AS THE CENTURY TURNS, PART 2 SCENE 12: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 1903 Characters: Orville and Wilbur Wright Setting: A make-shift airstrip [December 14] ORVILLE: Well, Wilbur, we've come a long way since 1899 and our box kite. WILBUR: Yes, a long way! It took two brains and lots of work. Now, we have a real test. Have all the checks been done? ORVILLE: We're ready. Who gets the first try? WILBUR: Let's toss a coin. (coin tossed) ORVILLE: Well, Wilbur, it looks like you won! Good luck! [Wilbur enters the flying machine and begins to start the engine.] WILBUR: It won't start! What could be wrong? ORVILLE: Wait, I know what it is. Next time, it will start for sure! [December 17] WILBUR: Okay, it's your turn to try Orville. I hope you have better luck that I did. [This time the motor starts] WILBUR: Go! Go! It's up! It's flying! We've done it! Now, human beings have wings! NARRATOR: While science and technology were making great strides, Mother Nature still could show Americans who was boss. Our next scene illustrates another natural disaster of the the early 20th century. Again, the Credos are in the wrong place at the wrong time!
SCENE 13: San Francisco, California; April 18, 1906 Characters: Ruby Credo (now 20 years old), Mr. Credo, Rudy Schubert (fireman), Chief Sullivan (Fire Chief) MR. CREDO: Wake-up Ruby! It's 5:00 a.m. We have a long day ahead of us if we're going to get you married on time! RUBY: Oh, I'm already awake! I was so excited I barely got any sleep at all! MR. CREDO: I'm not surprised! The long train trip from Texas was exhausting! I wish you could of found someone closer to home to marry! RUBY: Oh, Dad! You're just kidding! I know how much you love Ronald. MR. CREDO: Well, it was pretty exciting last night! There was a big fire down at the cannery, and you could see it from here! Look out this window. You can still see the smoke! [As Ruby gets up to see the smoke, the room begins to shake.] RUBY: What in the world is that? MR. CREDO: Oh no! I think it might be an earthquake! Come on! We need to get out of here! NARRATOR: As Ruby and her father try to escape, the city rolls and shakes and then fires begin to erupt! At the firehouse, there is confusion about what to do. SCHUBERT: Only half of the men were able to get here, Chief. What should we do? SULLIVAN: I don't know! Most of our equipment has been destroyed! The fire warning system is wrecked. We'll just have to go out and look for the fires. I doubt that we will be able to get enough water to fight them all. SCHUBERT: At least we can try! Maybe we can rescue some people. [Later on the streets of San Francisco] SULLIVAN: Retreat men! It's too dangerous for us to fight this one without more water! SCHUBERT: But it's spreading! We can't just sit by and watch! SULLIVAN: We have new orders from the mayor. He wants us to dynamite the fires to stop the spread! SCHUBERT: Oh well, San Francisco is already gone. What can it hurt? Perhaps, this is God's judgement against us! SULLIVAN: And God will help us rebuild. NARRATOR: And, San Francisco did rebuild, but 2,000 people had been killed, $420 million in damage had been done, and over 300,000 people were left homeless. The cost of rebuilding will be one of the leading causes of another depression, the Panic of 1907. This did not interfere in another major undertaking: the building of the Panama Canal. President Theodore Roosevelt had used his "Big Stick" foreign policy to guarantee the U.S. controlled not only the building of the canal but the territory surrounding the canal. This had meant supporting a revolution in Panama against Colombia which controlled Panama. Again, Ruby Credo (now Jones) finds herself in the middle of a historic event. Our next scene takes us to Central America and the Panama Canal Zone.
SCENE 14: Panama; November, 1906 Characters: Ruby Credo Jones and Ronald Jones, her husband RONALD: (Enters home where Ruby is doing household chores) Ruby! Ruby! You won't believe this! RUBY: Are we going home? RONALD: It's even more exciting than that! RUBY: Are we going home right this second? RONALD: No, no! The President is coming! RUBY: What President? RONALD: The President of the United States. RUBY: I've never heard of a President leaving the United States. RONALD: It's the first time in history! Can you believe that? We might get to meet him! RUBY: Can I get a ride home with him? RONALD: Ruby, is that all you think about? Going home, going home.. . that's all I ever hear! It's not that bad here, is it? RUBY: Well, other than the fact we stole this country from Colombia and the mosquitos, the ten feet of rain, the mudslides, poisonous snakes, riots by Jamaican workers, dysentery and malaria.. .other than that, it's a lovely place! RONALD: Where do you get your crazy ideas? You're watching history being made, and all you can do is complain. RUBY: Believe me, I've seen enough history being made to last a lifetime! NARRATOR: And Ruby will see much more in her lifetime including world wars and economic collapse. But, that's a story to unfold in the next several weeks as we continue our study of the 20th century.