl friend of mine to the fights at Yankee Stadium the next night; this Jack Sharkey or George Sharkey or Tom Sharkey or whatever his name was, was fighting this big hooligan named Maloney, and the announcer stood up and said Lindy was ‘way out over the ocean and we should pray for him.
And we all stood up and prayed, even this Gwen Darling that was with me. I mean her name was Darling. And you know what happened? That was the twentieth day of May, 1927 – and on the twenty-first Charles Augustus Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris! Wasn’t that wonderful? I sent him a cable – but I suppose he got so may cables … my, my, it seem slike just yesterday. Oh, boy, does it! Hm. (HE PAUSES FOR A FEW SECONDS) Where was I? Oh, yes. After the fights – do you know, it’s funny, I don’t remember who won? – we came downtown on the subway, but then Darling wanted to ride on top of a bus, so we go off somewhere and got on top of a Fifth Avenue bus, and she lived down in the Village – Greenwich Village, you know? – I went past here house yesterday and it isn’t there any more. And there isn’t any Gwen Darling in the phone book, so how can I find her? I ask you. Well, anyway. She wanted to walk – oh, these people that always want to walk, and I have a bunion as big as – heavens! I always say there’s nothing worse than a bunion! Well, so we got off at Fourteenth Street, and we paddled down to Fifth Avenue, and when we got to Tenth Street there was a great big hole in the middle of the street, and Gwennie looked at me and said one of those awful clichés people always say, you know –

GWEN: New York’ll be a nice town if they ever get it finished, won’t it, Romney?

GREEL: I read the New Yorker, too, Darling.

GWEN: It wasn’t the New Yorker, it was the Literary Digest.

GREEL: Well, whatever it was, I read it.

GWEN: What do you suppose they dig those holes for?

GREEL: Somebody lost a dime, I suppose.

GWEN: Huh. That was in Life last week.

GREEL: It was not. I made it up. Isn’t it wonderful about Lindy?

GWEN: Everywhere you go, there’s a hole in the street.

GREEL: Now that’s a bright remark.

GWEN: What are they for, Romney, really?

GREEL: It’s all full of little men who live down there, and they have to come up for air sometime.

GWEN: Really? Aw, you’re kidding!

GREEL: I am not. There’s little green men down there, and they eat the covering off the electric cables, and that’s what causes short-circuits.

Gwen: What’s a short-circuit, Romney?

GREEL: And they bore holes in the pipes down there and cause watermains to bust, and they just raise the dickens with things. And when they get mad, they blow the manhole covers off and cause all sorts of trouble.

GWEN: Really, Romney?

GREEL: You’ll believe anything, won’t you, Darling?


GWEN: Well, you’re so convincing, Romney!

GREEL: (LAUGHS) You’re a little idiot, Gwennie.

GWEN: I’m two inches taller than you are!

GREEL: Oh, be still.

GWEN: Romney.

GREEL: What?

GWEN: Let’s go look down there.

GREEL: Down where?

GWEN: The excavation.

GREEL: What for?

GWEN: I want to see what’s down there.

GREEL: Pipes.

GWEN: I want to see.

GREEL: Well, go look, for heaven’s sake.

GWEN: I’m afraid to.

GREEL: Oh, geeminy crickets! Come on.

GWEN: You don’t have to drag me!

GREEL: I couldn’t drag a great big horse like you!

GWEN: Romney Greel, you can’t talk to me like that!

GREEL: Go on, look.

GWEN: (LOOKING) Nothing but pipes.

GREEL: I said there were pipes, dear.

GWEN: And wires.

GREEL: Cables, we call them.

GWEN: Romney.

GREEL: What?

GWEN: Look. A Ladder.

GREEL: Well?

GWEN: Let’s climb down

GREEL: Are you dotty, girl?

GWEN: I want to see what’s down there.

GREEL: Well, I don’t.

GWEN: Romney, please.


GWEN: Please, Romney.


GWEN: Come on.

GREEL: Gwen, get away from that ladder –

GWEN: (AWAY) Come on, Romney, I’m scared.

GREEL: (ANGRILY) Oh, you – you – us (AS HE CLIMBS DOWN) Get your fingers out of the way –

GWEN: (AWAY) Look out, Romney, there’s a loose rung in the –


GREEL: Blugh!

