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After their father dies, Margaret Patterson's three sons, Charley, Kenneth and Eddie, vow to take care of their mother, but years later, it is Margaret who is caring for them. The family has many debts, but to the disgust of Aunt Lottie, their house guest for the past ten years, the boys do very little to earn money. Charley, an aspiring trumpet player, loses his job after practicing his instrument in the company washroom. Kenneth, who dreams of being an actor, refuses to accept any other job, and Eddie, the youngest, is always fooling around. After Eddie tosses a wastebasket from a WPA office and strikes a passerby, he is served with a summons. Eddie then convinces Buffalo Bill Oxenstern, the process server, that he can turn him into a heavyweight boxing champion and offers to put him up at the Patterson house. A desperate Margaret begs Philip Talbot, a former romantic interest, to give Charley a job, but Charley turns down the offer. Later, Kenneth insults his neighbor, Mary Tyler, who is in love with him. Then, during a dinner to which Margaret has invited Philip, Kenneth drags home some disreputable fellow actors, while Lottie "entertains" everyone with stories of her operations, and Buffalo lets the bathtub overflow, causing the ceiling to collapse on top of Philip. When Charley realizes that Philip was responsible for the job offer, he angrily orders him to leave the house. In spite of the terrible evening, Philip asks Margaret to marry him and move to California. Margaret accepts but is worried about the effect her marriage will have on her sons, and when they object to it, she agrees to drop her plans. After the boys receive their draft notices, they immediately try for deferments. Intending to be declared the sole support of his family, Charley finally accepts Philip's job offer. Kenneth, meanwhile, begs Mary to marry him, and when she refuses to elope, runs off with older showgirl Francie. Eddie tries hard to convince everyone that his eyes are bad. Finally Margaret has had enough. After scolding her sons, she announces that she is leaving the family to go to California with Philip. Lottie is thrilled by the news, but soon, Charley's trumpet playing interferes with his job, and he is fired. Then Kenneth learns that his marriage is invalid because Francie is not legally divorced from her previous husband. When Margaret hears that her sons are being drafted, she begs Philip to intervene, but Lottie reaches the draft board before them, denounces her lazy nephews and makes sure that they are all declared eligible. Philip takes Margaret to city hall but rather than talk to the draft board, he gets a marriage license. The Patterson boys are all drafted, but the army turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to them. Charley becomes the company bugler; Eddie signs up for an additional year; and Kenneth, who is learning to be a radio technician, again asks Mary to marry him. Mary agrees, on the condition that they do not elope.