Header Graphic
Great Days in Dayton
The World Aflame


Great Days in Dayton

Reproduced on these pages is the full script of a “Great Days in Dayton” broadcast.  All music and sound effect “cues” are indicated just as they appear on the working scripts used by the cast.  The sponsor hopes that you will find interesting these dramatized episodes from the life story of your city.


Great Days in Dayton” is a Presentation sponsored by



SCRIPT No. 24—“The World Aflame.”



     [Theme: Starts fortissimo, then fades behind…]

ANNOUNCER:  Great Days in Dayton!”


ANNOUNCER:  On a chill spring day, almost a century and a half ago, a crudely built boat came to land on the bank of the Miami River, just below the mouth of the Mad River.  Thirteen persons…men, women and children…stepped ashore to face new lives in the wilderness of the Northwest Territory.  That was the beginning of Dayton.  In the course of these radio dramas we have watched the progress of the Dayton community from its earliest days as a frontier settlement…in peace and prosperity, in war and depression.  We have shared the trials and struggles, the tragedies and triumphs, of our civic ancestors.  And through all of this we have observed the vital importance of the community spirit. Some times that spirit has been weak and divided; then Dayton’s progress has been slow and uncertain.  At other times it has been strong and united; then Dayton has honored it self with great civic achievements.  It is the hope of our sponsors, The Dayton Power and Light Company, that the presentation of these historical dramas will renew and strengthen the Dayton spirit, that all of us may be moved to plan and work for a still greater Dayton in the future.  (PAUSE.)  And now…here is your narrator, Mr. Charles McLean, who will introduce today’s drama.




NARRATOR:  Last Sunday our play dealt with the establishment of the city manager form of government in Dayton, and with the flood prevention work of the Miami Conservancy District.  Yet, even as these two revolutionary advancements were taking shape, world events were moving toward an international tragedy which was to engulf most of the peoples of the world.  In the summer of 1914 Europe flamed into war.  As the conflict spread and intensified, there arose the threat that America might become involved…a threat which at last became stark reality.  (PAUSE.)  Our play today presents the Dayton of the war years.  Some of the characters who appear have been taken from real life.  Others, for dramatic reasons, are fictional, though these latter may be presumed to present the feelings and actions of thousands of typical Daytonians.  As our play opens, two of them, John Ballard and Ellen Roberts, are present at a community dance held at Memorial Hall on the night of April 6, 1917.



[Music: Dance orchestra fades in “Pretty Baby.”  Laughter.  Voices.  Music stops suddenly. Crash of cymbals.]



ELLEN:  Look, John!  Governor Cox is on the platform.  He’s going to speak.

JOHN:  Yes, Ellen, let’s move over here where we can see better.  [Voices and laughter out.]

COX:  [Off.]  A few short hours ago Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, signed a declaration of war against the German Government.  [Loud, long cheers.]  I welcome that manifestation of Dayton’s patriotism.  But this is a solemn moment for the people of America, of Ohio, and of Dayton.  We know, from watching the conflict which has raged in Europe, that war is not merely a matter of martial music, bravely flying flags and parading troops.  On the battlefields across the ocean death waits for many of those who bear arms in the cause of human rights and freedom.  This supreme sacrifice of American lives we have sought to avoid…with tolerance, with patience, by every means compatible with our national honor.  But we have reached at last the end of the road of peace.  We are at war.  And to the prosecution of that war we shall bring now the full power of a mighty nation, the full measure of that nation’s courage.  May God grant that thus armed, and aided by our heroic Allies, we shall win…and win soon…a glorious victory and a just peace.  [Loud cheers.]

[Music: Orchestra starts “Star-Spangled Banner.”  Voices join.  Song fades out…and in again on last few bars.]

   [Cheers…fade out slowly.]  [Motor running.]



ELLEN:  But I don’t see why it had to happen, John.  It wasn’t our war in the beginning, and it hasn’t been our war since.  It’s been an European war.  We’ve helped England and France…not only with loans and munitions and ships, but with outright gifts of money and food and clothes and medicines.

