Ghost Town U.S.A.
Written by Howard Leeds
The Bradys head for a trip to the Grand canyon but wind up stranded in an old ghost town. Hope you enjoy the script.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
ZACCARIAH T. BROWN, prospector
(The episode begins with Alice vacuuming the living room/dining area. Jan comes down the stairs to speak to her.)
Jan: Alice, (Alice doesn’t hear her) Alice, (she still can’t hear so Jan gets closer to her) Alice! (Alice turns around startled) Oh, I’m sorry, did I scare you?
Alice: Oh, no, I always jump like that like I vacuum the living room?
Jan (laughing): Listen, Alice, Mom and Dad must’ve told you something about the surprise.
Alice: All they said was they were bringing home a big surprise, and we’d all get to see it when they get here.
Jan: Alice, Alice, if you give me a little hint, I’ll tell you a big secret.
Alice: Honey, I really don’t know what it is, honest. Look, please, do me a favor, go tell your brothers and sisters not to bother pumping me, the well is dry.
(Jan goes back up the stairs and Alice resumes vacuuming. She shakes her head no to the boys while passing their room and goes in her room with Marcia and Cindy. She makes the same gesture to them, causing them to sulk. Mike and Carol come home while Alice is still vacuuming.)
Carol: Alice. (She taps her and startles her again) Sorry, Alice.
Alice: Oh, that’s all right. I just got to learn to be more touchable.
Mike: Well, we finally got home.
Alice: And just in the nick of time, too.
Carol: Is something wrong?
Alice: Yes, there certainly is. You have got six children and one housekeeper dying of a disease called curiosity.
Mike (laughing): Well, I’ve got just the cure for that. (calling) Hey, kids, come on down!Marcia, Greg.
Alice (to Carol): You care to give me a little hint?
Carol: Not particularly.
(The kids all come running downstairs.)
Peter: Here we come.
(All the other kids inquire what the surprise is.)
Mike: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Yes, it’s for all of you. The surprise is for the whole family and if you hold it down to a dull roar, I’m gonna show you. Come on.
Carol: Come on, over here. (They lead the kids to the door) All of you, look out the window there. Alice, you too, you’re gonna see a big surprise.
Mike: Wala, the surprise.
(He opens the shades and the kids see a huge camper.)
Peter: It’s the big building down kind.
Mike: Hey, hey, hey, we’re all gonna go on a great big trip to Grand Canyon!
(The kids get excited as the scene fades.)
(That evening, Mike and the boys are in the garage sorting out sleeping bags and other camping equipment.)
Mike: Greg, listen, I want you to open all these bags up and make sure they’re in good condition.
Greg: Okay, Dad.
Bobby: Gee, I can’t wait to get started. Grand Canyon, wow.
Mike: Well, it’s not just the canyon, Bob. We can learn all about the Indian tribes who lived there, like the Havasupai, the Hopi, the Hualapai, the Navajo .
Peter: How did they get such strange names?
Mike: Well, each name means something, Pete. Like Havasupai means great people of blue, green running water.
Bobby: How about my name, Dad. Does Bobby mean anything?
Peter (petulantly): Yeah, it means little man with great big, running mouth.
(Bobby starts to push Peter.)
Mike: Hey, hey, come on, a little work done here.
(Upstairs in the girls room, they are also talking about the trip and getting prepared.)
Marcia: Gee, I can’t wait to get there.
Jan: Yeah, it really must be beautiful.
Cindy: I want to meet the Indians and see the cabooses.
Marcia: That’s papooses, a caboose is the back end of a train.
Cindy: Oh, I thought it was the back end of an Indian.
(Marcia and Jan laugh. Carol comes in.)
Carol: How’s it going girls?
Jan: We’re packing.
Carol: Good, now mostly sweaters and jeans. And remember, we leave bright and early in the morning.
Marcia: Can we do to the bottom of the canyon too, Mom?
Carol: Sure, that’s the most exciting part of the trip. One mile, straight down.
Cindy: How do we get down there?
Carol: That’s what makes it exciting. We ride down by mule train.
Cindy (getting excited): Oh, good.
