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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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The Street Scene

by Alvin Schwartz, '34

The Magpie, January 1933, v. 34, n. 2, p. 41.

He was standing on the corner regarding the handiwork of Him they call God. The air was permeated by the stench of fish and flowers and all about flitted a phantasmagoria of smug faces, beards, fruit and vegetable stands, and streetcar tracks. In a revery, he heard the harsh voices of women haggling over the price of foodstuffs, while from somewhere came the giddy crescendo of locked brakes, as an automobile stopped suddenly, to avoid hitting a small child who had darted into the gutter, The entire ugly panorama impressed itself disagreeably upon his vision, and he wondered whether those about him were men. Why even animals were cleaner, more pleasing to the eye . . .

Someone came up to him, clothed in fragments of prosperity. Vaguely he heard the fellow say something about not having eaten for . . . was it three days or four? He merely looked at the suppliant as at an interesting work of art, a statue. The man passed on . . . staring.

A policeman, striding by and casting a quizzical glance at him, stopped to chat with the banana peddler, while further on a stout woman, whose spongy body seem to be the resting place for any number of gaudy ornaments, struck her child across the mouth and dragged him forward screaming. He watched the sordid scene a moment longer, then looked at his watch, lit a cigarette, and strode on.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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