This humorous, slightly bizarre story of a strike at the Sleep Tite pajama factory in Junction City, Iowa, in the 1950's is the setting for Richard Bissell’s rollicking romp about employees who are about to strike for a 7 ½ cent raise. If you grew up in the Mid-West (and even if you didn’t) you’ll enjoy the dialogue and small town folkways and your attention will be, ah, sewed up, from the get go.
New superintendent, Sid Sorokin (youngest superintendent they had ever had), arrives to find himself knee deep in complaints about fans in the pants section, boiling over boilers, answering crazy letters, uncooperative sewing machines, and dissatisfied employees. In the midst of it all, he meets Catherine “Babe” Williams (yes, a Sleep Tite girl) and an amorous romance unfolds. The wisecracking dialogue and dry wit for which Bissell is famous is expertly delivered. During an Iowan heat wave which the locals observe is hot enough to burn the coins in your pocket, everybody says “Good corn weather”, while surreptitiously plucking at their adhesive underwear. (ch. 3, p.1)
7 1/2 Cents (1953), was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and was adapted by Richard Bissell and George Abbott for the Broadway musical success THE PAJAMA GAME. The original production won a Tony for Best Musical in 1955 and another Tony in 2006 for Best Revival of a Musical.
The book is where it all started, however, and it doesn’t disappoint.