"A Sock for Susan's Sake - Just a Simple Story of Life" (published in 1937) is a Thimble Theatre storyline detailing Popeye's first meeting with Susan Brown and his attempts to save her and her family from a life of poverty. Unlike Popeye's other adventurous or comedic yarns, this one is a depression-era story with a focus on drama and a strong message about doing what is right without selfish motivation.
The story begins with a cheerful Popeye strolling down the streets as merry as can be and giving thanks for his wonderful life, which makes him feel as though there are no troubles in the world. However, his good mood is quickly spoiled by the sight of a poor and famished young girl who is being arrested for trying to steal fruit from Mr. Whiskers' stand. The poor girl, identifying herself as Susan, begs for mercy, and even the police officer feels pity for the scrawny young urchin, but knows that he must take her away or else Whiskers will report him to the Chief of Police. Popeye then tries to pay the girl's fine, but Mr. Whiskers intervenes and furiously silences Popeye while demanding the girl be severely punished for her crimes. In anger, Popeye punches out Mr. Whiskers with a swift sock for Susan's sake, then tries to hold off the officer to allow the youngster time to escape, but she reveals that she is too weak to walk. Popeye realizes that even the officer does not want to put up a fight as he too feels sympathy for the girl, so he decides to turn a blind eye and allow Popeye to take her away before Mr. Whiskers recovers.
Popeye then takes the young girl to her run-down apartment and, for the next few days, tries his best to give her food and clothing, but she refuses most of the time due to not wanting a man she barely knows to enter her home. Eventually, though, she begins to trust Popeye, but by the time this happens, she is thrown out of her apartment for not being able to pay the rent, as she explains to Popeye that she was originally being taken care of by her brother, who mysteriously disappeared some time earlier. The harsh landlord then sees Susan still about and demands that she leaves while insulting her and her brother. A furious Popeye also gives him a sock for Susan's sake, knocking him off his feet, but then notices Susan has disappeared. The sailor makes his way to the police station to file a missing persons report, but is quickly arrested when the police chief realizes that he is the man who assaulted Mr. Whiskers and helped Susan escape. While in jail, Popeye ponders his situation and knows that he does not belong in jail for helping a poor girl out. After being given his prison meal (beans and spinach), Popeye uses his increased "vitaliky" to break out of his cell, but promises to come back later and pay for the broken bars. As he walks away, he notices that Susan is also in jail, having been caught for her previous crime. Popeye proceeds to break her out but also goes back to pay for the damages he caused, much to the police force's confusion, as he quickly runs off after paying his debts. However, he and Susan are still wanted for their escape, so Popeye is forced to go on the lam in order to protect Susan.
For the next few days, Popeye and Susan hide out near a lake, living off fish while waiting for the heat to die down, and Popeye spends his nights praying for Susan's sake, believing that it would be selfish to pray for his own. Eventually, though, their hideout is uncovered by the constable of a nearby town, who reveals that the lake is actually the town's water reservoir and that fishing there is against the law, causing him to arrest Popeye and Susan. At first, they are hesitant, but when the constable mentions that he does not want to be late for dinner, Popeye and Susan decide to get arrested in hopes of getting healthier, warm meals. Upon arriving to his home, Constable Sodwell introduces the "lawbreakers" to his wife, Mrs. Sodwell, before sending them to his backyard jailhouse where they are served a full course meal prepared by his wife. Popeye and Susan then decide to repay the couple's kindness by breaking out of jail and helping Mrs. Sodwell with the dishes, much to the Constable's anger. He then has the duo tried in court by Judge Penny, believing that Popeye must be a very dangerous man.
The trial unfolds for several days as hijinks ensue with Popeye's ditzy attorney Ben Bascum and his temperamental prosecutor, Mr. Stinck. Luckily for Popeye and Susan, Judge Penny is on their side, knowing they are kind-hearted people whose crimes have been exaggerated, while also enjoying the antics they bring to the courthouse. During this time, Popeye and Susan are still staying with the Sodwells, much to the Constable's anger, and, during one night, Mrs. Sodwell inquires about Popeye and Susan's relationship. At first, she is appalled by Susan's poor description of their partnership, thinking they are perverse tramps out for a good time in the woods, but Susan then gives a detailed account of how she and Popeye met, and about her sad life. Mrs. Sodwell is moved by Susan's tragedy and decides to treat her and Popeye like family. The next day in court, things are looking grim for the pair as the court is ready to give them a guilty verdict, but Popeye then reveals that he would not mind being convicted as this would mean free room, food and board for poor Susan. Upon hearing this, the jury is appalled and declare the duo "not guilty", much to Judge Penny's amusement and joy. Popeye and Susan then decide to repay the Sodwells for their kindness before leaving, by doing chores around the house. Popeye and Susan, now on the road again, wonder what they will do for food, but, to their surprise, Constable Sodwell returns with a basket full of food for them, having genuinely grown fond of the two, and bids them a fond farewell after giving them the needed provisions.
