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There's some sort of a quotation that says the old must yield place to the new. Hemenway Gymnasium is living up to it with a vigor surprising for such an old building. But Hemenway's present liveliness is not her own; it comes from a gang of beauty-lovers professionally known as the Central Building Wrecking Company.
The company is now merrily engaged in ripping Hemenway down to make place for the new School of Public Administration. And "merrily" is something of an understatement, for it is rare that a group of men in the Harvard scene has evinced so much pleasure in what might appear to the layman as just ordinary manual labor. Not so building wrecking!
The boys, as they must be affectionately called, approach the task of demolishing a husky, tall section of wall. It is part of the once proud structure opposite Phillips Brooks House, and towering fragment of loose bricks as it is, it stands stark and alone, the very last piece of Hemenway's walls. The boys, about six of them, drag a heavy steel cable across the ruins of the foundations and try to wrap it around the tall, narrow piece of wall. They cannot hitch it on high enough to get effective leverage. The other end of the cable is bent onto the bumper of a heavy dump truck.
Looking around to see if the boss is looking, and finding him absorbed in something else, some of the boys clamber up the shaky wall, and disregarding the poignant fact that the bricks upon which they seek footholds may crumble away beneath them with unchivalric suddenness, they loop the cable around the highest point they can reach. Then, with the grace and recklessness of mountain goats they skip down to safety, shouting "Okay, John!" to the toothy pug seated in the driver's seat of the truck.
John bares his fangs in glee, and sends his truck violently into reverse, taking up the slack on the cable with vibrating power.
The wall refuses to tumble into the cellar. Outside, on Kosciusko Square, dozens of spectators gape at the crumbling magnificence that is about to be. John sees the trouble is that the cable is pulling at the side of a short but fat pillar which used to support the basketball floor.
"Dat's alright, boys!" he bellows at his men, motioning them to stand back. Then the truck strains again at the cable and the fat pillar is abruptly flipped on its side. Lusty cheers from the boys. Radiant pride on John's earthly face. "Okay, now we git do wall," he grits.
Groans of an oppressed clutch are heard as the truck hauls away in vain at the wall. It aways but will not give in. All the boys are depressed. "Goez, no fun," is their thought. But a sub-foreman with a Daniel Boone cap on has I'idee du jour.
"Git de oddeh truck," he suggests. The other truck is hailed and it speeds into position, driven by a weazened little man who cannot conceal his delight at being one of the puller-downers. An extension of the cable is tied to his bumper and presently the two Macks, looking like two obstreperous elephants, are tugging away at the stubborn wall. Heave, Heave. And HEAVE. The wall sways out toward the street and the spectators shrink back. The truck's wheels spin in a last yank.
"She's a-comin'" yells someone, amid other cries of pleasure. And she is coming. Poising delicately before the catastrophe, the walls slowly lean over the cellar far below; then rushes earthward. There is an instant of silence, immediately shattered by the magnificent thunder of the 20 tons of bricks smashing into the dobris. A cloud of dust shoots up, accompanied by a few stray bricks. The boys applaud the spectacle with hoarse cheering and yelling.
Two trucks rest, panting with relief. John looks his grimy hands together over his head in the fighter's victory salute. Hemenway has been leveled, and boy, oh boy, didn't she make a big noise, huhl
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