Jan: What’s so funny?
Marcia: Can you see Alice on a mule?
Cindy (to Carol): She won’t even ride on the merry-go-round with me.
Carol: Listen, girls, I think we better wait for the best psychological moment to tell Alice about the mule.
Carol: When she’s sitting on it.
(They all laugh. The next day, the family is ready to go. Mike locks the doors to the house.)
Carol (walking to the station wagon with Mike): Okay, kids, are you all set?
Mike: Come on, load up.
Carol: Everybody in.
(The kids all get inside the car. Mike gets in the driver’s seat.)
Mike (calling): Uh. hey! hey! Listen, one last check, are you sure you took care of every detail you were supposed to? (the kids all answer yes) Are you positive you haven’t forgotten anything? (they all agreed) Okay, Grand Canyon, here we come.
(They take off but it turns out they left the camper behind. We next see them on the road with the camper in tow, singmg “Row, row, row your boat”. They stop off at a gas station.)
Mike: Kids, listen, don’t dally, because I want to make that trailer camp by nighfall.
(Mike is met by a friendly gas attendant.)
Attendant: Howdy, you got it a little rough, sir?
Mike: Yeah, we got a long way to go, thanks.
(Bobby goes to ask him about the bathroom.)
Bobby: Hey, mister, where is the…
Attendant: It’s right up the stairs there, little buddy.
Cindy: Hey, mister.
Attendant: There’s one up there for you, too.
(They go upstairs to relieve themselves, as does Alice.)
Attendant: Where are you folks all headed for?
Carol: Grand Canyon.
Attendant: Boy, that place sure gets crowded this time of year. Even the squirrels need reservations. (He laughs) Don’t you get it? Even the squirrels need…
Carol: Yeah, we get it.
Mike: So, we’ll be camping out.
Attendant: That’s great.
Carol: Listen, is there anything interesting to see around this area?
Attendant: No, not too much outside of Cactus Creek.
Mike: Cactus Creek?
Attendant: Yeah, it used to be an gold boom there, ain’t nothing but an old ghost town now. Been deserted for years.
Peter (excited): Ghost town?
Greg: Dad, why don’t we stop by…
(The other kids request to see the ghost town as well. Cindy goes over to join Carol.)
Mike: How far is this Cactus Creek?
Attendant: Well, let’s see, straight down the highway, first dirt road turnoff, make a left, go about 20 miles.
Carol: Oh, gee, we’ll never make the trailer camp by nightfall.
Greg: Why don’t we camp out at the ghost town tonight instead.
(The other kids agree.)
Mike (to Carol): What do you think, honey?
Carol: Well, if that’s what everybody wants, it’s okay with me.
(All the kids cheer. They all get into the car as the attendant totals their bill.)
Attendant: Well, let’s see. With the drinks that’ll be $6.50.
Attendant: Cash money if you don’t mind.
Mike: Okay. (He takes six dollars out) Six (he then takes 50 cents) 50.
Attendant: There we go.
Attendant: Thank you, I appreciate the business. (He turns to the kids) All right, you kids, now don’t let a ghost get you. (They laugh along with him) So long, now. Bye, bye, have a good time.
(They start to take off but then realize they forgot somebody.)
Mike (yelling): Alice!
(Alice runs down and joins them.)
Alice: I thought I heard you drive off.
(They drive to the ghost town while singing “The Gang’s All Here”, until they arrive. The kids start to admire it.)
Cindy: Can we go look around, Daddy?
Mike: No, first we have to set up camp. Come on, on the double. Everybody pitches in.
Jan (to Carol): Sure is a neat old ghost town.
Alice: I don’t like that word, ghost town.
(We next see the family setting up camp and getting everything together as Zaccariah Brown, an old prospector, watches from the upstairs balcony of an abandoned house as the scene fades out.)
(The next scene shows the boys walking around and talking.)
Peter: I bet we’re the only ones who ever camped out in a ghost town.
Greg: Hey, look.
(They go up to a stagecoach.)
Peter: Stand by and I’ll take a picture of you.
(Bobby climbs up on the stagecoach.)
