I Remember Mama (1948) Movie Script

For the grocer,
another group of coins...
...for Katrin's shoes
to be half-soled.
And Mama would count out the silver.
At last, Papa would ask, "Is all?"
Mama would look up then and smile.
"Is good," she'd murmur.
"We do not have to go
to the bank."
The end.
"A novel by Kathryn Hanson."
"For as long as I could remember,
the house on the Larkin Street hill...
...had been home.
Papa and Mama had both
been born in Norway...
...but they came to San Francisco
because Mama's sisters were here.
All of us were born here.
Nels, the oldest and the only boy,
my sister Christine...
...and the littlest sister, Dagmar."
But first and foremost...
...I remember Mama.
I remember that every Saturday night...
...I would sit at my desk
by the attic window...
...and write down in my diary
all my innermost thoughts.
Mama would call out to me
from downstairs.
- Katrin?
- Yes, Mama?
Katrin, come. We're waiting.
Yes, Mama. I'm coming.
It was like a weekly ritual,
those Saturday nights...
...for I remember how Mama would
sit down at the kitchen table...
...and count out the money that Papa
had brought home in the little envelope.
Yes, Mama.
Papa called. I called two times
before you answer.
I'm sorry, Mama. I was writing.
Christine, you wish to laugh,
please to laugh. No just:
Yes, Mama.
So now all are here.
Yeah, come then.
First, for the landlord.
- For the landlord.
- For the landlord.
For the landlord.
For the grocer.
- For the grocer.
- For the grocer.
In all the U.S., no cat was as brave
as Elizabeth.
In all the world, no cat was as brave
as Elizabeth.
Dagmar, put Elizabeth
onto the back porch.
In heaven or hell, no cat
was as brave as Elizabeth.
For Katrin's shoes to be half-soled.
- Katrin's shoes.
- My shoes.
Katrin's old shoes.
For Katrin's shoes.
Mama, teacher says, this week,
I'll need a new notebook.
- How much it will be?
- It's a dime.
For the notebook.
It's five. Eight. Three.
- You don't lose it.
- I won't lose it.
- You look out when you blow your nose.
- I'll look out.
Is all, Mama?
Yeah, is all for this week.
Is good. We do not have to go
to the bank.
Mama. Mama, I'll be graduating
from valley school next month.
- Yeah.
- Could I go on to high, you think?
- You want to go to high school?
- Well, I'd like to very much...
...if you think I could.
Is good.
It'll cost a little money.
Here, I've got it all written down.
Books, carfare...
- Will you get the little bank, Katrin?
- Yes, Mama.
The little bank.
That was the most important
thing in the whole house.
It was a box we used to keep
for emergencies.
The things that came out
of the little bank.
Mama was always going to buy herself
a warm coat, when there was enough...
...only there never was.
It's all there, Mama.
Carfare, clothes, notebooks...
...all things I really need.
I talked it over with Cy Nichols.
- He went to high last year.
- Is good.
Now we see.
Is there enough there, Mama?
Well, is not much in the little bank
right now.
We give to the dentist, you remember,
and for your roller skates.
I know, and there's a warm coat
you've been saving for.
Well, the coat we can get
another time, but even so, l...
You mean Nels can't go to high?
Well, is not enough here. We do not
want to have to go to the bank, do we?
No, Mama, no.
I could work in Dillon's grocery
after school.
Is not enough.
No, is not enough.
I'll stop the smoking.
I'll give up the tobacco.
Well, I...
I could mind the Maxwell children
Friday night.
Katrin could help me.
Is good. Is enough.
We do not have to go to the bank.
- Gee.
- Good.
If that's the aunts,
I'm going to my boudoir.
- I'm going to my study.
- No. You mustn't run away.
- Why, Trina.
- Trina, yeah, and all by herself.
- Say good evening to Aunt Trina, children.
- Good evening, Aunt Trina.
Good evening, children.
- How well they all look.
- You have a feather boa?
Is new? Beautiful!
- It was a present.
- A present? Lars, look.
- Trina has a present.
- Yes. Is... Is fine.
Jenny and Sigrid
don't come with you, Trina?
No. I didn't tell them I was coming.
- I want to talk to you, Martha.
- Well, come in, then.
Sit, and we talk.
- Could we talk alone?
- Alone?
If you wouldn't mind.
Children, you leave us alone a little.
I call you.
Dagmar, you go with Katrin.
Trina, what is it?
Oh, no. No, I can't say it.
Why, Trina, what is it?
It's something very personal.
No, Lars, you stay here.
We go out on front porch.
I like a breath of air. You smoke your pipe.
Be comfortable.
So, Trina, now, what is?
Martha, I want to get married.
You mean, you want to get married,
or there's someone you want to marry?
- Oh, there's someone I want to marry.
- Does he want to marry you?
He says he does.
- Trina, is wonderful.
- I think it is.
Who is?
- Mr. Thorkelson.
- From the funeral parlor.
Yeah. I know he isn't very handsome...
...and it isn't exactly what most people
think a very nice profession, but...
- You love him, Trina?
- Yeah.
Then is good.
- Martha.
- Yeah?
Will you help me tell the others?
- Jenny and Sigrid, they do not know?
- No. I was afraid they laugh at me...
...but if you tell them...
- Jenny will not like you tell me first.
Well, I can't help that. You've got
to tell them not to laugh at me.
If they laugh at me,
I'll jump in the bay.
Jenny and Sigrid will not laugh, Trina.
- I promise you that.
- Oh, thank you, Martha.
Come now.
And Uncle Chris?
Will you talk to him?
Well, it is Mr. Thorkelson
who must talk to Uncle Chris.
Always it is husband who must
talk to the head of the family.
Yes, I know that, but Uncle Chris
is very frightening.
He's so big and black,
and he shouts so...
...and Mr. Thorkelson
is kind of timid, really.
But Trina, if he's to be your husband...
...he must learn not to be timid.
You do not want husband
should be timid.
You are timid. Is not good
when both are timid.
No. Jenny and Sigrid I talk to...
...but Mr. Thorkelson must go
to Uncle Chris.
Martha, look. Is Jenny and Sigrid now.
I see Jenny and Sigrid first.
You go into my bedroom.
Wait there till I call you.
Lars, Jenny and Sigrid come.
No, no, I like you stay a little.
Oh, wait, Jenny. I must get my breath.
- This hill kills me every time I climb it.
- You climb bigger hills than that...
...in the old country.
- Well, I was a girl in the old country.
- Hello, Martha.
- Jenny, Sigrid, Arne.
- Is surprise.
- Good evening, Aunt Martha.
Good evening, Arne.
- Has Trina been here?
- Trina?
She's gone somewhere, and she
doesn't know anyone but you.
That is what you think.
Give Lars your coat.
I give you some coffee...
...then we talk about Trina.
Arne, the children are upstairs.
That's good, Aunt Martha.
- Can I play with this, Aunt Martha?
- Yeah, sure, Arne, but you don't break it.
- Trina has been here.
- Yeah, she has been here.
- What did Trina want?
- She want to talk to me.
What about?
- What?
- Trina wants to get married.
Who'd want to marry Trina?
Mr. Thorkelson.
- Peter Thorkelson?
- Yeah.
Timid Peter? She'd be the laughingstock.
Jen...! Sigrid!
Trina is here.
She will come in in a minute.
This is serious for her.
- You will not laugh at her.
