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AS THE CENTURY TURNS: A DOCUDRAMA Characters in order of appearance: Narrator Mr. Joe Credo, 35 (to 41) year-old workingman; Galveston, Texas Ruby Credo, Mr. Credo's 14 (to 20) year-old daughter Minister Conger, U.S. Ambassador to China Aide to Minister Conger in China Students ("Boxers") in China Private Sanchez, U.S. Army in the Philippines Private Castillo, U.S. Army in the Philippines Tourist #1 in Galveston Tourist #2 in Galveston Mrs. Molly Credo, 34 year-old housewife in Galveston; Joe's wife, Ruby's mother Stanley Spencer, Galveston businessman Henry Carson, Galveston businessman Bartender in Galveston Walter Jones, Galveston mayor Assistant to Walter Jones in Galveston Al Hamill, oil man in Beaumont, Texas Patillo Higgins, Oil man in Beaumont William McKinley, U.S. President in Buffalo, New York Mrs. McKinley, First Lady George Cortelyeau, President McKinley's aide. Man in crowd; Buffalo, New York Policeman in Buffalo, New York Leon Czolgosz, Assassin Reformer #1 in Chicago Reformer #2 in Chicago Reformer #3 in Chicago Orville Wright in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Wilbur Wright in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Rudy Schubert, fireman in San Francisco, California Chief Sullivan, Fire Chief in San Francisco Ronald Jones, Ruby Credo's husband SCENE 1: Galveston, Texas; January 1, 1900 Characters: Narrator,- Mr. Credo, Ruby Credo Setting: The Credo home NARRATOR: As the 20th century began, Americans looked to the future optimistically. The economy had improved since the depression of 1893, and as result of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. had emerged as a world power. Nonetheless, Americans would have many unexpected challenges during the early years of the 20th century. Our play opens in turn-of-the-century Galveston, Texas, at the home of a typical working-class family. [music filters into the living room where Mr. Credo is sitting] MR. CREDO: That's real good piano playing, Ruby. What kind of music is that? Sounds newfangled to me! RUBY: [entering the room] It's ragtime, Dad. That was a song by Scott Joplin I just learned. MR. CREDO: Never heard of him, but it's good music. Ruby, hand me that newspaper so I can see what's going on in the world. [Ruby hands him the paper] Let's see, here. Looks like trouble brewing in China. A bunch of people called "Boxers" are attacking missionaries and other foreigners. RUBY: Why, Dad? MR. CREDO: Beats me! You would think they would be glad to modernize and get a chance to become Christians. RUBY: What else is in the news? MR. CREDO: Mostly articles about the New Year like Senators giving speeches about the greatness of America's future. And, here's one about New Orleans. The crowds got a little out of control while celebrating. But most of the articles are about good things to come. That writer fellow H. G. Wells predicts we will have flying machines by 1950. I don't believe that for a second. Here's an article saying someday we'll have air conditioning in houses to keep us cool all summer. That would be nice, wouldn't it? RUBY: Yes it would. MR. CREDO: Here's an article that says President McKinley continues to be more and more popular. Everyone seems to like him, even Democrats like me. Jobs have been easy to get under McKinley. Even the labor unions like McKinley. Farmers love him, too, but I don't know what he has to do with bumper crops. RUBY: That's boring. Anything interesting going on? MR. CREDO: Well, there are lots of New Year's Day sales. Your mother would like to take advantage of these prices. She would love this mahogany parlor table for $3.95 or this sofa for $9.98. Here's a brass bed for $3.00 that would look nice in your room, Ruby. And, I wouldn't mind one of these felt hats for 89 cents. . .Hey, I better watch out or I'll have spend my $50 a month paycheck before I get it! RUBY: Do you see any ads for those new automobiles. I want one! MR. CREDO: No, I don't see any automobile advertisements, but here's an article that in New York City, they have passed a nine mile an hour speed limit. It says 8,000 Americans now own automobiles. I hear you can get a nosebleed in those contraptions because they go so fast! I can't keep up with all the changes in the world. Well, some things never change. Here's an article about a war in South Africa called the Boer War. And, here's an article about a war in the Philippines. I guess war will always be around! RUBY: Why, Dad? MR. CREDO: Now, that's a good question. I don't know, Ruby.
