TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER
A Living Newspaper
Written by the editorial staff of the Living Newspaper under the supervision of Arthur Arent
Triple-A Plowed Under was first produced by the Federal Theater Project at the Biltmore Theater on March 14, 1936
script taken from Federal Theater Plays ed. Pierre de Rohan (New York: Random House, 1938)
(War and Inflation)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
LINE OF SOLDIERS
TABLEAU OF FARMERS
WOMAN, middle-aged, prosperous
(As overture ends, voice over the LOUDSPEAKER speaks.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Triple-A
Plowed Under. (Curtain rises) 1917-Inflation.
(At rise red spotlight is on SOLDIERS marching in continuous columns up ramp placed upstage left. After a brief interval there is an increasing volume of marching feet. The entire scene is played behind scrim. Spotlight on three SPEAKERS and Crowd of FARMERS. SPEAKERS stand on highest level, right. Some of the FARMERS stand on lowest
level, right, and some at stage level, right.)
FIRST SPEAKER: Your country is at war. SECOND SPEAKER: Your country needs you.
FIRST AND SECOND SPEAKERS (together): If you can't fight
FIRST SPEAKER: The fate of our country rests upon the
SECOND SPEAKER: Do you want our land invaded?
FIRST SPEAKER: Do you want your daughters ravaged by
* Based on communications between Hallie Flanagan, Director, Federal Theatre Project, and Paul H. Appleby, Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., February 12 and 13, 1936.
WOMAN: Farmer, save the nation! (Trumpet.)
FIRST SPEAKER: The boys in the trenches need the men in the fields.
WOMAN: Farmer, save our boys. (Trumpet.)
SECOND SPEAKER: Every bushel of barley is a barrel of bullets.
WOMAN: Farmer, save democracy. (Trumpet.)
FIRST SPEAKER: Every hand with a spade is a hand-grenade. WOMAN: Farmer, save our honor. (Trumpet.)
SECOND SPEAKER: Every man behind a plow is a man behind
WOMAN: Farmer, save civilization. (Trumpet.)
FIRST SPEAKER: Every head of cattle can win a battle. WOMAN: Farmer, save our flag. (Trumpet.) FIRST SPEAKER: Plant more wheat. SECOND SPEAKER: Plant more potatoes. FIRST SPEAKER: More corn!
SECOND SPEAKER: More cotton!
FIRST SPEAKER: More food, more seed, more acres!
SECOND AND FIRST SPEAKER (together): Morel More! Morel WOMAN: Farmer, save the world!
SCENE TWO-A (Deflation)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
* Based on communications, February 12 and 13, 1936, between Hallie Flanagan, Director, Federal Theatre Project, and Paul H. Appleby, Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
COUNTRY BANKER SUB-SCENE C
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): The Ig2o's.
(This scene is played in a series of three sub-scenes, on three levels. The highest level is stage right, the intermediate level, center, and the lowest level, left. First scene on highest level is lighted from directly overhead. Only the scene actually playing is lighted. Blackout at the end of each scene, as the spotlight comes up on the next scene. Chart indicating deflation is projected on scrim throughout this series.)
EXPORTER: Bad news, Frank. I can't ship any more of your wheat.
JOBBER: What will I do with my stocks?
EXPORTER: I don't know! I can't ship any more to Europethe war's over.
JOBBER: It's been over a long time, but they still need to eat, don't they?
EXPORTER: Yes, but they're raising their own. I'm afraid we won't ship much more wheat to Europe unless they have another war.
JOBBER: That's a short explanation of a serious problem.
EXPORTER: Well, anyway, you see why I can't take your shipment.
JOBBER: I don't see a damn thing.
(Spotlight comes up on middle level, CITY BANKER seated at desk, COUNTRY BANKER standing at his side, left.)
CITY BANKER (as if there had been a previous conversation): It's just good banking, that's the only answer I can give you.
COUNTRY BANKER: It may be good banking for you fellows here in the city, but I tell you that if I pay up all my paper now I've got to bankrupt every farmer in my district.
CITY BANKER: I'm sorry. I'm not permitted to be concerned over that. I wouldn't be true to my trust if I didn't keep this bank's money in lucrative channels. It just happens that at the moment stock and bond collateral is the safest investment. Besides, we get considerably more returns there.
COUNTRY BANKER: What's going to happen when we bankrupt the farmers? Are you going to eat your stocks and bonds?
CITY BANKER: I have no time for levity, Mr. Brown. The fact is, agriculture is no longer a lucrative investment; stocks and bonds are. Now do you see that I must call in your paper?
COUNTRY BANKER: I don't see a damn thing.
(Spotlight comes up on lowest level, left, COUNTRY BANKER seated at desk, and FARMER seated at his side, right.)
BANKER (as if there had been previous conversation): I've got to have the money.
FARMER: I can't understand it. Only a little while ago they were preaching and haranguing for us to raise more crops and more crops. Damn it, I bought more land and cleared all the woods on my place, and planted it to wheat, and now it's rotting in the fields.
BANKER: That was war, Fred.
FARMER: Well, hell, people still need to eat, don't they? And they can't tell me there aren't people who couldn't eat what's lying out in my fields now. My son, Jim, in New York says he can't walk down the street without having hungry men beg him for money.
BANKER: Well, I don't see what I can do, unless they ease up on me, and they aren't going to do that.
FARMER: Well, if you foreclose on me I'll be in the breadline myself. Then how are any of us going to eat?
BANKER: When that happens the big boys will begin to feel it, and maybe they'll get up another war.
FARMER (grimly): Can't have another war. Every day I get veterans asking for a handout, and not a one of them would go back to war, and by God, I wouldn't raise wheat for another war.
BANKER: At any rate, you see my situation, Fred.
FARMER: I don't see a damn thing.
(Farmer, Dealer, Manufacturer, Worker-Vicious Circle) *`
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER A FARMER
A MANUFACTURER A WORKER
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): In the troubled fifteen years, 1920 to 1935, farm incomes fall
five and one-half billion dollars; * unemployment rises seven million, five hundred and seventy-eight thousand.t (Four spotlights come up on the four protagonists of this scene. FARMER, stage right, turns head sharply left,
speaks to DEALER.)
FARMER (to DEALER): I can't buy that auto. (Light goes out.
DEALER turns head sharply left, speaks to MANUFACTURER.) DEALER (to MANUFACTURER): I can't take that shipment.
(Count of one, light out. MANUFACTURER turns head
sharply left, speaks to WORKER.)
MANUFACTURER (to WORKER): I can't use you any more.
(Light goes out. WORKER speaks directly front.)
WORKER: I can't eat. (Light goes out.)
"Digest of article "A.A.A. Philosophy" by Rexford G. Tugwell, Fortune Magazine, January 1934.
SCENE FOUR (Farmers' Holiday)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER A. MILO RENO B. MILO RENO
PRESIDENT OF COMMISSION MERCHANTS
THREE COMMISSION MERCHANTS
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 15 SCENE FOUR-A
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER: Des Moines, Iowa. Farmers pin hopes on farm holiday leader, Milo Reno.* (Lights on MILO RENO on proscenium on right.)
