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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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Study of a High School Boy

By Arthur Whitman, '40

The Magpie, January 1940, v. 24, n. 1, p. 66.

"CAN'T you leave me alone!" He stormed out of the house. Couldn't anybody leave him alone? Wasn't there anybody that could understand Him?

Here he was, fifteen years old, with the world against him. He was in seventh term of high school already, and what was he going to do when he got out? He would be a kid, he wouldn't even be sixteen years old yet! What could he do?

He could go to college but the course he wanted was too expensive. He felt as if he were going crazy. What should he do? Go to college and take up something he didn't like because the course he wanted was too expensive, and because he was too young really to go to work?

He liked journalism; he felt that he would even try to work his way through college if there were any hope for journalism. Go to work and go to college at the same time? He would be barely sixteen years old when the grind would begin. If he couldn't get any fun out of life at this age, when could he?

If only he wasn't such a kid! Why he was even ashamed of the bunch he hung out with. True, they were all swell kids, but that was just it, they were only kids! How could he take his girl to the Seventh Form Prom? She was just about his age, and only in third term. You could see she was a kid, even if he was big and didn't look so young. The fellows in school would ride him to death. Especially after all that foolish talking he had done.

Well, what if she was young, she wasn't any younger than he was, was she?

She was the only one he could talk to. At least she had manners. He knew she often looked at him as if he were crazy, but at least she listened to him! Set let him talk; she didn't laugh at him.

Aw! What good was she, wasn't she laughing at him last night? All the way home, she was laughing at him. That's all he was good for, he was just a clown. Like that dope in the English class.

Why, his friends all hung around him because he made them laugh! When he joked, they laughed at him, when he was serious they laughed at him. When he didn't even talk they laughed at him. They laughed at him, and they laughed at him. Why did they laugh at him? He didn't want to be a clown.

But, maybe he did. Maybe even this idea of writing was just a desire to amuse people. To make them laugh He could imagine himself another WILL ROGERS or IRVIN S. COBB, the greatest American Humorist! Oh, he would make them laugh all right.

He would tell them the one about that dope in the English class, or maybe he would take them all into an ice-cream parlor, order something, and say the whipped cream tasted like soap suds. They would roar when he compared it with the different soap suds he had tasted. Just as everybody else roared. Oh yes, they would roar. They would slap him on the back and say, "You are a card!"

He pulled out a cigarette. He wondered what his mother would say if she saw him smoking. She would probably go into a faint or some other such act. But why should she? He was fifteen already—was that too young an age at which to smoke? She would say it would stunt his growth. That was a laugh, here he was six feet tall, and still going strong, and smoking would stunt his growth Hah!

Suddenly, he drew the pack containing several stale cigarettes from his pocket, and stamped on them. Smoking behind his mother's back! Like a worm, or a kid.

He found that he was drifting back to the street on which he lived. He would go in, and write somebody a letter. No, what would he do that for whom would he write to? Maybe he would write something for the school paper. No, he wouldn't do that either. It wouldn't get in anyway; what was the sense in wasting time?

The thought of his terrible lack of age flashed through his mind.

He thought of college.

Of his "girl."

The Great American Humorist.

Smoking.

Hah!

He went inside to do his homework.




The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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