In the House Where I Was Born

Episode #102
Aired 1949-05-28
Length: 27:41
Size: 6.34 MB
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In the House Where I Was Born

Episode #101
Aired: 28 May 1949

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


ANNOUNCER: The American Broadcasting Company presents "Quiet, Please!" which
is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell.
"Quiet, Please!" for tonight is called "In the House Where I Was Born."



U.S.: [narrates] Another year.

Another year when I've come back to the house where I was born.

Every year, I come back - just before Decoration Day.

It's pleasant - some years.

Some years, it's different.

Everybody ought to go back once a year to the house where he was born.

Just look around.

And remember.

And then go back to where he came from.


U.S.: [narrates] The house where I was born is old and weatherbeaten under the
gray paint. And the old porch is gone. The big bay window where I used to sit
and watch the snow on winter afternoons faces right out into the street now.
And the wooden steps go right up from the sidewalk to the big double front

The house was painted red when I lived there. Red with white trimmings. And
there was a big caladium plant in the front yard - "elephant ears," my
grandmother used to call it. My brother and I used to pull 'em up and make
umbrellas out of 'em and Grandma'd jaw us till our ears hurt. Can't even tell
where the caladiums were. And the old woodshed - that two generations of us
had carved our initials on -- I remember "C.D.O. 1884" -- and my brother's
initials, 1905. And all the others. That's gone, too.

And there was a dog, a little brown and white fox terrier. Her name was -
Trixie, wasn't it? ... So many years ago.


U.S.: [narrates] Here ...


U.S.: [narrates] ... was the living room. The "front room," we called it. The
round oak base burner with the Isinglass in the doors where the coals glowed
red of a winter's night. The couch in the corner. The table with the cracked
marble top where the lamp sat. The round lamp with the yellow silk shade with
the fringe. My brother and I reading the highly moral stories in "Happy Days"
and wishing we, too, could be big league baseball players like Fearless Frank
in the woodcuts.

And on a spring night like this - just before Decoration Day - Mother, sitting
at the rosewood organ under the picture of Pharaoh's Horses, playing "Battle
Hymn of the Republic" and "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" ...


U.S.: [narrates] ... for the Spanish War wasn't so long ago. And my father
that was battalion sergeant-major - hadn't come back from Chickamauga. And the
scent of white lilacs coming in the windows. And the white lilac bush that was
her pride is long gone now. But I can smell the white lilacs tonight.


U.S.: [narrates] And I can hear the clopping of horses' hooves on the pavement
outside, the pavement they put down the year I started at school. And in the
shadows of this bare old room, a glow comes slowly to life - and there is the
old lamp beaming cheerfully across the brussels carpet. And the organ is
playing. And I'm the little boy that looks up at her and plucks at her dress
and begs:

Mama, tell me a story.

BOY: [overlaps] Mama, tell me a story.


BOY: Story, mama.

HIS MOTHER: What shall I tell you about tonight, son? Isn't it almost time for

BOY: Story first, mama, please.

HIS MOTHER: Well, let me see.
The stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill
And deep his midnight lair had made
In dark Glenartney's hazel shade.

BOY: What's "Monan's rill," mama?

HIS MOTHER: Why, it - it's a little brook. A little creek way up in Scotland
in the [trosix?] where Roderick Dhu lived.

BOY: Well, why do they call it "Monan's rill," mama?

HIS MOTHER: Why, I - I suppose it was named after somebody named Monan, son.

BOY: Oh.

HIS MOTHER: I suppose it's a very tiny little brook where the water is ever so
cold. And it comes down from the tops of the mountains, through the glade, to
the places where the stags live. And I suppose not very many people know where
Monan's rill really is because it's very probably guarded by the Little People
and the Fairies. And I don't think they like other people to come and drink at
their rill.

BOY: Uh uh.

HIS MOTHER: But they let the stag come every night if he wants to. And then he
goes away. And the Little People ride on his back wherever he's going. And
then they wake him up in the morning. And he takes them back to the rill.

BOY: Does Monan come there, too?

HIS MOTHER: No, no, I don't think so. Monan's gone from there ever so many
years ago.

BOY: Doesn't anybody ever see him?


BOY: Doesn't anybody know him even?

HIS MOTHER: I - I guess not.

BOY: That's awful.

HIS MOTHER: Yes. It is, isn't it?

BOY: That's just about the awfulest thing that could happen, isn't it?

HIS MOTHER: What, son?

BOY: Not having anybody know you.

HIS MOTHER: Why, I - I hadn't thought of that but--

BOY: Sing to me, mama.

HIS MOTHER: Oh, I'm getting sleepy.

BOY: [pleads sleepily]


HIS MOTHER: [sings]
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightnings of his terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on

U.S.: [narrates] And mother's song fades.

