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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Man in the Train

By Aaron Chinitz, '33

The Magpie, January 1932, v. 33, n. 1 p. 29

He entered the Lexington Avenue train at Fourteenth Street and sank wearily onto the unyielding straw seat. Dressed in filthy blouse and trousers and plaster caked shoes, he would have presented no uncommon picture, had the impression ended there. It did not. The man within the clothes was a futile perversity—pallid face with pinkshot, bisque ringed eyes . . . small, thin hands, whose every twitch caused blue blotched veins to jump and dance. What right had this impotent mockery to the dress of the laborer?

As I looked at him, something in my brain registered a great, black headline that newsboys were screaming excitedly one night almost a year ago.... "Extra! ... Extra! ...Standard Stock . . . Crashes! . . . Extra . . . Twenty stories up . . . "Lee Bannerman, Brokers" . . . "My dear sir, such things are certainly unfortunate but they really cannot be helped.... If you have any money left I should advise you to invest immediately in ... certain boom" ... one last clutch at a white collar....

Winter to summer. . . brick dust . . . "Grab this end and pull, you clumsy slob" ... heat ... brick dust ... heat....The little man that sold white power . . . self-contempt forgotten . . . sensuous splendor of red dreams . . . love of women. . father love, gratification of ego—all in the white powder.

Summer to winter . . numbness . . . difficulty of employment. . "Grab this end and pull, you"—outward cold . . . internal heat . . . no food—only white powder . . . skin, disease, rottenness ... All In A Year....

The train was nearing the station, and he arose, swaying on his feet. A thin, dapper little man crossed his path, and as the train came to a sudden stop, the two lurched into each other. The laborer stumbled out as the doors swung open.... The man who was his self of a year earlier dusted his White Collar.... On his face was a look of the most unutterable repulsion.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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