The Broadcast We Almost Heard Last September
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Folks, here’s Poke McFiddle bringing you the big battle in Central Europe. Take it away, Poke.

Good morning, folks—it’s just dawn over here but everybody’s up—yes, sir, everybody’s on hand—a cast of twenty million—the greatest ever assembled. Before I begin I want to tell you who’s in this corner. Folks, I’m five miles behind the lines in a dug-out with some of the finest men I ever met. I’ll just introduce you before the boys get going—here’s a delegation of cabinet ministers and half a dozen generals and presidents and a couple of stuffed Kings all just as eager to see the sport as you are, gentlemen—just as near to it as a periscope will let them get.

Set your clocks by that bomb, folks, it’s zero hour minus one minute—and now boy! are they laying down a hot barrage! Here, I’m going to turn’ you over to the heavy artillery for a minute. BOOM! That was a big one—sounded like the Fourth, eh? Ha-ha-ha.

While the boys are waiting to go over, everyone of them happy as jack rabbits, I’m going to let you hear this military band swinging the lads into battle. Take it, Tony. BOOM! I’m sorry, folks. That band doesn’t exist any more. You see, the enemy are putting down a barrage, too. Incidentally, just before the boys go over, I’m going to turn the mike over to our commercial man who’s got some Big News for you. I’ll be back in a flash with a crash…

Hello, America. This program, the first battle ever broadcast, comes to you through the courtesy of the Jitka Arms Works, who are supplying the ammunition for both sides. You can’t fight battles with duds—you need a Cool Clean Burst. I want to remind you of our little prize contest: you simply buy a package of our cartridges at your sporting store, tear off the top and write your guess at the number of casualties for the day. Whoever is nearest—

Sorry to interrupt, folks, we’ll hear more from Jitka later—about that Clean Cool Burst. But just now the boys are going over—and are they hitting that front line! This is War! They’re piling in, and watching them through this periscope is a sight to see. They’re down—they’re up, they’re up—they’re down for good. But that’s only one wave, folks, and they’re plenty more. Incidentally, the noise isn’t static, it’s machine-gun fire coming to you courtesy of—

Let me tell you, the men in this dug-out are wild! They’d give anything to be in there, but they’re too old and they’re needed back here to run things. Or else, how could we be bringing you this fine broadcast, courtesy of A. B. C. and the Jitka Arms Company…

…Folks, the show seems to be over for the day and now we’re going to take you out on the battlefield where all the Red Cross people are doing a fine job picking up some of the boys. Take it, Ned…

Hello, America. I’m going to let one boy speak for twenty thousand of them. Here he is, a fine boy—or he was this morning—and glad and proud he had the chance to do it. Speak up, son, you’re talking to half a billion people.

“Hello. Mother—goodbye, Mother.”

Thanks, son. Oh-oh! That was too much for him. Take it away, Poke.

Folks, we’re having a little champagne dinner back here outside the dug-out—and do we need it! But it seems to be getting suddenly misty in this neighborhood, very misty. And it’s beginning to smell funny. I don’t like it—it’s GAS, folks—GAS! And I can’t find my mask! Hey, my job is giving it out, not taking it…

…The time is eight o’clock. All you truckers on your toes! Prince Paul Obaloney of Dance Hall Society will give us a lesson in the Slinky-winky Blues.

Published in Furioso) magazine (III, Fall 1947). This sketch was written in 1935. To our knowledge it has never been broadcast.

Illustrations by unknown artist.