A musical comedy sequel to On to Oregon!
Young man in swimsuit
Man with Spanish accent at hotel in Los Angeles
Middle-aged man in business suit
Singing voice while John is sleeping in his tent
Ten men from the California Gold Rush country (store owners and lucky miners)
Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri
Narrator (lines in parentheses)
Lines to be sung are in italics.
Scene 1: Mission of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman - Early
John Sagerís bedroom.
(The room is dark. John is sleeping. A young man in
swimsuit enters the room as the lights come up slightly.
The man speaks to John in a dream)
Man in swimsuit: John?
Man in swimsuit: You
are no longer needed here. You must go on a
mission. You must take the rest of your family to
California. There you mustÖ (rest is inaudible)
(Man in swimsuit leaves the room. Room darkens.)
Scene 2: The following morning at a room in the Whitman mission
John: (to the rest of
the Sager children) We have to leave here. I
canít tell you why right now, but we must leave. (He bursts into song)
We gotta get out of this place
if it's the last thing we ever do,
we gotta get out of this place
'cause girl, there's a better life for me and you
Francis: Whatís this girl bit? Am I going, too?
John: Yes, weíre all going.
Louisa: But why? (almost tearfully) I like it here!
Catherine: And I have
a really bad crush on Rides Like Wind (an Indian
boy staying at the Whitmanís mission).
John: Iím sorry about all that, but we must leave tomorrow morning.
Elizabeth: But where are we going?
California. I canít tell you more now. We must stop the
discussion and begin packing. And before we leave
tomorrow, we must take some of the wagons, horses, and
oxen from the mission.
Catherine: But why?
I canít tell you that either, right now. But trust me, our
mission is more important than that of the Whitmans.
On a trail in Northern California - Early winter, 1849
John Sagerís tent
(John is sleeping. Again he begins to dream.)
Singing voice: (from outside Johnís tent)
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If was in L.A.
On such a winter's day
(John smiles in his sleep, and the dream ends.)
Scene 4: Redwood forest, Northern California - early spring, 1850
John: We must stop here and cut down some of these trees.
We will need them when we get to Southern California.
They donít have big trees there. Once the trees are cut,
weíll cut them into slices about four inches thick so we
can handle them. That will be a good working size for
what weíll need them for in Los Angeles.
Francis: But why
ARE we going to Los Angeles, and what will we
use the trees FOR?
I canít tell you now. The guy in my dream said not to say
anything until we got there.
Catherine: Let me get
this straight. We left a perfectly fine mission in
Oregon to haul slabs of wood half the length of California,
all because of what some half-naked guy told you in a
dream. You must be crazy! We must all be crazy!!
The dream seemed so real. I know we have an important
mission. We will be using the wood to make lots of money,
but Iím not sure what weíll need all the money for. The guy
in my dream wouldnít tell me.
Louisa: I hope this is all for the best.
John: Me, too. Letís get to work cutting down some of these trees.
(They begin cutting down a tree)
Scene 5: Los Angeles, California, outside a hotel - late spring, 1850
John: Well, here we are!
(A man with a Spanish accent comes out of the hotel entrance and greets them)
Man from hotel: Welcome
to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely place
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
You can find it here
Now that weíre here, what are we going to do? Will you tell
us NOW what weíre going to do with all of this wood?
Yes, mostly. Once we get settled into the hotel, weíll go out
back, take a slab of wood, and Iíll show you.
Scene 6: The next morning, on the beach a short distance from the hotel
John: Watch what I can do with this smooth piece of wood we
spent half the night carving out of that slab of redwood.
(John swims out into the surf, gets on the smooth piece of
wood, and rides a wave back to shore)
Louisa: Let me try that! That looks like fun!
(She takes the board out into the surf and rides a wave in)
Francis: My turn!
Louisa: No! This is too much fun! Make your own board to
in the surf with!
John: We all worked on the surf-riding board last night, and we all get to ride it.
Henrietta: Even me?
John: Yes, Henrietta. Even you. Iíll have to help you, though.
Catherine: This surfing-riding board, or surfboard, or whatever, is
but how many of these are we going to make.
John: Hundreds of them. Weíll sell most of them, and make a ton
Francis: But these people in Los Angeles are mostly missionaries and
poor farmers. They wonít be able to spend much on
John: Youíre right, but thereís more to my plan. I know where
are people with money. Gold has been discovered in
Northern California, near Sutterís Mill. Catherine and I will go
there, and the rest of you will stay at the hotel and make
surfboards. We will bring rich folks back here from the gold
fields, charge them a fortune for surfing lessons and
surfboards, and just let the money stack up.