GWEN: Oh, Romney, are you hurt?

GREEL: Ooooh.

GWEN: Now how are we going to get out of here again?

LITTLE MAN: Hey, you!



GREEL: Who’s that –

LITTLE MAN: (OFF) What are you doing down there in that hole?

GREEL: Uh – ah – wh-what hole?


LITTLE MAN: What’re you doing down there, I said!

GREEL: Why, uh – we were just – uh – looking around.

LITTLE MAN: Well, you just wait till Van catches you. You’ll wish you hadn’t!

GREEL: Now see what you’ve done.

GWEN: Let’s get out of here, Romney!

GREEL: How, fool?

LITTLE MAN: (CLOSER) You can’t get out. I saw you break that ladder.

GREEL: Sir, I’m very sorry about the ladder.

LITTLE MAN: Fat lot of good that’ll do you when Van sees it.

GREEL: Who’s Van?


GREEL: And who are you?

LITTLE MAN: Don’t worry about me. I just work here.

GREEL: Excuse me, sir, I can’t see you … it’s so dark down here

LITTLE MAN: (LAUGHS) Look down at your feet.

(MUSIC …..)


LITTLE MAN: Van! Van - hey, Van! Help!

VAN: (RUNNING UP) Here, here, what’s going on here?

GREEL: Sir, I –

LITTLE MAN: (SQUASHED) This big fat woman fainted on me, Van! Pull her off!

VAN: Why, the fat lady should be more careful. Here, give me a hand mister. My, isn’t she a whopper!

GREEL: Gwen, you get up.

GWEN: (MOANS) Ohhh. I thought I saw a little man – ooooh! He’s still there! Romney!

GREEL: (WITH DIFFICULTY) My throat. Gwen, my throat.


GREEL: Now perhaps you will believe me when I make a statement, Miss Darling.

GWEN: You said – you said –

VAN: Did he tell you about the Little Men, young woman?

GREEL: (HASTILY) I was just joking, sir. I made up a fantastic story about little men –

VAN: Mm-hm.

GREEL: It was made up out of whole cloth, sir, I assure you –

VAN: A likely story.


VAN: A likely story. We shall have to go into this.

GWEN: R-romney!


GWEN: L-look at the Little Man!

VAN: Why, what about him, ma’am?

GWEN: He’s eating the covering off the c-cable!

VAN: Well, after all, lady, it’s time for his midnight lunch, isn’t it?


GREEL: I give you my solemn affidavit. That’s what he was doing. It isn’t bad enough to climb down into a hole in Fifth Avenue at midnight, no! we have to find a Little Man, and the Little Man has to eat cables, yet! I remember, I thought to myself, golly, I thought, it’s a good thing I didn’t tell Gwen they eat people! The little dickens would probably have been asking for mustard to put on the back of my neck! I tell you it was just the most fantastic thing I even experienced! And I remember it just like yesterday. But you haven’t heard anything yet!


GREEL: For the first time in her life, that Darling woman was speechless. I could have knocked her eyes off with a stick, if I’d had a stick. She didn’t say a word till the Little Man took one last bite of the nice lead, and came over and grabbed her, and


GREEL: walked right up the side of the excavation with her over his shoulder! I could hear her hooting and hollering all the way down on Fifth Avenue, and the Little Man came scooting down and grinned at this Van fellow.

LITTLE MAN: She won’t come back, Van.

VAN: Maybe she won’t. But we’d better move the hole.

GREEL: Better do which?

VAN: Move the hole.

LITTLE MAN: Where to, Van?

VAN: Oh, make it the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Forty-second.

LITTLE MAN: Vanderbilt and Forty-second. Right by Grand Central. Oh, goody.

VAN: And watch that turn at Forty-second Street. It’s tricky

LITTLE MAN: Oh sure, Van.


LITTLE MAN: Forty-second and Vanderbilt, and make it snappy.


GREEL: And I tell you, now. I looked up, and I saw the buildings on Fifth Avenue sliding by the top of the hole, and pretty soon the streetcar tracks at Fourteenth Street went overhead, and we picked up speed, and the hole was just whizzing up Fifth Avenue! Me? I just sweat bullets. Bail out? How could I bail out? We were going forty miles an hour, and the thing was fifteen feet deep if it was an inch! And besides, this Van fellow had me by the wrist, and I couldn’t wiggle!


