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Page 113 text:
riridgri . . .
A City and Regional Prize Winning Essay by Martha Thomas
I met a man once. His name . . . Democracy. He was as old and as grey as time. In his eyes
lay the past of many nations and in his heart, the future. His body was built from the molded
steel of guns, his hair was matted with the blood of dead men. I was still. I heard him speak. He
told me of a nation conceived in liberty and born that men might live and die equal and free. He
said that nation was America. He told me of the men who led that nation: of Washington, its
father, as honest as the day was long and of Lincoln, torn between his hate of war and his love of
freedom, not just for white men but for all men. He spoke of Jefferson and Grant and Lee. His
tone was reverent, his hands were clasped. I saw his eyes move. He looked upon the graves of
those who died that he might live. He said, 'lThere lie the bodies of men, young men, who once
carried in their heart a sacred prayer for freedom. They fought in many battles in diverse lands
and fell on foreign soil unafraid to die for freedom." His eyes reached further. He saw the
men, the women engaged in the building of a free nation, by the sickbeds in the hospitals, be-
hind the school desks, in the church sanctuaries, in the newspaper offices, in the government build-
ings, in the giant production factories, I watched him there, tall against the sky and free.
I saw his feet implanted in the rich farmland, and looked upon the harvest corn and wheat
which sprouted from the marrow of his bones and was watered by his sweat. I saw that from his
sinews sprang the giant sky scrapers, and from his hair was woven the network of factories. His
bones were the framework of the commercial harbors, and the light of his eyes burned in a million
warehouses. It was his strength in the huge crane that lifted the weight. It was his muscle that
built the dam and harnessed the power. The wounds of his body were the destruction of men and
the breaking of homes was the bursting of his blood vessels. The steam of his breath was the
smoke of the engines, and the skin of his hands was the steel of the jet. His great metallic heart
beat with the pulse of the people, beat in the slow rhythm of drums chanting the desire of human
beings to live, unbound by the strings of fear. I turned, the man was gone, and his footprints
went in all directions as if he were not one but a million men who strove under this name,
There are some events and activities about which it is possible to remain neutral. The first
day of May is definitely not included in this category. Everyone seems to have an opinion-of
some variety-about May Day. Communists celebrate it as a day of revolution, English country-
folk as a day of dancing around the maypole on the village green, and aviators use "May Day" as
a distress signal. This last view is shared by the faculties of girls, schools.
In a girls' school the entire month of April is spent in hectic preparation for a pageant cele-
brating the opening day of May. Among the students the opinions about May Day are apt to vary.
To the seventh grader May Day and its festivities are an adventure, new, thrilling, and amazing.
To the eighth grader May Day is rather "old hat". fEighth graders are inclined to have this blase
opinion about almost everything-after all, they have done it all once before? The freshmen are
concerned with learning their dances correctly and about how attractive and well-fitting their cos-
tumes are. CSpectators from certain nearby military schools frequent the campus on May Day, you
know.D The sophomore's main concern in May Day is the correct execution K and I use the word
intentionallyl of the winding of the maypole. Somehow, despite the greatest concentration, some-
Page 112 text:
021416 . . .
There was a time when the forest was green:
Her leaves and her boughs formed a canopied roof over the verdant moss
But it is not so now.
The garrulous brook has toned down to a murmur,
The fern is all folded and dead,
The trees yield their leaves to the wielding earth
And the oaks shake their barren heads.
The playful wind is now angry and cross,
It stalks where it once carressed.
The crickets once chirped and the sparrows sang
But now where happiness always rang-
Only silence ticks.
What time is this?
Whence comes the gloom?
Where is the forest of old?
What wanton creature has ravished the woods
. . . and left them all silent and cold?
It is the blue gray time of quiet, mottled skies of pearl.
Far off a sound is heard which splinters the stillness-
A child called in from play-
The chortle of a lone bird across on another hill.
And the stark trees thrust their naked arms skyward.
In the deepening haze their branches melt into filmy laces.
A grove of perennial pines are martial silhouettes
Guarding their hill against the stealthy, syrupy shadows
That flow down the valleys and melt into the crevices of the world.
