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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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This Younger Generation

By Sidney Chayefsky

The Magpie, January 1938, v. 22, n. 1., p. 81.


Her middle name's Jane, but don't let it fool you. She knows all the answers—I'll say! Don't get the idea that she's Puritan, prim, and prudent; she..., but you get the idea. She's a lot of fun. You can kid around and have a swell time with her. Of course I don't want to sound big, but she's one of those rare girls who can carry a conversation.

I hear she's dumb at school, but like I said before, she knows all the answers. And she really isn't so dumb. The fellows just got to saying she was because she was pretty, and most pretty girls are dumb.

But she's always the first one on the party lists. Everybody likes her, even the girls. You have to date her up two weeks in advance to take her out. Of course, we don't really have dates, but she sure is crowded for the parties.

Me and Buddy are the only ones who could get to first base with her. She sort of likes me. I mean, not half as much as I like her, of course. Putting all delusions aside, I guess I was just a stooge just so she could string Buddy along. What I mean is that she kids around with me just to get Buddy jealous. I guess I came around too late. Buddy had his claim staked on her long before I even heard about her. But acting in a non-partisan role, I have to admit that Buddy has it all over me in some things. I'm better looking and I can play any game better, but then he can outdance me and he has a wow of a build. I think he's muscle-bound. I told him so, too. He was going to punch me in the nose to show me how muscle-bound he was. This is all between you and me, but Buddy's the last guy I'd start a fight with. He has it over me in everything there. But don't think I don't relish the thought of poking him one in the nose, sometimes. I figure that if I went into training for maybe a year (time is an insignificant element to me) I'd meet up with him and whack him one. But as the situation stands now, I figure it best to control myself. Anyway, I don't like to fight.

I've come to dislike Buddy for sentimental reasons alone. I mean, you've got to make allowances for a guy that's crazy about the same girl. And say, he's really nuts about her. One time he said to me, "I don't know what I'd do without Jane." But after all, perhaps I'm goaded on by some jealousy, but I sure can find faults with that guy. And I sort of warm a little when somebody snickers about that puny swing he has in baseball.

I don't show my jealousy, though, or at least I don't think I do. I try to go on as if he's just another fellow. But whenever me and Buddy and Jane get together he always wins out and I, almost inevitably, go home first, the beaten warrior.

I'm not the dashing fellow he is. He always walks her right up to her apartment door. And whenever I walk her home I never have the scoring punch to get past the front steps. Say, I haven't even kissed her goodnight yet, ever since I met her. Boy, ain't that a hot one? But, after all, her affections are pointed in one direction. She always had sort of a one track mind.

I guess I'm just 'Old Reliable.' Maybe Buddy will cut up on her. But I'm always dependable for a good time. I wouldn't tell this to nobody but you, but I'm inclined to think that I'm a swell fellow—I mean I'm not bad looking, I'm a good athlete; I sing well. I guess she doesn't know what she's missing. She'll find out someday though. It'll probably be too late, and I'll have found a girl I really like.

Someday, a really good-looking girl's going to move around this neighborhood. And boy! You know, this neighborhood is sort of potty. It seems to me all the pretty girls live out in Brooklyn.

But anyway I'm trying to forget my past. I'm seriously considering a career on the stage. Or maybe I might concentrate on sports and give up women, especially Jane. There's a cute kid around my block who might grow up, who ought to do. But somehow, I just can't forget Jane. I mean, I sort of hate to quit. In fact, I guess it hurts my vanity to have that big clown get the best of me.... even though I did start under a handicap.

And by the way, did you ever stay awake and sort of dream things you want to dream. I mean close your eyes and sort of imagine things about you and your girl... Flo. I'd like to know if I'm abnormal. I've talked it into myself that I don't love Jane. It's more a preference for her company, I think.

Your loving (and how) cousin,


P.S. How does it sound to you? Do you think it's the real thing?

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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