One Day at a Time (1975–1984): Season 8, Episode 20 - The Letter - full transcript

♪ This is it, this is it

♪ This is life, the one you get

♪ So go and have a ball

♪ This is it, this is it

♪ Straight ahead
and rest assured

♪ You can't be sure at all

♪ So while you're
here enjoy the view

♪ Keep on doing what you do

♪ So hold on tight
we'll muddle through

♪ One day at a
time, One day at a time

♪ So up on your
feet, Up on your feet

♪ Somewhere
there's music playing

♪ Don't you worry none

♪ We'll just take
it like it comes

♪ One day at a
time, one day at a time

♪ One day at a time, na na na na

♪ One day at a
time, one day at a time

♪ One day at a time, na na na na

♪ One day at a time

- Ah, top of the morning group.

- Morning.

- Hi Julie.

- Hi mom.

- How are Max and the baby?

- The same,
teething and writing.

- What's the baby writing?

(audience laughs)

- Ma you sure you don't
want to go shopping with us?

- No thank you I'll pass.

- Hey maybe you want to
come with me and Mark.

I'm helping him
deliver some T-shirts

and then we're going
to a triple bill matinee

of my choice.

- A Thousand Corpses, Dr Blood,

and Night of the Skull People.

(audience laughs)

How can you resist?

- Well if you've seen
one skull person,

you've seen them all.

(audience laughs)

Besides I have the
perfect Saturday lined up.

- Doing what?

First, I am going to
read the newspaper

all the way through and
then I'm going to watch

some wonderful old movie on
TV and then Grandma's coming

for tea later this afternoon.

- Sounds like the
Perry Como triathlon.

(audience laughs)

- And now for the
first event, the paper.

Julie did you
bring in the paper?

- No I didn't see it.


- Why do they always
have to steal my paper.

(slams door)

five other tenants on the
floor and it's always my paper

that goes south.

- Take it easy mom,
it's only a paper.

- It's the principle of
the thing, you know that?

What kind of creature would
steal a crumby 25 cent paper?

I mean how would
stoop so low that they?

(audience laughs)

- Hey good morning Romano,
you wouldn't believe this

I come by and somebody
stole your rubber band

so I got another rubber band,
look at the head line there

I think the pesos gonna rally.

(audience laughs)

- Come on Alex, I think
we better hit the trail.

- Yeah, besides
I've seen this movie,

Clash of the Titans.

(audience laughs)

See you guys later.

- Look,

Miss Romano, go ahead why
don't you say something to me,

you can talk, I mean what
are we talking about here

its a newspaper, people
wrap fish in that (laughs).

I tell you what, you say
a couple of words to me

and I'll, I'll give
you your mail.

- Right now.

- There's couple of good
American words, yeah.

There you go.

(audience laughs)

- No.

No it can't be.

- What's the matter?

Some postage due?

- What's wrong mom?

- Mrs Michael Romano,
it's for Grandma,

how'd it get here?

- Let me see.

Look it's got a couple
addresses crossed out

like someone was looking
for Grandma and didn't know

when she'd moved
from Logansport.

Mom, why are you upset?

- Look at the handwriting.

- Yeah,

its all scrunched
together, like it was written

by some psycho.

- It's from my father.

(audience laughs)

- Mom, don't go spooky on us.

Grandpa died four years ago.

- Look at the postmark.

- May 12th, 1979?

- Well you know the
post office, they talk about

rain, sleet, snow, gloom of
night, they never say nothing

about fast.

(audience laughs)

- Dad mailed that
letter on May 12th

he died on May 13th.

- You mean he wrote that
letter the day before he died?

- Now wait a second, now
come on, hold on here will ya.


I mean let's look at
this thing logically, okay,

your father mails a letter,

from the Embassy
Hotel in Chicago,

next day he checks
out, (audience laughs)

checks out and then,

okay four years
later this letter

finds it's way into the
hands of his daughter

so it's all perfectly obvious,

your father between
1979 and today

your father,

mail, this letter
from the other side!

(audience laughs)

- Hold on Rod Serling,

the Embassy Hotel
is not the other side,

it's just a letter that my
father wrote to my mother

from Chicago now he
went there a lot on business

and I'm going to give it to her
when she comes today okay?

- Hey its just a letter.

- It's just a letter.

- That's all it is.

- It's just a letter.

- Mom, I know you're
probably right but I don't know

I feel kind of weird about this.

Why would he write, he
was only gonna be out of town

for a couple of days.

He could have just called
Grandma on the phone.

- I wonder what's in it.

- Come on will ya
the man passed away,

let him rest in piece.

Probably something like,
wish you were here, you know.

(audience laughs)

- Maybe it's just a
simple I love you.

