The Sand Pile
( Originally Published 1916 )
SOME men the other day came around and dumped about forty wagon loads of sand in the street at our corner. They are going to use it in repaving the street; but meanwhile it is being put to a far better use.
For, as soon as the heap was complete, out from all sorts of places came small children and covered the sand heap, even as flies come and cover a lump of sugar.
I can see them out of my window now, and hear them; for they are shrieking like mad, as all children do who are having a perfectly gorgeous time.
If I could tell you all that is happening on that sand it would make more interesting reading than a pageful of newspaper crimes or a bookful of Diamond Dick adventures.
Over there a pirate has captured a crew of merchantmen and made them walk the plank. One by one the poor wretches tumbled down the sand, while the bold Captain Kidd with his sword of lath stood mercilessly at the top.
A general has led his troops to glory. He is an Irish boy of seven; his army consists of his two sisters and two neighbor boys. But it was a famous victory. They liked it so well they did it over and over.
There have been knife fights on the cliff, terrific struggles with the Indians, bloody hold-ups, prize fights, and bear fights.
Little Sissy Matthews, aged three, has rolled down the sand mountain until she is half sand herself; and her soul is filled with pure joy, even as her ears are filled with sand.
They have dug holes, moulded forts, made houses, pierced tunnels. They have patted the sand and piled it and thrown it and rolled in it, everything but eaten it.
On behalf of the children I wish to thank the municipality for its kind consideration. Whether the street needs paving or not I will not undertake to discuss, but it is certain that the children need all the laughter and glee that is contained in that sand pile.
Therefore, O wise and learned rulers of the town, I would petition you to come on with the sand. Please make some more heaps. Dump one at every corner.
It is good of you to provide schools where the little ones can sit up straight and study and not whisper. But oh! how much more bliss and rapture in a hill of sand!
All day long thousands of children stay in their cooped-up flats, or go out to play in streets crowded with murderous automobiles and trucks.
So that a sand pile is a godsend, and goes toward realizing the prophecy of the seer of old:
"And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof."