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the GREEN HANDS

During the depression the government invented weird jobs like interviewing dead end kids about folklore on the lower east side of Manhattan. The following text is a scary story told by a child on the corner of 9th and Avenue C on December 15, 1938.

Once a man played an organ and as he played suddently somebody crept up behind him and stuck a six inch blade into him - all from behind. The organ grinder cried out and grabbed his throat. (Illustrates) Then they buried him in a coffin and buried the coffin. That nite the dead man's hands turned green in the coffin and at midnight they walked out of the grave. Two policemen were walking on the street when suddently one of them felt something scratching his leg. He looked down and screamed when he saw the green hands. He run, but the green hands run after him an grab him by the throat and chocked him just like that (illustrated with a twitch of the face and turn of the neck). Then the green hands walked into a lady's room just as she was undressing. They grabbed her by the throat and squeezed her till she fell like a sack. Then they swam out to a ship... etc.

…the interviewer describes the rest of the telling:

The story continues on and on for over thirty minutes with the green hands murdering all people that come within reach. The climax comes when the green hands are trapped in a hotel where a fire breaks out and the green hands turn to ashes. Throughout the length of the narrative, the group of about thirty boys kept silent and listened avidly to every syllable and closely followed the mimicry of the story teller. Their faces registered the horror of each crime – as if they themselves were eye witness to the crimes of the “green hands”. The story teller felt the spell that he was casting over them and drew the story out a little bit by putting “new” victims within reach of the “green hands”.

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