SCENE 2: Tartar City, China; May, 1900 Characters: Narrator, Minister Conger, Aide, Students Setting: American Embassy NARRATOR: 1900 was no different that other eras in history with bloodshed throughout the world. The Boxer rebellion in China, named after the symbol of the clinched fist, was a student uprising aimed at expelling foreign influences from their country. Our next scene reveals some of the turmoil that resulted. [crowds of chanting "Boxers" can be heard in the background] STUDENTS: Kill the foreign devils! Kill the foreign devils! Kill the foreign devils! MINISTER CONGER: Did you see that poster outside the compound? It said "the will of Heaven is that telegraph wires be cut, railways be torn up, and the foreign devils decapitated"! AIDE: Those "Boxers" mean business! MINISTER CONGER: I can't believe they mean Americans, too. Most of us here are missionaries just trying to help the Chinese people. Innocent Americans are being killed who only want to bring this country into the modern age! AIDE: I think the "Boxers" see us as intruders. They see all foreigners as the same.. evil. MINISTER CONGER: And, the Chinese government looks on passively or perhaps with approval. AIDE: I got word from the French Bishop Favier that his converts are being slaughtered. MINISTER CONGER: Yes, and the Baptist Mission was attacked and Mrs. Lovitt was killed. Who will be next? AIDE: If we don't get some military help soon, it may be us! MINISTER CONGER: I sent a telegram to president McKinley. I hope help gets here before it's too late. STUDENTS: [outside the compound and coming closer] Kill the foreign devils! Kill the foreign devils! Kill the foreign devils! MINISTER CONGER: We need to get out of here! AIDE: We can go to the Spanish compound. But, what about the Methodist mission that asked for a safe haven here? MINISTER CONGER: We can't do them any good if we're dead! Let's go! NARRATOR: Help did arrive from the U.S. and European nations. The Boxer Rebellion was ended. But, the U.S. had other problems in the Philippines. The Filipino insurrection or Bolo War was a result of the Spanish-American War in which the U.S. gained colonial control of the Philippine Islands. At first, the natives were happy to see the U.S. They believed the U.S. would grant the Philippines independence, something their Spanish colonizers had refused to allow. But, the U.S. government decided not to free the Filipinos but to "Americanize" them instead. An unpopular Vietnam-like war erupted as Filipinos tried to expel the U.S. As our next scene shows, many Americans questioned the U.S. role in the Philippines.
SCENE 3: The Philippines, June, 1900 Characters: Privates Sanchez and Castillo Setting: Somewhere in the rain forests of the Philippines SANCHEZ: Yesterday was a nightmare! How many of us got it in that ambush? CASTILLO: I heard at least 20 are dead. But, it's guerrilla warfare. What do you expect? SANCHEZ: Alll we do is search and destroy, look for booby traps, and hope for the best. And for what? The Filipino people don't want us here. And, they are Spanish-speaking people just like us. It's like we are killing family or something. And, for what? CASTILLO: Because we're told to do it, that's why. SANCHEZ: I got a letter from home that say's people stateside don't understand this thing any better than I do. I, for one, don't see why we should face bolo knives and machetes to win this God-forsaken place. CASTILLO: If we don't control the Philippines, someone else will! SANCHEZ: Is that worth thousands of American lives? CASTILLO: Don't you think the U.S. should help people be more like us? SANCHEZ: Not if they don't want to be. And, I'm tired of sloshing through these swamps until my feet rot. And, if the Filipinos don't kill us, malaria, dysentery, cholera, or dengue fever will. CASTILLO: The thing that bothers me is you don't know whose side the Filipinos are on. You don't know who to trust. Did you hear about Mike Nolan? He was on a date with this woman. Next thing we knew,she had cut his throat! NARRATOR: The Filipino insurrection or Philippine-American War ended officially in July, 1902, but skirmishes continued for eleven more years. Over 4,000 Americans would die along with 200,000 Filipinos. The war cost the U.S. $600 million, but the goal to secure the Philippines succeeded and "benevolent assimilation" followed. Not until after World War II would the Filipinos gain their independence, and relations between the U.S. and the Philippines will continue to be troublesome long after that. But, in 1900, most Americans were more concerned with events closer to home as our next several scenes illustrate.
