Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Miscellaneous Single Episodes
Show: Whispering Streets: Episode 67
Date: May 13 1958

CAST
Bette Davis--------the narrator.
Veronica Halstead--an old lady, who was once a great actress.
Eric Fillimore-----an old man, once a great actor.
Mrs. Jenkins-------who keeps a boarding house.
Milly Rawden-------elderly - once a burlesque queen.
Winifred Sheldon---matron of a home for old actors and actresses.

(FILTER AND ECHO)

 

BETTE:

(SOFT) Whispering -

ANNCR:

(SOFT) Whispering -

BETTE:

(HEAVIER) Whispering -

ANNCR:

(FULL VOICE) Whispering Streets -

(FILTER AND ECHO OUT)

 

MUSIC:

THEME...IN AND UNDER...(HATCH SUMMER HOUR TR. 1)

ANNCR:

WHISPERING STREETS - a complete new story each day, Monday through Friday.

MUSIC:

MUSICAL FIGURE...IN AND UNDER..

ANNCR:

And here is Bette Davis -

BETTE:

Hello. It was Friday the thirteenth - Veronica Halstead tore a leaf from the calendar and thought - It's a bad luck day. I won't stir out of doors - I'll skip my usual stroll in the park". . . She walked over to the mirror and stood staring at her wrinkled face - a face that still held the elements of beauty - despite the marks of almost four score years! She sighed and turned away from the mirror, and there beside it hung a picture of herself as Juliet, young, slim, innocent. Staring at it, Veronica's old eyes filled with quick tears. She dabbed at them, swiftly, when a knock sounded on the door -

SOUND:

KNOCK ON DOOR

VERONICA:

(CALLING) Come -

SOUND:

(DOOR OPENS)

MRS. J:

Good morning, Miss Veronica -

VERONICA:

Oh, Mrs. Jenkins -- good morning.

MRS. J:

It looks like rain, doesn't it? Here's your breakfast, Miss Veronica.

VERONICA:

You shouldn't bring me a tray every morning. I can just as well eat breakfast in the dining room with the others.

MRS. J:

You're the star boarder, Miss Veronica. I'm not forgetting the time when I was a wardrobe woman in the theatre, and you were so kind to me. . . I'm not forgetting how kind Mr. Fillimore was to William - (REMINISCENT) William and I weren't married then - William was Mr. Fillimore's dresser -

VERONICA:

It was Romeo and Juliet on the stage, and the air was sweet with romance, back-stage, too - (PAUSE) You married your man but I let mine slip through my fingers, Mrs. Jenkins. I thought a career was more important than marriage. You were right, I was wrong.

MRS. J:

Who's to say what's right and what's wrong, Miss Veronica? You had your career and it was a great one -

VERONICA:

While it lasted! (RUEFUL) You and Williams saved money, you bought a house and furnished it. Your boarders assure you an income. . .Eric Fillimore and I parted company and I'm living on the last of my money - having thrown most of it away, and Eric is heaven knows where -

MRS. J:

But he was a beautiful Romeo, Miss Veronica - those legs of his in tights! (DREAMY) I used to stare at them until William Jenkins took me by the arm and whirled me around and - (STOPS) You drink your coffee, Miss Veronica, and if you'd rather not come down for lunch I'll bring you another tray -

MUSIC:

PUNCTUATION. . .

BETTE:

"She's glad to have me," thought Veronica Halstead, as she sipped her coffee, and ate thin slivers of toast. "I lend prestige to her boarding house!" But just before noon when she stepped into the hall on her way to the dining room, Veronica heard a voice coming from the parlor. Mrs. Jenkins was talking over the telephone - and Veronica paused without meaning to eavesdrop - I've done the same thing myself! As she listened one parchment hand flew up to her heart as if to guard it from the words that were like sharp little needles -

MRS. J:

(INTO PHONE - OFF MIKE) No, I haven't any vacant room - I'm sorry. Yes, I'll admit that the price you're offering is a very good one - frankly, it would be the difference between profit and loss, prices are so high these days but - what's the use of talking! (PAUSE) No, I'm not expecting any vacancies, either - (LONGER PAUSE) Well, there's one old person - she's a retired actress. She's had her room for twenty years and she's paying the same board she paid when she moved in - the poor old thing - she doesn't realize that prices have gone up by leaps and bounds - (PAUSE) No, don't be hopeful - my old lady's in the best of health - (QUICK) thank heaven!

