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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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Morning Becomes Night

By Melvin Greek, '40

The Magpie, January 1938, v. 22, n. 1., p. 65.

When I was six years old, my mother, grown tired of caring for a wild and pestering brat, drove me from my freedom and pulled me to the public school. Sniffing the injustice, I quailed, wailing. But to no avail, for society said, "Little children must grow up to be fine, educated citizens," and parents must have peace! Thus, like the poor infants of centuries and centuries ago, and centuries and centuries to come, I hobbled to a desk, subjugated, and with the many other parrots learned from the older parrot how to spell "I", how to count, and how to be a good citizen. Through the grades I went like the victim "under the mill," my mind battered into senseless pulp. Early dreams of fairies and brownies were replaced by the rock reality of life. I was becoming educated.

The teachers were there, always there, sitting behind their desks. What did I think of them? I didn't think. They were teachers. They were mummies. They stood still like clocks: ticking and ticking and ticking in the same exact beat. And therefore I ticked, still tick, ticking, not thinking.

And then, when new, concrete thoughts and worries crammed my brain, like a desperate prisoner, I dreamt of freedom after the school bell clanged.

When I came home, joy dancing in my eyes, I dropped my heavy schoolbooks on a chair and sprang for the merry air. But a harsh voice stabbed me and brought me doing from my flight. "Where are you going? No! You must stay! You must do your homework! You must study! You must make something of yourself!" Dismal and abashed, I stumbled back, groped for a wormy book, and glared at the open print.

Now, cobwebbed and hardened, I sit hunched at a desk, eyeing my stolen childhood. Was "knowledge" worth the task? The skies are overshadowed, dull. I try to think. Where am I going? I cannot think. Rules and facts, questions and answers tighten my brain. I sigh. I am educated.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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