MILO RENO: As President of the Farmers' Holiday Association, representing five thousand farmers, I wish to announce the five points of our program during the coming
1. We will pay no taxes or interest until we have fully cared for our families.
2. We will pay no interest-bearing debts until we receive the cost of production.
3. We will buy only that which complete necessity demands.
4. We will stay in the homes we now occupy.
5. We will not sell our products until we receive the cost of production, but will exchange our products with labor and the unemployed for the things we need on the farm on the basis of cost of production for both parties.~
You can no more stop this movement than you could stop the Revolution of 1776. I couldn't stop it if I tried.++ ( stage voices shout, "Strike! Strike!" Follow RENO with spot to stage left, where light comes up on coMMISSION MERCHANTS behind desk. Lights shift to left.)
* New York Times, August 16th and 26th, 1932.
t"Bryan! Bryan! Bryan! Bryan!", Fortune Magazine, January 1934, P. 68.
$ Seeds of Revolt by Mauritz A. Hallgren-(Alfred Knopf, 1933).
PRESIDENT OF COMMISSION MERCHANTS (holding out contract
and pen to MILO RENO): Mr. Reno, I have here the terms drawn up by the committee of Commission Merchants. ... We want you to call off that strike. . . . Will you sign? (Pause. MILO RENO turns to where off stage voices are still rumbling "Strike! Strike!" He turns back, and signs.)
SCENE FIVE (Milk Prices)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER MIDDLEMAN
CONSUMER, A WOMAN
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Milk flows to market.
(Light directly over the MIDDLEMAN seated at table. FARMER and CONSUMER on truck, right and left Of MIDDLEMAN. Scene is played on metronome count through entirety, a speech and a beat, etc.)
FARMER (holding up quart can of milk): How much do I get?
MIDDLEMAN: Three cents.*
FARMER: Three cents?
MIDDLEMAN: Take it or leave it.
*New York Herald Tribune, July 5, 1934.
FARMER: I'll take it. (Hands over milk and pockets coins.)
WOMAN CONSUMER: I want a quart of milk.
MIDDLEMAN (who has been pouring milk from can into
bottle): Fifteen cents.
WOMAN CONSUMER: Fifteen cents?
MIDDLEMAN: Take it or leave it.
WOMAN CONSUMER: I'll take it. (MIDDLEMAN holds out his
hand, takes money, and slaps pocket.) Blackout
(Sioux City-Farmers Organize)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER FIRST SPEAKER
SECOND SPEAKER from audience THIRD SPEAKER from audience FOURTH SPEAKER from audience
FIFTH SPEAKER from audience
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Sioux City-August 31, 1932-Farmers organize Relief Conference in theatre.*
(The stage is a speaker's platform. DELEGATES are seated in various parts of the lower floor of the theatre. CHAIRMAN and FIRST SPEAKER are at table on stage.)
FIRST SPEAKER: We've been sold out! We've been cheated and robbed. Milo Reno declared a holiday for Milo Reno-not for us. Forget Reno. Forget his crazy schemes! For God's sake, think for yourselves. I say, let's organize intelligently.* We've got to solve our problems clean and straight, or there will be those who will solve them with bayonets.t
SECOND SPEAKER (from audience): We ain't scared, Mister. THIRD SPEAKER (also from audience): We'll fight if we have to.
CHAIRMAN (coming down stage a bit): If anyone wants to speak, let him stand up.
FOURTH SPEAKER (from audience): I got something to say. CHAIRMAN (nods).
FOURTH SPEAKER: Men, talk is cheap. . . . Tons and tons of dirt are being thrown at Milo Reno. This is all a stunt to take your mind off the real situation-the milk situation. I say, "Stick to Reno. . . . He meant to . (Cries of "Boo" from the audience.) +
FOURTH SPEAKER: All right, "Boo" if you want to, but I say you're making a mistake. (Cries of "Pipe down," "Get off" and "Boo.")
CHAIRMAN (holding up hand for silence): Friends, there's a great deal to be done. Yesterday fourteen of our men were shot down on the picket line in Cherokee County. ... We want our rights. . . . We want relief . . . and we will get it.§ (Thunderous roar greets him. Cries of "Strike!" "Dump the milk!" and "Turn over the trucks!")
FIFTH SPEAKER (from audience): Menl We've got to save
ourselves, with or without Milo Reno-and the only way to do that is to dump every truck and spill every can of milk we can lay our hands on. Let's stop talking and do something! (Tremendous roar.)
*New York Times, September 1, 1932. t Ibid., September 4, 1932. $ Ibid., September 1, 1932.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER A GROUP OF A DOZEN MEN FIRST MAN
SECOND MAN THIRD MAN
VOICE (off stage)
(During darkness following Scene Six, cries of "Strike" have given way to an ominous musical undercurrent. Throughout this scene, music continues, highlighting the climaxes, but at no time becoming more than a back
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): The chal
lenge echoes through Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana. Over the Middle West embittered farmers act.* (The stage is completely dark save for a faint light which illuminates a crossroad signpost and part of an immense boulder. At rise there is no sound, but after a moment, the faint sound of an approaching truck is heard. This becomes louder and soon the twin lights of automobile headlights appear left. They grow stronger as the auto comes nearer, and sound increases. The lights have by this time reached the boulder, lighting up the heads of a DOZEN MEN grouped around and behind it, men who have been lying in wait to waylay the truck. As the lights hit them, one speaks:)
FIRST MAN: Here comes the truck, boys.
SECOND MAN: Let's get it.
*New York Times, August 16, 1932.
THIRD MAN (stopping him with his hand): Wait. (There is a second's pause as the lights get brighter.)
SECOND MAN: Now! (The MEN leap out from behind the boulder and rush off left. A single voice is heard off stage-clearly-with great but quiet determination.)
VOICE OFF STAGE: Get down off that truck. . . . (There is a split-second pause.)
TWO OR THREE VOICES: Dump the milk! * (From off stage is heard the ripping and smashing of boxes being hurled from the truck. . . . A moment of this and then one voice, clear and loud.)
VOICE: Turn over the truck. Push! (A moment . . . then the final terrific crash as the truck is turned over.)
(NOTE: This effect is heightened by the following device: as the truck is being turned over, the lights on the boulder swing round dizzily until, instead of being one beside the other, they have become one over the other. . . . There is a full second's pause as they remain in that position, before the blackout.)
SCENE EIGHT (Farm Auction)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER AUCTIONEER
FIRST NEIGHBOR OWNER (FRED) SON (WILSON)
*Article by Bruce Bliven, New Republic, November 29, 1933.
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 21
FARMERS, MEN AND WOMEN
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Farmers lose their land-their homes-unpaid mortgages are foreclosed; land is sold at public auction. The farmers take matters in their own hands.* (The scene is a farmyard, but there is no attempt at realism; blue cyclorama, gray platform for auctioneer, barrel on platform. Gray ground row to mask lights on floor in front of eye. Otherwise no further properties in scene. FARMERS are in overalls, a few WOMEN in crowd. One MAN conspicuous in business clothes stands apart. All this is discovered at rise. The time is clearly afternoon, the day bright.)
FIRST NEIGHBOR (beckoning): Hey, Sam! Albert's going to
do the talkin'. John'll speak up first.
WILSON: - There's a fellow here I don't know.
FRED: He was asking me questions about the place.
FIRST NEIGHBOR: Point him out, Sam, and I'll watch. (WILSON nods his head backward toward a well-dressed man, who is walking about. The MAN finally stops in front of a group of farmers, and engages them in casual conversation.)
STRANGER: Nice day for an auction. (The GROUP OF FARMERS look at him in disgust, turn away. STRANGER shrugs shoulder, and turns to FIRST and SECOND NEIGHBOR standing near.)