MUSIC:

STING

BETTE:

Veronica tiptoed back to her room. She seated herself in the brocaded slipper chair that had seen service in a boudoir set, behind footlights, twenty-five years ago. She sat there for a long while, staring into space. . . Mrs. Jenkins, once wardrobe woman, now landlady, had been good to her. Veronica hadn't realized until this moment how good! She hadn't realized that the price she paid was so low - if she could pay more - if she could be on a level with the other boarders - her conscience would be clear, but she was living on the last of her savings! She thought suddenly of an alternative, one that made her shudder, but she was a brave woman. When a knock sounded on the door she was able to smile -

SOUND:

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

VERONICA:

(CALLS) Come in -

SOUND:

(DOOR OPENS)

MRS. J:

I brought a luncheon tray - chicken salad and rolls and tea and a pastry for dessert - (PAUSE) You feeling all right, Miss Veronica?

VERONICA:

Why do you ask?

MRS. J:

I thought you were looking a bit pale. If you're under the weather, I'll call a doctor -

VERONICA:

You're bringing my decision into the open, Mrs. Jenkins! Yes, I am a bit under the weather - though not sick enough to need a doctor - so I've decided - (STOPS)

MRS. J:

Yes? What have you decided, Miss Veronica?

VERONICA:

I've decided that I should live in a place where I'll have expert care, nursing if necessary. . .Mrs. Jenkins, I'm afraid I'll have to leave you -

MUSIC:

UP TO CLIMAX. . .

ANNCR:

In just a moment Bette Davis will be back again but first - No men have earned the right to call the world their own. Two who have come fairly close on the basis of travel and experience are Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas. Wanderlust has never served a more fruitful purpose than theirs...for it's their eye-witness experience that lend so much authority to their broadcasts. Monday through Friday evening on most of these same stations, you're listening to more than mere second-hand reports when Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas are on the job. Each man has the knack, born from personal experience, of translating a headline into its historical values...A news feature into its full depth of meaning. You can['t] buy experience like theirs. But thanks to them and to CBS Radio, you can have it every weekday evening. Make Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas a habit. It's a sure way to be fully informed... And to be fully certain that the information
you're getting is factual, coached in terms they understand and you understand, too...Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas...on most of these same stations.

MUSIC:

UP AND UNDER . . . (ZIMMERMAN THEATRE HOUR TR. 6)

ANNCR:

And now back to our story, with Bette Davis.

BETTE:

Veronica was conscious of the expression, half surprise and half relief, that crossed her landlady's face. She averted her own face, ever so slightly, as Mrs. Jenkins spoke -

MRS. J:

(A TRIFLE STIFFLY) I've tried to look after you, Miss Veronica, to the best of my ability -

VERONICA:

I know you have, but I'm getting very old and you're a busy woman. If I needed care in the dead of night - (STOPS) There's a home in New Jersey for elderly actors and actresses -

MRS. J:

(SHOCKED) But, Miss Veronica - a home?

VERONICA:

(GOING ON STEADILY) For a long while I've toyed with the idea of entering that home.

MRS. J:

But you've lived here for - twenty years -

VERONICA:

Yes, twenty long years - twenty happy years. But all good things must come to an end, Mrs. Jenkins.

MRS. J:

I'm glad you feel that living with me has been - a good thing. If you've quite made up your mind, I won't say anything to - to change it. I know how you've always hated arguments.

VERONICA:

Yes. You know.

MRS. J:

Once you've made up your mind to stick to it - (WITH MASKED EAGERNESS) When would you be leaving, Miss Veronica?

VERONICA:

I'll phone the home this afternoon - (PAUSE) I'll ask for an application form - (PAUSE) If I'm accepted, and I'm sure I'll be accepted - I'll leave by the end of the week, at the latest.

MRS. J:

But that's so soon -

VERONICA:

I've always lived by the rule of - the sooner the better. I was never one to dilly-dally. I made the transition from Shakespearian to modern plays as quickly as I snap my fingers - (SHE SNAPS THEM) just like that. . .I decided between marriage and a career - (AGAIN SHE SNAPS HER FINGERS) just like that!

MRS. J:

I'll miss you - (SUDDENLY HUSKY) William will miss you. . .We'll all miss you!

VERONICA:

And I'll miss you, Mrs. Jenkins, but I'm sure you'll have no trouble filling my room.

MRS. J:

Well, rooms are at a premium. (QUICK) But I prefer you to anyone!

