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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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Summer Sunday

Murray Doscher, '36

The Magpie, June 1936, v. 20, n. 2., p. 70.

New York is commonly known as a great city. In width, length, and height, it is unexcelled. Its people are plentiful and its land dotted with every species of the human race.

But on a warm Sunday during the summer, the whole expression of the land changes; where teeming life existed, tranquility and calmness now linger. The populace is no longer in a frenzied rush, the people have fled from the streets, the horns and gears of motor vehicles are silent, and the shrill blast of the policeman's whistle no longer resounds through the air.

One side of Thirty-fourth Street and Seventh Avenue normally is ruled by a large department store while, on the other side, anarchy exists among the many small, aggressive shops. Today the majestic building and the little ones seem to have one quality in common, they lack inhabitants. The sun seeps through the cracks between the buildings and casts long, dark, majestic shadows on the ground. The tar on the streets is soft and one's foot sinks down as if the lonely street were trying to hold one.

Occasionally an empty street car rumbles by, its rattling empty sound symbolizing the day. In the many long streets between Seventh and Fifth Avenues not a breath of human life is apparent. One looks up at the tall buildings with confidence and fear of being called "hick" by the sophists of the city.

One notes that the Empire State Building is tall, for even though one has lived in the city for sixteen years, he has never before dared look up at its full height, because of the aforementioned fear. About the building are a few scattered people, in contrast to the crowds of any weekday. They walk about aimlessly peering into store windows and staring at the immense structures—probably "hicks"!

Even the displays in the windows are not of the ordinary stock and trade variety, nor even of commercial interest. In one window, a number of young boys are far from home camping in the wilds. The sun is shining and two of the boys are bending over a gurgling brook drinking their share of the cool refreshment. Stuffed birds of bright and rare colors can be seen perched in the boughs of stately cardboard trees. Some seem to be chirping their merry songs, while others are feeding the babes in the nests. Two of the clay boys are setting the tent that will shelter them through the long dark night that approaches by the hour. Coming up the trail at one side of the clearing two rosy checked youngsters in khaki are bearing a load of wood, game, and canned provisions for the splendid feast of the window display pioneers.

Two young bootblacks sprawl on the ground of stately Fifth Avenue reading torn comic papers, while several others gamble the few dimes they have earned. Such are the marvels and evils of the city on this day, but dominating everything is the sun. Outdoors, today, the sun, with its glistening rays of light and long, dark, sombre shadows, maintains the peace. The sun has rediscovered and reclaimed a great city. It casts a perfect image of St. Patrick's Cathedral across Fifth Avenue. The great sun dignifies even dignity. The city is always awe-inspiring, but on a warm Sunday in summer, it is even more than that; it is the most majestic of all leisurely idols.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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