"AS THE EARTH TURNS", somewhere in this world the light of dawn breaks thru the darkness of night. As the earth turns somewhere in this world the sun dips into the distant horizon before the oncoming shadows of evening. As the earth turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fulness of summer, and the harvest of autumn. As the earth turns the cycle of life is completed.
What is true of the earth, nature is true also of man. He too has his cycle, as the earth turns.
From the time man's experiences were first recorded on stone, there has always been the seed of what we today call the family. Man, knowingly or unknowingly, thru the many stages, growth if you will, of civilization, has attempted time and again to solidify the family unit. Today, against the backdrop of an atomic age, of the hydrogen bomb, there is a great threat to all of us; not the threat of physical annihilation, but the destruction of that something which has made us feel secure, a security that has always found its beginning in the home, the family. Here in one form or is the great object of life.
It would almost ludicrous to attempt to make any comparison between the families of a generation, two generations ago and the generation of today. The world has seen many changes and undoubtedly will witness more, and as the earth turns in our lives, with the coming morning and the advent of night, you and I of necessity must cope with the problems of today. This is true of people in every community in the world.
There is no more poignant drama enacted anywhere than behind teh closed doors of a home.
As the title "AS THE EARTH TURNS" is limitless in scope, so will the selection and inclusion of characters be limitless. There will not be any one lead character thruout the life of the drama. This will be the story of a family, not exclusively any individual number thereof, but of the whole family, their relationships with each other and the world outside.
Let us for the moment walk down a street of an ordinary suburban family. It is more than obvious that many of the homes were designed by the same architect. Yes, there is somewhat of a sameness in design, construction, and if you walked up to the steps, and could without being seen open the doors to many of these homes, you would find that they all housed families. This is not only true of the homes on Oakdale Avenue, this is true of every community the world over.
The family we are particularly interested in...well supposing we open the door to the home at 215 Oakdale Avenue and meet the various members of the Hughes family.
CHRISTOPHER HUGHES had as a young boy already decided on the career, the profession he would follow. Now at forty-three there are times when he looks back to that boy, to that young man who received his degree in law some eighteen years ago - to the life on his father's farm, the warmth and love of the family, the hardships, the skimping and saving by the whole family to make sure that Chris, the eldest, could to to the university and become "a great lawyer."
It took rigid planning to finance Chris' education. Chris' father, Fred, always had hoped his boys would stay on the land and work the earth as he had and his father had before him, not that he imposed his will upon either of the boys. However, Fred knew that he could not openly disagree with this wife's dreams for Chris and the twins, Edith and John. Her dreams were those of every real mother. She wanted for the children what they wanted for themselves. She recognized very early that not one of her children loved the earth as her husband did, and if they were ambitious to make their mark in this changing world, she would do everything she could to help them.
So it was that Chris went to law school so he could become important and successful and in turn help finance the education of his younger brother and sister. That was the way his mother had planned it - a plan that did not materialize in its entirety.
At the university Chris worked hard and made a brilliant record as a law student. It was here that he met two people who were to play an important part of his life. There was his classmate, Jim Lowell, son of the senior partner of Lowell and Barnes - and then there was Nancy whom he met when they were both in their senior year.
Falling in love with Nancy - well, Chris hadn't forseen this possibility. Chris had an obligation, a duty, that could not be overlooked. Nancy and Chris went together for a year, and decided to be married when Nancy graduated. They talked over the whole matter of Chris' obligations to his family and decided that they'd be able to handle it even better together. Nancy could teach and so contribute until such time as Chris was out on his own and able to do it alone.
And so they were married. They went back to the farm on their honeymoon. Chris, eager for the folks to meet his bride and to tell of their plans, couldn't understand the disappointment he saw in his mother's eyes, the bitterness and coolness, too...Promises were made...Nancy would work, Chris would work, they would be able between them to establish a home of their own in the city and still help the family that had been so generous to the eldest child.