VERONICA:

You've been very kind, Mrs. Jenkins - very understanding and tolerant. Never, through the whole twenty years, have you failed to be - (PAUSE) Understanding and tolerant. (ABRUPT) I've a little brooch I'd like to give you - (PAUSE) If you'll keep it to remember me by -

MRS. J:

I recall the very day you bought the brooch. A jeweler carried in a tray of them! You asked my advice about which one to choose. I - I know what it cost, Miss Veronica, even then. You should hold onto it - (HESITATES) there might come a time when -

VERONICA:

(PROUDLY) There'll never come such a time, Mrs. Jenkins! They'll take care of me very generously in the home.

MRS. J:

Then I'll - (VOICE BREAKS) I'll treasure the pin always - (PAUSE) You eat your lunch, Miss Veronica - I wouldn't run off this way but I must make a phone call.

MUSIC:

PUNCTUATION. . .

BETTE:

The chicken salad was excellent, but Veronica could only pick at it. There was a plump chocolate eclair, for dessert, but she didn't touch it, even though she had a passion for eclairs. She could imagine her landlady making a phone call. Saying - "I can give you a room now - the old lady I spoke of is leaving." Veronica pushed aside the tray and went to the wall and started taking down pictures - pictures of herself in starring roles. When she lifted the young Juliet from its hook, her eyes once again filled with tears, and her tired lips murmured a prayer -

VERONICA:

(WHISPERING) Oh, Lord - not long...I can stand it for a little while - but only for a little while!

MUSIC:

PUNCTUATION. . .

BETTE:

Veronica packed furiously, rejecting her landlady's offer to help. She made her phone call - she was interviewed by one of the trustees of the home - she was accepted immediately. A week after she'd made her momentous decision, she rode out to the home in a taxi - her final extravagance. As it chugged across the bridge, she looked back at the city that had known her when she was a great star - that had long since forgotten her. She arrived at the home in the early afternoon and, as she went down a long corridor, she was conscious of old eyes peering out from behind portierres. The matron showed her to a pleasant room that looked out over a garden - and she was left alone to unpack - alone, but not for long!

SOUND:

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

VERONICA:

(TO HERSELF) Always before it was Mrs. Jenkins...How it'll be a stranger - (CALLS) Come in -

SOUND:

(DOOR OPENS BRISKLY. CLOSES WITH A LITTLE CLICK)

MILLY:

(QUICK FADE) I saw you going by - and I said - "I'd recognize Veronica Halstead anywhere."

VERONICA:

I think you have - the advantage of me.

MILLY:

I saw you on the stage - fifty years ago - but I guess you never saw me. I was in burlesque.

VERONICA:

Really?

MILLY:

Looking at me now, you'd never think I was the best strip-teaser of my generation.

VERONICA:

(COLD) That's a great distinction -

MILLY:

Milly Rawden's my name - (CHUCKLES) Rawden in the Raw, they used to call me! Can I help you unpack?

VERONICA:

No, thanks - I'm quite capable of unpacking my own things. I'm not feeble as yet.

MILLY:

When you went by, I said to the others - "She's spry, for her age. Real spry.". . . Look - I didn't only come to ask if I could help you unpack - (PAUSE) It's this way - me and some of the others are getting up a
show for Saturday night.

VERONICA:

How - how interesting.

MILLY:

And we were wondering if we could count on you - being as you were so famous - for a stunt.

VERONICA:

A - stunt?

MILLY:

We're all doing our little acts - acts we were noted for. Naturally, I'm not doing a strip-tease - not here - (CHUCKLES AGAIN) and now! But there was a song I used to sing about stage-door Johnnies -

VERONICA:

It's nice of you to - include me, but -

MILLY:

Nice nothing. We're all one big family - burlesque, vaudeville -

VERONICA:

And - (FAINTLY SARCASTIC) Shakespeare?

MILLY:

Well, not much of that! (PAUSE) We thought if you'd do a speech from some play - sort of a monologue -

VERONICA:

I'm sorry -

MILLY:

Sorry?

VERONICA:

I'm afraid any speech of mine would be - out of its element, sandwiched in between songs about stage-door Johnnies, and -

MILLY:

Out of place - I see! (SLOWLY) If you don't want to be friendly -

VERONICA:

I'm very tired....Mixing with so many people would make me even more tired -

MILLY:

If you think you're better than we are -

VERONICA:

Please -

MILLY:

(MUTTERING) Please, she says, like she was having tea at Buckingham palace! (STARTS OFF MIKE, SLOWLY) Sorry I brought it up - about the Saturday show...If you want to be alone, you can be alone. I'll tip off the others -

VERONICA:

I'd appreciate that. . . Thank you very much.