Back in Popeye's hometown, Poopdeck Pappy gets a letter from Popeye detailing what has happened to him since his disappearance. But, since Pappy cannot read, he goes to see Olive Oyl and has her read it for him. As Olive does so, she is soon stricken with violent fury at the thought of Popeye traveling around with a young woman. She then makes plans to find him in hopes of violently beating him senseless as well as Susan. To do so, she enlists the help of Eugene the Jeep and has a massive club made for herself. With everything ready, she sets off with Eugene and uses his magical nose to track down Popeye. Meanwhile, Popeye and Susan are wondering what to do to get money when they come across a sign advertising a boxing challenge over at the Palace Theatre, offering $100 to anyone who could defeat King Smacko. Upon arriving at the theatre, Popeye witnesses King Smacko wipe the floor with Johnny Jones, but once Popeye steps into the ring he easily knocks out King Smacko with two punches and makes enough money to buy new clothes and food for Susan. However, their celebrations are cut short by the arrival of Olive Oyl in all her fury, much to Popeye's horror. But before she can lay a furious beating on him and Susan, she is stopped and scared off by Eugene's using his electrical powers in order to protect Popeye.
Popeye then notices Susan crying and asks her why. She then explains that her current emotional state is due to them being close to her original family home, which has brought back many sad memories. Popeye then decides to inquire more about Susan's family, only to find out that they are incredibly wealthy, with her father alone being worth millions and millions of dollars. A shocked Popeye then feels disgusted and used for helping a rich girl, but Susan explains that she is poor since her father kicked her and her brother out. She goes on to explain that her father used to be a kind man, but sometime after her mother died he became abusive and cruel, mercilessly throwing the two siblings out on the streets five years prior. Popeye decides to confront Susan's father and have him take back his daughter by force. After breaking into the Brown Estate and knocking out the butler, Popeye has Susan go back up to her original room then confronts Mr. Brown, prepared to talk with him all night if he has to. However, Mr. Brown then takes out his gun and shoots Popeye, presuming him dead and preparing to bury him in the backyard, yet Popeye is shown to be alive and well thanks to his superhuman endurance. Mr. Brown again tries to kill Popeye with his shovel, but even that proves ineffective, forcing the frightened millionaire to comply with Popeye's request to speak. Popeye then summons Eugene the Jeep to help him figure out why Mr. Brown became evil, but every time Eugene is asked, he wordlessly answers that there is nothing evil about Mr. Brown, and even denies that the latter hates his daughter. Popeye assumes that the Jeep has betrayed him and decides to find out the truth on his own as a saddened Eugene waits outside. Just then, Popeye comes to a quick realization and apologizes to the Jeep, promptly asking him two more questions, "Is his name "Brown"?" and "Is this man Susan's father?", with Eugene replying with a silent "no" to both questions. Popeye thus concludes that the "Mr. Brown" standing before him is an impostor, and calls up his friend Detective Castor Oyl to have him arrested as Castor is now a big time detective and one of the best in the country. Upon Castor's quick arrival with his team of detectives, he easily subdues "Mr. Brown" and reveals that he is actually a wanted fugitive and a master of disguise with a surgically-modified plastic and wax face, known as "Plastic Pan" Panifer, one of the worst criminals in the country.
With Plastic Pan under arrest, Castor then tries to solve the mystery of what happened to the real Mr. Brown, but is quick to assume that he was murdered by Plastic Pan, much to Susan's grief. However, Popeye has not given up hope and asks Eugene if Mr. Brown is still alive, to which the Jeep answers "yes". The group then heads down into the basement, where they find the real Mr. Brown in a tragic malnourished state while draped in rags, having been held captive by Plastic Pan for 5 years in order to use him to sign all his checks and paperwork with his unique signature. Susan is then tearfully reunited with her beloved father. The next day, Mr. Brown is seen recovering in bed, where he reveals that he originally hired Panifer as his butler before he betrayed him. Mr. Brown then wonders what became of his dear son, so Popeye and Castor set out to find out just that, while refusing to take Mr. Brown's reward money as Popeye does not want to be paid for doing a good deed. As Popeye and Castor leave the house to search for the lost Brown son, Susan decides to at least give Popeye a thank-you kiss for all his help, which he is eager to accept, but just then a spiteful Olive appears from behind a tree, scaring Popeye witless, which leads him to refuse the thank-you kiss from Susan.
Popeye then returns home to reunite with his Pappy, who is perplexed as to why Popeye had disappeared for months on end. Castor Oyl then comes in and reveals that his team has found Mr. Brown's lost son, having apparently fallen into bad company to pay off his and his sister's debts, but luckily Castor sorted everything out and returned him home.
Much later, Popeye now relaxes at home, but fondly thinks back on his time with Susan and wishes he had a nice girl like her in his life. Just then, a knock is heard at the door and when Popeye answers he is greeted by a beautiful young woman who is none other than Susan, who is now in a healthy state and sports finer clothes. She reveals that she has come over to ask Popeye to marry her, as even her father approves of him, but Popeye refuses on account that he is too old for a young girl like her. Susan understands but lets Popeye know that, if he ever changed his mind, to come see her. Pappy comes in after overhearing this and tells his foolish son to get hitched to the rich Brown girl, but Popeye refuses and tells his Pappy to pipe down. Just then, Mr. Brown also enters Popeye's home, now also in finer clothes and a healthier condition. He then rewards Popeye with $1,000,000 in thousand-dollar bills for his good deeds and insists he take it. Popeye then decides to give away all this money to poor widows and orphans.