Six months after Chris had become a law clerk in the firm of Lowell and Barnes, Nancy became pregnant. Then came the lean years, for Chris and Nancy in the city living on the meager salary of a junior law clerk, and for his family on the farm caught without savings in the crop failures of the dustbowl.
Chris' brother, John, at seventeen, left the farm to join the navy. Chris' father, mother and Edith tried to weather thru the bad times on the farm. Five years ago Chris' mother died and Edith, feeling no longer tied to the land, left for the city to find a life of her own. For the past five years Fred Hughes has tried to run the farm alone, and with Chris' financial help has been managing to get by.
There seems to be every reason for Chris to feel that he's had a rich, full and successful life so far. He'd be the first to tell you that he has everything a man could want. Nancy and his three children make up his world, his house in the suburbs, but a man lives in another world too, in a world of his work, his professions, and somewhere along the way Chris feels something went wrong. Chris had always wanted to be a famous criminal lawyer. But the years with Lowell, Barnes and Lowell had never given him the opportunity to pursue that branch of the law.
Nor had the years brought to him a junior partnership in the firm as he had hoped it would. As far as the criminal law was concerned, he was forced to take a second place to the senior member of the firm who fancied himself as the great trial lawyer. As far as the partnership was concerned he had to take a second place to Jim Lowell who became a partner several years ago.
Nancy is well aware of her husband's frustration in his work. Many times she blamed herself for it. The responsibilities of a married man kept him tied to this large organization, responsibilities which kept him from saying, "I have served my apprenticeship, now I will open my own office and go my own way."
Today life has gone full circle and there is Kit's college education to consider. Penny, altho still in her formative years, has a future too that must not be overlooked. Kenny - well, he's only a youngster, but his physical needs must be met.
There had been another child, Susan, who was killed in an accident six months ago.
Nancy knows Chris' problem. Often she had begged him to leave Lowell, Barnes and Lowell and go out on his own, but perhaps men are less daring than women, or perhaps it is fear of consequences, or is it a state of being over forty that makes uprooting difficult. And so Chris has stayed on, hoping that things would change.
NANCY HUGHES was the only child of parents of moderate means. Now at thirty-nine she can look back at the years between and sigh contentedly at the warmth she and Chris have created together. No, it wasn't easy along the way, and perhaps that's what makes it more pleasant to enjoy now. She has Chris, she has the children, they have their health, they have a nice home...if only...Yes, if only. Susan would have been fifteen next week. Try as she will, for the family's sake, Nancy can't adjust herself to the fact that Susan is no longer here...and as she lies in bed early in the morning now, she attempts to recapture the wonderful early morning sounds of little children, babies.
Nancy never needed an alarm clock to awaken her...it seems there had always been children, only now the sounds have changed. Yes, her family is growing up.
Kenny has reached the point in his young life of insisting on being called Ken, but he still bounces into the bedroom as soon as he's awake with a "Hi, Mom" and a "Hi, Dad." Somewhere in the distance there's the sound of a phonograph, with the same record over and over and over again - that's Penny getting up to music. Then there's the sound of a tuneless whistle - that's Kit finishing up some homework he hadn't done last night because of a not so old argument that had gone on and on.
Yes, it's morning, and time to start another day. Another day to serve your loved ones, to help them, to counsel, to bind up the wounds...to watch them all rush off to start their day outside, while you stay at home and ready everything for their return. And so you keep busy, Nancy, but there's so much time to think and to remember -- almost too much time.
EDITH HUGHES is quite attractive at thirty-three. There's no strong tie to her brother Chris or her sister-in-law Nancy. As a matter of fact there has been no strong tie to anyone in Edith's life for some time now. Edith's frustration and bitterness became a part of her as she grew into womanhood. Her twin brother John - well, it was different with a boy, he could just up and leave, and he did. Later, perhaps too late, when Chris became what his family thought successful, there were monthly checks, but these were eaten up by the farm.
Five years ago when her mother died, Edith left the farm. Chris gave her enough money for a course in beauty culture and today a woman of poise, she is a beauty operator in the very swank salons of Margo, not too far from where her brother practices law.