AUCTIONEER: We're all ready, folks, soon's the sheriff reads his notice. (SHERIFF reads in an unintelligible fast monotone, "State of Wisconsin . . ." WILSON goes through GROUP OF FARMERS, from person to person, speaking so that the audience can hear.)
WILSON: Albert's going to do the rest of the talkin'. (Each FARMER nods in understanding manner. WILSON continues as he reaches JOHN) You speak up first. Albert'll do the talkin'. (As SHERIFF completes his reading of the notice, the AUCTIONEER comes down with his hammer.)
AUCTIONEER: Folks, today you're going to be able to buy a lot of up-to-date modern machinery, and the best piece of farm land this side of the Mississippi River, and I want to see some spirited bidding. (FARMERS watch him grimly and silently) The valuation of the farm alone is twenty thousand dollars, three hundred acres under cultivation. Lock, stock and barrel, I should say it's worth, conservatively speakin', thirty thousand dollars. I leave it to you, gents, as to how we bid. All to oncet, or piece by piece? What'dya say we keep the pikers out... .
(Meaningly, to STRANGER) All to oncet. (STRANGER nods slightly. FARMERS all turn their heads in unison toward STRANGER who is still occupied by two farmers talking to him) . . . Any objection? (There is no answer) .. . All right, thirty thousand dollars on the block. What am I bid? (Slight pause.)
JOHN (quietly, unemotionally): Twelve cents.* (Pause. FARMERS remain grimly silent.)
AUCTIONEER (forcing a laugh): That's a good one. Twelve cents. . . . Ha! Ha! Well, now, let's have a bid!
JOHN: That's my bid. (AUCTIONEER looks around and is sobered by the dead earnestness of the FARMERS. His next speech, in dead earnestness likewise, is spoken meaningfully, directly to the stranger.)
AUCTIONEER: All right, I've got a bid. I'm bid twelve cents on thirty thousand dollars' worth of property, twelve cents. (Right at STRANGER) Who'll bid a thousand? Do I hear a thousand? (STRANGER opens his mouth to speak. He starts to raise his arm. The FIRST NEIGHBOR grabs his hand. THIRD NEIGHBOR spins him around, tips his hat over his eyes and the two lead him off, THIRD NEIGHBOR speaking.)
THIRD NEIGHBOR:..: and when it rains around these parts,
Mister, it pours. And you ought to see the pigs down to my place. It's the likeliest litter of little devils anybody ever seen. (His voice trails off as they disappear off stage. The auctioneer's jaw sags. He looks at the SHERIFF and tries to catch his glance. SHERIFF deliberately turns his back and starts whittling.)
JOHN: Whattya waitin' for? You got a bid.
AUCTIONEER: All right. Twelve cents, twelve cents, what do I hear? I've got to have another bid. 'Tain't legal less I have another bid.
ALBERT: Thirteen cents. (Dead pause. The AUCTIONEER
looks beaten, as if he hadn't heard the bid) You got your bid. (There is another, shorter pause, during which the AUCTIONEER looks more helpless than ever) Well, whattaya waitin' for? Call it!
AUCTIONEER (thoroughly licked, smacks his hammer down hard): All right, thirteen cents once . . . thirteen cents twice . . . thirteen cents. . . . Are you all done? Sold for thirteen cents.
* Literary Digest, January 21, 1933.
t Fictional character.
*New York Times, February 2, 1933.
(Lem Harris, Secretary of the Farmers' National Relief Conference)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER LEM HARRIS
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Washing
ton, December 7th, 1932. (Music) And so it gives me great pleasure to introduce to the delegates of the Farmers' National Relief Conference, your secretary, Mr. Lem Harris.*
(Applause; spot up on LEM HARRIS down stage left, speaking over microphone.)
LEM HARRIS: The farmers themselves have come here to Washington to frame their own proposals for immediate relief from the burdens under which they are now being crushed. In their opinion a national emergency exists, and this is a time for emergency action. That means immediate relief, not some complicated scheme to "make the tariff effective" several years hence. (Pause) The three-quarters of the farmers, which economists consider as surplus, cannot really be considered as such. Neither can they consider their crops as surplus when they know that there are millions of unemployed who lack the very things which they produce and cannot sell. It was the recognition of this ironical situation which led the farmers of Iowa to give milk to the unemployed of Sioux City during the farm strike there. Remember, every farmer coming to this Conference has had personal experience with the farm problem, he is a real dirt farmer, elected
by at least twenty-five farmers back home. His coming spells the distrust of the professional farm lobbies. He has taken matters into his own hands because he knows that no one else can do the job as well as he can.*
* New York Times, December 8, 1932, et supra.
* Ibid., December 11, 1932. t Creative-digest of news.
(Farm and City Families)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
GENERAL HUGH S. JOHNSON'S VOICE
WORKER WORKER'S WIFE WORKER'S FIRST SON WORKER'S SECOND SON WORKER'S DAUGHTER
FARMER FARMER'S WIFE FARMER'S FIRST SON FARMER'S SECOND SON FARMER'S DAUGHTER
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): As our
economic system now works, the greater the surplus of wheat on Nebraska farms, the larger are the breadlines in New York City.
(As curtains open on brilliant blue glass curtain, against it are seen silhouetted a farm and city family, the city
family, center, and the farm family right, on ramp. The scene grows angry as the two groups oppose each other.)
WORKER: We starve and they told us you had food in your fields.
FARMER: Food is in our fields but they told us you would not pay the cost of its harvesting.
WORKER'S WIFE: We had no money.
FARMER'S FIRST SON: We raised eggs and milk, and you
wouldn't buy them.
WORKER 's FIRST SON: We had not the fifteen cents to pay. FARMER'S FAMILY (aroused): Fifteen cents for milk? FARMER: We got only three.
WORKER'S FAMILY (shouting): Fifteen, fifteen! FARMER'S FAMILY: Three, three! WORKER'S DAUGHTER (wail): I'm hungry... . FARMER'S DAUGHTER: I can't go to school. . . . FARMER (quietly): Food rots in our fields... . FARMER'S SECOND SON: No money to ship. . . . FARMER: No money to buy.. . . FARMER'S WIFE: No money . . . (Slight pause.) WORKER: There is no work. WORKER'S SON: No jobs! WORKER'S DAUGHTER: No food!
WORKER: We have been evicted from our homes. FARMERS WIFE: And we from our land. FARMER: We plow our sweat into the earth. FARMER's WIFE: And bring forth ripe provender. WORKER: We starve.
FARMER: The wheat stands high in our fields. FARMER'S WIFE: Our fields no longer.
WORKER'S DAUGHTER: Feed us. FARMER'S FIRST SON: Pay us. WORKERS FAMILY: Feed us.
FARMER: The wheat is better destroyed. I say, burn it!
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 27
FARMER'S FAMILY: Burn it! Burn it!
(Flame lights up, changing the sky from blue to red. Against the flames is silhouetted the figure of a farmer in shadow, holding a pitchfork. Farm and city families hold this tableau, all through speech Of GENERAL JOHNSON
over the LOUDSPEAKER.)
VOICE OF GENERAL JOHNSON (over LOUDSPEAKER): Something
is depriving one-third of our population of the Godgiven right to earn their bread by the sweat of their labor. That single ugly fact is an indictment under which no form of government can long continue. For slighter causes than that we revolted against British rule, and suffered the bitterest civil war in history.*
FARMER AND WORKER (together): Words! (Both FAMILIES turn in protest toward the LOUDSPEAKER.)