And the light grows dim.

And I'm in darkness again in the house where I was born.


U.S.: [narrates] And this house where I was born is in a great city - when the
wide streets are filled with crowds of people - and I remember again - so many


U.S.: [narrates] The thunder of the elevated railways overhead on a warm
afternoon in the spring. And the open streetcar clanging its way up the
street. And my father, pointing and telling me that that's the first trip of
the open streetcars up Broadway this summer. And the friendly policemen in a
round-topped helmet, spanking me jovially with his nightstick as we crossed
the plaza on the way to the Central Park Zoo.

And the house where I was born.

Weary and happy in the cool evening. Climbing the brownstone steps into a
high-ceilinged house with a fireplace in the front room. A great stairway. The
long, inviting banisters. And a cat with a blue ribbon for a collar and the
longest, sharpest claws in the world. And a telephone that you could talk even
to Brooklyn with.


U.S.: [narrates] The house where I was born.

And now a sign on the front alongside the tall doors. A sign that says:
"Swedish Restaurant." And still in the concrete sidewalk at the foot of the
steps, the prints of my two shoes - that I could span with a hand. And my
initials. And the date: nineteen hundred and one.

And I turn away from this house where I was born - for I've not done with my
homeward journey yet.


U.S.: [narrates] In the house where I was born, there is not one stone upon
another - for the path of war led across its dooryard and destruction followed
for all the people who dwelt in it. But the scent of lilacs is strong in the
evening air even here. And before my eyes, the scene of desolation dims and
the house where I was born lives again. It's a spring evening and there seems
to be music in the air and I feel happinesses again - as I felt them that
night when I first brought home my bride. What was her name? Have I forgotten?


HIS LOVE: [with an accent] Carry me across the threshold, my love!


U.S.: Darling - [chuckles] - this is home!

HIS LOVE: It's a fine home, a wonderful home!

U.S.: My people have lived here since the--

HIS LOVE: Since the Thirty Years' War! You have told me that.

U.S.: [chuckles] Well, they don't build houses like this anymore, my love.
[laughs] See? The walls!

HIS LOVE: All of stone from the quarry over there.

U.S.: And the mortar! There is my great-great-great-grandfather's blood in
that mortar.

HIS LOVE: [laughing but sympathetic] Yea, I know. He drew blood from his own
arm and spared it into the mortar so that there would always be something of
him in the house!

U.S.: Well, it was also a charm, you know, the - the witch woman--

HIS LOVE: I know. He - he paid her three silver pieces to tell them what to do
to make the house stand forever.

U.S.: How do you know so much about it?

HIS LOVE: [laughs] You have told me so many times!

U.S.: [laughs] So I have! [laughs] And - and real glass in the windows, too!

HIS LOVE: Yes! And the stove - with the hand-painted tiles.

U.S.: Well, there's not another one like it in the whole village.

HIS LOVE: And - and it's ours!

U.S.: And we'll take it to America when we go.

HIS LOVE: [pause, meekly] Do you - do you really want to go to America?

U.S.: Why, of course I do. Well, you do, too. Don't you?

HIS LOVE: [sad but hopeful] Could we not be happy here, we two?

U.S.: Why, we could be happy anywhere. But, in America--

HIS LOVE: I know. We will be rich and I'll have two dresses and someday we'll
have a motorcar even. But ...

U.S.: But what?

HIS LOVE: It's so - so far from this house where you were born and - where I
hoped our children would be born.


U.S.: [narrates] And the scent of lilacs is strong again in the air - as the
voice of the beloved woman fades away into shadow and forgetfulness. And the
house where I is born is swallowed up in the night. And I am alone again.


U.S.: [narrates] And the house where I was born is a 'dobe shack somewhere in
the Texas panhandle. And the wide plains of the West stretch away endlessly
beyond it.


U.S.: [narrates] Now, the corral gate is broken, the bunkhouse roof is gone -
and horned toads squat on the decrepit porch where I played "cowboy and
Indians." I look above the door, the brand is still there - the brand that
looks in the early darkness like Rafter "A" but it might be "Two Up and Two
Down" or a Running "W." And there's a dry, dusty smell about the place and -
an echo of almost forgotten songs quivers on the air. For the Chisholm Trail
went right past our place, all the way from Belton up to the north fork of the
Canadian and Abilene. And I've seen white-faced bawlers by the thousands go
past our gate.


U.S.: [narrates] Heard the riders' voices in the hot noons and the long,
moonless nights.

COWBOY: [sings]
I ride an old Paint and I lead an old Dan
I'm off to Montana for to throw the houlihan
They feed in the coulees and water in the draw
Their tails are all matted ...