GREEL: I’m not going to answer it.


GREEL: I simply will not answer it. I won’t, I won’t!


GREEL: I know who it is.


GREEL: Oh, well, for goodness sakes!


GREEL: I said you cannot come here! Van, listen to me! What? No, Van. Yes, Van. No, Van. I will not. No, now you stop calling me, Van. Good bye.


GREEL: yes, that was the same Van. I will not see him. Where was I? Oh. So we parked the hole right at the busiest spot at Vanderbilt and Forty-second and the front end of a taxi-cab fell in the hole, and we had to move it, and then I said well I guess I’ll be going, because I was scared green, you see. Nothing like this had ever happened to me, and I had about all I wanted. But this Van wouldn’t hear of it.

VAN: No, buddy. We’re going to find out how you know so much about our business.

GREEL: Mister, honestly I don’t know anything about your business. I just made it up! Really. I have a very active imagination.

VAN: Yes. You have that. You imagined the Little Men eating lead off the cables.


VAN: Funny they never ate it before.



VAN: You heard what I said. What else did you imagine?

GREEL: Nothing.

VAN: Well, imagine something.

GREEL: What?

VAN: Anything. I want to try an experiment.

GREEL: Well … should I imagine that these little men haven’t got any names?

VAN: That’s awfully easy. Let’s see. Hey, you, what’s your name?

LITTLE MAN: Me? I haven’t got any name.

VAN: You’re Melvin.

LITTLE MAN: (INDIGNANTLY) I am not! I haven’t got any name!

VAN: Well, well. Imagine something else, Mr. – ah –

GREEL: Greel. Romney Greel. I am a sign painter by profession.

VAN: Imagine something else, Mr. Greel.

GREEL: Well – ah – I imagine everybody who comes down in this place is turned into a Little Man.

VAN: Hmmm. Is that so? Go on, Mr. Greel.

GREEL: And I had a sudden inspiration. Aha, I said to myself. Aha, and then I spoke out loud. I imagine I’m out of this hole and down at Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue again. And whooooooosh, zip, bang, bounce! I am staring at the church at the corner, and there isn’t a sign of a hole in miles. You know what I said? I said wow. Wow-ee, I said. And I started across the street. And fell flat on my face.


I tripped over my pants-legs. And I heard a loud shriek and there was a policeman galloping up the street away from me, and turning his head over his shoulder with his eyes bugging out, and yelling bloody murder. Well, I said, for goodness sakes, and I tried to get up. Tried! I darn near fractured my patella.
Why, my suit was too big for me. My suit was ‘way too big for me, and I knew why the policeman ran away. I was a Little Man! I was two feet high! I’d imagined one too many things!


GREEL: What was I to do?
Goodness, I couldn’t go home this way! It was all I could do to crawl! And then I had a brilliant idea! I slithered out to the middle of the street, and I sat down surrounded by my clothes, and I said in a loud voice “I imagine that hole is right back where it started!” and there was a noise, and I looked, and here she came! A row of red lights roaring down the street forty miles an hour, and the hole pulled up right there at my feet, and stoppe.


GREEL: And there was this Van, sitting on the edge and grinning like an ape drinking a bottle of beer.

VAN: Nice imagining, Romney. Have a drink?

GREEL: Well, this was Prohibition, remember, and a bottle of beer was a bottle of beer. So I had one with Van, and pretty soon I felt better. So we went below and had a very nice sociable session, Van and I.

VAN: (DRINKS) You know, Romney, you could be very valuable to me in my business.

GREEL: Well … sign-painting isn’t really so ludicrous. I mean lucrative. Inform me of your proposition.

VAN: Have another beer.

GREEL: I don’t mind if I do. (DRINKS) This is very delicious beer. Make it yourself?

VAN: The Little Men make it.

GREEL: Convelient. Convenient, I mean. Could you tell me something about your work, Van, old boy?

VAN: Well, let me see. We have the water-main department.

GREEL: Water main.

VAN: They’re in charge of breaking the pipes that carry water to the houses in Manhattan.