- I shall do what I please.
No, Jenny. You will not.
- And why won't I?
- Because I will not let you.
- And how will you stop me?
- Lf you laugh at Trina...
...I will tell of the time
before your wedding...
...when your husband tried to run away.
- What is that?
- Who told you that?
I know.
Erik tried to run away?
- It is not true.
- Then you do not mind if I tell Trina?
Uncle Chris told you.
Tried to run away?
It does not matter, Sigrid.
Jenny will not laugh at Trina, no.
Nor will you.
For if you laugh at her, I will tell
of your wedding night with Ole...
...when you cry all the time,
and he bring you home to mother.
- That I did not know.
- Is no need you should know.
I do not tell these stories for spite...
...only so they do not laugh at Trina.
You go call her now, Lars.
Come have some coffee. Jenny. Sigrid.
- Trina!
- Yeah, I'm coming.
Oh, I beg your pardon. I was not aware...
Oh, Mr. Hyde, these are my sisters.
- Pleased to meet you.
- Madame. Madame.
The three Graces.
- I shall be in my room.
- Yeah, sure, Mr. Hyde.
- Has he paid you his rent yet?
- Well, is hard to ask. Surely he'll pay soon.
Surely he won't. If Martha thinks she'll
get the warm coat she always talks about...
...out of that old broken-down actor...
- Jenny, Mr. Hyde is a gentleman.
He reads to us loud wonderful books.
Longfellow and Charles Dickens
and Fenimore Kipling.
Oh, come. Come in, Trina.
Come. Coffee's getting cold.
- I tell them.
- Why did you come to Martha first?
She think maybe
Martha would understand.
Maybe Mr. Thorkelson thinks
she will have dowry...
...like the girls in the old country.
- Sigrid.
Well, why shouldn't I?
You all had dowries.
We were married in Norway,
and our parents were alive.
Where would your dowry
come from, I'd like to know?
- Uncle Chris. He's head of the family.
- And who will ask him?
He won't need asking
when Mr. Thorkelson...
Uncle Chris will eat him.
Timid Peter and Uncle Chris.
Maybe Uncle Chris will tell
him some family stories.
He knows many, does Uncle Chris.
- Where are the children?
- Yes, aren't we going to see them?
Yeah, sure. I'll call them.
- Children! Your aunts are leaving!
- Coming, Papa.
I help with the coffee things.
Is all right.
Here they come.
Good evening, Aunt Jenny, Aunt Sigrid.
Good evening. Where have you all been
hiding yourselves?
- Good evening, Nels.
- Good evening.
My, my, my, how tall he's getting.
Yeah, he's almost as tall as his Papa.
Looks to me as if he's
outgrowing his strength.
Dagmar is looking pale too.
Oh, my goodness!
What an awful-looking cat!
- She follows Dagmar everywhere.
- Next, she'll have it sleeping with her.
Don't you know a cat draws breath
from a sleeping child?
You wouldn't want to wake up
smothered, would you?
Elizabeth can have all my breath.
- There.
- Elizabeth.
- What a very silly name for a cat.
- It's a very silly name for that cat.
- That cat's a tom...
- Nels, you do not need to say it.
She better think up a new name.
He's Elizabeth, and he's gonna
stay Elizabeth.
Well, maybe you would call him
Uncle Elizabeth.
Uncle Elizabeth?
- Elizabeth, do you hear?
- Goodbye, all.
- Come on, sweetheart.
- You're called Uncle Elizabeth now.
Nels, go tell Mr. Hyde
we're ready for the reading.
You mind what I say, Martha.
It'd be a great pity if a boarder put
something over on a Norwegian woman.
Would be great pity if boarder put
something over on San Francisco woman.
You talk as if San Francisco
were the world.
Yeah, is my world.
Goodbye, Jenny, Sigrid.
- Goodbye, Martha.
- Goodbye, Aunt Martha.
Goodbye, Arne, sweetheart.
Oh, Mr. Hyde, this is my sister Trina.
Mr. Hyde reads to us tonight
the Tales From Two Cities.
It's a beautiful story, but sad.
I like sad stories.
I should like to finish this tonight.
Is good.
- Are you ready?
- Yes, please, Mr. Hyde.
Yeah, Mr. Hyde.
"In the black prison of the Conciergerie...
...the doomed of the day awaited their fate.
They were in numbers
the weeks of the year.
Fifty-two were to roll that afternoon
on the life-tide of the city...
...to the boundless everlasting sea."
I don't think I shall ever
forget that night.
It was almost midnight
when he came to the end...
...and none of us had noticed.
"It is a far, far better thing I do...
...than I have ever done.
It is a far, far better rest I go to...
...than I have ever known."
The end.
There were many nights
I couldn't sleep...
...for the way Mr. Hyde had
set my imagination dancing.
I wrote in my diary, "What a
wonderful thing is literature...
...transporting us to realms unknown. "
"His voice sank almost
to a whisper as he answered."
"'Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints...
...of a gigantic hound."'
To be continued in our next.
- Lf you're interested.
- Oh, yes, Mr. Hyde.
If we were interested? You couldn't
have kept us from it.
It meant a lot to Mama too,
because Nels stopped going nights...
...to the street corner to hang about
with the neighborhood boys.
The night they broke
into Mr. Dillon's store...
...Nels was home with us.
This above all: to thine own self be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day...
...thou canst not then be false to any man.
The more Mr. Hyde read,
the more I realized...
...that the one thing I really wanted
in all the world was to become a writer.
I did write a piece once
about Mama's Uncle Chris...
...but my schoolteacher said
it wasn't nice to write...
...about a member of one's own family.
Once or twice a year...
...our Uncle Chris, with his great,
loud voice...
...with his fierce black mustache...
...would come down
from his ranch in the north...
...and descend upon San Francisco
in his automobile.
We knew that from the time
he roared off the ferry...
...and charged up Market Street
to get a good run up the hill...
...our quiet way of life
was due for a change.
Uncle Chris.
Uncle Chris.
We children didn't talk much about him...
...but Mama used to say that the reason
Uncle Chris drove so fast...
...was that it gave him a feeling of
freedom denied him when he walked.
For Uncle Chris limped badly because
of an accident back in the old country.
Lars! Children, where are you?
Martha! Lars!
Well, hey, there is nobody home?
I say, is nobody home?
So, what is?
You do not answer me?
You do not hear me calling?
I say, you do not hear me calling?
I do not call loud enough?
Yes, Uncle Chris.
Yes, Uncle Chris.
Which yes? Yes, you do not hear me,
or yes, I do not call loud enough?
- We heard you, Uncle Chris.
- Well, then why you do not come?
We were coming.
Come, let me look at you.
Stand tall.
Where the marks are.
Two inches.
Two inches in six months is good! Good!
Show me your teeth.
You brush them good?
Nels, there's a box of oranges in the
automobile. You fetch them in.
Where is the little one? Dagmar?
- She's sick, Uncle Chris.
- Sick? What is the matter with her?
It's her ear. She's had an earache
for two days. A bad earache.
- Mama sent for the doctor.
- Good doctor? What he say?
- He's in there now.
- Oh, I go in.
Uncle Chris.
- How is with Dagmar?
- Is not good.
- Doctor, this is my uncle, Mr. Halvorsen.
- How do you do, sir?
What is with the child?
We must get her to a hospital at once.
We'll have to operate.
- Operate?
- I'm afraid so.
Can wait till my husband
come home from work?
I'm afraid not. Her condition
requires an immediate operation.
We go.
- What is with the child?
- It's a mastoid.
Oh, well, then you operate immediately.
- I believe that's what I said.
- Immediately.
Dr. Johnson.
Doctor, is enough?
Frankly, I was thinking
of the county hospital.
No. No, we pay. But is enough?
If there isn't, we can go to the bank.
We have a bank account.
Well, is enough without we go
to the bank, doctor?
My husband is carpenter.
Make good money.
If there is need of money, I pay.
It'll be all right. We'll take her
to the clinic.
- You pay what you can afford.
- Good.
I have patient there already.
My nephew Arne.
They operate this morning on his knee.
Are you a physician, sir?
I'm better physician than most doctors.
Nels, here, my other nephew,
he become doctor when he grow up.
Very interesting.
If you'll have the child
at the clinic in...
...shall we say an hour's time?
- The child will be there in 10 minutes.
I have my automobile.
I can hardly make arrangements
in 10 minutes.
Well, I make arrangements.
I know doctors.
Uncle Chris, Dr. Johnson arrange.
He is good doctor.
Thank you, madam.
- Doctor, you go. We come.
- Very well. In an hour, then.
Dagmar will be well taken care of.
I promise you. I will operate myself.
- I watch.
- You'll do no such thing, sir.
Always I watch operation.
I'm head of family.
I allow no one to attend my operations.
Are so bad?
- I go see Dagmar.
- Uncle Chris.
Is kind of you, but Dagmar's sick.
You frighten her.
- I frighten her?
- Yeah, Uncle Chris, you frighten everyone.
- I?
- Yeah, everyone but me.
Even the girls, Jenny, Sigrid, Trina,
are frightened of you.
- The girls. Women.
- And the children too.
So Nels and I get Dagmar, you drive us
to the hospital in your automobile...
...but you do not frighten Dagmar,
and you leave doctor alone.
Dr. Johnson is fine doctor.
Nels, you come with me.
Help me carry Dagmar.
You remember.
Is true I frighten you, huh?
Christine, Katrin,
you are frightened of me?
Now, come, I ask you,
tell me the truth.
You are frightened of me?
- A little, Uncle Chris.
- Oh, no.
Are you, Christine?
- Yes, Uncle Chris.
- But why?
What is there to be frightened of?
I'm your Uncle Chris.
Why do I frighten you?
I don't know.
Is bad. Very bad.
The aunts, yes, I like to frighten them.
What? That makes you laugh?
You do not like the aunts?
Now, come, tell me.
You do not like the aunts? Now say.
Not very much, Uncle Chris.
And which do you not like the most?
Jenny, Sigrid or Trina? Tell me.
I think I like Aunt Jenny the least.
She's so bossy.
I can't stand Aunt Sigrid.
Always whining and complaining.
Sigrid, whining.
Jenny, bossy. Is true!
Uncle Chris, black. I'll say he's black.
Black in his heart.
- Cursing and swearing.
- He is good to the children.
He's good to his bottles.
And that woman he lives with.
- His housekeeper?
- His housekeeper?
Oh, there's Peter, waiting. Right on time!
Yoo-hoo, Peter! Yoo-hoo!
Peter, I'm so glad you weren't
tied down to your business.
As a matter of fact, I was just waiting...
An undertaker's business
can always wait.
Now's a fine chance to ask
Uncle Chris for a dowry.
You must be very firm, Mr. Thorkelson.
Yes, ma'am. Very firm, indeed.
Fare, please.
Tell him, Sigrid. Tell Mr. Thorkelson
what Uncle Chris has just done.
Well, you know my little Arne's knee...
...that fall he had two month ago.
- Yeah.
The man at the drugstore
said it was only a bruise.
But this morning, when I left home
to do the marketing...
...who should turn up but Uncle Chris.
But you must not tell your mama
that we talk of them so.
Is secret for us.
Now you cannot be frightened anymore
when we have secret.
I tell you my secret too.
I do not like the aunts.
Oh, Jenny, do you see what I see?
- That woman in his automobile.
- How shameful.
- Is the woman his wife?
- Yeah.
And no.
Uncle Chris.
Sigrid has something to say to you.
Uncle Chris.
- You took Arne to the hospital.
- Sure, I take Arne to the hospital.
Now we take Dagmar to the hospital,
so do not clutter up the place.
This is some more of Uncle Chris' doings.
Sigrid, you're a whining old fool,
and you get out of here.
No. There has been enough
of these high-handed goings-on.
Jenny, you're a bossy old fool.
And you get out of here too.
And we take Dagmar to the hospital.
- You got her good, Nels?
- Yeah.
- Well, we go.
- No, you're going to listen to Sigrid.
Sigrid, if you do not get out of the way
of that door before I count three...
...I throw you out. And Jenny too,
as big as she is.
Put her in the back of the car.
Uncle Chris.
I want to introduce Mr. Thorkelson.
I want you to meet Mr. Thorkelson.
Uncle Chris, I want you to meet
Mr. Thorkelson.
This is Mr. Thorkelson.
He wants to say...
We go.
He wants to...
Jenny, Sigrid, we go to hospital.
You be good children
till Mama comes home.
Yes, Mama.
Yeah, I come.
There's milk in the cooler
and fruit and cookies for your lunch.
We'll be all right, Mama. Don't worry.
I go now.
Oh, Martha. You can't go
in his automobile.
- Why not?
- Martha.
- Yeah, I come.
- We go.
Because she is in it. The woman.
So it will kill me or Dagmar
to sit in automobile with her?
I have see her. She looks nice woman.
Uncle Chris!
Mr. Thorkelson.
Mr. Thorkelson.
Thorkelson, come, come.
But Uncle Chris,
I tell you, I must see him.
You do not understand English?
No visitors for 24 hours.
- But you have see him.
- I am no visitor.
- I'm exception.
- Then his mama should be exception too.
I will see the doctor.
I seen doctor. I told him
you are not good for Arne.
Not good for my own son?
No. Not good at all.
You cry over him. I go now.
Uncle Chris! Uncle Chris,
I must speak to you.
- I have business.
- Uncle Chris, please.
- I wanna get married.
- Well, then get married.
Wait, Uncle Chris.
I want to marry Mr. Thorkelson.
Peter, this is Uncle Chris.
Uncle Chris, this is Mr. Thorkelson.
- So?
- How are you, sir?
- Busy.
- Please, Uncle Chris.
You want to marry him, marry him.
I have other things to think about.
- Then you give your permission?
- Sure, I do.
If you want to make a fool of yourself,
I can't stop you.
Thank you, Uncle Chris!
- So is all?
- Yeah, I think is all.
Well, there was a little something else.
You see...
Well, Trina mentioned
that in the old country...
...it was... It was always usual, and...
Well, after all, we are all
from the old country.
Well, that's how it is. That's how it is.
Well, sir, what is? What do you want?
Well, it was a question...
A question of Trina's...
Well, not to mince matters...
...her dowry.
- Her what?
- Dowry.
Her dowry! Oh, so Trina wants dowry.
- She's 42 years old!
- No, Uncle Chris!
Husband's not enough,
she wants dowry?
Please! This is a hospital,
not a marriage bureau.
Come with me into waiting room.
I talk to you about dowry.
So did you hear that, Martha?
