Our Town

This page is more or less a placeholder right now, but the intention is to finally complete a project started 25 years ago.

Prologue

Here is theĀ Storyboard

1.) The sky is beginning to show some streaks of light over in the East there, behind our mountain. The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go, doesn’t it? Well, I’d better show you how our town lies. Up here is Main Street. Way back there is the railway station; tracks go that way. Polish Town’s across the tracks. Over there is the Congregational Church; across the street’s the Presbyterian. Methodist and Unitarian are over there. Baptist is down in the holla by the river. Catholic Church is over beyond the tracks. Here’s the Town Hall ad Post Office combined; jail’s in the basement. Along here’s a row of stores. Here’s the grocery store and here’s the drugstore. Most everybody in town manages to look into those two stores once a day. Public School’s over yonder. High School’s still farther over. Quarter of nine mornings, noontimes, and three o’clock afternoons, the whole town can hear the yelling and screaming from those schoolyards. This is our doctor’s house. This is the back door. There’s some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery. Nice town, y’know what I mean?

2.) Want to tell you something about that boy Mike. He was awful bright ‘ graduated from high school here. head of his class. So he got a scholarship. Graduated head of his class there, too. It was all wrote up in the papers at the time. Going to be a great engineer. But the war broke out and he died in France. All that education for nothing.

Oh, I’m sorry I mentioned it. Only it seems to be that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to. Very ordinary town, if you ask me. Little better behaved than most. Probably a lot duller.

Is there no one in town aware of social injustice and inequality? Seems like they spend most of their time talking about who’s rich and who’s poor.

3.) Y’know ‘ Babylon once had two million people in it, ad all we know about ‘em is the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts…..and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all these families sat down to supper, and the father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney, – same as here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and the comedies they wrote for the theatre back then. So I’m going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone and the people a thousand years from now’ll know a few simple facts about us ‘ more than the Treaty of Versailles and the Wright Brothers flight. See what I mean? So people a thousand years from now ‘ this is the way we were in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.

4.) Do you know what I think, do you? I think maybe the moon’s getting nearer and nearer and there’ll be a big ‘splosion. You don’t know anything. If the moon were getting nearer, the guys that sit up all night with telescopes would see it first and they’d tell all about it, and it’d be in all the newspapers.

Three years have gone by. Yes the sun’s come up over a thousand times. Summers and winters left cracks in the mountains a little bit more and the rains have brought down some of the dirt. Babies that weren’t even born before have begun talking regular sentences already; and a number of people who thought they were right young and spry have noticed that they can’t bound up a flight of stairs like they used to without their heart fluttering a little. All that can happen in a thousand days.

Julia, do you know one of the things I was scared of when I married you? I was afraid we wouldn’t have the material for conversation more’n’d last us a few weeks. I was afraid we’d run out and eat our meals in silence, that’s a fact. Well, you and I been conversing for twenty years now without any noticeable barren spells. Well, good weather ’tain’t very choice, but I always find something to say. You’d be surprised, though on the whole, things don’t change much around here.

5.) Yes, an awful lot of sorrow has sort of quieted down up here. People just wild with grief have brought their relatives up to this hill. We all know how it is…then time…and sunny days…and rainy days…’n snow…We’re all glad they’re in a beautiful place and we’re coming up here ourselves when our fit’s over. Now there are some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at ‘m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars…everybody knows it in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being. You know as well as I do that the dead don’t stay interested in us living people for very long. Gradually, gradually, they lose hold of the earth….and the ambitions they had…and the pleasures they had…and the things they suffered…and the people they loved. They get weaned away from the earth- that’s the way I put it- weaned away. I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back up the hill- to my grave. Wait! One more look. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute? The saints and poets, maybe ‘ they do some. Yes, now you know! That’s what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you have a million years. To be always at the mercy of ones self-centered passion, or another. Now you know- that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness. There are stars- doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings up there. Just chalk…or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. The strain’s so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.