Greg: I got a better idea. We’ll make a movie. The great stagecoach robbery.
Peter: Who’s gonna be the crook?
Bobby: You. You got shifty eyes.
Greg (calling): Marcia, Jan, Cindy!
(They come running.)
Greg: You wanna be in a movie.
Peter: The great stagecoach robbery.
Girls: Oh yeah, that be fun.
Bobby: I wanna be the stagecoach driver.
Greg: Okay, Bobby, climb up. Peter, you’re the crook, right?
Bobby (teasing): That’s because he’s got shifty eyes.
Peter: You’re gonna be the first guy I shoot.
Greg: Okay, you guys, let’s start the robbery.
Peter: Okay. Marcia, can I borrow your scarf.
Greg: Marcia, you be the new school marm who’s coming into town. And Jan and Cindy, (Pause) two dance hall girls who’s coming to work in the saloon.
(She and Cindy put their arms around each other and do a dance.)
Greg (aggravated): All right, all right. Come on, let’s get up in the stagecoach. Everybody up. Listen, everybody stick their heads out the window.
Marcia: Just get up and sit in.
Greg: Yeah, right. (He helps the girls get in and then turns to Peter) Listen, when I say action Peter, you run in on your horse and stick them up.
(Peter goes to his position and Greg starts to shoot.)
Greg: All right everyone, action.
(Peter runs up to the stagecoach.)
Peter: Stick ’em up, hands high.
(The girls and also Bobby put their hands up.)
Greg: Bobby, you’re supposed to protect the gold and your passengers, protest.
Bobby: You can’t hold us up. (Peter pretends to shoot him) You shoot me again and I’m gonna get mad.
Greg: Bobby, you’re shot, die.
Bobby: I don’t wanna die yet, I just started acting.
Greg: I said to die.
Bobby (reluctantly): Okay.
(Peter pretends to shoot him again and Bobby makes gestures that he’s dying as the girls pretend to look on with horror.)
Greg (impatient): Would you die already?
(Bobby finally pretends to die as Mr. Brown watches from a store across from them.)
Peter: Okay, everyone out and make it quick.
(The girls all come out.)
Greg: Get their jewelry, Peter.
Peter: Give me all your jewelry, everything.
Greg: Dance hall girls, flirt with him so he won’t take your jewelry.
(Jan and Cindy go up to him.)
Jan (to Peter): You’re kinda cute.
Alice (calling): Okay kids, Greg ,Marcia, everybody. (She whistles and taps her pan) Chowtime, come and get it. (She makes that noise with her teeth again.)
Carol: Boy, that ought to raise a few ghosts around here.
Greg: Come on, we can finish the robbery after we eat.
(They join Alice and their parents as Mr. Brown continues to watch them.)
Peter: This is really great chicken, Alice.
(The family agrees.)
Alice: Anybody want seconds? plenty of fried chicken here.
(They all decline, suggesting they are full. Mr. Brown sneaks up and takes the last piece Alice left out for them. Alice discovers it missing.)
Alice (to herself): Either my eyes are playing tricks on me or that chicken leg got up and walked away.
(We next see Mr. Brown talking to his mule, Betsy, seemingly his only companion.)
Brown: They’re quirked if they plan to stay a while. Yes sir, I wonder how they heard about my stripe, huh. That won’t happen again. No sir, I know just how to outslick them slickers. (He snickers) Put a big smile on your face, Betsy? And don’t do nothing suspicious, there you go.
(He offers her a bite of chickens and Betsy lets out a bray. We show the family still enjoying their dinner and time together.)
Cindy: If this is a ghost town, when do we get to see the ghosts?
Carol (laughing): there aren’t really any ghosts, Cindy.
Alice: Absolutely, no ghosts.
Mike: They call it a ghost town because that’s all that’s left, just a memory of what used to be.
(Mr. Brown comes to meet the family.)
Brown: Howdy folks. (They get startled by him and Betsy.) Well now, I didn’t mean to frighten you, just wanted to welcome you. Brown’s my name, Zaccariah T. Me and Betsy wanna welcome you to Cactus Creek.
(Mike rises to shake his hand.)
