The place is a black neighborhood in a small city in New Jersey, the time a hot August afternoon in 1963—the day of Dr. Martin Luther King's march on Washington. Nick Alameda, a fast-talking white vacuum cleaner salesman, has been working the neighborhood and has reached the home of Frances Johnson, a kindly, trusting black housewife whose family budget is already stretched perilously thin. At first Frances tries to discourage the wily Nick and his college boy assistant, Danny, but little by little Nick breaks down her resistance and worms his way into her confidence until, by the time her alarmed husband comes home, she has signed a purchase agreement. But her husband also brings the news that their son has been arrested for striking his white foreman—and suddenly the mood of the play changes as the focus shifts from cynical exploitation to questions of racial tension and distrust, and the simmering resentment that can burst into violence at any moment. As the cheers of Dr. King's assembled followers are heard on the TV the now disaffected Danny turns angrily on his startled boss and sends him packing, while Frances, emboldened at last to make her own choices, declares her intention to accompany her husband to the police station and, with him, to stand up to the oppressive authority that, so often, has conspired to deny her family—and her people—its rightful place in society.
A very funny and yet powerful Dramatic Comedy which illuminates the racial and generational tensions of the early 1960s. Centering on the devious exploits of a fast-talking, unscrupulous white vacuum cleaner salesman in a working-class black neighborhood, the play has become a favorite among leading regional theatres. "Pape's writing reveals a lively, compassionate sense of humor and concern for humanity…this is a dramatist with a real ear for lively, convincing dialogue…" —Bridgeport, CT Post. "…a fantastic play…your laughter and doubt will inevitably be replaced by awe and inspiration for playwright Ralph Pape…" —GW Hatchet.