JOHN:  All that hasn’t been enough, Ellen.  And it wouldn’t be enough from now on.  England and France can’t win without our troops, our soldiers, and without our navy.

ELLEN:  But what does it all mean…to us?  What will we gain?   What will we be fighting for?

JOHN:  For a way of life.  For the independence and security of free peoples.  For the assurance that no nation with ambition for world power will be able to conquer and destroy other nations.

ELLEN:  I see.  But to a woman, John, those are vague far-off things.  All that women can see is that their men, the men they love, are going away from them…into this awful thing.  You’ll go, John, and you’ll take with you not only my love but all my hope of the happiness we might have had together.

JOHN:  [Slowly.]  Yes…I’ll have to go.  I learned things at Plattsburg last summer…not much, not nearly enough, but something.  I’ll have to give that, for what it’s worth.

ELLEN:  And Tommy!  Why it seems only yesterday that he was my baby brother.  But now he’s eighteen, and he wants to enlist.  Mother and Father and I…all of us…we’ve begged him to wait…wait until he’s drafted.  You’ll advise him to, won’t you, John?

JOHN:  Yes, of course.  (PAUSE.)  Here we are.  [Motor stops.  Car door slams.  Footsteps.  Door opens.]

TOMMY:  Hello, Ellen!  Hello, John!  Isn’t it wonderful?  We’re in it at last!  I’m going to enlist, the first thing tomorrow!

ELLEN:  Tommy, you told Mother just last night…

TOMMY:  I told her I wouldn’t enlist until we declared war.  Well, now we have!

JOHN:  Why don’t you wait, Tommy?  You’ll get your turn in the draft.  You’ll be taking the same chance everyone else takes.

TOMMY:  You aren’t waiting, John.  You’re going to the officers’ training camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison.

JOHN:  That’s different.  I’ve had some training already.  Besides, I’m older than you are.  You’re pretty young.

TOMMY:  [Cocky.]  That’s what you all say…Mother and Father and Ellen, and now you.  Well, the army doesn’t think I’m too young.  They’ll take me.

ELLEN:  Tommy, dear, we’re not trying to keep you from something just because you want to do it.  We’re …we’re afraid for you.

TOMMY:  [Softening.]  I know Ellen.  Mother cried when we were talking about it tonight.  I…I know how you all feel.  But, don’t you see, this is something I have to do.  I can’t wait.  You see that, don’t you John?  (PAUSE.)  John, don’t you?

JOHN:  Yes, Tommy.

TOMMY:  Don’t you cry, too, Ellen!

ELLEN:  I…I can’t help it, Tommy  (PAUSE.)  Oh, John!

JOHN:  There, honey.  (PAUSE.)  Tommy, how about hitting the hay?

TOMMY:  Yes…yes, I guess I’d better, Good night, John. And don’t cry, Ellen.  I’ll be all right.

ELLEN:  Good night, Tommy.  [Footsteps.]  (PAUSE.)

JOHN:  You mustn’t worry too much about Tommy.  With a couple of million drafted, he’ll probably never get overseas.

ELLEN:  But he may.  And anyway he’s going; he’s leaving us.  And you’re leaving me, too, John

JOHN:  I have to.  You know that. (PAUSE.)

ELLEN:  John, will you marry me before you go?  (PAUSE.)

JOHN:  No…darling… I can’t do that.  I love you too much.  I can’t come into your life, that way, and then leave you…not knowing whether I’ll ever come back.

ELLEN:  [Crying.]  John!  Oh, John, dearest!


  [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Women’s voices.]  [Gavel.]

VOICE 1:  [woman.]  The Montgomery County Chapter of the Red Cross will now hear from its chairman, Rabbi David Lefkovitz.  [Applause.]

LEFKOVITZ:  I think we have every right to be proud of the record we have made thus far.  Our chapter was formed on April 18, less than two weeks after the declaration of war.  We launched a membership drive immediately, setting our goal at 20,000 members.  But our large committee under the leadership of Mrs. Valentine Winters, Mr. E. E. Burkhardt and MR. C. P. Young, has surpassed our best expectations.  I am pleased to announce today our membership has reached a total of 26,000.  [Applause.]