SCENE 4: Galveston, Texas; September 8, 1900 Characters: Mr. Credo, Ruby Credo Setting: The Credo home MR. CREDO: Good morning, Ruby. RUBY: Good morning, Dad. What's all that noise outside?. MR. CREDO: Just a thunderstorm. It's raining cats and dogs! RUBY: Can you stay at home today? I'm scared! MR. CREDO: No, I have to go to work. Don't you worry. It's no big deal. Storms come through here all the time. Your mother can take care of everything here. I did want to talk to you before I left, though. Guess what? The U.S. won more than any other country in the Olympics. RUBY: That's great! I knew we would! MR. CREDO: Well, see you later. [opens the door to leave] RUBY: Look, Dad! The sidewalk is under water down the street!
SCENE 5: Galveston, Texas; September 8, 1900 Characters: Tourists #1 and #2 Setting: Galveston's Tourist District TOURIST #1: This city is beautiful even in a rainstorm. Such grace and culture! It's so well-planned and the paved streets and the concert halls are simply divine! Even the city government is the newest form and runs smoothly. TOURIST #2: I would like it better if someone would take down that storm warning flag. TOURIST #1: That's just a precaution. There's nothing to worry about. Someone would have told us if there was any real danger. Let's go watch the big waves. They are really crashing into the beach today! TOURIST #2: I know. That's what I'm worried about! TOURIST #1: You are such a worrier! The new U.S. Weather Bureau is taking care of everything. Now, let's go enjoy the excitement. I heard some of the bath houses have been destroyed by those waves! We don't want to miss that!
SCENE 6: Galveston, Texas; September 8, 1900, 3:00 p.m. Characters: Stanley Spencer, Henry Carson, Bartender Setting: Ritter's Cafe and Saloon STANLEY: Glad you made it. That weather is unbelievable, but we're safe here. Might as well get some business done. How's our real estate deal going? HENRY: All the paperwork is done. Frankly, I would rather have a little fun instead of talking business. With this storm, there won't be many people out trying to buy houses. Afterall, we're in this brick building where we'll be high and dry. No one would expect us to do business on a day like this. STANLEY: Listen to that wind! But, I've seen worse. Back in, oh what year was that? [crashing sounds rattle the cafe] BARTENDER: What in the world? Look! Water is coming in! Watch out! The roof is going! HENRY: Stan! Stan! Where are you? STANLEY: Help me! I'm under here! I'm penned down. I can't move! HENRY: Help! Stan's hurt! Help! BARTENDER: I'll go for help! [exits but his voice can still be heard] Help! We've got people hurt! Help.. help! Oh no! [a scream is heard as the bartender is washed away and drowns]
SCENE 7: Galveston, Texas; September 8, 1900 Characters: Mr. Credo, Ruby Credo, Molly Credo Setting: The Credo home [a drenched Mr. Credo returns home] MR. CREDO: I'm back! I couldn't get to work because of the flooding! RUBY: Oh! I'm so glad you're home! I'm scared and Mother is crying! MRS. CREDO: We're all going to die! MR. CREDO: Now, settle down, Molly! This is serious. I'm going to chop a hole in the floor to prevent the house from floating. You both go up to the attic. We should be safe there. MRS. CREDO: We're all going to die.! [Ruby and her mother go to the attic while Mr. Credo works on the floor. Soon, he joins them.] MR. CREDO: I've done all I can. All we can do now is wait. MRS. CREDO: We're all going to die! [screams] Look! It's the neighbor's house. It just floated by! I wonder what happened to the Johnsons. We're all going to die! MR. CREDO: Oh no! The house is beginning to float! Out the window! Grab anything floating and hang on! [They escape into the storm]