- What?
- Uncle Chris.
No, I do not hear.
I wait for doctor.
Is two hours since they
take Dagmar to operating room.
Who gives dowry?
Why? Because they are so glad
they don't have to support...
...their daughter anymore,
they pay money.
I do not support Trina. Why then should
I pay money to have her married?
- I don't know.
- You don't know?
You think I let Trina marry a man who won't
take her without dowry?
- I never thought of it like that.
- What kind of a man would that be?
Well, not a very nice kind of a man.
- Well, are you that kind of a man?
- No, I don't think so.
- Well, then you don't want dowry.
- No, I don't suppose I do.
We'll go next door
and have some coffee.
Sigrid, do you have money?
- Yeah, I have little.
- Good, then I treat you.
We'll be next door
if you want us, Martha.
- Mrs. Hanson.
- Doctor.
Dagmar's fine. She came
through beautifully.
- She's in bed sleeping off the anesthetic.
- Thank you, doctor.
- You're very welcome.
- Is good of you, doctor.
I go to her now.
Oh, Mrs. Hanson.
I'm very sorry.
You see, it's against the rules.
But you shall see her tomorrow.
But, doctor, I promise her.
She's so little, she'll be frightened when
she wakes if I do not keep my promise.
The nurses will take excellent care
of her. Excellent care.
Now, you mustn't worry.
For the first 24 hours, the clinic patients
are not permitted to have visitors.
The wards must be kept very quiet.
I would not make a sound.
I'm very sorry.
- Sir?
- Tomorrow.
But, doctor...
Just a minute.
Whom did you wish to see?
Please, where I can find my daughter?
- What name?
- Dagmar.
- Dagmar Hanson.
- I'm afraid you can't see her today.
No visitors for the first 24 hours.
Oh, but I'm not visitor. I'm her mama.
I'm sorry, but it's against the rules.
- Just one minute, please.
- I'm sorry, but it's against the rules.
You can see her tomorrow. They said so.
But I promise her.
What can I tell Papa tonight?
The nurses will look after her.
Do you wanna go next door
for some coffee?
No, we go home. We have coffee home.
Where are the girls?
Shall I make you some coffee?
You said you'd have some
when you got home.
First I have to think.
I wish you wouldn't worry like this.
Dagmar's all right.
You know she's all right.
Is everything all right, Mama?
Yeah, is all right.
- You have eaten?
- Yes, Mama.
You drink your milk?
- Yes, Mama.
- Yeah, is good.
Mama, is there something the matter?
Mama, Dagmar isn't...
She's not... Mama.
No, no. Dagmar's fine.
Always so dramatic.
Two hours till Papa come home.
Nels, what is it?
There is something the matter.
They wouldn't let Mama see Dagmar.
It's a rule of the hospital.
And Mama's very worried.
She was talking to me
in Norwegian on the streetcar.
- What are we going to do?
- Don't make a tragedy out of it.
Chris how can you be so callous? Can't you
see that Mama's heart is breaking?
You're always trying to make
everything so dramatic.
You only make things worse for Mama.
Well, it is dramatic.
- People's hearts don't actually break.
- They do.
Only in books.
What are you going to do?
Scrub the floor.
But, Mama, you scrubbed
the floor yesterday.
Yeah, well, I scrub it again.
But, Mama.
Comes a time when you got
to get down on your knees.
Now will you believe me?
Mama, I wish you wouldn't do this.
You must be tired.
Let her alone, Nels.
What is it, Mama?
What is it?
I think of something.
I think I think of something.
"And drank real dew out of a crystal goblet.
And helped the stars to play peek-a-boo."
Uncle Chris?
- Yes, Arne?
- Does it have to hurt like this?
If you want it to be well...
...and not walk always like Uncle Chris,
it does, for little.
Arne, the doctor give you something...
...to make you go to sleep.
So maybe if you don't think of pain,
you go to sleep.
Is very bad?
It is, kind of.
Don't you know any swear words?
Don't you know any swear words?
No, Uncle Chris. Not real ones.
Well, then I tell you two fine ones...
...you use when pain comes again.
I tell you Norwegian swear word.
Is better.
When pain comes again,
you say "dum geit."
It help plenty.
I know. I have pain too.
I say it all the time.
And if pain is very bad...
...you say "dum geit!"
Just like that. Dum geit!
But only if is very bad.
Is bad now?
No, it's a little better, Uncle Chris.
You like I sing some more?
I don't mind.
But maybe something a little,
well, quieter.
Sure, sure.
- It help, huh?
- Is good!
Then you sleep some.
That's terrible. Teaching a child to swear.
You don't know
what "dum geit" means, eh?
Do I look like a foreigner?
If you were, you would know
that "dum geit" in Norwegian means:
"Stupid old goat."
Is different one.
You're working late, aren't you?
The floors need cleaning.
I'm glad they finally decided
to clean them.
Is Mama, Dagmar.
There's no fever.
Is good.
Where you been? You promised.
Well, yeah, yeah, I promised. I come.
I was worried.
Oh, well, no.
Mama's here now.
Yeah, you go to sleep now.
I don't think I can ever remember
seeing Mama unoccupied.
Her work was never done.
She was always so busy
that it wasn't very often...
...I could get her to talk about herself
or her life in the old country.
I do remember one time, though,
and I felt very proud.
For Mama talked to me just as if
I were a grown-up person.
It was the day before Dagmar
came home from the hospital.
This one's coffee-flavored.
Yeah, mine also.
Mama, when can I drink coffee?
- When you're grown up.
- When I'm 18?
Oh, maybe before that.
When I graduate?
Maybe. Comes the day you are
grown up, Papa and I will know.
Oh, Mama, aren't they beautiful?
Don't you just love flowers?
You like we buy some?
Oh, Mama, can we afford it?
I think for Dagmar's
coming home tomorrow.
We like some violets, please.
Ten cents violets, please.
Oh, ladies.
- Thank you, ladies.
- Well, thank you.
Mama, he called us "ladies."
Oh, Mama, when I'm rich and famous,
I'm gonna have fresh flowers every day.
I'll buy you just lovely clothes.
White satin gowns with long
trains to them. And jewelry.
- I'll buy you a pearl necklace.
- Better I like my solje.
But, Mama, wouldn't you like to be rich?
I would like to be rich the way
I would like to be 10 feet high.
Is good for some things,
bad for others.
But didn't you come to America
to get rich?
No, we come to America
because they are all here.
All the others. Is good for families
to be together.
- And did you like it right away?
- Yeah, right away.
When we get off the ferry boat
and I see San Francisco...
...and all the family, I say,
"Is like Norway."
And then you're all born here,
and I become American citizen.
Mama, do you ever want to go back
to the old country?
Well, I like to go back
once to look, maybe.
To see the mountains and the fjords.
I like to show them once to all of you.
Maybe when Dagmar's big, we go back
once one summer. Like tourists. You like?
Here, kitty, kitty.
Here, kitty, kitty.
Oh, Uncle Elizabeth.
Could you not wait till Dagmar
comes home to do this?
- Nels, what you think?
- He's pretty bad.
Honestly, I think we should get him
out of here and put him away.
Dagmar. Dagmar, wait a minute.
I must tell you, Uncle Elizabeth
is kind of sick.
- Sick? What's the matter with him?
- Well, he...
He has been in fight again, last night.
He come home this morning...
...very sick indeed.
