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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Timeless New Years Resolution- WNYC

The Man Without a City

How one leaky faucet leads to an appreciation of city services

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - 06:00 AM

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A water shortage in New York has these three young women washing their clothes at the Central Park reservoir in late 1949. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
At the close of 1949 New York City was facing a serious water shortage. Previously, at this time of year, residents could depend on 253 billion gallons of water from Catskills and Croton reservoirs. But Gotham at mid-century was running dry with a reserve of only 100 billion gallons.  Newspapers, radio and television were enlisted in a massive region-wide water conservation campaign. This drama was just one of many public service efforts made by WNYC at year's end to save water.
With a slight tip of the hat to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the tale of Jeremiah P. Driftwood and his leaky faucet unfolds. It might also be said that this is a drama with the moral: "be careful what you wish for, you might get it..." The impatient Mr. Driftwood is visited by some civic-minded ectoplasm that admonishes him to turn off the faucet he's left running. He is told there is a shortage but he refuses to cooperate. In fact, he wishes he had nothing to do with the city and his wish is granted. Poor Jeremiah then finds himself in one of those Hitchcockian spirals where he can't accomplish anything, since everything he needs to do depends on some municipal government, law, code, or regulation. His trash won't be picked up by the Sanitation Department; the subway turnstile won't turn for him because it is regulated by the transportation department; the taxi's meter won't run because the driver reports to the hack bureau, etc, etc...
The last straw comes when Driftwood discovers he can't get a marriage license without the city's help. He awakens from this nightmare and immediately turns off the dripping faucet. Suddenly, all is right with the world, well mostly. Performances were by: Jim Bose, Anne Toviak, Arthur Anderson, Ed Latimer and Ruth Last. The script was written by Lou Drobkin and Felix Leon and directed by George Wallach.
Audio courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives.

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