Douglas Spaulding wakes up. Because hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
He's in a "third-story cupola bedroom" at the top of a spiral staircase in his grandparents' boarding house, where he stays the night once a week.
What's a cupola, you ask? It's a little dome on top of a building, intended as a lookout. So basically, his grandparents live in the coolest house in Green Town, Illinois.
Doug's little brother, Tom, and their parents are asleep in their house next door. Being the oldest has its advantages.
Doug starts playing a game of waking up his town. He stands at the window, exhales, and watches the street lights go out.He tells the Street Where the Old People Live to wake up, and specific old people (Miss Helen Loomis, Colonel Freeleigh, Miss Bentley) to "Cough, get up, take pills, move around." He tells Mr. Jonas to hitch up his horse and get his junk wagon out.
Lights start coming on and people start doing stuff—not because Doug is magical, but because he has awesome timing.Doug talks to baseballs buried in the grass, swings hanging in trees, and the Street of Children, where his friends Charlie Woodman and John Huff live.
This is what kids apparently did in the days before they could just text.
As the sun rises, doors slam, and people step out of their houses, Doug is satisfied with his "work" starting the day.Bradbury sets the stage for the entire novel with the last line of the chapter: "Summer 1928 began."