GREEL: Why don’t you have a department that attaches the water pipes to the gaspipes, old boy?

VAN: Excellent! Now you see how valuable you could be to me?

GREEL: It’s nothing. (DRINKS) Go on.

VAN: And the telephone division. Yes, Melvin?

LITTLE MAN: My name’s not Melvin. Look, Van, we just got the Chelsea exchange hooked up with Easton, Pennsylvania. They won’t get that unscrewed till day after tomorrow.

VAN: Oh, fine, Melvin.

LITTLE MAN: Don’t call me Melvin.

GREEL: I imagine they’ll get it fixed before that, Van. You know, the telephone repairmen –

LITTLE MAN: Oh, darn you, now look what you’ve done! Now we’ve got all the work to do over again!

GREEL: What?

LITTLE MAN: You and your imagining! Make him stop, Van!

VAN: Romney, don’t imagine anything till I tell you.

GREEL: Oh, all right!

VAN: Go ahead, Melvin, and get those manholes blown up there in the Bronx.

LITTLE MAN: (GRUMBLING) Oh, all right! But you leave us alone, now!

GREEL: I want to hear more about this work, Van.

VAN: (DRINKS) Well, our principal is digging holes. You see, I was elected Commissioner of Annoyance and Inconvenience on a platform of more holes for Manhattan, but to tell you the truth, I haven’t been able to get them. We have to keep moving holes all over town, and they’re getting in pretty bad shape. Just as we’ve got traffic really snarled up, one of the Little Men reports a new place where everything’s going smoothly, and we have to move a hole. We’re just worn out!

GREEL: Oh, I imagine in another ten, twenty years –

VAN: (EAGERLY) Yes, yes? What, Romney?

GREEL: Why, I imagine you’ll have millions of holes. You’ll have so many that you can leave ‘em standing for months. Think of that.

VAN: Oh, thank you, Romney! Millions of holes! Ah, I can see Madison Avenue dug up for blocks, and just staying that way form months and months! Oh, man!

GREEL: I imagine that’s the way it’ll be. (DRINKS)

VAN: Oh, thank you, Romney!

GREEL: Don’t mention it.

VAN: You’re hired.

GREEL: I’d like another pleer, bease.

VAN: A what?

GREEL: said a plee, beers.

VAN: Oh, sure. Here.

GREEL: Thanks. Hey, I have an idea.


GREEL: Let’s put a hole right at each end of the Brooklyn Bridge.

VAN: (SADLY) Oh, that’d be fine, Romney, but I haven’t got any spare ones.

GREEL: Oh, I imagine we could find a couple.


VAN: Hello.


VAN: What?

LITTLE MAN: (ON PHONE) There’s a beautiful new hole at each end of the Brooklyn Bridge! Oh, boy, and the Dodgers are playing a double-header today.

VAN: You can thank Romney for that, Melvin.

LITTLE MAN: (ON PHONE) Don’t call me Melvin!


VAN: Well, Romney, you really are hired! This is –

GWEN: (OFF) Rom-ney!

VAN: Who’s that?

GWEN: Romney! Romney, Greel!

GREEL: It’s Gwen. Hello, Gwen.

GWEN: You come right out of that, Romney.

GREEL: Huh-uh.

GWEN: I’ll call a cop!

GREEL: Oh, I don’t imagine you will. (DRINKS)

GWEN: Hey? Well, all right, I won’t.

GREEL: I’m going to stay here, Gwen.

GWEN: You come with me!

GREEL: Nope.

GWEN: Romney, I love you.

GREEL: Nonsense.

VAN: (DRINKS) That’s right, nonsense.

GWEN: I’ll come down there after you.

GREEL: Oh, I imagine you’ll go home and go to sleep.

GWEN: Well, good night, Romney.

VAN: Can you beat that? She went away.

GREEL: Sure. Got any more beer?

VAN: Millions. Say, what do you think’ll become of that girl?

GREEL: Don’t worry. I imagine I’ll see her in twenty years or so.

VAN: Beer.

GREEL: Thanks. Say, can I blow up a manhole?

VAN: Sure. Where?

GREEL: In front of the office where I work. Where I worked. Broadway and Eighth.

