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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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By Milton Zolotow '36

The Magpie, January 1936, v. 37, n.1 ., p. 9.

I sit on my rocking perch on the binder seemingly fascinated by the endless stream of tangled grain moving beneath my dangling legs. The wheat is lying on the ground flattened by the wind and rain. On the table canvas, the wheat lies in rippling whorls and ridges. Ahead of me is the deep, sonorous roar of the powerful tractor lulled, as occasionally we pass over a dead furrow.

The roar of the tractor subsides as the tangled grain clogs the moving canvases. I drop from my seat and begin to force the matted wheat through the rollers. Fuzz slips off the tractor and comes over saying, ....

"Boy! this stuff is sure knocked down. I guess I'd better run her in second 'cause she's clogging too much."

"No sir!" Grandpa said "we'd better pick this stuff up damn quick or eat hay all winter."

"Yeah, but we're way ahead of the shockers," comes the reply as Fuzz points to several men and a young girl gathering together the bundles of wheat where the binder had dropped them and standing them up in neat, rainproof shocks.

"Don't forget we've got plenty of oats to cut soon as we finish . . . Well, she's clear. Let's get started—in high!"

Fuzz slams the throttle down, lets the clutch out and, in a few seconds, the tractor again surges ahead pulling the unwieldy binder with It s seemingly fragile revolving windmills.

At regular intervals one can hear above the roar of the tractor a click as the binder ejects a neatly tied bundle of wheat.

Seen from afar, the tractor seems to be moving majestically along the edge of a sea of wheat. Consuming, as it glides, a swath of dull gold, it leaves behind it the bright yellow stubble which reflects the sunlight in a myriad of gleaming, colorful, little beams of light! Suddenly, my shout,

"Whoa! she's not tying!"

The tractor stops. Fuzz comes back and hurriedly re?threads the knotter, all the while damning all economies and self appointed expert especially those associated with the institution of a newer, cheaper type; of cord at a time when grain is, because of its being knocked down, doubly hard to bind.

The knotter re-threaded, Fuzz resumes his circuit of the field. The binder roars down to the corner where Fuzz deftly makes a perfect square turn, and continues with the harvesting of the colony's bread for the winter.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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