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39-07-05 Two Tons of Coal #1

The Donahues have moved and have left two tons of coal in the basement of their old house next door.

Sade thinks Mr. Erickson is coming by everyday and putting a few lumps in his satchel and that the pile is getting smaller everyday.

A McClean County coal mine
In order to get the free coal and to get it before it disappears or Erickson rents the house, Sade suggests the male members of the household go and put on their overalls, get a basket and start removing the coal to the Gook basement.

This does not sit well with Vic or Rush (edited): {{{HEAR}}}

Rush even comes up with the excuse that his "overalls are wrinkled!"

Even though she asked the boys if they had anything planned beforehand (and they replied that they didn't) when the coal moving is brought up, each comes up with an excuse. Rush protests ad nauseum that he is going to the YMCA and watch the fat men play handball (or handmen playing fatball): (edited) {{{HEAR}}}
Vic and Sade have been given a gift of two tons of coal. Sade thinks that now is the time to go and collect the gift. Vic and Rush disagree.

Sade’s being very shrewd here! As best I can find, the retail price of a ton of coal in 1939 was between 8 and 9 dollars (and rising), and one 1939 dollar is equivalent to $16.64 in 2014. So Sade was looking to get around $18 — or, adjusting for inflation, $283 — worth of free coal, which is nothing to sneeze at! It always strikes me funny how much more frugal and pennywise Sade seems to be than Vic. Since Vic is the one who actually goes out and earns the money — and he’s a professional accountant, to boot — it seems like he’d be the penny-pincher of the duo, but since Sade runs the household and does all the purchasing, she is more aware of how much things cost and how much the family can afford. (And, of course, we all know how conservative Sade is with number estimates — she did once allow three and a half hours for a forty mile drive.)

Vic and Rush try every possible childish excuse to escape from this situation, but Sade’s tricked them into admitting that they don’t have anything planned for the evening, and they’re cornered. Vic also fights back by criticizing every aspect of the task, from Sade’s reasoning (sound) to her methods (market baskets — which also seems reasonable), without offering any better solution himself.

I always chuckle at this part:
SADE: The other reason is I’m pretty sure Mr. Erickson is helpin’ himself to that coal himself. 
VIC: Yeah?
SADE: Yes. I’m pretty sure there’s not a day goes by but what he don’t stop by and get a few chunks and carry ‘em off home in that big satchel of his.
VIC: Rather far-fetched, don’t ya think?
Far-fetched, Vic? Have you met Mr. Erickson?

My only (mild) criticism of Sade here is her repeated needling of Rush for his slip of the tongue — “handmen playing fatball.” The only thing that accomplishes is to annoy him! Sade, you’re already calling the shots here…don’t kick a man while he’s down.

*Why is this episode called “Two Tons of Coal #1”? It is actually part of a five-part saga, the other four recordings having been lost. What happens in the rest of the series will make you send your undershirt to Elkader, Iowa parcel post.

SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
An episode that floats to the top of my memory when I think of the show, probably because Sade is so set on saving a few dollars on the coal (not that I have any idea how much two tons of coal cost in 1939.)

The whiny, childish protests of Vic and Rush are amusing as are the revelation that Rush likes to watch the fat men play handball at the 'Y.'


+ This is the first audio episode where Rush mentions the pastime of going to the YMCA and watching the fat men play handball.

+ On the phone, Sade jokingly calls Ruthie Stembottom, "Third Lieutenant Stanley."

Download the complete commercial-free, sound-improved episode!

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