CRAIGHEAD:  Mr. Chairman!  Mr. Chairman!

LEFKOVITZ:  The chair recognizes Mrs. Charles A. Craighead.

CRAIGHEAD:  I think that our Red Cross owes a special vote of thanks to two Dayton people.  One of the greatest helps in our membership campaign and in our daily work has been the use of these conveniently located quarters in the Daytonia Hotel.  They have been donated by Mr. And Mrs. Walter Kidder.  I suggest that a committee be appointed to draw up resolutions expressing our gratitude.

LEFKOVITZ:  If there is no objection, the chair will appoint such a committee.  And now, may we hear from Mrs. George Goodhue, of our executive committee, as to the general scope of the work ahead of us?

GOODHUE:  Well, of course, there’s knitting.  [Laughter.]  We all began doing that…every woman in Dayton, it seems to me…when the first Allied relief organizations were started.  And now we’re keeping it up, harder than ever, for the Red Cross.  I know the men laugh at us; we knit everywhere and all the time…at the dinner table, on street cars, in automobiles, in the theatre, at card tables, even in bed.  But that’s the way we get so many things done…socks, sweaters, mittens, caps…just the sort of things our boys in the army and navy need.  And since the men are always so impressed by figures, maybe these will mean something to them.  Within the next year and a half we expect to give out more than 8,000 pounds of yard, and to get back more than 18,000 articles.  [Applause.]

VOICE 2:  [Woman.]  How about the nursing and health work, Mrs. Goodhue?

GOODHUE:  We’re organizing that now.  We’ll have classes for volunteer workers under the best doctors, surgeons and registered nurses from the hospitals.  Some classes will study home nursing, some first aid, some dietetics, and some the making of surgical bandages.  We expect a registration of between three and four hundred women, and from the surgical classes alone we expect to get several hundred thousand bandages.

VOICE 3:  [Woman.]  I understand that the national headquarters in Washington is planning to collect old clothes, and I think it’s an excellent idea.  We can do that here in Dayton, can’t we?

GOODHUE:  Certainly.  That’s work that can be done very well by our Junior Red Cross, composed of the young people, even the children in the grade schools.  When the national headquarters has the plan completed, I’m sure that Dayton will have an organization all ready to do the work.



  [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Bugle off.]  [Marching footsteps.]

SERGEANT:  One, two, three, four!  One, two, three four!  Squad …halt!  One, two!  One, two, three!  [Footsteps stop.]  (PAUSE.)  [Slow, sarcastic.]  In three full hitches in the regular army I never seen rookies as bad as you guys. (PAUSE.)  You, number three in the front rank!  What’s your name?

TOMMY:  Thomas Roberts.

SERGEANT:  Where you from?

TOMMY:  Dayton, Ohio.

SERGEANT:  Thought you was off a farm.  You handle that rifle like it was a pitch-fork.  [Laughter.]  Silence!  And wipe off them grins!  You, Roberts, pull in that chin and stick out your chest.  (PAUSE.)  And now, my proud beauties, we’re going to stay out on this here drill field until you learn how to bring them pieces down to the order in three counts instead of two or four.  (PAUSE.)  Squad right, march!  One, two, three, four!  One, two. three, four!  [Fade out and in.] [Men’s voices, laughter, off.]



BILL:  U-m-p-h!  A-a-h!  Boy, does it feel good to get them shoes off.  My dogs were on fire.  Tommy!  Tommy Roberts!

TOMMY:  [Coming on.]  What is it, Bill?

BILL:  Let’s me and you get passes and go into Chillicothe tonight.

TOMMY:  I can’t.  I’m nailed for guard duty.

BILL:  Well, now, ain’t that too bad?  There you’ll be, slogging around, two hours on and four off, all tonight and tomorrow.  And me?  Well, tonight I’m going to get me a date with that little blonde that works at the Busy Bee.  She thinks I’m Pershing.  She gives me seconds on the hamburgers and don’t put it on the check.