*New York Times, May 13, 1933. t Vital Speeches, October 21, 1935.
SCENE ELEVEN (Triple-A Enacted)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE HENRY A. WALLACE
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Washing
ton, May 12th, 1933-the AAA becomes the law of the
land. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress. . ,j
(Spotlight on SECRETARY WALLACE.)
SECRETARY WALLACE (picking up sentence): . . . to increase the purchasing power of farmers. It is, by that token, farm relief, but also, by the same token, National Relief, for it is a well-known fact that millions of urban unemployed will have a better chance of going to work when farm purchasing power rises enough to buy the products of city factories. Let's help the farmer. . . . It is trying to subdue the habitual anarchy of a major American industry, and to establish organized control in the interest of not only the farmer but everybody else. . . . The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the power to . . . *
(Lights fade on WALLACE. The projection of a map of the United States, showing acreage reduction, comes up on the scrim.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (staccato): . Reduce acreage.
The visible supply of wheat diminished from two hundred and twelve million bushels in 1932 to one hundred and twenty-four million bushels in 1934•j(The projection changes to a number of little pigs in
front of a number of large pigs, labeled "1933 production," the smaller pigs labeled "1934 production."
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (continuing): To curtail produc
tion. Hog production was cut from sixty million in 1933 to thirty-seven million in 1935•t (Projection changes to a slide depicting two loaves of bread. One is labeled "1933-100" the other "1934110. ")
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER (continuing): To levy a tax on
processing of basic farm commodities. Wheat advanced in price from 32 cents a bushel in 1933 to 74 cents a bushel in 1934.t
* Radio Speech-Farm and Home Hour-WJZ-March 18, 1933• t World Almanac, 1936, PP. 352, 356, 365; Ibid., 1934, P. 347. + Ward Baking Company, New York, N. Y.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE FARMER
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Triple-Apays four million dollars daily.*
(Three spots directly overhead, stage right, center and stage left, light up as portals open. FARMER walks into
spot right where he meets FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE.)
FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE t: Check for reducing wheat
FARMER: Thanks, I need it. (FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE
exits right, FARMER turns front in area of center spot. SALESMAN enters left, and FARMER and SALESMAN meet in area spot left. As FARM BUREAU REPRESENTATIVE and FARMER vacate spot right, that spot blacks; as FARMER vacates spot center, that spot blacks. The entire scene is played crisply, with no attempt at realism) Got a shirt?
SALESMAN: You bet.
FARMER: How much?
SALESMAN: One dollar.*
FARMER: It was seventy-five cents.
SALESMAN: Cotton's up-production's curtailed-there's a processing tax.
FARMER: What's it mean?
SALESMAN: You get check for planting no wheat-planter gets check for planting no cotton-planter pays more for bread of your wheat-you pay more for shirt of his cotton-that's where it comes from.
FARMER: Oh, well-when it was cheap I didn't have any money. I'll take it.
*New York Times, September 17, 1934.
t Fictional character.
+ Letter from William V. Lawson, Cotton and Textile Institute,
320 Broadway, New York, N. Y.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER FOUR TELEPHONE MEN SEVERAL RUNNERS
MAN AT BLACKBOARD
TWO GROUPS OF TRADERS-15 RIGHT, 15 LEFT
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Chicago,1934.
(The scene is a stylized representation of the Chicago Wheat Pit. Two ramps, their large ends set upstage, are joined by two four-foot platforms. Behind the platforms, elevated, is a blackboard; so that they can be seen over the small ends of the ramps, are open telephone booths. A large clock is next to the blackboard, right. Instead of numerals it depicts the months of the year. It has only one hand. This hand revolves slowly through the playing of the scene. Left of the blackboard is a large thermometer-to indicate increasing heat. The thermometer does not move in this scene. There is a MAN at each of the four telephones, and several RUNNERS between them and the men in the Pit. The Wheat Pit is filled with 30 TRADERS. These TRADERS are divided into groups, left and right, one buying and one selling. At rise there is a din of voices. Immediately after rise a loud gong rings. The two GROUPS OF TRADERS speak in unison, those buying speak first, and those selling afterward. Their movements also are in unison-a movement which should be divided on a count of two beats to a measure or four beats to a measure, building tempo and volume of scene consistently until end. Right after gong is sounded, VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER speaks.)
VOICE: Triple-A enacted.
(This same VOICE speaks throughout the scene, with a slightly increasing tempo. One MAN at blackboard continues his motions of writing through the scene.)
TRADERS LEFT: Buying 500 May at 101.*
TRADERS RIGHT: Selling 500 May at a quarter.
TRADERS LEFT: Buying 500 May at 101.
TRADERS RIGHT: Selling at a quarter.
TRADERS LEFT: One.
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: Fair and warmer.'
TRADERS LEFT: Selling at one-eighth.
TRADERS RIGHT: A half.
LOUDSPEAKER (crisply): Fair and warmer.
*Journal of Commerce, December 8 and 22, 1934.
t New York Times, August 12, 1934. Weather Bureau reports 1934 thus far driest and hottest on record.
SCENE FOURTEEN *` (Counter Restaurant)
(As portals close on Wheat Pit, trucks move in right with counter. COUNTERMAN stands right of counter, appropriately dressed, CUSTOMER left of counter. Light from overhead. Bowl and ladle on counter. CUSTOMER very shabbily dressed, with hat over his eyes.)
COUNTERMAN: Whadd'ya want?
CUSTOMER: A bowl o' oatmeal.
COUNTERMAN: Got three cents?
CUSTOMER: Got two cents.
COUNTERMAN: Not a chance. Got to have three cents.
CUSTOMER: It was two cents yesterday.
COUNTERMAN: Sorry, pal, prices went up today.
(Park Avenue Restaurant)
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES WOMAN IN EVENING CLOTHES WAITER
(Front light on Restaurant. Background suggests a modern room. A COUPLE in evening clothes are seated at table.
WAITER is taking the order. They are drinking cocktails.)
MAN: . . . Imported Beluga caviar. Broiled royal squab,
grilled mushrooms and a bottle of Chateau Yquem, '26. That's all for now.
WOMAN: Mmmmmmmmmmm ... celebrating?
WOMAN (lifts glass): What to? MAN: Wheat.
WOMAN: Wheat? MAN: Wheat.
WOMAN: All right. . . . Here's to wheat. (They drink.)
Long may it wave.
MAN: And keep going up.
WOMAN (after a short pause): Tell me, are you affected by
these new processing taxes?
WOMAN: You seem pretty cheerful about it.
MAN: Why shouldn't I, it's the consumer who pays. (As she
looks at him inquiringly, he picks up roll.) When I buy
this roll I pay the processing tax.
WOMAN: I thought you paid it on wheat and hogs and
things like that.
MAN: Look, this roll, not so long ago, was wheat waving
in the fields of Kansas. Somewhere between the harvest
ing of that wheat and this roll there was a processing
tax. . . . (He stops.)
WOMAN: Go on.
MAN: That's all ... and it's the man who eats it who pays it.
WOMAN (also after a slight pause): I'm afraid it's just a bit complicated-for me.
MAN: Oh, well, wheat's up and I've been saving a lot of it to unload. . . . So what will it be, a new car or a sable coat?