- Or maybe it's about
Dolores Carstetler.

- Of course it could
be about any number of


- Did, she just say maybe
it's about Dolores Carstetler?

- Why would you say maybe
it's about Dolores Carstetler?

- I don't know it
didn't mean anything,

it just kind of fell
out of my mouth.

- Dolores Carstetler just
fell out of your mouth?

(audience laughs)

- Barbara what's with
the third degree huh?

She said it didn't
mean anything,

now don't you ever say
anything you don't mean?

- I would never say Dolores
Carstetler and not mean it.

(audience laughs)

- Mom why can't I talk about it?

- It's America, you
can talk about it.

(audience laughs)

- About what, who is
this Dolores Carstetler.

- She's just a woman
who lived in Logansport

and ran a hat shop.

- Right.

And we always suspected
that she and Grandpa

were having an affair.

- That old dog.

- Schneider.

(audience laughs)

- What do you mean
we always suspected?

Who always suspected?

I never suspected anything.

- Hold on okay.

Julie you're talking about
this as if it were a fact,

there's never been any proof.

You know how people in
small towns like to gossip.

- Right, and practically
every time Grandpa went

out of town on one
of his business trips

the hat shop was closed.


(audience laughs)

- That old dog.

- Schneider.

That old dog is my father.

Was, my father.

And I didn't like
the rumors then,

and I don't like them now.

- Well let me ask
you a question,

did he all of a sudden
start wearing a lot of hats?

(audience laughs)

- Could we drop the subject?

- Mom, I know
this may be wild but

maybe the letter is
about Dolores Carstetler.

Maybe he was gonna tell Grandma.

Maybe he was gonna leave her.

- That is so far fetched I'm
not even gonna discuss it.

- Mom,

what if it is something
that could hurt Grandma?

- I think we should open it.

- [Barbara] Yeah.

(audience laughs)

- Once and for all
that letter stays sealed.

Now didn't you girls say
you had shopping to do?

- Yes, okay.
- Yes, alright.

- Good, goodbye.

Schneider, I'm sure
you have work to do.

- Oh yeah.

- [Barbara] Goodbye.

- Bye mom.

- Bye, bye.


Thank you daddy, here
it is the perfect Saturday

and I'm on my hands
and knees, in the kitchen,

scrubbing the floor.

(laughs) Not to
mention talking to myself.

Okay, were you or weren't you.

I was walking down
State Street in Chicago

and I think it was you
sitting in a restaurant

with a woman eating rice
pudding and you were laughing

and talking and having fun

and you don't even
like rice pudding.


Dammit dad.

Mom loved you.

She still loves you.

She still buys you a card
every year on your birthday.

Up until last year she
still bought you a present.

Socks usually.

Brown socks,

but she would take them
back after a few days

but dammit dad the lady
still bought you socks.

(audience laughs)



(audience laughs)

I'm gonna hate myself in
the morning but right now

I have just got to know.

(audience applause)


(audience laughs)

- Mom.

- Hi.

(audience laughs)

Well you're back so
soon, did you have fun?

- I don't believe it.

- I don't see why not,
you know how doctors

always are prescribing
steam to clear up congestion.

It opens up the old sinuses.

(audience laughs)

(clears throat)


I was steaming off the stamp
for Alex's stamp collection.

(audience laughs)


I'm a miserable,
rotten, human being,

who has no will power.

- I like that one.

- Mm-hmm.

- Thought you might.

Well, I'm glad you caught
me before I committed

a federal offense, thank you.

- You're welcome.

- Will you at least
open the flap a little?

- No, it's not open
and it won't be open

until Grandma
gets here to open it.


Okay, what about that shopping
spree you were going on?

- We bought two
tubes of Chapstick.

(audience laughs)

- Some spree.

- Mom if Grandma
doesn't get here soon,

we're not gonna make
it through the day.

- Oh sure, we'll make it,

we just have to
keep busy that's all.

- Doing what?

(audience laughs)

(vacuum hums)

- Schmona you want to sit down?

You better buckle
up your safety belt

because you're
in for a bumpy ride.

- What's up?

- I just got back
from a public library

where I been pouring
over for the last four hours,

microfilm copies
of old newspapers.

- Can't you just spend two
bits and buy a new newspaper

like anyone else?

(audience laughs)

- (clears throat) Old
newspapers published in Chicago

of the vintage 1979, circa
the month of May in particular.

- Schneider, what
are you getting at?

- It's kind of difficult
for me Miss Romano

but here it is, your
father, Michael Romano,

Grandfather, husband,
general contractor,

taker of many trips,
was very probably,

a thief.

- What?

- A jewel thief.

(audience laughs)

- Ah Schneider I just
would like to say thank you

for this brief
interlude from reality.