Mike: Thank you, Mr. Brown, Brady’s the name. This is my wife, family and Alice.
(The family all say hi.)
Brown: Seems like you got away with chicken, ma’am, I ain’t eaten in three days.
Alice (suspicious): There are crumbs in your whiskers.
Brown: I haven’t washed in three days either.
(He follows his remark with a horselaugh, the family joins in.)
Mike: Would you care to join us in a bite, Mr. Brown?
Brown: Oh, yes, yes, yes, just to be friendly. (to the family) Well, what are you doing in these parts? We don’t often see strangers.
Carol: Well, we’re just passing through on our way to the Grand Canyon.
Bobby: We’re gonna find some gold.
Brown: I kinda figured that, young man.
Greg: Were you here during the big gold boom, Mr. Brown?
Brown: Well, my granddaddy he made the first strike and then he built this town. Uh, I tell you the stories I could tell you would keep you bug eyed.
(The kids begged him to tell some stories.)
Carol: We really would love to hear some, Mr. Brown.
Brown: Well, I might be able to if I had the right kind of encouragement (chicken).
Mike: Uh, Alice, do we have any more encouragement left there?
Alice: He’s got a choice. Would you like to be encouraged by the neck or the part that goes over the fence lattice?
Brown (laughing): I never could make decisions. I’ll take both kinds.
(Alice happily gets him more chicken and he shows them around the ghost town.)
Brown: Now, this whole belonged to my granddaddy. (He shows them an old blacksmith) Now, now this here, this here is the blacksmith. A smithy named Murphy, strongest man I ever saw. He used to pick up a horse with one arm and he would shoe it with the other.
Mike (laughing): You wouldn’t kid a man, would you, Mr. Brown.
Brown: No, no, terrible thing about Murphy, he got killed, holding up a train.
Alice: Did he get shot?
Brown: No, he held it up as long as he could, and it fell on him.
(They all laugh. He shows them another part of the town.)
Brown: Now, this here is what you might call a visitor. I tell you, fancy people in carriages. I tell you, it was really something in the old days.
Alice: Is this the saloon where you used to whoop it up?
Brown: What, the saloon? Oh yeah. We all had some real window rattlers in there. I tell you, boys would come down from the hills in the bags of gold, drinking, shooting and gambling, (a little louder) drinking, shooting and gambling, (he takes his hat off) except for Sunday, no gambling.
Carol: Really very touching, Mr. Brown.
Brown: I’ll tell you something very few folks know. Kind of a crooked poker game in there, Jesse James went to jail for the first time in his life.
Peter (excited): Jesse James!
Brown: Yes sir, the one and only Jesse James.
Mike: I never knew Jesse James was ever in this part of the country.
Brown: Mr. Brady, are you gonna believe me or those phony history books? I can prove it, follow me and I’ll show you. Come on, follow me, let’s go. (He leads them to the old county jail) Yes sir, you can’t believe everything you read in them history books. You’re in the old west, you wanna know. He sure lived in there, Jesse James. And I’ll tell you something, I can prove it. Absolutely. Jesse James carved his initials right in the wall of this here jail.
Carol: Can we see it?
Brown: Of course you can see it. (He opens the door and lets them in) Here you are, right in here. That is where you will see that, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Right in the cell there. (They all go inside the cell) go right over there to the cot.
Carol: We don’t see anything.
Brown: Of course you can’t see, over there in the corner. Now, all of you, move the cot, that’s it.
(Once they all turn their backs, he locks the cell. They all turn around in shock.)
Carol: Hey, what are you doing?
Brown: What am I doing? I’m stopping you slickers from stealing my claim, that’s what I’m doing.
Carol: What claim?
Brown: What claim? My gold claim.
Mike: We don’t want any of your gold.
Bobby: Sure we do, Dad.
Mike (sternly): Bobby.
Brown: I’ll take his word for it.
Carol: Look Mr. (Pause) Brown, I can assure we have no interest…
Brown: You think you can put one over on Zaccariah T. Brown, did you. Well, you got another thing coming. You’d have to get up early in the morning. You better believe it.
(He runs out and leaves them in the cell.)