WOMAN: Mmmmmmmmml MAN: O.K. Both.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER A FARMER
FIRST VOICE SECOND VOICE
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Summer,
1934: Drought Sears the Midwest, West, Southwest.* (Light up on tableau of a FARMER examining the soil; a sun-baked plain, stretching away to a burning horizon. From the LOUDSPEAKER two voices are heard, one crisp, sharp, staccato-the other sinister and foreboding. The VOICES are accompanied by a rhythmic musical procession that grows in intensity, and leaps to a climax of shrill despair.)
FIRST VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): May first, Midwest weather
SECOND VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): Fair and warmer.
FIRST VOICE: May second, Midwest weather report. SECOND VOICE: Fair and warmer. FIRST VOICE: May third, Midwest weather report. SECOND VOICE: Fair and warmer. FIRST VOICE: May fourth, Midwest weather report.
SECOND VOICE: Fair and warmer. Fair and warmer. Fair and
warmer. Fair and warmer. (The FARMER who is examin
* New York Times, August 12, 1934.
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 35
ing the soil straightens up and slowly lets a handful of dry dust sift through his fingers.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
VOICE FROM CONGREGATION-OFF STAGE
(Light on PASTOR standing at lectern, center and raised about eight feet. This is backed by Gothic church window. The scene is played through scrim. The PASTOR is praying as scene begins. Throughout this prayer, off stage voices are heard saying: "Fair and warmer, fair and warmer, fair and warmer.")
PASTOR: 0 God, heavenly Father, look down upon thy people. See our plight today. There are those who claim to be children of God, and yet manifest no real heart in the welfare of others. Help us, Almighty Father, where these others fail.*
VOICES FROM CONGREGATION (fervently): Amenl
PASTOR: Our land, already stricken with depression, now suffers from heat and drought, and this is the fourth month of our affliction. From Mississippi to the Rockies our country lies under the searing blast. Our great state has been burned dry. The showers of dust come in clouds so dense as to obscure the midday sun. The corn crumbles to dust at the touch of our hand, and the stalks lie dried and curling in the heat. 0 God, heavenly Father, who has blessed the earth that it might be fruitful and bring forth whatsoever is needful for the life of man, and has commanded us to work with quietness, and eat our own bread, bless the labors of the husbandmen . . . (Projection of film of dying cattle is slowly dimmed in, and lights on PASTOR are slowly dimmed out) ... and grant such seasonable weather that we may yet be saved, that we may yet reap the fruits of our labors in the fields, and rejoice in thy goodness.
VOICES FROM CONGREGATION: Amen!
(Picture projection is fully up, and light on PASTOR is completely out.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): The sun
bakes the soil. Dust covers the land. All green things wither. Cattle die for lack of food and water.
*New York Times, July 1, 1934.
GROUP OF THIRTY TRADERS VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER RUNNERS
MEN AT TELEPHONE CLERK AT BLACKBOARD
(At rise: TRADERS are discovered in new formalized grouping, to indicate a different set-up from that of the first Wheat Pit scene. Volume and tempo pick up at level and speed at which first Wheat Pit scene blacked out. Gong rings, LOUDSPEAKER announces: "Fair and warmer."
This time quotations are read in unison by everyone, and all their actions are in unison. The thermometer rises to indicate increasing heat, the dial on the clock moves over the specific areas indicating the hot summer months.)
TRADER NUMBER ONE: $1.O1*
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): Fair and warmer, fair and
warmer, fair and warmer.
TRADER NUMBER TWO: $1.02.
TRADER NUMBER THREE: $1.03.
TRADER NUMBER FOUR: $1.04.
TRADER NUMBER FIVE: $1.05.
TRADER NUMBER SIX: $1.06.
TRADER NUMBER SEVEN: $1.07.
TRADER NUMBER EIGHT: $1.08.
TRADER NUMBER NINE: $1.09.
TRADER NUMBER TEN: $1.10.
TRADER NUMBER ELEVEN: $1.11.
TRADER NUMBER TWELVE: $1.12.
* Prices at height of drought, New York Times, August 1, 1934, et supra; Journal of Commerce, August 1, 1934, et supra. t Creative.
(Cotton Patch) t
SAM, A NEGRO FARMER THE SHERIFF
(The scene is done with lights, the action suggesting that the locale is a Negro's tiny patch of cotton in the South.
The action also indicates the presence of a mule. As the lights come up SAM is trudging slowly towards left and singing.)
Sho' 'nuff got a mule.
Sho' 'nuff have.
Sho' 'nuff goin' raise a crop
Sho' 'nuff am.
(He stops singing and begins to admire his mule) Boy! Yo' sho' is a purty mule. 01' Guv'ment goin' to be mighty pleased with yo'! Yeah, man! Yo' sho' look like you goin' pull dis of patch back.
(The SHERIFF enters silently and stands behind SAM.) SAM (continuing): Long time since I drive a purty mule like
yo'. I'se goin' call you Guv'ment. Yeah, man! Dey's whe'
yo' come from an' dat's what I call yo'. 01' Guv'ment
say, "Sam, yo' take dis money and buy yo'self a plah
an' a mule an' raise yo' a crop."
SHERIFF (stepping forward): That is a pretty mule, Sam. SAM: Oh, howdy, Mr. Sheriff. I didn't know yo' was there. SHERIFF: Where did you get that mule, Sam?
SAM: I got me a farm loan. The Guv'ment man down to
Raleigh, he give it an' he say: "Yo' go 'head raise yo'self
a money crop, but don't plant cotton."
SHERIFF: Sam, you still owe taxes on this place.
SAM: How much taxes I owed, Mr. Sheriff? I'm goin' have
me a crop this year.
SHERIFF: What's the difference what you owe, Sam, you
ain't agoin' to pay it. I gotta take this mule.
SAM (alarmed): Mr. Sheriff, yo' ain't goin' take my mule, is
SHERIFF: Sure am.
SAM: Doggone! Yo' tuk ma' other mule.
SHERIFF: Gotta have taxes. (Walks toward mule) Come on,
mule, we gotta get goin'. (To SAM) What you call this
mule to make him go?
SAM (woefully): I calls him Guv'ment. SHERIFF: Giddap, Guv'ment!
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER FIRST SHARECROPPER SECOND SHARECROPPER THIRD SHARECROPPER FOURTH SHARECROPPER FIFTH SHARECROPPER
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): It is estimated three hundred and seventy-five thousand sharecroppers lose their places in acreage reduction.* (It is possible that a scene column might be used to indicate the veranda of a Southern plantation. Five SHARECROPPERS enter, all very shabbily dressed.)
FARMER (drawling): I guess I can't use you croppers no more. Ain't raisin' no more cotton.
FIRST CROPPER: I heard tell you got money for not raisin' cotton.
SECOND CROPPER: We figgered some of that was ours.
FARMER: Since when you croppers started figgerin'? You git
you' stuff together and git. The Guv'ment ain't wantin' me to plant the land you been workin'.
THIRD CROPPER: Wait a minute. The Guv'ment's payin' you not to plant, and it says here . . . (Waves a paper) ... that you're supposed to pay us.
FARMER: Every durn one of you owes me money, and I ain't a-sayin' nothin' if you git.