MILLY:

Don't mention it - (FADES) And I thought you were so sweet, fifty years ago, when I saw you from the second balcony -

MUSIC:

UP TO CLIMAX. . .

ANNCR:

In just a moment Bette Davis will be back -- In the old days, a day at home was a day alone. But now, thanks to CBS Radio, you can enjoy the brightest new tunes on programs like our HOWARD MILLER SHOW, or meet interesting, fun-loving people from every corner of the country as they visit Art Linkletter's HOUSEPARTY. Five days a week on CBS Radio, Howard Miller and Art Linkletter come your way on most of these same stations. And every time they open up new avenues of entertainment - entertainment you can enjoy whether you're working at household chores, or stopping for a well earned rest. Don't let your daily routine get you down. Get in on the fun and music with Howard Miller - be Art Linkletter's guest of honor on HOUSEPARTY - with no more effort than it takes to turn on the nearest radio.

MUSIC:

UP AND UNDER (ZIMMERMAN THEATRE HOUR TR. 6)

ANNCR:

And now back to our story, with Bette Davis -

BETTE:

Veronica Halstead finished her unpacking with set lips - doing a stunt, sandwiched in between a vaudeville act and a burlesque act - it was too much to expect of her. When she left her room, toward the end of the afternoon, and walked down the long corridor, she was still conscious of old eyes watching her from behind long portierres, but nobody ventured out to speak. At a turn in the corridor she came upon Milly Rawden, but Milly's nose went up and she turned abruptly in the other direction. As she passed through the door, she encountered the matron - a quiet woman, with a gentle smile, named Winifred Sheldon -

MATRON:

We hope you'll be happy here, Miss Halstead.

VERONICA:

Thank you, Miss Sheldon.

MATRON:

We're like one big family - everybody pulls together -

VERONICA:

Yes, so I've heard -

MATRON:

They've been buzzing about you, ever since they learned that you were coming. They're excited - and thrilled - and proud. . . I'll introduce you to the group at supper -

VERONICA:

I think I'll be too tired to eat supper - with a crowd, Mrs. Sheldon. . . I'll go back to my room as soon as I've had a breath of fresh air.

MATRON:

That's a pity. They've all been looking forward to your first night - that sounds very theatrical, doesn't it? (WAITS FOR AN ANSWER THAT DOESN'T COME) But of course, if you're too tired, I won't urge you -

MUSIC:

PUNCTUATION. . .

BETTE:

Veronica left the matron standing in the doorway, and went along the porch. It was empty at this hour. The old actors and actresses were getting ready for supper. She sank into a chair, and closed her eyes and if her eyelids felt hot from unshed tears, and if she were thinking of her pleasant picture-hung room back in Mrs. Jenkins' boarding house, both her tears and her thoughts were secret. And if she were dreaming of the old days - (STOPS) She thought she was dreaming when she heard a voice speaking from below the porch -

ERIC:

(BELOW MIKE) "What light from yonder window breaks?
It is the East - and Juliet is the sun -?"

VERONICA:

"What light from yonder window - " (STOPS) I'm losing my mind - it's cracked under too much p-pressure, but I'd swear -

ERIC:

(BREAKING IN) Don't swear. . . Hello, Veronica...And for goodness sake open your eyes. You look deader'n a door nail with them shut!

VERONICA:

(OPENING HER EYES) I - I - Eric, it's you! Eric Fillimore.

ERIC:

Yes - it's me.

VERONICA:

What are you doing here?

ERIC:

Same thing you are, Veronica -

VERONICA:

You mean - (GULPS) that you live here?

ERIC:

Sure I do.

VERONICA:

But why?

ERIC:

Bad investments - lack of incentive. If you'd married me, Veronica - I'd have had the incentive.

VERONICA:

Incentive indeed! That's just like a man - dreaming up a fummy-diddle alibi! (SNORTS) Don't blame me, Eric, for your lack of financial acumen... Come up on the porch -

ERIC:

I was just waiting for the invitation - (CHUCKLES) I'll be with you in a minute - (FADES) Keep a chair warm for me.

VERONICA:

(TO HERSELF) Eric! Eric alive - (PAUSE) Eric Fillimore - it's too incredible!

ERIC:

(FADING IN) Well, here I am...It's been a long while, Veronica - (PAUSE) But you still have slim, lovely fingers -

VERONICA:

It's been a very long while since those fingers have been kissed, by you or anyone else, Eric -

ERIC:

If you hadn't been so onery - so set in your ways, Veronica, we'd have been sitting beside each other on our own porch, maybe. Well, we'll sit across from each other at the supper table - I've arranged that!