She's an infrequent visitor at her brother's home in the suburbs, and sees her father just as rarely. Edith can never forget the great investment her parents had made in just one of their children, nor can she forgive Nancy for having everything she, Edith, ever wanted...an education, marriage, a family, a home of her own. Yes Edith always felt that she had been deprived of so much. Even Chris himself would admit anyone might say, I wonder why she never married. That's been said of many attractive women, and there is always a reason Mr. Right hasn't come along? Mr. Right did come along for Edith when she was twenty-three.
During the Second World War an Air Corps training base was built not far from the Hughes farm. Because they needed the money, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes had no arguments to offer when Edith got a job as a switchboard operator at the base, and when she met Lt. Frank Rice, Edith knew she had found the man she could love.
In civilian life Frank was a construction engineer and the position would be waiting for him when he got out of the service. Frank seemed to love Edith as deeply and genuinely as she loved him, and the six months of their romance was a happy, wonderful time. The only marring element was that Edith could not persuade Frank that they should be married before he went overseas. His reasons were logically and wholly unselfish. He said he would like to marry her and he meant it, but suppose something should happen to him?...No, it wasn't fair to her. No matter how she pleaded, he was not going to do that to her.
He gave her an engagement ring and flew with his squadron to the European theatre. But eight months later Edith received a letter -- he was sorry, he hated to hurt her, but he guest it wasn't the real thing between them - he had married an English girl. Edith Hughes has never loved another man.
And so resentments and bitterness grew within Edith. When her mother died, she left the farm and developed a philosophy which she's going to make work: Take all and give nothing. That's a hard philosophy and a cold one and can be seen reflected in the veneer that Edith has built around herself.
FRED HUGHES is from the old school of farmers, when farming wasn't the science it is today. He has a great respect for the schools of agriculture which train young men in the science of farming, a great respect for the strides that have been made as man has learned to get the most out of the earth; but he knows the whims of nature. Science has not been able to overcome the floods, the long droughts, the dust storms, the false springs that bring in their wake the icy fingers of winter and the destruction of crops. Fred Hughes has learned to wait, has learned not to question - he has learned to accept. Thruout his life, with its springtimes and its harvests - harvest of one kind of another - he has retained his sense of humor.
In spite of the fact that the land had not always been kind ot him and his family, he didn't want to leave it after his wife died - or even after Edith left. He refused to let himself be uprooted.
As so often happens, what a man has not found in his sons, he sometimes finds in a grandson.
And so we come to the family of Christopher Hughes.
BOBBY, the youngest, is approaching that in-between age - the threshold of adolescence. Unlike his older brother and sister, he has found complete security in his little world. He feels rather than knows the love of his mother and father. Communication between Bobby and his parents is something that just is. Bobby spends his summer holidays at his grandfather's farm and between these two exists a bond that is warm and wonderful.
PENNY HUGHES, a copper-haired young girl of sixteen, upstairs in her room picks up a bracelet, not her own, puts it on her wrist, then takes it off and puts it away. She's done that many times in the past few weeks. No, she doesn't dare wear the bracelet because of her mother. You see, the bracelet had belonged to her sister Susan, who only a little over six months ago dove into the pool at high school, struck her head, and died of a concussion.
Penny, when she permits herself to think of her sister, has a deep sense of guilt - and resentment too. It seemed to Penny that her fourteen year-old sister has always been the center of the family's attention. Friends said she was a pocket edition of Nancy Hughes. There was no reason why Penny should have been jealous, not really; it was just that Susan always seemed to be Mom's favorite, and Mom never knew, nor does she know today, the reason for her sixteen-year-old daughter's antagonism - Penny on the threshold of maturity, Penny loving and hating her mother, Penny with the problems not only in the home but in her relationship with the world outside of the home.
There are two people to whom she's devoted, really devoted, her aunt Edith and her brother Kit, or Christopher Junior. There's a real bond between these two young people, one that might soon be broken.