THIRD CROPPER: C'mon, croppers. I want to talk to you alone. (He draws them away from the FARMER who stands watching them suspiciously) Listen. (The others crowd around him) The way I figger it, this Guv'ment stuff may be a-helpin' us. Them Congressmen said we wouldn't lose our homes, but, by God, we are losin' our homes. I ain't been wantin' to join the Union 'cause I was afeared. But, by God, I ain't afeared no more! The Union is demandin' ten cents an hour for cotton pickers. It's demandin' Constitutional rights. I don't know how it's agoin' to get 'em. But, by God, I'm a'goin' to help 'em. Are you with me? Then, come on! (They follow him toward the FARMER as the scene blackens.)
* Estimated figure-H. L. Mitchell, Executive Secretary, based on letter from Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, Memphis, Tenn.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER MAN
GROUP OF WOMEN WITH BANNERS FEW MEN IN THE SAME GROUP MAN LEAVING BUTCHER SHOP
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Detroit, July 27th, 1935. Housewives rebel against high meat prices.
(Butcher shop window and door. Meat prices displayed
in window as follows: -j
ROUND STEAK 35¢ lb.
BEEF POT ROAST 21 cents/lb.
VEAL ROAST 27¢ lb.
LEG or LAMB 27¢ lb.
LOIN 29¢ lb.
HAM 31¢ lb.
Then lights come up on TWO WOMEN carrying the following banners: "WOMAN'S ACTION COMMITTEE-AGAINST HIGH COST OF LIVING." "ALL OUT TO PICKET FRIDAY AND SATURDAY." "STRIKE FOR A 20 PER CENT CUT IN MEAT PRICES." They cross stage right to left. A MAN and WOMAN start crossing from left. As they come to entrance o f store, they start to enter. WOMAN notices the picketing, and pulls MAN away from doorway.)
WOMAN: Don't go in therel There's a strike. We'll go some other place to buy!
(They start walking to right. Suddenly a MAN comes through the door with a package. A number of WOMEN come on from left. They see the MAN, and start for him.)
GROUP OF WOMEN (ad lib.): Don't let him pass! Get him! Strikebreaker. The package! Get the package. Show him we mean business. Get him! (As the MAN emerges from the mob, his package is seized by a woman who rips it apart and throws it off stage. He is then surrounded by a furious mob intent upon tearing him to pieces. The FEMALE LEADER of the strike mounts a box.)
LEADER: Wait! We've got a bigger fight than this on our hands. We're not going to be satisfied with boycotting only butcher shops. Once organized we'll look into milk prices, and gas and electricity rates. In the present strike we don't want the small butchers to suffer. We want to get results from the big packing houses!
MALE VOICE: Why don't you go to Washington? They started this.
LEADER: Maybe they started it by killing the little pigs and cattle. We don't know and we don't care. But we're not going to pay such high prices for meat, and that's all there is to itl
VOICES: We won't buy meat. Prices must come down. We
won't buy meat! Prices must come down. (The roar o f a
truck coming to a stop is heard off stage.)
LEADER: A meat truck! A packing-house truck. Soak the
meat in kerosene!
VOICES (ad lib.): Kerosene on the meat. Soak the meat. Down with the meat packer millionaires. Prices must come down. We won't buy! We won't buy! We won't buy! We won't buy!
(MOB rushes off. They all exit down left.)
* New York Times, July 28, 1935. t Ibid., August 6, 1935.
SCENE TWENTY-TWO (Mrs. Dorothy Sherwood)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER POLICE LIEUTENANT MRS. DOROTHY SHERWOOD POLICEMAN
OFF STAGE VOICES ON MICROPHONE
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 43
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Newburgh,
New York: August loth, 1935. Mrs. Dorothy Sherwood.*
(Police desk on right. Light on desk, with POLICE LIEUTENANT behind it. Enter MRS. SHERWOOD, left, with dead infant in her arms. She walks toward desk.)
MRS. SHERWOOD: He's dead. I drowned him.
LIEUTENANT: You what?
MRS. SHERWOOD: I just drowned my son. I couldn't feed him, and I couldn't bear to see him hungry. . . . I let him wade in the creek until he got tired. Then I led him out into the middle, and held him there until he stopped moving.
LIEUTENANT (calling, not loudly): John! (POLICEMAN ap
proaches) Take the body. Book this woman for murder.
(POLICEMAN takes child from her.)
(Blackout on everything except MRS. SHERWOOD. She is picked out by the solitary overhead light. Off stage VOICE comes through the LOUDSPEAKER.)
VOICE: Why did you do it?
MRS. SHERWOOD: I couldn't feed him. I had only five cents.
VOICE: Your own child. Did you think you were doing the right thing?
MRS. SHERWOOD: I just thought it had to be done, that's all. It was the best thing to do.
VOICE: How could a mother kill her own child?
MRS. SHERWOOD: He was hungry, I tell you. Hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry! (As her voice mounts it is blended with that of another which commences a progression of nine voices crying "Guilty!" These come over the LOUDSPEAKER and are varied in color, but increasing in fervor until
*Daily News, August 21, 1935.
(Supreme Court ... AAA killed)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ROBERTS-figure in silhouette SUPREME COURT JUSTICE STONE-figure in silhouette
SEVEN OTHER SUPREME COURT JUSTICES-figures in silhouette DANIEL O. HASTINGS, SENATOR FROM DELAWARE-in silhouette ALFRED E. SMITH-in silhouette
EARL BROWDER-in silhouette
THOMAS JEFFERSON-in silhouette FIRST MAN
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): January 6, 1936. . . . Supreme Court invalidates AAA in Hoosac Mills case.*
VOICE (also over LOUDSPEAKER): The majority opinionJustice Roberts.
(As travelers open from rear, projection of Constitution is thrown on glass curtain. Discovered in shadow against projection are JUSTICE STONE, THREE OTHER JUSTICES, then JUSTICE ROBERTS, and the FOUR REMAINING JUSTICES, right. ROBERTS rises to one-foot platform directly in front of him. FIVE JUSTICES who concurred in his opinion, turn in profile as he begins to speak.)
*New York Times, January 7, 1936.
JUSTICE ROBERTS: . . . Beyond cavil the sole objective of the legislation is to restore the purchasing price of agricultural products to a parity with that prevailing in an earlier day; to take money from the processor and bestow it on the farmers. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, ordained and established by the people. All legislation must conform to the principles it lays down. The power to confer or withhold unlimited benefits is the power to coerce or destroy. This is coercion by economic pressure. The judgment is affirmed.* (He steps down; JUSTICE STONE Steps Up.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: The minority opinion-Justice Stone.
(The FIVE JUSTICES concurring with JUSTICE ROBERTS turn to full front. The TWO concurring with STONE, turn in silhouette.)
JUSTICE STONE: Courts are concerned with the power to enact statutes, not with their wisdom. The only check upon their own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint. For the removal of unwise laws from the statute books, appeal lies not to the courts, but to the ballot, and to the processes of democratic government.
So may the judicial power be abused. "The power to tax is the power to destroy," but we do not for that reason doubt its existence. Courts are not the only agents of government which must be assumed to have the capacity to govern.
(AS JUSTICE STONE steps down, SENATOR HASTINGS enters, right, steps on higher platform at back, throwing his shadow into a much larger projection than that of the JUSTICES.)
SENATOR HASTINGS: This re-establishes Constitutional government. It gives back to the States the power they intended to reserve when they adopted the Constitution. The chances are it will improve the condition of the country, as did the decision of the NRA.*
(HASTINGS steps down and exits left. ALFRED E. SMITH enters right, steps on platform vacated by HASTINGS.)