- Yeah.
- Dag...
- Dagmar.
Mama, what happened to him?
Oh, Mama.
- He looks awful.
- Yeah, come away, little one.
Nels takes care of him.
Listen, Dagmar.
Would it not be better for poor
Uncle Elizabeth to go quietly to sleep?
You mean go to sleep
and never wake up again?
Well, if...
I think he will die anyway.
Mama can make him well.
Mama can do everything.
Make him live, Mama.
Make him well again. Please.
Well, we see. Let us see how
he gets through the night.
Now, come on.
You must go upstairs, go to bed.
I bring up your supper.
You will make Uncle Elizabeth
well again.
- Please promise, Mama.
- Well, I promise I try.
You say we see how
cat get through the night.
I ask you, how do we
get through the night?
It's no use, Martha.
We must put the cat to sleep.
- Mama, it's cruel to keep that cat alive.
- Yeah, I know.
Nels, you go to the drugstore
and get something.
- Some chloroform, maybe.
- Chloro...
- How much should I get?
- You tell the man it is for a cat. He knows.
It's no use, Martha. It's best thing to do.
It's just sad homecoming for Dagmar.
And she was so good in the hospital too.
- Here you are.
- Thanks, Mr. Schiller.
You're welcome.
Did you see him?
Mr. Hyde.
- He must be going for keeps.
- What'll Mama do without a boarder?
- She needs the money.
- I hope he's paid whatever he owes her.
- Mama?
- Yeah?
Mama, we saw Mr. Hyde get in
the streetcar with his suitcases.
He left this for you.
Nels, take off your hat.
Christine, close the door.
How much is the check for?
One hundred and thirty dollar.
- Is four months.
- Is good, good.
Is wonderful.
Now we pay doctor everything.
And you can buy your new coat,
your warm coat.
Yes, you can buy your new coat.
But there will be no more reading.
What does Mr. Hyde say?
"Dear friends, I find myself compelled...
...to take a somewhat hasty departure
from your house of happiness."
Beautiful letter.
"I am leav... Leaving you my library
for the children."
- He leaves his books?
- Well, he says so.
Nels, is wonderful. Go get the books.
What else he say?
"It has been a privilege
to be a part of your happy home.
I shall never forget your kind
hosp... Hospitality."
He signs it Jonathan Hyde.
"Avenue..." Oh, "avenue..."
- Well, here, I think...
- I think it's "vale." "Ava vale."
"Ave Atque Vale."
- Is what?
- It means, "hail and farewell."
- It's Latin.
- Yes, is Latin, sure.
Gee willikers, look at this.
- Fine.
- The Pickwick Papers.
The Complete Shakespeare.
Alice in Wonderland.
- So much we can learn.
- The Last of the Mohicans.
- You get it, Nels?
- Yeah.
You know how?
Well, no. I thought that...
Well, just don't stand there, girls.
Christine, go take Dagmar her tray.
Katrin, put the butter
in the cooler for me.
Here, take the jelly too.
Pick up your feet.
Well, take Dagmar her milk.
You know how?
No, but, well, it shouldn't
be too difficult.
- Lf you hold the cat...
- Me hold the cat?
You hold the cat.
- Nels...
- No, no.
I think it's better if...
If we get a big sponge.
We put it in the box with him
and cover him over.
Nels, you get a sponge, and we
make him ready here in the pantry.
- Has he paid you his rent?
- Yeah, sure.
Well, he give me his check.
Lars has it right here.
A check.
Jenny, what is it? What is it?
I was at Mr. Kruper's down the street.
Mr. Hyde was there today
having his lunch.
And when he left,
he asked if he would...
...cash a check for him for $50.
- So? So what?
- Well? Go on. Go on.
Mr. Hyde doesn't even have
an account at the bank.
You mean, this check is no good?
- No good at all.
- But...
Your Mr. Hyde was a crook.
How much was that check for?
Martha. I bet he owed you plenty,
didn't he?
He owed us nothing.
He pay with far, far better things...
...than money.
I'll bet it must have been $ 100
that he rooked you of, wasn't it?
Jenny, I cannot talk to you now.
Maybe you don't have things to do.
- I have.
- What have you got that's so important?
I have to chloroform a cat!
Mama, how's Uncle Elizabeth?
Dagmar, why so early?
Why you don't rest?
I wanna see Uncle Elizabeth.
- No, no, Dagmar.
- Dagmar...
Good morning, Papa.
Is Uncle Elizabeth all better?
Dagmar, there is something
I must tell you.
I wanna see Uncle Elizabeth first.
No, Dagmar.
Good morning, my darling Elizabeth.
Are you still asleep, you old sleepy cat?
Lars, do something. Tell her.
Wake up. It's morning.
Well, maybe it's good for her
to think that that cat died by itself.
We cannot tell her lies.
My, what a funny smell.
It's like it was in the hospital.
I'll take care of you, Elizabeth,
the way the nurses took care of me.
You'll soon be the wellest cat
in all of San Francisco.
My goodness, you put
enough blankets on him.
Did you think he'd catch cold?
Mama, look.
Dagmar, let me see.
Let me see that cat.
Uncle Elizabeth speak to me.
It's a miracle.
Oh, Mama, I knew you'd make him well.
- Oh, but, Dagmar...
- I'm gonna take him and show him to Nels.
Dagmar, I didn't...
Nels, Christine, look what Mama did!
You didn't give him enough.
You just give him good sleep.
But Lars, we must tell her.
Is not good to let her grow up
believing I can fix everything.
Maybe is best thing in the world
for her to believe.
Besides, I know exactly how she feels.
At the time, it seemed like ages.
But now I know that
the days and months...
...went by too fast while we were
growing up and learning.
Graduation day assumed
monumental proportions.
Especially because I was to play Portia...
...in the school production
of The Merchant of Venice.
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain
from heaven...
...upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest.
It blesseth him that gives
and him that takes.
Him that takes.
"It blesseth him that gives and him
that takes." What's after that?
- I don't know or care.
- Why, Chris.
I don't. It's all I've heard for weeks.
The school play and your graduation,
going on to high...
...never a thought about home. All you
and your friends think about...
...is the presents you'll get.
You make me ashamed of being a girl.
Have you heard about
Thyra's graduation present?
- Hello, Katrin.
- Hello, Madeline.
- What are you getting?
- Well, they haven't actually told me...
...but I think I'm going to get that.
You mean the dresser set?
Your father took it out
so I could touch it.
It's got everything.
Even a hair receiver.
And it's genuine celluloid.
- Well, you're not gonna get it.
- How do you know?
- Because I know what you are getting.
- What is it?
Mama's giving you her brooch.
Her solje.
That old silver thing she wears
that belonged to grandmother?
What would I want
with an old thing like that for?
It's an heirloom.
Mama thinks a lot of it.
Then she ought to keep it.
That's all they're going to give me?
- What more do you want?
- I want the dresser set.
My goodness, if Mama doesn't realize
what's a suitable present...
It's practically the most important
time in a girl's life, when she graduates.
- And you say you're not selfish.
- It's not selfishness.
What else would you call it?
With Papa not working,
we need every penny we can get.
Even the little bank's empty.
But you'll devil Mama into giving you
the dresser set somehow.
So why talk about it?
Walk faster if you're
going to walk with me.
Christine was right.
I got the dresser set.
They gave it to me toward the end
of supper on graduation night.