DON, in his senior year at high school, has his sights on the future, but what to do about that future? An honor student, the young man, who undoubtedly might be eligible for a scholarship in several universities, reads the headlines in the evening paper night after night with but one thought in his mind: "I'm going to have to get this army business over with before I can think of my future." I guess you might say that Kit is another Christopher Hughes Senior.
These, then, comprise the family unit - the people that will provide the main storyline of..."AS THE EARTH TURNS".
SIX MONTHS PROJECTED STORYLINE
Needless to say, the past very often has a bearing not only on the present, but on the future. The problems that present themselves to the Hughes family today are really the result of the past, conscious and unconscious, actions of these people.
Before too long a decision will have to be reached regarding Fred Hughes. Chris knows that it's going to be difficult to convince his father that he can no longer pour money into land which yields little or no harvest.
How do a son and daughter-in-law make room for a man who's lived all of his sixty odd years on a farm? Fred will not be a problem to Chris and his family. From the time he leaves the farm his one objective is to find something to do, something to occupy his time, to find some way in which he can be useful. Like all of us, he wants to be needed, he wants to be independent. It won't be easy for Fred to find something to do. His efforts will indeed be identifiable with those of all elderly people today. Fred will find a job of sorts. He won't know for sometime that it was his son who was instrumental in placing him possibly in the local postoffice. Whether or not Fred, who has spent a lifetime outdoors, can adjust to "General Delivery" is something the man will have to find out for himself. In the long run we all have to find out whatever there is to find out for ourselves.
It is strange that Chris, who is so able in the art of persuasion, has not been able to convince himself that he should accept an offer from another law firm. To all intents and purposes Chris Hughes is successful. A man in the fifteen to eighteen thousand dollars a year bracket is more than moderately successful; but Chris can't measure success by dollars and cents. "Where am I going at age re" is a question that is constantly in the attorney's mind - "where am I going? Can I afford to make this change? Not as much money but a real chance."
Do you take chances at 43? Chris is no different from any of us. There are obligations to be met, a family dependent upon you, strings, invisible, that tie a man down. Chris will discuss the offer with his wife. She is as keenly aware as is he that altho her husband's salary should be more than adequate, the most they've been able to do is pay their insurance premiums and save a little here and a little there.
Don will be graduated from high school before too long, there's his college education; Penny, a junior in high school, her future must be considered; and Bobby even tho he's only eleven years old...well, it takes all of a week's pay check to meet the family expenses.
It will be Nancy who will urge her husband to leave the firm of Lowell, Barnes and Lowell and accept the position that has been offered him. She will point out that they've had a fairly high standard of living. She knows where corners can be cut. She wants Chris to have a chance to do the kind of legal work he's more capable of doing. Can she convince her husband there is only one path to follow? Why not. Why not? To go back to Chris' past, he was the one who had been given all the advantages; he married when he should have given his sister and brother at least some of the advantages which his parents had given him. No, Chris will not cut corners, he will not deprive his family of anything. At this time he can't possibly know that his name will someday become a household word in millions of homes.
Both Chris and Nancy are deeply disturbed about their elder son, Don. As the story opens he has practically made up his mind to enlist in the Armed Forces. If he were just an average boy - and for all of his seventeen years he's still a boy - it is more than likely that his parents would not interfere; but Don is above average, and his father and mother feel that he should take advantage of an education, get his schooling over and done with before he enters the Service. Like hundreds of thousands of boys his age today, he's not sure that he wants an education, he's not sure of anything...except a girl.
Perhaps you've asked yourself this question more than once; Why does a young man so often interest himself in an older girl? This happens to be true with Don. Don has alienated himself from his own age group because of Janice Turner who will in a few days celebrate her twentieth birthday. Janice has had a high school education, a year of business college, and now has a fairly good position in town. She has convinced herself that she's truly in love with Don Hughes.
No, Nancy doesn't resent Janice Turner; she's a very fine girl, but Don - Kit is only an adolescent, he can't possibly know his own mind or his own heart at this time. And so there's the problem of separating these two young people without leaving too much scar tissue. The story of young love is always poignant.