VERONICA:

(WEAKLY) I was going to my room, early.

ERIC:

Oh no you're not going to your room early - you're sitting opposite me at the supper table - and it's what you should have been doing for years. And after supper, we're going to meet with the show committee...It just so happens I'm the chairman -

MUSIC:

PUNCTUATION. . .

BETTE:

It was Saturday night. Veronica was dressing for her act. As she fitted the little cap of pearls on her grey hair, as she straightened the puffed sleeves of her gown, she was softly flushed, and her eyes were gleaming. She glanced at the picture that hung beside her mirror. The picture of a young girl, slim, innocently beautiful. She gave a final pull to her full skirt - she was ready when a knock sounded on the door -

SOUND:

(A KNOCK ON DOOR)

VERONICA:

(CALLING) Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

ERIC:

(OFF MIKE) You know darn well where I am - right here, waiting for you! As usual -

SOUND:

(DOOR OPENS, AFTER A MOMENT IT CLOSES SOFTLY)

ERIC:

You're a knockout, Veronica! (RELAPSES INTO SHAKESPEARE) "See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand - that I might touch that cheek."

VERONICA:

(FONDLY) You idiot!

ERIC:

Sure I'm an idiot - I don't deny it. I was an idiot and a weakling to let you get away from me. . . Yes, you look like a million dollars, Veronica. And don't glance down at my legs - I know they're thinner than they used to be.

VERONICA:

But your voice isn't - (SLIGHTLY HUSKY) And neither is your heart -

ERIC:

You can say that again, Toots!

VERONICA:

Toots. . . You've been fraternizing with Milly. . . We've kept our costumes for a long while, Eric -

ERIC:

As souvenirs of something beautiful. Souvenirs of the past -

VERONICA:

Not only as souvenirs of the past, my dear - we've been holding them in trust for this night, although neither of us knew it -

ERIC:

In trust - for this night - (LONG PAUSE) They've given us the star spot on the bill, Veronica -

VERONICA:

(CRISPLY) And so they should! . . Come on, Eric - let's join - our friends.

MUSIC:

CURTAIN (HATCH SUMMER HOUR TR. 4)...UP AND OUT SEGUE

MUSIC:

THEME (B.G.) HATCH SUMMER HOUR TR. 5

BETTE:

So two old people were reunited and I can't help smelling the fragrance of faded orange blossoms - sometimes they're sweeter than the ones that have just opened - (PAUSE) Speaking of sweetness, do you remember the matron, Winifred Sheldon - the quiet woman with the sweet smile - who told Veronica Halstead that the people in the home were one big happy family? Although Winifred was in her young forties, she lived a cloistered life with a group of very old people, and though she loved them all - she sometimes longed for a taste of adventure - for a change of pace - and one day she decided that she'd go in search of both -

ANNCR:

In just a moment Bette Davis will be back to tell you more about Winifred Sheldon, but first - The tense, withdrawn businessman who can't tear himself from the office is a vanishing species, thanks to Walter Cronkite's business news broadcasts. A man with real business. Few men can find time for leisure today, once he knows when to listen for Walter Cronkite's timely tips on the news of business and finance. Every day and evening, Sunday through Friday, hear Walter Cronkite with today's business news. Saturdays Bill Downs reports, over most of these same stations.

MUSIC:

THEME UP AND FADE TO B.G.

ANNCR:

And now here's Bette Davis who'll tell you more about Winifred Sheldon -

BETTE:

Yes, here I am to tell you more about Winifred Sheldon's strange pilgrimage. . . She fared forth from the Home - hoping to find something new and different - (LAUGHS) Well, she found something new but it wasn't exactly different! I'll bring you her story tomorrow. . . Until then, this is Bette Davis saying goodbye. . . from the WHISPERING STREETS.

MUSIC:

THEME (HATCH SUMMER HOUR TR. 5) UP AND FADE TO B.G.

ANNCR:

WHISPERING STREETS brings you a complete story every day, Monday through Friday. Today's program was written by Margaret E. Sangster. Featured in the cast were Lurene Tuttle, Victor Rodman, Ruth Perrott and Cathy Lewis. WHISPERING STREETS was directed by Gordon T. Hughes and produced by Ted Lloyd . . . Your announcer is Dan Cubberly. Join us tomorrow for another complete story from ... the WHISPERING STREETS.

MUSIC:

TO FILL