SCENE 8: Galveston, Texas, September 9, 1900 Characters: Mayor Walter Jones, Assistant to the Mayor Setting: The Mayor's home MAYOR: Have you had time to assess the damage? ASSISIANT: What we know is sketchy, but it's all bad. The business district was torn to pieces. City Hall is under water to the second floor. Communications with the mainland have been destroyed. The Grand Hotel is gone. The Business College is gone. The Lucas Terrace Apartments blew up and rescue was impossible. We don't know how many fatalities will be found. Estimates are being made that at least 6,000 people have been killed here in Galveston alone. A lot of people went to the churches for safety. I don't know of one church that was left standing. St. Mary's Orphanage was destroyed and only three kids survived. They were washed out to sea and back again while they held onto a tree trunk. Some people survived at Ursuline Convent. Most of them floated by and were caught by the nuns like fish. The nuns also delivered four babies last night! MAYOR: What about the ships? ASSISTANT: We don't even know where most of them are Some were blown ashore. MAYOR: Do we have people working on sewers and clearing streets? How about looting? ASSISTANT: We're getting organized. We've got a posse of volunteers to watch for looting, but they're causing more trouble than anything else. I have reports they are simply shooting all black people regardless of what they are doing! MAYOR: Get that under control! We don't need any publicity like that! I'll declare martial law. The nation will be watching. We must operate responsibly! ASSISTANT: Just dealing with the dead is going to be an enormous problem. Mass cremation will be our only hope. Medical supplies and food are being brought in by boats. You know what the strangest thing about all this is? All the cats and dogs are gone. You walk around, and there's not a single dog barking! The only thing left are the sharks. Hundreds have gathered off shore! NARRATOR: Galveston did recover from the Hurricane of 1900, but over 6,000 people died including Molly Credo. To prevent another similar tragedy, the city of Galveston built a seawall and raised the elevation of the entire island by bringing in tons of sand. In addition, the rest of the U.S. was impressed with how well Galveston coped. Their experimental form of city government became the rage and spread throughout the South including Dallas in 1906. Professional city manager and commissioner forms of city government soon became the norm throughout the U.S. As Galveston made it's comeback, Texas was soon in the news again as the next scene reveals.
SCENE 9: Beaumont, Texas; January 10, 1901 Characters: Mr. Credo, Ruby Credo, Al Hamill, Patillo Higgins Setting: Spindletop Heights oil drilling site MR. CREDO: Well, Ruby, this is where I'll be working. I'm sorry that you have been through so much. But, this will be our new start. Who knows? Maybe we'll get rich. RUBY: That would be great! I hope you like your new job, though. That's more important than getting rich. MR. CREDO: Here comes my boss. [Al and Patillo enter] Hello, Mr. Hamill. I just brought my daughter out to see where I would be working. AL: Nice to meet you. This is my partner, Patillo Higgins. RUBY: It sure is cold out here! PATILLO: This clear sky doesn't help much, does it? MR. CREDO: How's the drilling going in this cold weather? AL: We have three men working on the new fishtail bit. They will lower the drill stem today. PATILLO: How far down are they going? AL: 700 feet. Let's go check it out. MR. CREDO: Well, I guess we'll be going. I'll see you this afternoon when my shift starts. [later that day] MR. CREDO: I'm ready to go to work. AL: I'll show you around. [the men begin walking toward the drilling when a load roar can be heard] PATILLO: What was that? AL: Get back! Get back! It's gonna blow! PATILLO: What the.. That pipe blew right out of the ground! Look at that! Mud is spewing everywhere! AL: We'll have to shovel all that mud out of the way. Credo! Get a shovel and get to work! MR. CREDO: Yes, sir. [another load roar can be heard] AL: Well, I'll be! It's oil! It's oil! Every drop of it! PATILLO: Look at that geyser go! A hundred feet up! AL: We've done it! We've found oil here in Spindletop Heights! NARRATOR: The Spindletop field was not the first discovery in Texas. That was in Corsicana. But, Spindletop would be much bigger and began the era of Texas as an oil state. While there was joy in 1901, there would also be sorrow as the next scene illustrates.