(Mr. Brown goes and takes their car and camper. The family watches helplessly.)
Mike: He’s taking the car and the trailer. (He shouts) Hey!
Carol (pleading): Mike, do something!
Mike: It’s all right, honey. I’m sure we can break out of here. The bars must be rusted halfway through.
(He tries to break open the bars. He has the kids stand back.)
Carol: Watch out, kids.
(He tries unsuccessfully to break the bars open.)
Mike: That’s pretty strong rust.
Carol: Honey, what are we gonna do?
(The family is still in the cell, trying to figure out a way out of there.)
Carol: There must be a way out.
Bobby: Hey Dad, think we can use the key?
Mike: What key?
Bobby: The one hanging on the post, I just noticed it.
(Mike and the rest of the family see the key as well.)
Greg: I thought that nutty old prospector took the key.
Mike: He did. I saw him take it.
Peter: There’s two of them. One for the sheriff and one for the deputy.
Peter: Sure, that’s always the way it is in westerns.
Carol: Well, that’s it then. All we have to do is get (Pause) The key.
Bobby: I’ve seen a lot of cowboy movies. All we have to do is wait for our gang to ride into town and bust us out.
Carol: Oh, Bobby.
Greg: We don’t have a gang dum-dum.
Peter: Hey, wait a second. I once saw a western where a guy was in jail. (He goes to the window to demonstrate) He went over to the window and whistled for his horse.
(Peter whistles as the rest of the family is about to scoff.)
Greg: Off again.
Peter: He took the rope off the saddle and made a great big lasso, then went over to the bars, and tied it on.
Mike: Wait a minute! I think I got it!
Mike: Who’s got a belt?
Carol: Well, I do honey, but what do you need a belt for?
Mike: To make a rope. If you can rope a steer or a horse, why not a key?
(The next scene has Mike trying to get the key from the post, using Carol’s belt, but without much success. When he finally gets it to hit the post, the belt separates into two pieces.)
Mike: Well, we’ll have to go along with plan B.
Alice: What’s plan B?
(We next show the Bradys in bare feet, as Mike took their shoes and socks for bait to get the key. Mike throws their shoes, hoping to hit the key and knock it down.)
Mike: Okay, now for the big guns.
(He grabs a pair of boots.)
Carol: Keep your fingers crossed.
(He misses with the first boot, but succeeds with the next, as everyone cheers.)
Mike: Okay, okay, now we’ll put those socks to use.
(He takes the socks and ties them together, to make a line with Carol’s purse to lure the key to them, so he can open the door and get them out.)
Carol: Boy, it’s a good thing I had my purse with me.
(Mike puts the bag over the key and uses the socks to bring it to them.)
Mike: Okay, come on, come on, easy, that’s it. come on.
(The Bradys are next seen coming out of the jail.)
Carol: Hey, kids, come here.
Carol: We’re free but we’re still stranded, remember.
Mike: Honey, I’m gonna try to walk down to the main road to see if I can flag somebody down.
Carol (annoyed): Mike, that’s 20 miles from here.
Mike: Well, I can’t think of any other way. besides, if it gets too hot, I’ll (Pause) rest during the day and (Pause) walk at night.
Carol: Well, I don’t like the idea but, I guess you’re right.
Greg: Can I go with you, Dad? You always say no one should hike alone.
Mike: Greg, I need a man to stay behind and watch out for the others and I’m kinda counting on you to do that, okay.
Greg: All right.
Peter: Then can I go, Dad?
Mike: You think you’re up to it?
Peter: I sure am.
Alice: I’ll give the canteens some water.
(Carol goes to kiss Mike and Peter goodbye.)
Carol (to Mike): We’ll be waiting and (to Peter) you be careful.
(The scene fades. the final scene for the first part of the episode has Carol looking at her watch, with Alice sitting and waiting.)
Alice: I wonder if they reached the highway yet, how long have they been gone anyway?
Carol: 20 minutes.
Alice: How time flies when you’re having fun.
Carol (to herself): No water, no food, what if Mike and Peter can’t make it to the highway? What’s gonna happen to them? To all of us?
END OF PART 1