(audience laughs)

- Interlude?



on May 14th 1979 two
apparent business men,

using the Embassy Hotel
West for their headquarters

were arrested and
charged with grand larceny,

a third man, perfectly
fitting the description

for your father and
known affectionately

as the chameleon,
miraculously escaped

a massive FBI dragnet.

It's all in the papers.

So, what are you
looking at me for?

- No reason.

(audience laughs)

- I kept searching Miss
Romano but I couldn't find

any evidence that they
ever captured the chameleon

and you know why?

- Because he turned the
color of red shag carpet

and blended into the lobby.

(audience laughs)

- Because,

he died.

- Schneider, my father
stayed at the Embassy East.

- Your father had no
regard for the laws, laws,

your father stayed
at the Embassy West?

- Embassy East.

- Your father stayed
at the Embassy East.

Of course that's probably how

he escaped the massive dragnet.

(audience laughs)

Want me to call the
FBI, well think about it.

(audience laughs)

- And I thought I
was losing my grip.


- Mom.

I've been thinking

I got this creepy feeling

that it's not going to
do anyone any good

to read that letter
so why don't you just

listen to my intuition
and let me get rid of it.

- Wha?

Honey why are you
being so mysterious?

- Oh I'm not being mysterious,

I just think that we
should get rid of it.

Julie give it to me, give it.

- What?

- Give it to me - You're
crazy, mom get her.

- Come on Julie
just give it to me.

- Girls would you stop this,

what is going on and
don't give me any nonsense

about your intuition.


- Okay, uh, it's just
something Schneider said

triggered it, it's been a
monkey on my back for years.

- Come on sweetheart,
it can't be that bad.

- Yeah, especially
if she did it.

(audience laughs)

- Sit down it's a long one.

- Okay.

- The week Grandpa died
I phoned him to tell him

about a problem I was having,

I was doing the play in
school, Anthony and Cleopatra,

you member?

- Yeah you were a
wonderful Cleopatra.

- Oh I wasn't, anyway I needed,

you really think I was good?

(audience laughs)

- You were great,
just get on with it.

- Okay.

I thought Cleopatra should
have some really nice jewelry

and since you and daddy
split up you never used

your ring so I borrowed it.

- You took my engagement ring?

- No I borrowed it.

Anyway Cleopatra got
nervous and started to sweat

and then the ring slid
off her finger into the Nile.

(audience laughs)

- What Nile, there were just
a bunch of football players

playing bull rushes?

(audience laughs)

- One of the bull rushes,

I think he as a full
back, stepped on it,

and when I finally found the
ring the stone was missing.

- No, darling the stone's
not missing, I'll show you.

- So Barb, why'd
you call Grandpa?

- Because,

I needed to borrow some money
so I could replace the diamond

before mom found out, he said
he'd talk it over with Grandma

and then he'd get back to me
and then he went to Chicago and

then he died.

So a couple weeks
later I went to a jeweler

and I had him replace
the diamond with glass.

(audience laughs)

- Glass?

- Hey Barb that's worthy of me.

(audience laughs)

- The ring your father gave
me 25 years ago is glass?

- Mom I was gonna
replace it eventually.

Say something.

- You weren't a five year old
Barb, you were 17 years of age

what happened to your brain?

- I'll pay you back.

- You're damn right
you're gonna pay me back,

every last penny.

- Alright, how much.

- $78.

(audience laughs)

- 78 dollars?

- Yes,

- That's only $14 more
than what I paid for the glass.

- Well it was 25 years ago.

- Are you sure it
was a real diamond.

- That isn't even funny,
it's a wedding ring.

- What does any of this
have to do with Grandpa

and the letter, if Grandpa
wanted to talk to Grandma

about this whole thing he
could have just called her

on the phone.

- No, no, no, he
could not call her,

he had to write to
her be, see, (laughs)

yeah I guess he
could have phoned.


You mean I just confessed
to something I didn't need

to confess to?

(audience laughs)

- I guess you did.

- Well I'm glad I
did, I feel terrific.

- Good.

- Well not terrific just better.

Not really better just relieved.

(audience laughs)

not even relieved just.

Oh boy.

I guess actually
what I'm feeling

is guilt mixed with relief.

- Could you stop?

(audience laughs)

Mom where is Grandma?

- She said she'd get
here when she gets here.

- You know I'm really
glad I got it off my chest.

(audience laughs)

- You think Grandpa would
have enjoyed all this craziness

his letter is causing.

- Grandpa?


he would have just died.

(audience laughs)

Poor choice of words.

(dishes clatter)

- Alright somebody
talk, anybody,

Julie what are
you thinking about?

- I was thinking about death.

(audience laughs)

- Anyone's in particular?

- Mom's.