Catherine: But why? I still donít know why we need all this money.
John: Iím sure itís part of our mission. I hope the half-naked
comes to me in a dream soon and lets me know what the
rest of our mission is.
Scene 7: In a wagon on the way back from Sutterís Mill - summer, 1850
(In the wagon are John, Catherine, and ten rich men
from the Gold Rush country)
Catherine: (to the rich men in the wagon) Youíre going to have
time of your lives!
(everyone in the wagon breaks out in song)
Let's go surfin' now
Everybody's learning how
Come on and safari with me
Surfin' Safari, Surfin' Safari
Surfin' Safari, Surfin' SafariÖ
Scene 8: Johnís room in the Hotel California - fall, 1850
(The room is dark. John is sleeping. A middle-aged man in a gray business enters the room as the lights come up slightly. He comes to John in a dream.)
Man in suit: John?
Man in suit: Iíve come to tell you the rest of your mission.
John: Youíve certainly aged in the last year. And I see you can
afford nicer clothes now.
Man in suit: That was another guy. He knew nothing of the rest
mission. Hereís what you must do now. You must (rest is
(Man in suit leaves the room and lights go back down)
Scene 9: Next morning on the beach near the Hotel California
John: (to the rest of the Sager children) Last night I was visited
a man in my dreams.
Catherine: The half-naked guy again?
John: No, and older man, and he told me the rest of our mission.
Louisa: What is it?
John: I canít tell you all of it yet. I can hardly believe it
What I can tell you, though, it that we must use all of our
money to buy oxen, horses, and wagons. Weíll be spending
the rest of this fall here and leaving early next spring.
Matilda: Where will be going?
John: I can tell you no more right now.
Louisa: Will I be able to surf where weíre going?
John: I doubt it, but you can bring ONE surfboard along, just in
case. The rest we will need to sell.
Catherine: But I CANíT go! I have such a crush on Pablo (the pool
at the Hotel California)!
John: Iím sorry, but weíre all needed for the mission.
John: Iím sorry. I like it here too, but we must begin our
(With drooping heads, they leave the beach and head back
to the hotel. Even John seems sad.)
Scene 10: On the California Trail, near the crest of the Sierra
- early spring, 1851
John: This is so beautiful! Why itís
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growin' like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, Country Roads
Catherine: Okay. First of all, I see no river. Everythingís
snow! If we didnít have thousands of oxen to break trail, we
would never have gotten this far. Second, these are not the
Blue Ridge Mountains, theyíre the Sierras. Third, how can
we be going home to West Virginia? Weíve never even been to West Virginia!
John: Lighten up, Catherine. Iím just using poetic license.
Francis: Youíre such a bad poet, no one would ever give you a
Elizabeth: You canít even sing worth a darn! Henrietta can sing
than you can!
Louisa: Heck, even Olí Betsy could sing better than you can!
(Sager children, except John, break out into laughter.)
John: Never mind that (grumpily). What we need to find is a place
to spend the night.
Francis: Wait! Thereís a sign (pointing to a sign at the side
trail). It says "Donner Bed and Breakfast."
Catherine: But look, someone wrote "Closed" on it.
John: Probably wouldnít matter anyway. In a beautiful place like
this, they probably would have charged an arm and a leg to
let us stay here.
(Sager children continue on the trail.)
Scene 11: California Trail, central Nevada - late spring, 1851
John: Look, a river! Half a mile back it was just a dry river
After days without water, the sight of this beautiful river
] makes me feel like singing!
Rest of Sager children:
Oh, no!! (They cover their ears.)
John: Ol' man river.
That ol' man river.
He don't say nothin'
But he must know somethin'
Cause he just keeps rollin'
He keeps rollin' along.
Catherine: I could still hear him! I wish he didnít sing so LOUD!
Matilda: I will never, ever sing with him, heís so bad. Heíll
have to sing solo, as far as Iím concerned.
Elizabeth: I wish heíd sing SOLO I couldnít hear him!
(Most Sager children groan.)
Francis: That oneís so old it stinks worse than Johnís so-called
Matilda: But not as bad as his feet!
Catherine: Or his breath!
Henrietta: Or hisÖ
John: Enough of this!
Catherine: John, that trapper we met last week said weíd be coming to
the HUMBOLDT River. Youíre singing about the
John: Oh well.
(Laughter slowly subsides and the group continues on.)
Scene 12: Sager campsite near South Pass in the Rockies - early summer, 1851
(The Sagers are sitting around a campfire shortly after
John: That was really a spectacular thunderstorm we had today!
Catherine: Sure was!
John: In fact, it makes me feel like singing!
