Although he was one of the best salesman the paint company ever had, Fred Diefendorf has given up the road and settled down on the farm which he has bought outside of Cleveland, his idea being to make a living from the soil and to be with his children as they grow up. Furthermore, Fred is awed by the surge of growth and progress which is being felt in the nation, and is determined that his family will have all the modern improvements—including an inside bathroom. If the United States can build the Panama Canal, then the Diefendorfs can keep in step with the times—although Fred's creditors are not always as sure as he is of the millennium to come. But Fred is not to be stopped, and before long he has run his family (and the budget) ragged with his schemes and expenses, which seem to produce new crisis at every turn. When a neighbor refuses to let him lay his water line across his property Fred digs under the Interurban tracks—running into poison ivy, slicing through the main Western Union cable, and causing a derailment which chops a wing off his neighbor's house. But while Fred is the eternal optimist, his wife Bessie knows that progress has its price, and that faith in the future won't pay for the dancing lessons, new clothes and college educations that she wants her children to have. By the time Fred has put them three thousand dollars in debt, Bessie decides that it is also time to call a halt and to go to work herself—a sobering turn of events which finally brings Fred back to earth. So he packs up his paint samples and heads for the road—at least until his present dreams are paid for and new ones pop up to take their place.
This sprightly domestic comedy, which was successfully produced at the Barter Theatre and The Bucks County Playhouse, centers on the wild and warmly humorous experiences of the Diefendorf family in the rapidly changing America of 1912.