VOICE 1:  [Off.]  Maybe she can’t add.  [Laughter.]

VOICE 2:  [Off.]  Tommy Roberts, here’s a letter for you. Catch!

TOMMY:  Thanks.  [Envelope tears.]

BILL:  Who’s it from…a dame?

TOMMY:  My sister.  (PAUSE.) Gee, the lucky guy!

BILL:  Who?

TOMMY:  John Ballard, a guy I know in Dayton.  He’s been transferred to a regiment that’s going overseas right away.

BILL:  What is he…a colonel?

TOMMY:  No…lieutenant.  Plattsburg and Benjamin Harrison.

BILL:  Oh, one of them mail-order officers.  They’re what’s wrong with this man’s army.

VOICE 1:  [Off.]  Yeah, but they can tell you what to do.

VOICE 2:  [Off.]  They sure can, and you’ll do it…and like it.  [Laughter.]  [Bugle off…Mess call.]

VOICES:  Chow!  Chow…Where’s my mess kit?…Come on, you guys!  Come and get it!  [Music: Fades in and out.]



VOICE 1:  I know that a lot of people think the Dayton Chamber of Commerce hasn’t much reason for existence right now.  They think our sole purpose is to bring new business, new industries to Dayton.  And they say that with all our government contracts we have more work than we can handle now.  Well, that’s almost true.  [Laughter.]  But we have a job to do…and that’s to see that the factories of Dayton work together to produce the greatest war effort and the greatest good for Dayton as a whole.  [Applause.]  In order to promote that sort of co-operation, we’d like to hear what some of our industries are doing, and how we can help them to do it.  First, the National Cash Register Company.

VOICE 2:  Maybe we’ve set up future risks out at the N. C. R., but we’ve gone the whole way on war work.  We’ve placed our entire plant at the disposal of the Government.  Our slogan today is: “War first and business second…if there is any time for business.”  [Applause.]  We’re turning out parts for Liberty Motors, for the J-1 training plane and for the DH-4’s that will be built here by Dayton-Wright.  We’re making a lot of things for artillery use…periscopes, fire-directors, fuse-setters.  And we’re manufacturing large quantities of Colt .45 automatic pistols.  As far as cash registers are concerned, we’re making those over in corners of the factory where no war work is going on.  [Laughter.]

VOICE 1:  And now let’s hear from the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company.

VOICE 3:  As you all know, we started from scratch.  The Government sent us one plane…a British De Haviland 4.  It had no motor, no machine guns and few accessories.  They said, “Redesign this plane to take a Liberty Motor and other American-made parts.  And get it into production. We want a thousand planes a month.”

VOICE 1:  Whew!  Can you do it?

VOICE 3:  No, but we’re going to.  [Laughter.]  We had that plane redesigned, built, tested and flown in a little over two months.  Now we’re putting it into production and as you all know, that’s a terrible job.  But we’ll show some speed, once we get started.  Our first month’s production will be about fifteen planes.  But the second month we’ll make one hundred and fifty.  And a couple of months after that we’ll be building more than an thousand a month. [Applause.]

VOICE 1:  There are a lot of Dayton concerns doing work we want to hear about…The Davis Sewing Machine Company, Dayton Metal Products, Ohmer Fare Register, Malleable Iron…any number of them. But first let’s hear about an entirely new kind of war job that’s being done by Maxwell Motor and the Platt Iron Works.

VOICE 4:  I can’t say very much about the work we’re doing, because there’s a strict censorship as to all production details.  But as many of you know, we’re building tanks.

VOICE 5:  Tanks?

VOICE 4:  Yes, the tank is a brand-new war weapon.  Basically, it’s like a caterpillar tractor; it runs on endless belt treads, instead of wheels.  The body is built entirely of armor-plate and is fully closed except for slots through which machine guns can be operated.  It will carry a crew of one, two or more men, depending on its size.  With its terrific tractor power, it can crawl across trenches and break through barbed wire entanglements.  Nothing can stop it except a direct hit from a large shell.