U.S.: [narrates] [overlaps] And the long, slow song of horses' hoofs was music
to the ears of a lost, forgotten Texan ...


U.S.: [narrates] ... who'll never come back to stay to the house where he was
born, to lay flowers on the grave up beyond the little hill under the
cottonwood tree.


U.S.: [narrates] And the house where I was born is a sod-roofed cottage in the
peat bog country of Ireland.


U.S.: [narrates] And I am nineteen - and return for a visit with the old folks
after three years in America where I've become all Yankee. And my brother and
I sit before the door and talk at evening about the strangeness of the new
world - and its customs. And the customs of the other people beyond the
various seas. And it's this very day, thirty-five years ago, in Nineteen
Hundred and Fourteen.


HIS BROTHER: And I'm betting you there'll be war in Europe before the year is
out, m'lad.

U.S.: Ah, that's just talk.

HIS BROTHER: It's just talk that has started every war the world has ever
seen. The Kaiser Bill is just waiting for somebody to set the world alight.
Aye, and it's many a good lad'll come to his end a-puttin' it out.

U.S.: [uncomfortable] Well, we'll never get in it.

HIS BROTHER: You mean the Americans?

U.S.: Yes.

HIS BROTHER: Heh. I don't know about that.

U.S.: We're too far away. Let the English and the Germans fight it out.

HIS BROTHER: All very well to say but you'll see.

U.S.: Well, you won't go.

HIS BROTHER: Oh, I - I'm not too sure about that either.

U.S.: Fight for the English?!

HIS BROTHER: Well, I - I wouldn't like that very much, sure enough. But
there's some very good Irish regiments in the British Army. The Inniskilling
Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and - and the Dublin Fusiliers.

U.S.: Now you stay out of it.


U.S.: Why, you can't go and leave the old folks alone.

HIS BROTHER: Well, if I was as young as you--

U.S.: [laughs] Cut it out! Why, you talk as if war is just around the corner.

HIS BROTHER: And that's just exactly what I think, too.

U.S.: Well, all right. But I'll be back in the States long before your war
arrives. And I'll stay there, too.


U.S.: [narrates] And I left the house where I was born, the smoky, damp little
hut beside the road to the sea and I have not seen it again, save when it
comes Decoration Day time, and I go back, unbeknownst to my brother, and look
in at the door to where he sits, an old man puffing his pipe alone by the peat
fire. And, once - it was long years ago - the village priest sat with him and
I heard my brother speak of me:

HIS BROTHER: Aye, could have been very different, Father - if me brother'd've
come back from the War. Ah, he was a fine young lad, Father. And him and me,
eh - well, we could have done something with the place. But-- Ah, it's too
late now.



U.S.: [narrates] And there was a day, on the ranch in the Texas panhandle,
when a tall, young man in Levi's and high-heeled boots saddled and bridled a
horse and said goodbye to an old man, shook hands with half a dozen cowhands
and a Mexican cook, and rode away toward the railroad that was to be the first
lap of a long, long journey. And I remember I turned and looked back at the
house where I was born. And someone was singing an old song somewhere:

COWBOY: [sings]
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen
All wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay


U.S.: [narrates] And here again, in the house where I was born, I stand again
beside the walls of stone mortared with the blood of my great-great-
grandfather. And, in my arms, I hold a weeping woman.

HIS LOVE: [sobs] Don't go. Don't go and leave me here.


U.S.: But it'll be only be for a little while, my dearest. Only till I can
earn enough money to send for you.

HIS LOVE: [distraught] I'll never see you again.

U.S.: [reassuring] Oh, but you will. America really isn't so far away.

HIS LOVE: It's across the sea! Across the sea! [sobs] Stay.

U.S.: Dear, we've been through all this before. Now, now, be reasonable. In
six months, a year-- Now, don't, darling.

HIS LOVE: Let us stay here, both of us. This is our home. This is the house
where you was born.

U.S.: Look at me, love.

HIS LOVE: My dear one.

U.S.: I love you. It will be such a little while. You will come to America.
And we'll be so happy. And so rich. It's such a little time to wait. You know
it is.

HIS LOVE: I love you. Kiss me.

U.S.: [narrates] And I kissed her. And I went away. And I have never seen the
house where I was born, except in dreams -- such as this dream tonight - when
the ruins lift and - and form themselves for a little moment, in the darkness.

She came to America. And the day she arrived, I was drafted. I was never able
to find her again. But then, she was never able to find me, either.


U.S.: [narrates] In the house where I was born, there is no memory left of me.


U.S.: [narrates] Only the two prints of a child's shoes in the concrete remain
as a memorial that I once lived. The house where I was born has forgotten me.