Papa couldn't attend the exercises
because there was a strike meeting...
...to decide about going back to work.
- I'll start the dishes, Mama.
- Yeah, yeah.
We can wash them
when we come home.
Katrin, why you don't
eat your rice pudding?
Mama, I couldn't eat. Not now.
Who wants some coffee sugar? Dagmar?
Thank you, Papa.
No, Papa.
Katrin, get your coat. You'll need it.
Yes, Mama.
Aunt Jenny says if we drink
black coffee...
...it turn our complexions dark.
I'd like to be a black Norwegian
like Uncle Chris.
I like you better blond, like Mama is.
When do you get old enough
to drink coffee and not turn dark?
Well, one day when you're grown up.
It's the most wonderful
night in my life.
Is that black coffee
you dip that sugar in?
You shouldn't. It's not good for them.
It will turn...
It will turn your complexion black.
Aunt Jenny, did you
see my graduation present?
Look, it's got a hair receiver.
But I thought... Martha.
- Yeah, Jenny, you were right.
- I thought you were...
She's too young to appreciate that.
She likes something more modern.
You're not wearing your solje.
No, I do not wear it tonight.
- Come on, Trina, we'll be late.
- Oh, but Peter isn't here yet.
- You like to wait for him?
- Yeah.
- I hope Katrin knows her part.
- She sure does. I know it too.
Lars, you be back before us?
- I don't think the meeting will take that long.
- Is good. All right, now we go.
Katrin, come.
- Goodbye, Papa.
- My daughter, I think of you.
- See you there, Aunt Trina.
- Good luck!
I knew you would devil Mama
into giving it to you.
I didn't.
I showed it to her in
Mr. Schiller's window.
And made her sell her brooch
her very own mother gave her.
- What?
- You weren't supposed to tell that.
I don't care. I think
she ought to know.
Is that true? Did Mama...?
- Nels?
- Well, yes.
- Come on.
- No, I don't believe it.
- I'm going to ask Papa.
- You haven't got time.
I don't care.
Well, I hope you're satisfied.
Papa! Papa!
Christine said...
Papa, did Mama sell
her brooch to give me this?
Well, Christine shouldn't have
told you that.
It's true, then.
Well, she didn't sell it. She traded
it to Mr. Schiller for your present.
Oh, but she shouldn't...
- I never meant...
- But, look, Katrin...
...you wanted your present,
and Mama wanted your happiness.
Well, she wanted that more
than she wanted that brooch.
But I never meant her to do that.
She loved it so.
It was all she had of Grandmother's.
But she always meant
it for you, Katrin...
...and you mustn't cry.
You have your play to act.
I don't want to act in it now.
- But you must. Your audience is waiting.
- I don't care.
But you must care.
Now, look, Katrin...
...tonight you are not Katrin any longer.
Tonight you are an actress,
and an actress must act...
...whatever she is feeling.
There's an old saying that says:
- The...
- The mails must go through!
The mail...
The show must go on.
Now, you stop crying and go back
and act your play.
We'll talk of this later. Afterwards.
All right.
I'll go.
I'm worried about her, Lars.
She was not good in the play tonight.
I've heard her practice it here.
She was good.
But tonight...
I don't know. She was not good.
Look, Martha, tonight after you leave...
...Katrin found out about your brooch.
- My brooch?
- Yeah.
- How? Who told her?
- Why?
- I don't know.
Yes, Mama?
Did you tell Katrin tonight
about my brooch?
Why did you?
Because I hated the smug way she was
acting about that dresser set.
Is no excuse. You make her unhappy.
You make her not good in the play.
Well, she made you unhappy,
giving up your brooch...
Is not your business.
I choose to give my brooch.
Is not you to judge. You know
I do not want you to tell.
I'm angry with you, Christine.
I'm sorry.
But I'm not sorry I told.
Christine is the stubborn one.
Come on, Katrin, it's all right.
What happened at the meeting tonight?
Oh, we go back to work
tomorrow morning.
That's bully, isn't it, Mama?
Yeah, is good.
Here's your brooch, Mama.
I'm sorry I was so bad in the play.
I'll go help Christine with the dishes.
Mr. Schiller give it back to her?
We went to his house to get it.
He didn't want to, but Katrin
begged and begged him.
And the dresser set,
she give that back?
It was awful hard
for her to do, Mama.
She's a good kid.
Good night. I gotta get up early.
- Good night, Nels.
- Good night, Papa.
- Good night, Nels.
- Good night, Mama.
Nels is the kind one.
Katrin, come here.
You put this on.
No, it's yours.
It is your graduation present.
I put it on for you.
I'll wear it always.
I'll keep it forever.
Christine should not have told you.
I'm glad she did now.
I'm glad too.
Good night, Christine.
Good night, Mama.
Good night, Papa.
Good night, baby.
Good night, Katrin.
Good night, Christine.
I'm sorry, Papa.
I just don't feel like it.
For me?
For our grown-up daughter.
- Katrin is the dramatic one.
- Yeah.
Is too bad. Her first cup of coffee,
and she doesn't drink it.
It would not have been good
for her so late at night.
Lars, you drink it.
We do not wanna waste it.
And you, Martha, are the practical one.
There is a time for everything.
A time for being born
and a time for coming of age...
...and there is a time for death too.
I remember when the telegram arrived.
- Jenny! Uncle Chris is dying!
- I don't believe it.
- He's too mean to die, ever!
- I cannot stop to argue.
There's a train at 11:00.
It take four hours.
You call Sigrid and Trina!
When Mama told me I was to go with her,
I was thrilled...
...and I was frightened.
It was exciting taking
sandwiches on the train...
...as though we were going on a picnic.
But I was scared at the idea
of seeing death.
Although I told myself
that if I were going to write...
...I'd have to experience everything.
But, even so, I hoped it would
all be over when we got there.
It was afternoon when we arrived.
The ranch was about
three miles from the town...
...a rambling, derelict old place.
There were wide fields and tall trees
and the smell of honeysuckle.
The woman came out
on the steps to meet us.
How is he? Is he...?
Come in, won't you?
I want more.
Give me more.
There's still some in the bottle.
Uncle Chris, that will not help now.
It always help. Now especially.
Uncle Chris, I don't think you realize...
What don't I realize?
That I'm dying?
Why else do I think you come here?
Why else do I think you
stand there watching me?
Get out.
Get out. I don't want you here.
Oh, very well. Very well. We be outside
on the porch if you want us.
That is where I want you, on the porch.
Oh, wait. That is Arne. Come here, Arne.
How is your knee?
It... It's fine, Uncle Chris.
Does not hurt anymore?
You don't say "dum geit" anymore?
No, Uncle Chris.
You walk good?
- Quite good?
- Yes.
Is good.
- Uncle Chris, Arne has always been...
- I tell you all to get out!
Except Martha.
Katrin can stay. She and I have secret.
Do you remember?
Yes, Uncle Chris.
Uncle Chris, what are you doing?
You must lie down again.
- Why didn't you give me drink?
- No, Uncle Chris.
We cannot waste what is left
in the bottle!
You do not drink it.
Who will drink it when I'm gone?
What harm can it do now? I die anyway.
You give it me.
All right. I give you drink.
You lie down again.
- Martha.
- Yeah.
You sell this ranch and give
the money to Jessie.
Jessie Brown, my housekeeper.
No. Why do I call her that to you?