SCENE 10: Buffalo, New York; September 4, 1901 Characters: President McRinley, Mrs. McKinley, Mr. Corteleyeau, Man in Crowd, Policeman, Leon Czolgosz Setting: The President's Special Train PRESIDENT McKJNLEY: How does this sound, dear? I'll start my speech with an overview of the economics of supply and demand, then move to cultivation of good homes. I like this phrase: "Cultivate good homes, make them pure and sweet, elevate them, and other good things will follow." What do you think? MRS. McKINLEY: I thought you were going to talk about lowering tariffs. PRESIDENT McKINLEY: Oh, I might. But, it's not popular here in Buffalo. MRS. McKINLEY: Are you going to go out in the crowd to shake hands? PRESIDENT McKINLEY: Probably. MRS. McKINLEY: I hate that. Someone might try to do harm to you. PRESIDENT McKINLEY: No one's going to hurt me. People would be disappointed if I didn't. Opening the Pan-American Exposition deserves my personal touch. MRS. McKINLEY: Well, it's all too much for me. I'm exhausted! I think I will miss the reception, if you don't mind. PRESIDENT McKINLEY: That will be fine, dear. I hope you get some rest. [Later that day at the reception hall; President McKinley makes his way through the cheering crowd to shake hands.] PRESIDENT McKINLEY: Thank you. Thank you. So glad to meet you. What a beautiful baby. [kisses baby] Thank you. Thank you... [two muffled gunshots are heard] PRESIDENT McKINLEY: [As he falls to the ground] Cortelyeau, help me, I've been shot! CORTELYEAU: Get me help! The President has been shot! PRESIDENT McKINLEY: My wife is going to be very upset about this. CORTELYEAU: Someone shut the door! Find the person who did this! MAN IN CROWD: There he is! Get him! Get him! He shot the President! POLICEMAN: [grabs Czolgosz] Wait a minute! You're not going anywhere! MAN IN CROWD: Lynch him! Lynch him! CZOLGOSZ: I don't care! Lynch me! I killed the President because I done my duty. No one man should have so much and another man nothing. We don't need rulers! Republican government doesn't work! Voting is a joke! Free love! End all marriage! Free love for all! POLICEMAN: Well, I've met some crazies before but this takes the cake! CORTELYEAU: Here comes the ambulance! The President is still talking. He's going to live! NARRATOR: Unfortunately, Cortelyeau was wrong. The President died two weeks later of an infection caused by less than antiseptic treatment. On September 14, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President, the youngest up to that time at 42 year of age. A few months later, Czolgosz was executed. Thus ended one era of American history and another era began.
SCENE 11: Chicago, Illinois; Summer, 1903 Characters: Narrator, Reformers #1, #2, and #3 Setting: A convention of reformers NARRATOR: The new era will be called the Progressive Era. From 1900 through 1917, the U.S. will be involved in a movement to perfect American society. Reformers will agitate for change in almost every area of American life. Our next scene reveals some of the "progressives" concerns. REFORMER #1: I believe conservation of natural resources must be at the top of our list, and we have the President's blessing on that. REFORMER #2: Well, the real trouble is that this country has grown too big. People have lost their voice on public affairs. Laws should be passed to restore power to educated voters. All these immigrants don't know any better that to elect crooks. And, those who cannot read can hardly be expected to make wise decisions! REFORMER #3: Yes, initiative, referendum, and recall will go a long way to help our broken political system. REFORMER #1: We need less government intervention in the lives of Americans, too. Some of these radicals like Jane Addams want to create a paternalistic government with Workmen's Compensation and Old Age Pensions. But, if democracy were purer, people could bargain for their own protection. They wouldn't need government to do it for them. We need to cure the ills of our democracy. REFORMER #2: I agree to some extent, but we do need government intervention in some areas. That is true in the fight against alcohol. I don't agree with the violent tactics of people like Carrie Nation, but we must have a federal law outlawing alcohol if we are to save our nation. REFORMER #3: We could learn a lot from Booker T. Washington. Slow and steady progress not radicalism and violence will solve our problems. REFORMER #1: But, there is so much to do! There is prostitution that must be eradicated, and the movie industry is in need of close watching. Working people must be protected from obscenity in the movies. They can't be wasting their time in movie houses. REFORMER 2: And what about patent medicines? They have alcohol and narcotics in them. That must be stopped! And, there's filth in our foods, more and more monopolies, and farmers are being forced to move into our already over- crowded cities. All these problems have to be addressed. REFORMER #3: It's overwhelming! We have work to do. Being a "progressive' is not easy. But, America has limitless possibilities if we are successful! NARRATOR: While reformers debated the issues, it was science and technology that made headlines in the early 20th century as our next scene reveals.