How still is this mood between sunlight and lamp-burning time.
One moment more and a light will flash on in a window across the way.
Streetlamps will form a diamond-bright necklace down the avenue.
But now I wish to stand, alone in the deepening blue-gray dusk-
In this time of quiet reverie-
Molten silver on a shadowed Wall
Lights recollections in my soul.
Shreds of a song-
Or was it an experience?
It must have been the day before rememberance.
But 'tis recalled in a swift pain of rapture and content
When a beam of silver Hows liquid across my shadowed wall.
Dark Night enfolds us in serenity.
She spreads her sable wings to shroud the light,
Yet only half succeeds, for, in the heights
Of unknown realms, there hangs a brilliancy,
Celestial beacons of eternity,
A radiance across the drapes of Night,
With spectral lustre Haunting lesser light,
And giving Night an air of mystery.
I do not marvel at the men of old
Who worshipped Night's concave of heavenly hosts,
At ancients idolizing Hecks of gold,
And yet, I miss validity in boasts
Of men who witness miracles untold
And still expound: "There is no Lord of Hostsf'
Page 114 text:
one zigs when she should zag and the whole procedure is thrown into chaos. To the juniors May
Day is a day of anticipation. Envying the "glamorous" seniors in their long dresses and places of
honor, they wait impatiently on the threshold of their day of May. Finally, the Senior, whose
own wistful junior dreams have now been realized, approaches May Day exhausted and with a
profound feeling of relief that it will soon be over. Work on May Day committees-"Teaches
them responsibility!"-, incessant fittings, dance rehearsals, and mounting bills all have had their
share in quenching the wild, school-girl exuberance about May Day. There has been the struggle
to achieve a discreet-"Heavens, no ostentation!"-superiority over her classmates both in design,
color, and material of her dress, and in the choice and arrangement of her flowers.
The poor teachers also have their share of disillusionment concerning May Day. Granted that
about "show time" there is never a lack of excitement, the romantic aspect of May Day never
seems to be included in a teacher's concept of this festival. May Day is a time of bill collecting,
of study halls disrupted for practices, of constant ditties drifting into class in a most disconcerting
way from the piano accompanying the rehearsals, of the discipline problems of that dreaded, dead-
ly "full rehearsal" from which there are "no absences excused", and of incessant phone calls to
the weather bureau to attempt to insure clear skies.
After the turmoil of practices and after the period of apathetic ''why-do-we-do-this-every
year?" feeling has worn off, the point of no return is passed-the tickets have been purchased
and the bleachers set up. The performance is under way. Out come the Seniors to the oft-heard
chords of Aida C several of them still trying to get the hang of the left-wait-right technique
necessary to keep in stepb. After the processional and after the seniors have exhibited their
gowns to the audience and taken their seats Cafter perfunctory and rather unsteady curtsies to
the Queen of the Mayb, the remainder of the students gambol on the lawn in various stages of
undress and equally diverse levels of coordination.
When the pageant is mercifully over, the recessional begins, and the audience gets another
chance to scrutinize and criticize the seniors' dresses. The student body joins in a couple of
choruses of "Happy Springtime" fwhich title a few cynical sophomores-who, by the way,
"goofed" the maypole again-alter to "Sappy Springtimenj and the pageant is over-for this
For May Day is one of those annual, traditional, never-to-be abandoned customs which keeps
itself going year after year. Certainly after a girl has danced folk dances in cheese cloth for five
years, she wants her chance at glory as a senior in May Day. And so the custom continues. And
gym teachers lose sleep thinking up themes and dance steps, and parents lose money paying for
costumes and dresses. Students lose time in practices, and teachers lose their minds every year
over the advent of the fifth month of the year. Perhaps the air force has the right idea after all.
"MAY DAY! " -Ann Corbitt.
ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS
FIRST PLACE WINNERS
Voice of Democracy Contest
Knights of Pytbias Speaking Contest
Civitan Essay Contest
SECOND PLACE WINNER
American Legion Oratorical Contest
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