VOICE 2:  Does it really work?

VOICE 4:  Some of them are working now in France.  The tank rolls ahead, using its machine guns and squads of infantry follow close behind to do the mopping-up.  When our factories get them into production on a quantity basis, the army will be able to send them over the top in waves, covering a whole sector.



    [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Table sounds.]

TOMMY:  It sure is good to get home and put my feet under a real dinner table!  Dad, how about some seconds on that roast beef?

GEORGE:  Of course, Tommy.  I must say, though, that you don’t look starved. You’ve put on some weight at Camp Sherman.

SARAH:  But I’m always worried, George, for fear he isn’t getting the right things to eat.  Do you really think Tommy looks well, Ellen?

ELLEN:  Of course he looks well…and he is well.  But Tommy, you don’t have to hurry so with your dinner.  Where are the good manners that Mother taught you?

TOMMY:  Manners?  A fat lot of good manners will do you in the army!  I tried them at first, and I was always at the tail end of the mess line, getting the last of the slum.  Then I got wise to myself.  I learned to get in at the head of the line, wolf down the chow and hurry back for seconds.

SARAH:  Tommy!  I never heard such language!  Wolf down the chow!

GEORGE:  That’s what he’s doing now.  I wish I had his appetite.

TOMMY:  Well, I might as well use it here in this country.  They say the eating overseas is not so good.

ELLEN:  Now, Tommy, we agreed that we wouldn’t even talk about that.

TOMMY:  Going overseas?  I’m sorry.  Everyone at camp is so excited he can hardly see.  I forgot that it worries you and Mother.

GEORGE:  And me, too, Tommy.

TOMMY:  I know, Dad.  I won’t mention it again.  Listen, let’s all go to see Charlie Chaplin in “Shoulder Arms” tonight.  I saw it in camp but I want to see it again.

ELLEN:  You and Father go, Mother.  I’d better stay home; I haven’t written to John for three days.

TOMMY:  Poor boy!  How is the pride of the A.E. F.?

ELLEN:  All right, but I think he’s getting pretty sick of it.  His last letter said that the regiment had been in the front line four weeks out of the last six.

TOMMY:  What’s he sick about?  That’s where everyone over here wants to be…the front line.  I’d say he’s lucky.

GEORGE:  And I’d say we’ll be late for the picture if we don’t start right away.  You’re sure you won’t come, Ellen?

ELLEN:  No, I’ll stay here.

SARAH:  Give John my love, dear.



   [Music:  Fades in and out.]  [Pen scratches.]

ELLEN:  [Slowly…writing.]  John, dearest…I’m alone now, alone with you here in this house where the shadows of another long night are beginning to creep in.  And you are with me, dear.  I can see you sitting beside me, smiling, and I can hear your voice, and feel he strength of your arms around me and the touch of your lips on mine.  And if you weren’t with me this way, the way you are when I write to you or read your letters, I could never, never go through the endless nights and days, and all the fear they bring with them.  [Fade out and in.]  The war has reached deep into the lives of all of us now.  It touches us in a hundred ways every day.  It isn’t war as you know it, but it does bring out the real qualities in all of us...bad as well as good.  It measures our patriotism, or our lack of it.  It shows everyone just how willing we are to sacrifice ourselves, to give up things, to work tirelessly day and night, to help others.  It takes the true measure of our characters. I wish you could see some of the things that are happening here in Dayton.



     [Music: Fades in and out.]

WALTER:  Mary, what have you done out in the back yard?  I had that ground all leveled and rolled and specially seeded just so I could practice putting. It was a perfect green this morning…and now it looks like no man’s land.

MARY:  You’ll have to do your putting on the golf course, Walter.  I’ve been reading up about war gardens for weeks.  So this morning I had a man come in and spade up the whole thing.  All the seeds and plants are in.  We’re going to raise our own green vegetables this summer.  Food will win the war.

WALTER:  W-e-l-l, I guess that’s all right.  And I suppose you’ll enjoy doing some gardening.

MARY:  You’re going to do the gardening, Walter…watering, weeding and everything. You can do it early in the morning and when you come home at night.