Rest of Sager children:
John: It's a Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I've seen it rain' fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody's high
Rocky Mountain high
Francis: This is NOT Colorado! There is no place yet called
John: But it looks like what I imagine a Colorado looking like!
Louisa: And speak for yourself, John. (sarcastically) Iím
except for the natural high I have from enduring blistered feet and the bitter cold.
Catherine: Yeah, John. For all the money we had, you could have
spent some of it on clothes and shoes that didnít say "Made in Mexico"!
John: You know we needed to spend all the money on horses
and oxen and wagons. The mission, you know. And you
know what else? Iím tired of being criticized for my singing!
Matilda: Weíre tired of HEARING your singing!
Francis: At least he doesnít still think weíre in the Appalachians!
Catherine: Weíre all tired. In fact, Iím so tired I feel like singing!
Sager children, except John and Catherine:
Oh no! Her TOO!!
Catherine: It's been a hard day's night, and I been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I'll find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright
Matilda: (to Catherine) You canít sing any better than HE can!
John: Oh come on, everybody, letís get some sleep.
(Following a brief period of grumbling, everyone heads
for their tents.)
Scene 13: South Platte River - mid-summer, 1851
Catherine: Look, the South Platte River! Isnít it beautiful?
(A big smile appears on Johnís face. Elizabeth notices
Elizabeth: Oh no! I bet heís going to sing again!!
John: O Shenandoah! I long to hear you,
Way-aye, you rolling river
Across that wide and rolling river.
Away, we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!
Matilda: John, whatís this thing youíve got for the Shenandoah
River? Youíve never even seen it. And this isnít even
John: Iíve heard the Shenandoah is beautiful. A man can fantasize if he wants to, canít he!
Francis: I think this whole "mission" thing is a fantasy. It surprises
sometimes that we still stay with you. It also surprises me
that, with your knowledge of geography, we arenít in
Canada by now!
Louisa: This has been a heavy burden for us. YOU (to John) have
been a heavy burden to us.
Catherine: Itís okay, though, because (all but John begin to sing)
The road is long,
with many a winding turn,
that leads us to who knows where,
who knows where.
But I'm strong,
strong enough to carry him.
He ain't heavy,
he's my brother.
John: I really appreciate that. There are times when we each
need help through difficult times. I know you find it hard
to keep going when you donít know what our mission is.
So, Iíll tell you more now. (brief pause) Youíve probably
wondered why we have all these empty wagons.
Louisa: That has crossed my mind!
John: Well, theyíre for hauling buffalo chips. From now on, weíll
picking up all the buffalo chips we can find and filling the
wagons with them.
Henrietta: How awful!
John: You know, you shouldnít really be complaining. You really
havenít had to do much on this trip since we left California.
Youíve been able to ride in wagons all the way so far.
Catherine: Youíre right, John. I think I speak for all of us when
I say that
Iíll see this mission through with you. You know, I love you
like a brother.
Francis: (whispering to Louisa) Doesnít she know he IS her brother?
Catherine: Iíll never leave you. In fact, there
Ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wild enough
To keep me from you
John: So itís settled then, we start loading wagons with buffalo
chips. If we collect all the buffalo chips we see on the rest
of our journey, weíll have plenty to do what we need to do.
Elizabeth: What was that, again, that we have to do with all these
John: Good try!, but I was told not to tell you until we got to our
(They all begin collecting buffalo chips and loading them into
Scene 13: A campsite in what would someday be Kansas - late summer, 1851
(The Sagers have reached a high point with a panoramic
view of the prairie)
John: Itís a cold say for August, but such a beautiful place!
makes me feel like singing!
(Rest of Sager children scatter in all directions)
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
(Rest of Sager children return after John stops singing.)
Louisa: John, this is not Oklahoma. Thereís a place south of here
that people call Oklahoma, but it isnít even a territory yet.
Weíre in a place some people call Kansas.
John: Close enough, Dorothy, I mean Louisa. Why did I say
Matilda: I have NO idea.
John: I think itís going to be a really cold night tonight, for summer.
Letís build a shelter to keep warm in, something that will
keep us warmer than our tents would.
Francis: But what will we use to make the shelter?
John: Iíve got it! Buffalo dung! Weíve got lots of it, and
I bet it
makes a good insulator. We can stack it like Eskimos stack
blocks of hard snow, and build sort of an igloo.
Catherine: Somehow the idea of sleeping inside a poop dome doesnít
appeal to me.
John: But you know that when itís dry, it hardly smells at all.
Catherine: Okay. We can give it a try. It should be nice and warm.
