Apple Betty”


Johnny Culver


VERNA –fifty, poorly dressed

CLAUDINE – mid eighties, conservative dress, wearing a raincoat, and plastic bonnet

TRIXIE – plain waitress



A musty old tavern on the far West Side of town


A rainy Saturday evening. The place is empty.


VERNA sits at a table with CLAUDINE. Two empty glasses are on the table.

TRIXIE is at the end of the bar reading the newspaper.

MAN sits across from her.




Some birthday this turned out to be. I don't have a penny to my name. I'm back home living with my 85 year old mother, I have a dead end job, folding towels at a women’s exercise club, and I’m forced to spend my 50th birthday at...

(Reads menu cover)

...the Cork! If I had known it'd be like this fifty years ago, I’d never have been born!

(Scratches crud off menu and flocks it away)

Was that a piece of shrimp?



Don't be silly, Verna dear, that haven't served seafood here in years! Just look at the menu and order, dear. Let's have a good time. It’s not every day you turn fifty!

(Picks up her own menu and reads the cover

Oh my...“The Cork...Fine dining since 1950..GRamercy 2-5700”. The first time I saw this menu was with your father. Our first date together. I was so nervous; I nearly chewed off the edge of the menu! I remember the first time I had the apple pie here.



(Examines the corner of her own menu and switches with CLAUDINE)

I think this belongs to you.

(Looks thru menu)

Maybe it was wrong of me to leave my husband, but its nice coming home to a quiet apartment at the end of a long day...

(Puts down menu)

It's almost too quiet...where do you go all day, Mother? You’re never around. When I need you. You’re gone all day, and all night. Just like when I was little. I was all alone.




Well, I go to work. Someone has to pay the rent. Put food on the table.



I said I'd help with the rent, as soon as I have a little money saved. Stop nagging.

(CLAUDINE looks at Verna over her glasses)

It’s not good for someone your age to be working so much, and where are you the rest of the day? You're never home until late at night. You didn’t come in until very late last night!  I heard you come in and put your shopping basket away. The stupid wicker basket I tripped over this morning. You should have a nice rolling cart, like the other old ladies.



(At bar looking at paper)

Here’s another story about Apple Betty. Says she saved a little girls life, pulled her out of the street last night...out of traffic…says the mayor is going to give her a medal tonight. Apple Betty.



What’s a little girl doing in the middle of a busy street in the middle of the night? Apple Betty deserves more than a medal for all she’s done for this city over the years.



Apple Betty is always saving someone’s life, or doing a good deed. Or stopping criminals.



Where does she get all those green apples? The apples she throws at the criminals? To stop them?



When I was a little girl, I always wanted a basket of green apples, just like her.



Don’t worry about me, Verna, I get along, I can take care of myself...what are you going to order? I always liked their Waldorf salad with the French dressing....I may just have that broiled chicken, too.



(Points to register)

If it looks like that dusty plastic thing in the display case by the register, I'll pass on the poultry.

(Puts down menu)

Mother, I never see you. I thought if I moved back with you, I could turn my life around. Don’t you want that? I need to get my life together. I thought you could help me.



Whatever is best for you, order what you want, dear. It's your birthday.

(Waves to waitress)

Trixie is here tonight! She's been here for years. Her mother used to run the place, rest her soul. As I recall, her birthday is the same day as yours. Today!



I used to beg and beg my mother for a basket like Apple Betty’s, the one day, I woke up and next to my bed was a wicker basket, and a dress, old granny dress, just like Apple Betty’s!



My daughter has an Apple Betty costume with a grey wig and a basket with plastic apples. I bought the whole set in a costume shop. She wears it all the time. Can’t get it off her. She’s even member of a club that mails her a postcard from Apple Betty on her birthday.



It’s not a real club, I think…I would run around the house with my basket of apples, real green apples I took from a neighbor’s tree, throwing apples and stopping crimes and saving lives.



My little girl saves all the newspaper clippings about Apple Betty and put them in a scrapbook.  She knows every word in those clippings…she knows that Apple Betty leaves a fresh green apple, wherever she goes.



(Turns away from MOTHER)

You were never around, mother. Always left me with a sitter. You never had time for me. Didn’t then and don’t now.

(Folds arms)

I want to get out of here. This dump.



I’ll have the Waldorf salad…grapes, raisins, celery, apples…



(Getting upset)

You’re not listening to me, mother. At least pay attention to me on my birthday…



I always dreamed that Apple Betty would wish me happy birthday, and my whole life would change.



They say whoever she wishes a happy birthday has good luck for the rest of their lives.



You were never around on my birthday. Always away somewhere. N one ever knew where you were.



…and maybe a piece of apple pie…it’s so good here…



I can’t even remember you telling me happy birthday!

(She stands)

I’m going home.



(Sighs and stands )

All right, dear, let’s go home and I’ll make you hot cider.  We’ll sit and talk. But I do have to be somewhere later on.

(Picks up her handbag, a green apple sits on the table behind it)



(Puts on her coat)

That’s just great, Mother, leave me all alone like you always do.



Yes dear.

(Heads to door, and stops at bar)

Well hello, Trixie. I remember it’s your birthday. Happy birthday!




What? Oh thank you Claudine. Have a nice evening.

(Claudine exits)

What a nice woman. She’s known me even since I was a little girl.



Mother, wait for…oh, what’s the use…

(Picks up apple from table, looks around and takes a bite)

Some 50th birthday.

(Takes another bite and heads out, dropping apple in the trash by the bar. She exits)


(TRIXIE and the MAN are left alone, as the lights fade out)