ALFRED E. SMITH: We don't want the Congress of the United States singly or severally to tell the Supreme Court what to do. We don't want any administration that takes a shot at the Constitution in the dark, and tries to put something over in contradiction of it, upon any theory that there is going to be a great public power in favor of it, and it is possible that the United States Supreme Court may be intimidated into a friendly opinion with respect to it. But I found, all during my public life, that Almighty God built this country, and he did not give us that kind of a Supreme Court.t (SMITH steps down, and exits left. BROWDER enters right; steps on platform vacated by SMITH.)
EARL BROWDER: The reactionaries seek to turn both "Americanism" and the Constitution into instruments of reaction, but neither of these things belongs to them. Nowhere does the Constitution grant the Supreme Court power over Congress, but it does make Congress the potential master of the Supreme Court.-' I repeat, the Constitution of the United States does not give the Supreme Court the right to declare laws passed by Congress unconstitutional.§
(BROWDER steps down and exits left. THOMAS JEFFERSON enters right, steps on platform vacated by BROWDER.)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: There must be an arbiter somewhere.
True, there must. But does that prove it is either the Congress or the Supreme Court? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention at the call of Congress or two-thirds of the
(Travelers slowly close, with JEFFERSON remaining standing on platform, center.)
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: Farmers voted, by more than 6
to 1, for continuance of Triple-A.t (MEN start crossing
stage in front of travelers, from right to left.)
FIRST MAN: The AAA is dead.... (Exits left.)
SECOND MAN: No more allotment checks.... (Exits left.) THIRD MAN: What the hell're we agoin' to do this winter?
A WOMAN: How're we goin' t' get coal? (Exits left.) FOURTH MAN: They say the people wrote the Constitu
tion. . . . (Exits left.)
FIFTH MAN: Them people have been dead a long time. .. .
*New York Times, January 7, 1936.
*New York Times, January 7, 1936. t Ibid., January 26, 1936.
Daily Worker, February 13, 1936. § Ibid., January 11, 1936.
*Jefferson's letter to Mr. Johnson, June 12, 1823-in Congressional
Digest, December, 1935.
t World Almanac, 1936, p. 167.
+ New York Times, January 21, 1936.
(The Big "Steal")
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
HENRY A. WALLACE, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): January
21st, Buffalo, New York, Court refunds processing tax on order of Supreme tribunal.+ (Pause) Secretary Wallace. (Lights on WALLACE speaking into microphone.)
SECRETARY WALLACE: ... It doesn't make sense. In the Hoosac Mills case the Supreme Court disapproved the idea that the Government could take money from one group for the benefit of another. Yet in turning over to the processors this $200,000,000 which came from all the people, we are seeing the most flagrant example of expropriation for the benefit of one small group. You will get some idea of its size when you contrast these refunds with the profits of the processors in their most prosperous years. Cotton mills reported profits of $30,ooo,ooo in Ig2o. Their processing tax refunds amount to $51,000,000 in cotton. Flour mills reported profits of about $20,000,000 on their wheat flour business in 1929. Their processing tax refunds amount to $67,000,000. Packers' profits on their hog business in 1929 were in the neighborhood of $20,000,000. Their tax refunds were $51,000,000. This return of the processing tax under order of the Supreme Court is probably the greatest legalized steal in American history!
*New York Times, January 29, 1936.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
CHESTER A. DAVIS-Administrator of AAA FIRST REPORTER
SECOND REPORTER MESSENGER
CLERKS, STENOGRAPHERS, ETC.
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER (over LOUDSPEAKER): Washington, January 1936. Administrator Chester A. Davis.* (Light upon CHESTER A. DAVIS; this scene is played around his desk.)
CHESTER A. DAVIS: ... and we've got to find something to take the place of AAA . . . something that is constitutional, and that the various farm blocs will approve... .
FIRST REPORTER (slowly after a slight pause): Why don't you use the Soil Conservation Act passed last year? Sure, that's the one.
SECOND REPORTER: It's as broad as Barnum and Bailey's tent and it covers all the ground the AAA did.
CHESTER A. DAVIS (scornfully): Impossible. That Act was just a temporary stop-gap dealing with the WPA or something. It has no bearing on this case.
FIRST REPORTER: I tell you it has. I was looking it over this morning and .. .
SECOND REPORTER (excitedly): I was with him. It authorized conservation, acquisition of land, compensation for farmers who . . .
CHESTER A. DAVIS (holding up his hand): Wait a minute. (He presses a button on his desk and speaks into the telephone) Send in some copies of the Soil Conservation Act. (There is an expectant silence as they regard each other. The REPORTERS are excited, DAVIS smiles skeptically. A MESSENGER enters and deposits some sheaves of paper on his desk. DAVIS takes one, and the REPORTERS make a dash for the others. As DAVIS reads, the OTHERS read along with him. When they break into speech, it is in tones of intense excitement. CHESTER DAVIS speaks up, reading) The Soil Conservation Act passed on mmm (mumbling)
.. and authorized the creation of mm-mm-mm-mmmm-mm-mm. One:-Conservation measures including
methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation and changes in the use of land.... Two:-Co-operation of agreements with any agency or any person.... Three:Acquisition of lands or rights or interest therein.. . .
SECOND REPORTER (excitedly): Four: United States Government contributions to those who conserve the soil, in form of money, services, materials, or otherwise.
FIRST REPORTER: Five: The hiring of employees.
SECOND REPORTER (more excited than he was before): Six: The expenditure of money for anything, from the purchasing of law books right down to passenger-carrying vehicles. (The words rushing out) And most important of all .. .
Seven: the transfer to this work authorized of such functions, moneys, personnel, and the property of other agencies in the Department of Agriculture as the Secretary may see fit!
CHESTER DAVIS (who has become progressively more excited though inarticulate to this point-jumping up): My God, there's the farm program for 1936. (Tremendous excitement, elation, his fingers begin to punch the various buttons on his desk, sending out a general alarm.
Simultaneously, SECRETARIES, ASSISTANTS, STENOGRAPHERS,
CLERKS rush in. He continues, shouting): Get my Planning Board together. Get my assistant, get me Wallace. Get me Wilson, get me Stedman, get me . . . (SECRE
TARIES, CLERKS, MESSENGERS cross and crisscross from right to left as DAVIS gives orders.)
* Scene based on article in Time Magazine, January 27, 1936.
(Portals part just sufficiently to admit line of FARMERS carrying banners of the States-South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Idaho and Indiana. Half of the FARMERS enter from the left, and go right in front of portals, the other half enter from right and go left in front of portals. As last FARMER enters, portals close and straight line evenly spaced is formed in front of portals.)
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER
DELEGATION OF FARMERS CARRYING PLACARDS, REPRESENTING:
South Dakota Minnesota North Dakota Wisconsin Nebraska Iowa
Kansas Idaho Indiana
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES from Scene Fifteen
WOMAN IN EVENING CLOTHES WOMAN STRIKE LEADER
OTHER WOMAN from Scene Twenty
DEALER from Scene Three
A GROUP OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS A GROUP OF UNEMPLOYED FARMERS
VOICE OF LIVING NEWSPAPER: Huron, South Dakota, February loth, 1936. . . . Farmers meet in Convention to draft
*Farmers' National Weekly, February 14, 1936.
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): Now, while the Soil Conserva
tion Act is being written, is the time to make Congress and the Administration feel the pressure of the organized good sense of the American farmers. We believe that the following main points represent what the farmers must have in order to live decently, and at the same time protect the interests of the other sections of the working population.