She is my wife.
For several years, she has been my wife.
She used to have husband
in asylum in Stockton...
...but when he die, we get married.
Only I do not tell the aunts.
They snub her before.
- I play fine joke on them.
- Yeah.
But there is no money for you, Martha.
Always I wanted there should be
money to make Nels doctor.
But there were other things.
Quick things.
And now there is no time to make more.
There is no money.
But you make Nels doctor all the same.
- You like?
- Yeah, sure, Uncle Chris.
Is what Lars and I have always
wanted for him.
To help people who suffer.
Is greatest thing in world.
It is to have little of God in you.
Where is Jessie?
I think she wait outside, Uncle Chris.
You call her.
I like you both be here.
Oh, Katrin.
Your mama write me
you drink coffee now?
Katrin, who will be writer.
You're not frightened of me now.
No, Uncle Chris.
One day maybe you write story
from Uncle Chris.
If you remember.
I'll remember.
I think best maybe
Katrin go away now.
Farvel, Katrin.
Goodbye, Uncle Chris.
You say it in Norwegian, like I do?
Farvel, Uncle Chris.
Maybe I should introduce
you to each other.
...this is my niece, Martha.
The only one of my nieces I can stand.
...this is my wife, Jessie...
...who has given me much happiness.
I'm very glad to meet you.
- I am too, Martha.
- Is good.
And now...
...you give me one more drink.
You have drink with me, both of you.
That way, we finish the bottle.
Yeah, sure, Uncle Chris.
Jessie, you get best glasses.
What is the time?
Is about half past 4, Uncle Chris.
The sun come around this side
the house in afternoon.
I pull the shade.
No! No, Martha!
I don't like it dark.
The sun is good.
No, no, no. I take now without water.
Last drink always without water.
Is Norwegian custom. True?
No, no. I do not need you feed it to me.
I can drink myself.
You give Martha her glass?
Farvel, Uncle Chris.
Oh, these gnats.
They're always worse around sunset.
Oh, sweetheart, stop honking that horn.
My goodness, you'll wear the thing out.
All this expense to watch
a wicked old man die of the DTs.
Well, you can't hurry these things.
I mean that...
Well, Mr. Thorkelson say that...
Uncle Chris is gone.
Did he...? Did he say anything
about a will?
There's no will.
Well, then, that means...
We're his nearest relatives.
- There is no money either.
- How do you know?
He told me.
What's that?
Is an account of how he
spent the money.
Bills from a saloon.
No, Jenny.
I read it to you.
You know how Uncle Chris was lame,
how he walked always with limp.
It was his one thought. Lame people.
He would have liked
to be doctor and help them.
Instead, he...
He help in other ways.
I read you the last page.
"Joseph Spinelli, 4 year old...
...tubercular left leg, $337.18.
Walks now.
Esther Jensen, 9 year.
Club foot, $217.50.
Walks now.
- Arne Solfeldt."
- My Arne?
"Nine year.
Fractured kneecap...
When do we eat?
What is it?
Is Uncle Chris...?
I like to write "walks now." Yeah?
Or maybe even "runs"?
...is finish.
Was good.
Was good.
You can go in and see him now
if you want.
Maybe you never meet
Uncle Chris' wife...
...Mrs. Halvorsen.
Is true.
How do you do?
...I go in and wash the dishes.
How's that?
You like to come to San Francisco
for a little, to our house?
Thank you.
I like to have you.
We got room, plenty room.
I don't know why you should bother.
You were good to Uncle Chris.
Thank you, Martha.
Thank you, Martha.
You come and see him.
See him?
- You mean...?
- Yeah, I like you see him.
He looks happy.
I like you to know
what death looks like.
Then you are not frightened of it ever.
Will you come with me?
Yeah, sure. I come.
The woman.
One year later, my Aunt Trina
and Peter Thorkelson...
...were married in our parlor.
One year after that...
Who is the most beautiful Norwegian
baby in San Francisco?
Look. He's asleep.
- Trina.
- Yeah.
Do you know what next Thursday is?
Our anniversary.
What would you think
of our giving a little party?
I think it is time you took your place
in society.
Well, what would you say
to ice cream and cookies for the ladies?
And coffee, of course.
Perhaps port wine for the gentlemen.
- Port wine?
- Just a little.
You could bring it in already
poured out in little glasses.
And Jenny or Sigrid could
help me serve the ice cream.
You will have someone in
to help you in the kitchen.
You mean a waitress?
Oh, Peter. But none of us have ever...
You don't really think...
Oh, no.
...there is something
I would like to tell you.
I am not very good
at expressing myself...
...or my deeper feelings.
...I want you to know...
...that I am not only very fond of you...
...but I'm very proud of you as well.
And l... I want you to have the best
of everything...
...as far as it is in my power
to give it to you.
I want you to have a waitress.
Oh, Peter.
Papa was working steadily now,
and the little bank was fuller...
...than it had ever been, but the old
and thrifty ways continued.
I've just decided something.
What have you decided?
If Nels is gonna be a doctor, when I
grow up, I'm gonna be a veterinarian.
I remember one afternoon...
...when I was going out
to shop for Mama.
- Goodbye, everybody.
- Goodbye.
A horse doctor? Goodbye, Katrin.
There are more animals in the world
than there are human beings...
...and more human doctors
than there are animal ones.
It isn't fair, Mama.
I don't suppose we can have a horse,
can we, Papa?
- Maybe a pony?
- A pony?
Dagmar, what are you going to do
when the pony grows up to be a horse?
Oh, I never thought of that yet.
- What is it?
- Mama...
...I'm not going to college.
And why not?
Because it'd be a waste of money.
The point of my going to college...
...was to be a writer.
- Well, I'm not going to be one.
- Katrin. Is your letter makes you say this?
Has a story come back again?
This is the tenth time.
- It's the best I've ever written.
- What your teacher say about this?
Teachers don't know
anything about writing.
They just know about literature.
Say... Say, Katrin, last night,
I read an article in the newspapers.
I saved it for you.
You know, my eye just caught
a headline. It says...
Oh, here it is.
It says, "Woman writer tells key
to literary success."
- Who?
- Is a lady called...
- Where is everybody?
...Florence Dana Moorhead.
- Lars, the spread.
- All right, Mama.
- "Florence Dana..."
- What's going on here?
- Nothing.
- It gives her picture here.
Did you ever hear of her?
Yes, of course. Everyone has.
- She's terribly successful.
- What does she say is the secret?
Well, she say... Katrin,
you better read it. Here.
"Florence Dana Moorhead, celebrated
novelist and short-story writer..."
Blah, blah, blah.
"Interviewed today in her suite
at the Fairmont."
Blah, blah.
"Pronounced sincerity the one essential
quality for success as a writer."
A lot of help that is.
If you sent your stories to this lady...
...maybe she'd tell you
what's wrong with them.
- Oh, Mama, don't be silly.
- Well, why is silly?
In the first place, she's a very
important person, a celebrity.
And she'd never read them.
In the second place, you seem to think
that writing's like...
...well, like cooking or something,
that you just need a recipe.
It takes a lot more.
You've got to have the gift for it.
You have to have the gift
for cooking too.
But there are things you must learn...
...even if you have the gift.
Well, that's the whole point.
I haven't.
I know now.
So, Papa, if you're through
with the paper...
...I'll take the want-ad section,
see if I can find myself a job.