(audience laughs)

She asked.

- Do you know something I don't?

(audience laughs)

- No, no I'm sorry
I couldn't help it,

it just flashed through my head.

I was thinking about how I'll
react when I hear the news.

(audience laughs)

- What do you have
in mind a cartwheel?

- (laughs) Sorry, no,

I don't know I used to
think about death a lot

when I was a kid.

I figured since it was
inevitable I may as well

get used to the idea.

So I used to imagine
that you were gone

and daddy was gone
and I was an orphan

all alone in the world.

- Where was I?

- Gone.

(audience laughs)

- Gee thanks.


- You were a cheerful
little tyke weren't you?


- So how'd we go?

- Different ways,

planes, buses, earthquakes.

- And you always survived?

- Of course, I had
school the next day.

(laughs) (audience laughs)

- This is the strangest

- I know maybe we
should change the subject.

- Really.

(doorbell rings)

- She's here.

- Okay what are we gonna do?

- We are going to answer
the door and we're gonna try

not to give her a heart attack.

Hi Momma.
- Hi Annie, oh darling.

Oh I'm so sorry
I'm so late, hi kids.

- [Both] Hi Grandma.

- I went down to this textile
factory with Joyce Rappapport

and I got all sorts of
fabrics, wait til you see.

I got enough stuff here
to make clothes for,

- Mom why don't you sit down.

- Huh?

Wait a minute, wait a
minute, aren't we going

to have some tea?

Oh, you've had tea without me.

- Katherine,

hi what a surprise, yeah.

(audience laughs)

How do you feel?

(audience laughs)

- Fine.

What's wrong?

What's happened?

Somebody die?

- Not lately.

(audience laughs)

- Grandma nothing's
wrong, everything's fine.

- Oh somebody's died,
somebody's sick, something terrible

has happened, something
I know it I can tell,

something terrible.

- Mom, don't calm down, shh.

No nothing terrible
has happened.

This just arrived
in the mail today.

- Oh so I got a letter.

- Do you notice
anything unusual about it?

- Well it's got some
jellyroll smudges on it

and it has,

it can't be.

- Mom he sent it the
day before he died

and it got lost in
the mail somehow.

- Michael's last
letter, I don't want it.

- Well you don't have to
open it if you don't want to.

- I want to.

(audience laughs)

He died so suddenly its,

well it's just that.

Before he went to Chicago
we had this big fight,

you know I mean,
well it was about

nothing in particular and I

I said some rotten things
and he said some rotten things.

Oh it's just like him
to get in the last word.

(audience laughs)

Oh Annie,

what if he were
still angry with me?

Oh I couldn't live with that.

- Oh no mom, I'm sure it's okay.


- Wow.

(group chatters)

Oh I'm sorry, excuse me,
of course I'll read it to you.

"Ka, Ka, Ka, Katie,
beautiful Katie,

you're the only guh,
guh, guh, girl that I adore.

When the muh, muh,
muh, moon shines,

over the cow shed,

I'll be waiting at the kih,
kih, kih, kitchen door."

(audience laughs)

Your Grandfather used
to sing it to me all the time

when we were courting.

- Ka, Ka, Ka, Katie.

- I think it's just beautiful.

- Me tuh, tuh, too.

(audience laughs)

- Well he loved me Annie.

Right to the end.

- He sure did Ma.

- Annie may I have
a bowl please?

- Sure.


Here's the bowl Mom.

What are you gonna do?

- Annie because
of that stupid fight

I always worried how he
felt about me at the end.

Now I don't have
to worry anymore.

Oh I,

I just feel like a chapter
in my life is finally closed.

Schneider may I
have a match please?

- Yes.

Yes, ma'am.

- Thank you.

- Oh Grandma do
you have to burn it?

- Katherine don't.

- Oh don't you want
to keep it around

just for sentimental reasons.

- No, no, no, this is symbolic.

Michael always believed
in moving forward,

never looking back.


well that's that.

- Yeah.

Are you okay mom?

Would you like some tea?

- Actually if you don't mind,

I'll skip tea and just go home.

I'm a little tired,
you understand?

- I understand.


- Bye Grandma.
- Bye honey.

- Bu-bye darling.
- Bye Grandma.

- Thank you Schneider.

- Oh Katherine.

- Oh well come on
now this isn't a funeral

come on don't
look at me like that.

I'm fine.

Believe me I'm just fine.

- Mom, - Huh?

- Why did she have to burn it?

- You heard what she said.

- Yeah but she
didn't have to burn it.

She could have just
put it away somewhere.

- Maybe she didn't
want to look at it again.

- Maybe she didn't want
anybody else to look at it again.

(audience laughs)

(audience applause)

(One Day at a Time theme music)

(electronic music)