U.S.: [narrates] And the house where I was born, where my little brother and I
played in the caladium bed, it has almost forgotten me, too.


U.S.: [narrates] There's a pack of yellowed letters somewhere in the house,
lost behind a beam in the attic maybe. A pack of yellowed letters with
"Soldier's Mail" in the place where the stamp should go - and my name and an
A.P.O. number in the other corner. The letters are full of names like Albert
... Le Somme ... Chattancourt ... Dead Man's Hill ... Consenvoye ... Brabant
... Names like the faded letters on an ancient palimpsest, obscured by newer
names written over them: Omaha Beach ... Bastogne ... Okinawa. They're all
names of places where men have died. And one day, they'll all be forgotten -
please, God.


U.S.: [narrates] I remember one of those names. Those first names.

I won't tell you the name of the town.

A clean little town it was, with red-roofed houses.

A dirty shambles in October 1918.

I couldn't hear the shells from the seventy-sevens bursting in the streets.

I couldn't hear what the chaplain was saying to me.

I could just see a dirty-faced man in a helmet moving his lips as he bent over

It was very quiet.

And very lonely.

I didn't even hear the shell that killed him and the other man that was
standing alongside him.

It was quiet - for a long, long time.

And then I heard a little boy's voice.

And I said to myself:

"Why, I'm home.

That's my voice.

That night before Decoration Day so many years ago."

And it was.

BOY: Mama, tell me a story.

HIS MOTHER: What shall I tell you about, son?

BOY: Story, mama.

HIS MOTHER: Well, let me see.
The stag at eve had drunk his fill
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill
And deep his midnight lair had made
In dark Glenartney's hazel shade

BOY: What's "Monan's rill," mama?

COWBOY: [overlaps, sings]
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day

HIS LOVE: [tearfully] Don't go. Don't go and leave me.

HIS MOTHER: And I suppose not very many people know where Monan's rill really
is because it's probably very closely guarded by the Little People.

HIS BROTHER: Many a good lad that'll come to his end puttin' out the blaze.

HIS LOVE: Across the sea! Across the sea! Oh, stay!

COWBOY: [sings]
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen
All wrapped in white linen and cold as the clay

BOY: It's just about the awfulest thing in the world, mama. Not to having
anybody know you.


U.S.: [narrates] They set a marble tomb above my shattered self, seeking to do
me honor thus, to recompense the searing days, the crawling nights I died in.
"He lies here deep," the graven letters say, "He lies here deep, unknown to
all save God."

O, sweet it is, they say. O, sweet it is to die the battle death.

Yes. It is sweet.

As gall is sweet and wormwood, so is death.

I died.

I felt the bitter fire, the cleaving steel, the pain.

I am content.

Yet I am weary in my sentiments. The sleep of death is not so very deep.

Lately, the spring has come and yesterday a tiny root of some green thing has
split the stones apart wherein I lie. Its tender, questing fingers seek my
hand - as mine sought flowers on some yesterday forgot.

Above my head, the hushed clang of arms, the measured tread of sentinels that
guard my bed, forbid me sleep.

My face is dim in Eternity now. But, once, you knew me. Perhaps you wept to
hear that Sergeant Death had spoke my name. Is it you that I hear through the
dust, O, my brother? Is it your little song that I hear, O, my mother?

I, in my tomb of marble?

I, in my tomb of stone?

I am the Chief of them all.

I am the Chief of the Dead.

I died. And, dying, became a mystery.

To every mother, her son.

To every brother, his brother.

To every soldier, his comrade.

I, the Chief of the Dead.

I was content to lie here, masked in uncertainty, having the homage of all of
you here in my marble tomb. I was content, I say. Yet now spring comes again
as I saw it once before that day I died. Is it your hand that rests on the
stone, O, my sister? Is it your tear - that falls on the stone, O, my wife?


U.S.: [narrates] I hear the trumpets now.

The volleys sound.

The sabers flash against a sun I may not know.

I may not rise.

I have my duty. Here. Alone.

I, in my tomb of marble.

I, in my tomb of stone.

I am the Chief of them all.

I am the Chief of the Dead.


ANNOUNCER: "Quiet, Please!" for tonight was called "In the House Where I Was
Born." It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. And Ernest Chappell was
the man who spoke to you.

CHAPPELL: Others of the cast were Betty Wragge, Cecil Roy, Lotte Stavisky and
J. Pat O'Malley. Special music for "Quiet, Please!" is by Albert Buhrmann.

Now, for a word about next week, here is our writer-director, Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: Thank you for listening to "Quiet, Please!" My story for next week is
called "Tanglefoot."

CHAPPELL: And so, until next week at this same time, I am quietly yours,
Ernest Chappell.


ANNOUNCER: This is ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.