FARMER FROM SOUTH DAKOTA: Past commitments for the
benefit payments under the old AAA must be paid in full.
FARMER FROM MINNESOTA: Whatever legislation may be
passed should include cash payments to working farmers at least equal to the benefit payments under the AAA.
FARMER FROM NORTH DAKOTA (one step forward): Additional
cash relief if the benefit payments are inadequate for a farm family to maintain a decent American standard of living.
FARMER FROM WISCONSIN: A decent American standard of
living means cost of production prices.
FARMER FROM NEBRASKA: Cost of production prices mean
far higher prices than today, whereby the farmer can at least pay his bills, operating costs and living expenses.
\FARMER FROM IOWA: Increased production is needed by the
*Farmers' National Weekly, February 7, 1936.
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 53
nation today, the United States Department of Agriculture reports.
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): To feed one hundred and
twenty-five million people according to the best standards, forty million acres would have to be added to pro
FARMER FROM KANSAS: Therefore we oppose the policy of
reduction .. .
FARMER FROM IDAHO: . . . but we do not oppose soil con
servation except when used as a means of giving the Secretary of Agriculture power to force farmers to reduce production of good land.
FARMER FROM INDIANA: There are adequate resources avail
able to meet the financial obligation incurred in this program. We suggest diversion to farm relief of a large part of the immense war appropriations, and increasing taxation on the wealth and income of the great financial and industrial interests of this country. With special emphasis on the giant corporations which handle food productions!
FARMER FROM SOUTH DAKOTA: The farmer has been sold
down the river.
(Curtains part revealing full stage set. MAN and WOMAN in evening clothes are on highest level upstage left. SECRETARY WALLACE is on intermediate level upstage, WOMEN from the Meat Strike scene are left center in front of WALLACE, and MAN and WOMAN in evening clothes and UNEMPLOYED are on ramp, right, while FARMERS are on ramp, left.
FARMERS previously in line across footlights move toward ramp left, a few to proscenium, down right. FARMER, UNEMPLOYED, etc., when speaking, step a little forward so that they may be marked apart from crowd. All on stage turn heads toward speaker to indicate source of voice.
54 TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER
The reaction is particularly marked in case of LOUDSPEAKER, with all heads turned toward voice and holding that position until LOUDSPEAKER is finished. Other definite and marked reactions in this scene are gestures on the "up, up" of the FARMERS, and the "down, down" of the WOMEN; the movement Of FARMERS and UNEMPLOYED as the FARMER steps forward between the two groups, and the gestures drawing them together on the line, "then our problem is the same," gestures toward and against MAN and WOMAN in evening clothes and SECRETARY WALLACE on lines such as "no charity," "lobs," "jobs." "We need help, not words." There should be a balanced reaction away from crowd in fear, disgust, etc., on the part of the MAN and WOMAN in evening clothes.)
SECRETARY WALLACE: In 1935 the AAA paid benefits of five
hundred and eighty million dollars.*
A FARMER: I- Soil Conservation benefits must at least be equal to the benefits of the Triple-A.
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: We must carry on with soil con
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): A dollar one, a dollar two . . ANOTHER FARMER (taking step forward): Soil Conservation
is the Triple-A in false whiskers.
STILL ANOTHER FARMER: Farm prices must stay up.
WOMAN (strike leader): Food prices must go down. ALL FARMERS (in chorus): UP! UP! ALL WOMEN: DOWN! DOWN!
FARMER+ (from Scene Three): I can't buy that auto. DEALER (from Scene Three): I can't take that shipment. MANUFACTURER (from Scene Three): I can't use you any
more. (Jumps to intermediate level.)
*New York Times, March 4, 1936. fi Creative and digest of news.
+ Digest of article "A.A.A. Philosophy" by Rexford G. Tugwell, Fortune Magazine, January 1934.
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 55
WORKER (from Scene Three): I can't eat. (Jumps to intermediate level.)
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): There is now piled up in the
banks a huge savings reserve, and it lays a basis for a new speculative boom- (All look toward LOUDSPEAKER.)
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: * Back to normalcy.
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): ... which may result in a far
more disastrous collapse than any heretofore experienced.
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES (to woman with him): The rugged
individualism of our forefathers will solve our problem. A FARMER: Our problems are of the soil.
AN UNEMPLOYED WORKER: Ours of the belly.
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: Of course we need the farmer. VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER): A dollar three, a dollar four .. . SECRETARY WALLACE: We have come to the time when we
have to learn to live one with another. We have no more
cheap land, no great foreign markets, no one to impose
A FARMER: We need help, not words!
SECRETARY WALLACE: We, down in Washington, do not be
lieve we have the final answer to the problem-but we
believe that, no matter who is in power a year hence, the
kind of thing exemplified in the Soil Conservation Act
will be going forward.
ONE FARMER: We need help!
ALL FARMERS: We need help! ONE UNEMPLOYED: We need food! ALL UNEMPLOYED: We need food! ALL FARMERS: We need food!
ONE WOMAN: We need a decent standard of living. ALL WOMEN: We need a decent standard of living.
ALL UNEMPLOYED: So do we. We need a decent standard of
* Remainder of scene is creative.
56 TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER
ALL FARMERS: So do we.
A FARMER: Then all our problems are the same!
ALL UNEMPLOYED: Then all our problems are the same. WOMAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: All must be helped, John. FARMER, UNEMPLOYED AND WOMEN: No charity! AN UNEMPLOYED: Jobs!
ALL UNEMPLOYED: Jobs! A FARMER: Help.
AN UNEMPLOYED: We need a State that permits no man to
MAN IN EVENING CLOTHES: Rugged individualism. A WOMAN: No profiteering. ALL UNEMPLOYED: Jobs.
ONE FARMER: We can't harvest. ALL FARMERS: We can't harvest. ONE WOMAN: We can't buy. ALL WOMEN: We can't buy.
ONE UNEMPLOYED: We can't eatl ALL UNEMPLOYED: We can't eat!
VOICE (over LOUDSPEAKER. News flashes of events that have
occurred that day-especially with reference to a Farmer
Labor Party. Below are three flashes that were used):
Local Farmer-Labor Party conventions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Dakota declared for a national Farmer-Labor Party. Two county conventions at Minneapolis passed a resolution demanding that the State Farmer-Labor Party meeting in convention at Minneapolis March 17th, take the lead in a national Farmer-Labor Party.
Washington: Before a cheering audience at the St. Nicholas Arena last night, Congressman Ernest Lundeen,
* Daily spot newspaper quotes used, quotes changing with the news.
TRIPLE-A PLOWED UNDER 57
of Minnesota, said: "Labor unions and farmer organizations will soon become irresistible political powers."
Great Falls, Montana: The semi-annual conference of the Farmers' Holiday Association held here today had as its major decision the endorsement of a resolution for the formation of a Farmer-Labor Party. This resolution was proposed by Reid Robinson of the Butte Miners'
FARMER: We need you.
CHORUS OF FARMERS: We need you. LEADER OF UNEMPLOYED: We need you.
CHORUS OF UNEMPLOYED: We need you. (FARMERS and UN
EMPLOYED jump close together, arms extended. Light on
them is intensified. Lights on WALLACE and WOMAN and
MAN in evening clothes fade. Tableau of FARMERS,
WOMEN and UNEMPLOYED hold.)