WALTER:  Now, Mary, you know I couldn’t tell the difference between a weed and a tomato vine.

MARY:  Then you’d better learn right away.  I want to catch you pulling up just one of

my tomato vines.



    [Music: Fades in and out.]

VOICE:  [Off.]  The Kaiser thought we had no faith in our country, no faith in America.  He thought we couldn’t raise money for the national defense.  He thought that even our first Liberty Loan would fail.  (PAUSE.)  Well, here’s our answer to him.  In three Liberty Loan drives…three, not one…Ohio has been asked for four hundred and fifty-nine million dollars.  And Ohio has subscribed six hundred and sixty-two million.  [Cheers.]  Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!  It’s all right to cheer about what we’ve done in the past.  But what are we going to do now?  Here’s a quota of three hundred and twenty-seven million…twice as much as ever before.  Are we going to make that quota? [Cheers.]

VOICES:  [In and over cheers.]  I’ll subscribe a hundred…Give me a fifty dollar bond…They can take it out of my pay each week; I want a Liberty Bond…Five hundred!…A thousand!…Five thousand!



     [Music: Fades in and out.] [Telephone rings.]

VOICE:  [Woman.]  Hello!…Oh, yes, Eleanor…Well, it’s awfully sweet of you to ask us, but I know we can’t come…No.  You see, the factory is working twenty-four hours a day, and Frank hardly ever gets home before midnight…Well, of course, I’d love to come just myself; I haven’t played bridge for weeks.  But there’s a committee meeting tomorrow night that I simply must go to…I know, and Frank will be sorry, too.  Do ask us again, won’t you?



   [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Wagon sound.]

JANE:  Here comes the junk wagon, Eddy.  Get the bundles ready.

EDDY:  All right, Jane.

VOICE:  [Off.]  Whoa!  [Wagon stops.]  You kids got some junk to sell?

JANE:  Yes, we’ve got a lot.

EDDY:  Newspapers and bottles, and old iron.  See, three stove lids.

VOICE:  Uh-huh.  This bundle of newspapers feels mighty heavy.  Sure you haven’t got a brick or two in the middle of it?

JANE:  No, sir.  Eddy wanted to put one in, but I wouldn’t let him.

VOICE:  Well, you look honest, anyway.

EDDY:  Mister, please give us just as much as you can.  If we each get three more war savings stamps, our books will be full.  Then we can get big five-dollar stamps and new books. [Music: Fades in and out.]



ELLEN:  [Writing.]  And then today, John, Tommy came home from Camp Sherman

and told us that his division will go overseas very soon.  Mother went perfectly white; I thought she was going to faint.  And I saw father gripping the edge of the table.  For just a moment neither of them spoke.  And then they took it easily and quietly, almost smiling. That’s the thing I mean; that’s the kind of courage you can see, even here at home.  But I’m afraid for myself, darling.  I’m afraid my own courage will fail me.  I pick up a newspaper and my heart stands still while I read the long list of names printed in heavy black type.  I’m afraid then, and other times, too…terribly afraid I can’t believe the war will ever end. …not ever, John, dearest.  I want you back!  I want you so!  [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Heavy guns, far off, behind whole scene.]



ORDERLY:  Captain Miller’s compliments, Lieutenant Ballard, and will you please report to the Captain’s dugout immediately.

JOHN:  All right, orderly.  [Footsteps.]  (PAUSE.)  Lieutenant Ballard reporting, sir.

MILLER:  Come in, John.  Sit down.  (PAUSE.)  John, we’ve got to pull an information raid at dawn.

JOHN:  An information raid?

MILLER:  That’s it.

JOHN:  In God’s name, why?  Doesn’t brigade or division know that this is a rest sector?  And don’t they know it’s a ten-to-one shot that there’ll be an armistice within a week?  What’s the matter with them?  Are all the brass hats in this army crazy?

MILLER:  Steady, John.