(The Sager children begin collecting and stacking buffalo
Scene 14: At the campsite, a couple of hours later
(The Sagers are sitting around a campfire trying to keep
warm. The night is clear and cold, with a full moon. John
has seemed restless. He gets up, walks away from the
campfire, and stares at the moon. Suddenly he bursts into
John: Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.
(Back at the campfire, some of the other children begin
Elizabeth: Iím really starting to worry about John and his fantasies.
Louisa: Me, too.
Francis: I hate to admit it, but he may just be a couple shovelfuls
shy of a full wagon of buffalo chips.
Catherine: Then again, maybe he just needs a girlfriend! Letís
with him. Itís not that far to Missouri.
(John returns and they all go into the shelter to sleep.)
Scene 15: In the shelter early the next morning
(There is the sound of heavy rain beating on the roof of the
Matilda: Whatís that smell?
Francis: Itís awful!
Catherine: Rain is pouring through the top of the shelter. Itís
wet buffalo poop all over us. I KNEW we should have slept
(Catherine bolts from the shelter, followed immediately by
all the other children. They stand in the pouring rain to wash
themselves off. John begins to sing.)
John: I'm singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain;
What a glorious feeling,
I'm happy again!
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above.
The sun's in my heart,
And I'm ready for love.
Catherine: Just promise weíll never have to sleep under a roof of
buffalo chips again.
John: Okay, I promise.
Scene 16: Outside the office of the mayor of St. Louis, two weeks later
John: (To the rest of the Sager children) When we go inside, let
me do all the talking.
Louisa: What are you going to tell him?
John: This is the final stop of our journey. It all has to do
buffalo chips. Trust me, the man in my dream said I needed
to do this.
Matilda: Whatever (In a quiet, gruff voice).
(John knocks on the door.)
Mayor: Come in.
(The Sager children enter his office.)
John: Hi. Iím John Sager, and these are my sisters and brother,
Catherine, Francis, Louisa, Elizabeth, Matilda, and
Mayor: Good morning, John. Iím Mayor Stevens. What can I
John: Iím here to make you a proposal. As you know, for several
years now, pioneers from the east have been moving west,
many of them through your fair city.
John: Wouldnít it be great if your city could greet those emigrants
some spectacular way?
Mayor: I suppose so.
John: Hereís my idea. Many of those pioneers cross the Ohio
River by ferry and land just east of your downtown, donít
(Catherine whispers something inaudible in Johnís ear, as
the mayor looks confused.)
I mean the Mississippi River, of course.
John: Picture this. A great arch, over 600 feet high, between
ferry landing and downtown, through which all of those
pioneers would pass.
Mayor: But we have nothing here to build that arch with.
John: But now you do! Parked just outside the courthouse are
thousands of wagons full of buffalo chips. We brought them
from the prairie.
Mayor: Is that what I smell? I thought the sewers had backed up
John: The chips could be stacked up to form the arch. Wouldnít
buffalo chips be an appropriate material from which to build
an arch that would welcome people to the prairie?
John: And, some of the chips are really big and wedge-shaped.
They would make perfect keystones. Here, want to see
one? I brought one for you to look at.
(John starts to take something out from under his coat.)
Mayor: Not really. (Slight pause. John puts the buffalo
under his coat.) John, I think you have a novel idea here, but do you realize how hot and rainy it is in Saint Louis in
the summer? If it rained and the wind came out of the east,
weíd have to evacuate the city!
John: But the man in my dream saidÖ
Mayor: Iím sorry, John. I just donít think the idea would work.
like the idea of the arch, but I just donít think buffalo dung
is the best material to build it from.
John: Thanks for your time, your honor.
(John, sullen, leaves the mayorís office, followed by the
other Sager children.)
Scene 17: Saint Louis, on the banks of the Mississippi, at around
(The Sager children have been sitting there most of the
day, hardly saying a word. John has hardly lifted his glance
from the water below them. In despair, John begins to sing.)
John: I've got the Bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuues
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh I'm as blue as I can be
I've got the Saint Louis Blues
I'm as blue as I can be
Catherine: We all feel sorry for you. Maybe it was just a silly
had after all. Weíve all had dreams that are so vivid they
Francis: Things arenít really all that bad. We have lots of wagons
can sell to people going west.
Matilda: Even though they smell like buffalo poop!
Louisa: Heck, maybe thereís a market for buffalo chips. We could
catch fish from the river, open a restaurant, and sell fish and
Henrietta: I donít think we have the right kind of chips!
John: I guess not (laughing). You know, maybe things will turn
okay after all.
(The Sager children exchange a group hug, and the final
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Last update: March 4, 2001