Kit finds an ally in his sixteen-year-old sister Penny. No matter how well we may think we know our children, how well do we really know them? They are individuals as we are individuals, and much of what they think, they keep locked up within themselves, just as we do. The teen-age years are turbulent at best. The unconscious changes that go on within a girl or boy are rarely understood by them, and too often not understood by their parents. This should not have been true of Nancy and Chris Hughes. After all Nancy received her degree in Education, she had studied Child Psychology, and Chris is more than a little aware of today's teen-age problems.
Neither of them has thought of Penny as a problem, but Penn is a problem, first of all to herself, and she will soon be one to her family.
If only Nancy could have known how Penny felt about her sister who did six months ago. If only Nancy could have known how jealous Penny had been of her fourteen-year-old sister Susan. Well she didn't know. At the death of her younger daughter, Nancy needed Penny; and as much as Penny needed her mother..as the story opens there is no open conflict between mother and daughter, but that will come, it has to come.
The day Penny makes a confidante in her Aunt Edith will mark the beginning of a real resentment against her mother. Penny, young and vulnerable, hears a rather sordid story regarding her parents from her Aunt Edity. For the first time she is told about her Uncle John who ran away from home as a young boy because Penny's father had failed to keep a promise. Edith is quick to point out that everything that has happened to her is more Nancy's fault than Chris'. Every instinct in the girl wants to defend her mother, her dad, but somehow she just can't. She's in complete sympathy with her aunt's attitude toward Chris and Nancy.
In all fairness to Edith, it doesn't enter her mind that she's alienating her niece from her parents. The time comes when she realizes what has happened, but it is almost too late to rectify the situation. By this time Penny will have subscribed to her aunt's philosophy. "Take everything, give nothing". It will be sometime before the young girl inadvertently learns of her aunt's attachment to a married man, a man who with his wife are often guests in the Hughes home.
What does a brother do when he learns that his sister is interested in a married man, a junior member of the law firm, Jim Lowell? Even tho Nancy and Chris have during the past years made every effort to include her in so many of their plans, Edith wanted no part of either of them. Yet Chris knows that the relationship between his sister Edith and his friend Jim Lowell must come to an end.
It's at a time when Chris openly discusses her association with Jim that he is made aware of his sister's bitterness, almost hatred, against his wife and himself. It is at this time that Nancy realized the almost irreparable harm Edith has done to Penny.
Kenny of course is a sheer delight to all, a real boy who has spent most of his summers on his grandfather's farm, and who understands far beyond his years the values that Grandfather Hughes brings to the Hughes home in the suburbs.
At this point it should be mentioned that Edith's twin brother John will look up the family for the first time in sixteen years. Thru the years every now and then Fred Hughes has heard from his son. John had been notified when his mother had been taken critically ill, but he didn't even come home for the funeral. No one has heard from him for the past five years. With the return of John the day will come when Chris will go before a jury and plead for the life of his brother.
In addition to the general storyline, and while plotting in detail, and writing the first two weeks of scripts, the Lowell story has emerged as a most important reflection of the stories of the divorce courts, the actions taken by either husbands or wives for separate maintenance - the stories of children from broken homes. Divorce statistics show the rise in the percentage of separation between husbands and wives, but they do not give the stories behind the statistics. Incompatibility, financial insecurity and family interferences are reasons usually given for the increase in divorce and separation. What lies behind these three reasons?
The Lowell family cannot latch on to the financial insecurity, cannot use as a reason for the separation family interference, at least not at this point - and Jim Lowell did not leave his wife because of another woman. Jim and Claire Lowell have without knowing it been incompatible, and Jim without really knowing it has never been in love with his wife. The second five scripts give a very definite indication of what happened to Jim Lowell, not after he married Claire, but for a long time before he married her.
For so long, in practically every medium of entertainment, has the predatory woman been used - mother, wife, sister - to show the female influence on the male. Seldom, except in the nighttime field, has a man been portrayed who is responsible for the tragedies of his children. A classic example of course is Mr. Barrett of Barretts of Wimpole Street. Mt. Lowell is Mr. Barrett in Twentieth century garb.