JOHN:  I’m sorry, Jake.  I guess my nerves are sort of shot.  They have been…well, ever since young Tommy Roberts came to the company with the rest of the replacements.  (PAUSE.)  You see, his sister and I…

MILLER:  Yes, John, I know about that.  His sister wrote to me.

JOHN:  She did?  Then you know how I feel.  Why did the kid have to come here…to this company?  Why couldn’t he go to some other regiment?  Why couldn’t he stay in the States?  That’s where kids his age belong, instead of in this stinking mess.  Every time a shell comes over I think it has his name on it.  Haven’t I enough to worry a bout without that?

MILLER:  We all have, John.  But this is pretty bad.  We asked for volunteers for this raid…and young Roberts spoke up.

JOHN:  I’ll break his fool neck.

MILLER:  No, you won’t.  He’s volunteered, and that’s that.  But I thought …well, Lieutenant Brinkley wanted to take the raiding party out, and he knows his stuff, so I…

JOHN:  Brinkley?  He will not take this raid out.  I’m taking it myself.  Listen, Jake, you can’t give it to anyone else.  Don’t you see?  I’ve got to take it if Tommy goes!

MILLER:  Yes, John, I see.  [Sighs.]  Well, here’s the map and here are your orders.  There’ll be eight of you.  You’ll crawl across this stretch of no man’s land an hour before dawn.  It’s three hundred and twenty yards from our forward observation post to the German wire.  Stop fifty yards short and wait. There’ll be an artillery barrage to blast out the wire for you and we’ll box fifty yards of the German trenches with machine guns.  The barrage will move forward at exactly six fifty-three, and that’s when you go in. You’ll have just two minutes in their lines to grab a couple of prisoners.  Then the barrage will move back to cover your retreat.  Got it?

JOHN:  Yeah.  How much light will there be?

Miller:  Just enough to see what you’re doing.

JOHN:  Who’s going to handle the machine-gun box?

MILLER:  I am.  I’m going up to the gun post on the slope. I’ll be able to see the lines from there.  Now…set your watch with mine.

JOHN:  Ready.

MILLER:  Ten fifty-six…wait…now!

JOHN:  Ten fifty-six.

MILLER:   Good luck, John.

JOHN: Thanks, Jake.  [Music: Fades in and out.]

MILLER:  Are your guns ready, sergeant?

MILLER:  Here’s the barrage.

SERGEANT:  All ready, Captain.  [Shell-fire.]

SERGEANT: They’re sure on the target.  Look at them stakes flying in the air!

MILLER: Ready with the guns!

SERGEANT:  Ready, sir!

MILLER:  Commence firing.  [Machine guns in and hold.]  (PAUSE.)

SERGEANT:  There goes the barrage.  It’s moving forward.

MILLER:  Yes, and they’re going in.  I can see them with these glasses.

SERGEANT:  Keep those guns going!  (PAUSE.) 

MILLER:  Here they come out of the German trench!  No.  Yes, there they are.  And they’ve got two Heinies with them. Good!  Good!

SERGEANT:  The barrage is moving back now.  That’ll cover them.

MILLER:  That’s right.  They’ll be safe now.  Look at them coming, will you   [Screams of shell.  Loud explosion.]

SERGEANT:  That was awful close, Captain…right back of them.  Do you think it got anyone?

MILLER:  [Slowly.]  I don’t know.  The smoke is pretty thick.  I’m trying to count them.  Five…six…seven…[Music: Fades in and out.]



ORDERLY:  Glad you’re back safely, Captain.  The rest of the officers are in the dugout.  They’re waiting breakfast for you.

MILLER:  Thanks. I’ll go in.  (PAUSE.)

VOICES:  [Dull.]  Good morning, Captain.

MILLER:  Good morning.  [Chair scrapes.]  I’ll have some coffee…nothing else.  [Table sounds.]  (PAUSE.)  [Coughs.]

VOICE:  Captain, I…uh…


VOICE:  I…uh…never mind.  (PAUSE.)  [Coughs.]

MILLER:  Well, John.  (PAUSE.)  John.