VAN: Sure. Press this button. (DRINKS) No, this one.

GREEL: This one?

VAN: Yep.

GREEL: Okay.


GREEL: (AFTER A MOMENT) Hey, Van. Van. Hey, Little Man. Van. I pressed the wrong button. Gosh, it’s dark in here. (YAWNS) Oh, well. That beer made me sleepy. I’ll take a nap and then I’ll look for ‘em. Imagine I can get a good long sleep …


GREEL: Well, I can assure you I got a good long sleep all right. Gracious! When I woke up it was dark as pitch, or whatever it is. And you know what? That scoundrel had moved the hole, and there I was coming to somewhere down below Fifth Avenue, and no way to get out.
Well, did I have a tizzy. And I was so hungry, and that beer! What a hangover! Well, I stood it as long as I could, and if I could have found that Van I’d have shaken him till his teeth rattled! But there wasn’t a sound. I was all alone! Well, I tell you I was starving, and finally I found the telephone cable, and I tore it down and I ate about two yards of it, and I felt better. So I slept a little again, and I was awaked, so help me! By somebody hammering over my head!
Well, to make a long story short, it was the telephone company. They’d come down to fix the cable I’d eaten, you see. So I got out. Oh, I was a sight, but apparently I had imagined in my sleep that I was my right size again, so I wasn’t troubled by that! And I climbed out of the hole – an I must say it wasn’t as good a hole as we had when Van and the Little Men were there. And I came out, and finally I found this place to live. And you know when it was I got out of that hole? Day before yesterday! Twenty-one years after I blew it up – accidentally, of course. Yes, sir –


GREEL: Oho! There’s Van! The dickens with him! Just as soon as he found I was out he started pestering me! Huh!


GREEL: I won’t answer the door, so you can just knock till your knuckles bleed!




GREEL: Oh, for goodness sakes!


GREEL: Now, listen –

GWEN: Good evening, sir, I am introducing and offering for sale a new type of household – Romney!

GREEL: G-gwen!

GWEN: Oh, Romney, I’ve been looking for you for twenty years.

GREEL: Well – uh – hello, Gwen.


GWEN: Where have you been, Romney darling?

GREEL: I’ve been away, dearest.

GWEN: Are you married?

GREEL: Oh, my, no!

GWEN: Romney, it’s still Leap Year! You have to marry me.

GREEL: Why – why, Gwen, I imagine I’d like that. GWEN! KISS ME, DEAREST! Oh, how I love you! Ooooooh!

GWEN: Oh, Romney …. Romney … don’t ever leave me again!

GREEL: Leave you! Ha! I can just imagine me leaving you and going back with the fellow again – oooh, what am I saying!


VAN: I heard you , Romney. I heard you imagining! Come along.

GREEL: Well, good-bye, Gwen.

GWEN: Romney! Who is this man?

VAN: Come on, Romney.

GWEN: No, no, no, Romney!

VAN: Bring her along, Romney, if you want to.

GREEL: Ha! I can just imagine her coming with me down to that place – huh?

GWEN: Well, what are we waiting for, Romney?

VAN: Come on, kids, we’ve got a lot of work to do … Park Avenue’s all torn up, and Madison, and I’ve got my eye on a place at Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue – where we started out, Romney!

GREEL: Come on, Gwennie. Lead the way, Mr. Van Winkle!


ANNCR: The title of tonight’s “Quiet, Please!” story was “Below Fifth Avenue”. It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and the man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.

CHAPPELL: And J. Van Dyke played Rip Van Winkle. Laura(??) Gable (??) was Gwen, and the Little Man was Bruno(??) Wick(??). The music for “Quiet, Please!” is played by Abert Buhrmann, who also composes the special music for the program. . Now for a word about next week’s “Quiet, Please!” here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: You never met any of the character’s in tonight’s story, and you never will, because I invented them all – except Van, for whom I thank Washington Irving. As to the hole: it’s there at Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, or was when I came to the studio tonight. Maybe you’d like to go look, if you live in New York. Next week’s “Quiet, Please! Is called “100,000 Diameters”.

CHAPPELL: And until next week at this time I am quietly your Ernest Chappell.


ANNCR: “Quiet, Please!” came to you from New York.