This lady in the paper,
what else does she say, Nels?
Well, not much.
The rest seems to be
about her and her home.
"Apart from literature, Mrs. Moorhead's
main interest in life is gastronomy."
Gastronomy. The stars.
No, eating. "A brilliant cook herself,
she says that she would as soon...
...turn out a good souffl
as a short story.
Or find a new recipe
as she would a first edition."
Mama, I'll go see if I have
any puppies yet.
Let's see her picture.
Is kind face.
What is "first edition"?
- Christine, look.
- What, Dagmar?
- I've got puppies!
- How many?
We'll see. What will I call them?
Are you coming?
Don't name them anything
till I get there.
Ms. Moorhead.
Calling Ms. Moorhead.
Ms. Moorhead.
Calling Ms. Moorhead.
- Call for Ms. Moorhead.
- Yes?
Ms. Moorhead?
- Ms. Florence Dana Moorhead?
- Yes?
Could I speak to you, please?
Yes. What's it about?
I read in the paper
what you say about writing.
- Oh, yes.
- My daughter Katrin wants to be writer.
Oh, really?
- I bring her stories.
- Look, I'm afraid I'm in a hurry.
- I'm leaving San Francisco this evening.
- But if I could talk...
...for just two minute. That's all.
- I've had to make it a rule...
...never to read anyone's
unpublished material.
It said that you like to collect
recipes for eating.
Yes, I've written
several books on cooking.
l, too, am interested in gastronomy.
I am good cook. Norwegian.
I make good Norwegian dishes.
Lutefisk and koettbullar...
...that's meatballs with cream sauce.
- I know. I've eaten them in Christiania.
My mother give me
special recipe for koettbullar.
She was best cook I ever know.
Never have I told this recipe,
not even to my sisters...
...because they are not good cooks.
But if you let me talk to you,
I give it to you.
Is fine recipe.
Now, your daughter
wants to write, you say.
- Yeah.
- Does she write?
- Or does she only want to write?
- She writes all the time.
Maybe she should not be author,
but is hard to give up something...
...that has meant so much.
- I agree.
- I bring her stories. I bring 12.
- Twelve.
Well, if you could read maybe just one.
To know if someone cooks well,
you do not need to eat a whole dinner.
You're very persuasive.
- Why didn't your daughter come herself?
- Well, she was too unhappy...
...and too scared of you.
You are celebrity.
- But I see your picture in the paper.
- That frightful picture.
Well, is a picture of woman
who like to eat good.
It certainly is.
Now tell me about the koettbullar.
When you make the meatballs,
you drop them in boiling stock.
Not water. That is one of the secrets.
And the cream sauce is another secret.
Is half sour cream, added at the last.
Oh, that sounds marvelous.
You have to grind the meat six times...
...and then you...
Well, I could write this out for you.
And while I write, you could read.
I remember that having written
a tragic farewell to my art...
...I was busy tearing up
all the stories I'd ever written...
...when I heard Mama's voice
at the foot of the attic stairs.
- Katrin?
- Yes, Mama.
You are writing?
No, Mama.
That's all over.
That's what I want to talk
to you about.
It's all right, Mama. Really, it is.
I've been tearing up my stories.
Only, I couldn't find half of them.
Well, they're here.
Did you take them?
What for?
Katrin, I've been to see Ms. Moorhead.
Who's Ms...?
Florence Dana Moorhead?
You took her my stories?
She read five of them.
I was two hours with her.
We have glass of sherry.
We have two glass of sherry.
What did she say about them?
Well, she say they are not good.
Well, I knew that.
It was hardly worth going to the trouble.
But she say more.
Will you listen, Katrin?
Sure. I'll listen.
She say you write now only because
of what you have read in other books.
That for years, she write bad stories
about people in the olden times...
...until one day she remembers
something that happen...
...in her own town,
and she feels she must tell that.
And that is how she write
her first good story.
She say you must write
about things you know.
That's what my teacher always told me.
Yeah, well, maybe
your teacher was right.
But she say you are to go on writing...
...that you have the gift.
And that when you have written story
that is real and true...
...then you are to send it to her agent
and say she recommend you.
No. Is recipe for goulash
as her grandmother make it.
It helps, Katrin, what I have told you?
Yes, I guess it helps...
But I haven't been anywhere
or seen anything.
Well, could you write about
San Francisco, maybe?
Is fine city. Ms. Moorhead write
about her hometown.
Yes, I know, but you got to have
a central character or something.
She always writes about
her grandfather.
He was a wonderful man.
Well, could you maybe
write about Papa?
- Papa.
- Papa's a fine man. Is a wonderful man.
Yes, I know, but...
Well, I go fix supper.
Papa's working late.
I like you should write about Papa.
- Special delivery.
- Oh, dear.
- I sold a story.
- A story?
Yes, here's the letter from the agent
with a check for $500.
Well, let me see.
Let me see what have here.
- Maybe I haven't read it right.
- What are you going to do with $500?
I don't know. I'll buy Mama
her warm coat, I know that.
- Coats don't cost $500.
- I know.
- We'll put the rest in the bank.
- Quick, before they stop the check.
Will you, Mama? Will you take it
to the bank downtown tomorrow?
What is it?
I do not know how.
Just give it to the man, tell him to put
it in your account, like you always do.
I think you better tell them now.
Tell us what?
Is no bank account.
Never in my life have I been
inside a bank.
- But you always told...
- Mama, you always said...
Yeah, yeah, I know, but is not true.
- I tell a lie.
- But why, Mama?
Why did you pretend?
Is not good for little ones to be afraid...
...to not feel secure.
But now with $500, I think I can tell.
- Mama.
- Katrin, get the story.
- Now?
- Yeah, now.
- Dagmar.
- Yes, Mama?
- Come here.
- What is it?
Katrin write story for magazine.
They pay her $500 to print it.
No. You leave the rabbits.
Goodbye, Jo, Meg,
Amy, Beth, and Laurie.
Don't you do anything till I come back.
I want you be quiet and listen.
Katrin, read it to us.
You take Mr. Hyde's chair, Katrin.
"I shall read them at once
and place them as soon as possible.
Very truly yours, Bertha Stewart."
What is it called, the story?
It's called, "Mama and the Hospital."
- You... You write about Mama?
- Yes.
- Is good.
- I tell you write about Papa.
I tried it that way,
but it just didn't work.
- I tell you.
- Mama, I tried.
- Are you ready?
- Yes, we are ready.
"For as long as I could remember,
the house on the Larkin Street hill...
...had been home.
Papa and Mama had both been born
in Norway...
...but they came to San Francisco
because Mama's sisters were here.
All of us were born here.
Nels, the oldest and the only boy...
...my sister Christine...
...and the littlest sister, Dagmar."
Am I in the story?
"When I look back, 1910 seems
like only yesterday.
I remember that every Saturday night...
...Mama used to call the family together.
I remember Mr. Hyde, dear Aunt Trina...
...and my Uncle Chris.
But first and foremost,
I remember Mama.
I remember how
on every Saturday night...
...Mama would sit down
at the kitchen table...
...and count out the money that Papa
had brought home in the little envelope.
There would be various stacks.
'For the landlord, '
Mama would say...
...piling up the big silver pieces.
'For the grocer. '
Another group of coins.
At last, Papa would ask:
'Is all? '
Mama would look up then and smile.
'Is good, ' she'd murmur.