JOHN:  All right, Jake, we did it, didn’t we?  We pulled the raid.  All according to plan.  A good raid.  A perfect raid.  Who says it wasn’t?  And we brought some square-heads back with us, two of them.  Maybe that will satisfy the brass hats.  And what did it cost?  Nothing.  Not much, that is.  One man, that’s all, to catch a couple of lousy Boches.  One man killed…Roberts…Thomas…private, first class.

MILLER:  Take it easy, John.

JOHN:  Orderly!  Orderly!  Take this slop away and bring me some brandy.  Don’t stand there staring at me!  Bring me some brandy, I tell you!  [Music: Fades in and out.]  [Heavy guns, far off, behind…]



VOICE:…and under the terms of this armistice, all hostilities shall cease at eleven o’clock on the morning of November eleventh, nineteen hundred and eighteen.  (PAUSE.)  [Guns out.]  [Clock strikes eleven.]  (PAUSE.)



   [Bands and cheers…far off.]

NEWSBOY:  [Off.]  Extra!  Extra!  Armistice signed!  War ends!  Read about it!  Extra!  Extra! [Band and cheers up and behind.]

DAN:  Just look, Betty!  The whole of Main Street is one solid mass of people!  And listen to them!

BETTY:  See, Dan, they’re throwing paper from all the office windows.   It’s a regular blizzard.

DAN:  They’re forming a parade down near Third Street.  Come on, let’s get in it!  (PAUSE.)

VOICE 1;  [Woman.]  Soldier boy, I’ve just got to kiss you!

VOICE 2:  That’ll suit me fine, lady.  [Band, cheers, whistles, bells…Up and fade out.] (PAUSE.)



ELLEN:  Doctor Warren, are you sure that Mother is going to get well?

WARREN:  Yes, Ellen, she is.  This has been a terrible shock, of course, and your mother’s heart is…well, she’s not a young woman any more.  As soon as she can be moved, I’m going to suggest that your father take her south…Florida perhaps…for the winter.  After that…we’ll see how she is.

ELLEN:  How is she feeling tonight?

WARREN:  She’s quiet now.  Your father is with her.  She seems to want him beside her all the time.  He steadies her, I think.

ELLEN:  He’s having a very hard time, himself.  I came downstairs late last night.  He was in the library, sitting with his head in his hands, crying like a baby.

WARREN:  Yes, Tommy’s death has been almost as hard on him as on your mother.  And it’s been hard on you, too, Ellen…harder than you think.

ELLEN:  I’ll be all right.

WARREN:  Of course.  And you’re going to have something to help you.

ELLEN:  What?

WARREN:  John Ballard will be coming home soon.

ELLEN:  I’ve wanted to hear someone else say that.  It helps me to believe it.

WARREN:  He will come soon, my child, and you’ll have all of your lives ahead of you.  Now, now, I mustn’t stand here talking all night.  You need sleep.  [Door opens.]  [Armistice celebration…far off.]  Hear them …still celebrating the armistice. (PAUSE.)  Well, good night.

ELLEN:  Good night, Doctor.  [Door closes.]  [Armistice sounds out.]  (PAUSE.)  [Sobs.]  John, come home to me.  I need you so.  Come home to me, John…soon.  [Music: Swells and fades behind…]



ANNOUNCER:  You have been listening to a presentation of “Great Days in Dayton,” brought to you under the sponsorship of The Dayton Power and Light Company.  (PAUSE.)  Our story of Dayton’s century and a half…of its people, its institutions, its civic growth…told through the medium of these radio dramas, now approaches yesterdays with which many of us are familiar.  Next Sunday our play will deal with the decade of the Nineteen Twenties, a period filled with the drama of swiftly-moving events.  (PAUSE.)  These programs originate in the auditorium of the Dayton Art Institute.  All dramatic roles are played by members of the Dayton Civic Theatre professional company.  Your narrator has been Charles McLean.  Your announcer is Morton DaCosta.  (PAUSE.)  Tune in next Sunday afternoon at 5:15, over Station WHIO, for another presentation of “Great Days in Dayton!”


Return to "Great Days in Dayton" Home Page