Not infrequently does the male believe that only thru a son can he hope to perpetuate his name, his work, his very self. Such a man is James Lowell, Senior. Because of this father we know the younger Mr. Lowell. Because of this father Jim is an attorney, Jim married Claire, Jim lived with his wife for fifteen years. Lived? Hardly. In back of his mind he was waiting for the day when a daughter whom he loves devotedly, would meet a man of her choice; then he, Jim, would be free to really live.
Should Claire be blamed for what has happened? Hardly. She's a victim of circumstances, the victim of a father, her husband's father. Yes she's in love with her husband, or was. She knows that Jim would have asked her for a divorce a long time ago if it weren't for their daughter, Ellen.
The child from a broken home, who's continually torn between her love for her mother and her love for her father, is a post tragic figure, and brings to mind 'the sins of the father' - not her father, but her father's father - a bewildered 16-year-old girl who must forever be asking herself why; and the answer for Ellen is only an echo of her own question - why? There is no answer.
Is Jim Lowell a weakling? Not completely. He is only weak in that his father is dominant - dominant and domineering - he is only weak in that he's never had the opportunity from the time he was a small boy to be the boy, the man that he could have been, could be. The pattern was set, and within the confines of this pattern Jim Lowell grew to manhood.
Jim's greatest feeling of inadequacy is during those times that he is in some way in competition with his father. He knows that his father has tried to look upon him as an extension of his own ego, but Jim never quite measured up. This is the first real tragedy, and as the night follows the day, what happened and is happening in the lives of Claire, Ellen and Jim was inevitable.
How do three people resolve a problem such as this? What is the answer for Claire, what is the answer for Jim, and what is the answer for Ellen? At this point, the happiness of one is as important as the happiness of the others. This isn't the way it always works out. We know the percentage of divorce each year, but do we know the percentage of men and women who are living together because of their children. Do we know how many men and women are living together out of sheer habit. Our concern will not be with the latter, but rather with the former.
Somewhere along the line, in spite of himself, Jim Lowell will have to make a decision. What other decision can he make than one which is within the pattern in which he has lived for over forty years? And so he returns to his home. The return of Jim Lowell is a story in itself.
Ellen, who will be seventeen, must become aware, not of a mother and father, but of a woman and a man. All children, boys and girls alike, reach a stage when they are somewhat objective and think of their parents not in terms of parents but in terms of people: How do they measure up, what are they like, who are they really? Ellen particularly will wonder about her father the day she learns, quite inadvertently, that he has been and possibly is still in love with the aunt of her closest friend.
What about Penny? How does she feel about her aunt when Ellen confides in her? These two young girls, who are growing into womanhood, somehow are unable to understand the real relationship that existed between Edie and Jim. Love? They hardly know the meaning of this word; but can only think how this kind of information, and how they interpret it, can influence their individual lives. This is their secret, a secret which unites them as it separates them.
The emerging of the Lowell story, emphasizes the contrast which must be obvious: A poorly adjusted couple played against the backdrop of Chris and Nancy Hughes, two people who were, who are, who always will be in love one with the other, and who thru this love can solve almost any problem which presents itself. The audience will find in Chris and Nancy identification, great identification. In the Lowell family we hope the audience will not only find compelling drama, but in some small way, just maybe, it will keep one mother or one father from rearing another Jim Lowell.
This, then, is the broad base of our storyline. We would like to stress the point that "AS THE EARTH TURNS" is not a melodrama. It is the story of people. It might as well be said that the life of each one of us is a serial story. Heredity and environment shape our destinies. As it is true of us, so it is true of the Hughes family and the Lowells. The experiences of these people are as predictable as the changing seasons, and as unpredictable as nature itself. What happens to them happens to so many of us who are subject to the many influences, pressures, of everyday living in this particular era - an era that is breeding insecurity, fear, almost futility. But as long as there is a springtime and a harvest, as long as the earth turns, nothing is futile.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Typos and grammatical errors in the bible have been kept in their original form.