It was another very busy day in New York City. People were roaming the streets as cars and automobiles drove by along them. Men and women were moving back and forth from meetings and other events while children hurried home after another day at school. Newsboys, peddlers, and shopkeepers outside of their stores called for attention to their items from anyone who would come by their ways.
It was around one of these such places in the big city, by a supermarket, that four very queer looking figures were gathered and were thus conversing amongst themselves. They were the visitors from the Land of Oz, none other than the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead on his Sawhorse, and of course Professor H.M. Wogglebug T.E..
"So you see, Jack my friend," Professor Wogglebug was saying to his pumpkinheaded companion, "In addition to your head being a gourd of the genus Cucurbita and the family Curcurbitaceae, it is also a very popular and commonly grown cultivated fruit all over the world."
They were currently standing in front of a rather large display of very big pumpkins around a general store. Jack was looking most intently at the pumpkins while he listened with interest to his companion who always seemed to him to be thoroughly educated in so many subjects, and he found this now also included pumpkins.
"My head is not really the same as all these other pumpkins are, however," Jack remarked thoughtfully. "Because my head has a face carved into it."
"Yes, indeed it does, very well observed," said the Wogglebug like a teacher praising his student. "And the kind of face that your head has in it is meant to be called a jack-o-lantern face. These faces have been carved in pumpkins for many years here in this place called America which the settlers of it had adopted from a place called Ireland I believe. The tradition had derived from an ancient superstitious ritual of carving faces into harvestibles at this time of the year so as to ward off any bad spirits from them."
Jack now looked at the Wogglebug and asked curiously, "It is? Then do you mean to tell me my head... face... can scare away scary things?"
Professor Wogglebug smiled warmly at his innocent friend and chuckled lightly as he replied, "Well... perhaps some things might be, but though as I'd said it was just an old ritual of superstition originated by medieval peasants, and besides your face is more likely to bring about smiles like the one of your own to most."
"Oh," said Jack, sounding rather relieved. "I'm glad of that. And I suppose another thing that separates me from these other pumpkins is in my ability to speak and understand certain things."
"Right you are," exclaimed the Wogglebug. "You see, your head is alive more so than these other pumpkins are, for unlike your own they just sit still as they grow and then eventually die while all the time paying no mind to whatever may become of them in between. While you are so much more fortunate from any of them as you have the ability to think and to let your thought thus guide your actions through your life, however long it will be. And you see, that just makes you so much more special and unique in every way from all others of your species."
Jack was now looking at the Wogglebug with a smile that was as heartfelt as it appeared to be. "Why, you're right!" he exclaimed happily. "You're so right! And I had just never thought of myself in that way before! And now that I do I really feel so much better about myself and being alive than I ever had before!"
Professor Wogglebug smiled as well and gave Jack a hearty pat on his shoulder as he said, "That's just what I had hoped you would realize."
It was just then that the four of them all heard the voice of a newsboy who was coming up to their area and holding out a newspaper of the day while exclaiming quite loudly, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The oldest school building in the city is closed down, and is to be demolished!"
The four of them all looked with great interest at the newsboys words, and the Wogglebug did the most especially. Then when the newsboy was close enough to an older man on the street they watched as he handed him a paper in exchange for a silver coin. Then they saw the man begin to read the paper to himself, and then shake his head is disbelief. Then they watched as more people nearby who had heard the news delivery also began to gather around. They all had varying expressions to their faces, some were of disbelief, disapproval, disgust, or of anger, sadness, regret, pain, and just a few of indifference.
Then as they began to hear chattering and muttering amongst the groups gathering around them, the four visitors from Oz became increasingly more curious about what was going on now. The Wogglebug seemed to be the most especially.
"What does this all mean?" asked Jack Pumpkinhead in bewilderment. "What are they saying?"
"I don't know, I'm afraid," admitted the Scarecrow.
"And neither do I," added the Tin Woodman.
"Well," announced the Wogglebug with an air of importance to his tone, "then let us go and find out!"
So then they, led by the Wogglebug, went up closer to the throngs of people gathering around in the center of the street talking about what was now going on. The closer they came the more clearly their conversations became to them. They heard things from them such as:
"I can't believe it! The old school closing down? This is just simply unforgivable!"
"I'll say it is! Why, I practically was raised in that old school myself!"
"And now what is to become of the children who went there?"
"I don't know."
"Well, it does seem there is to be a new series of working places built over it."
"How utterly dreadful!"
"I'll say it is! I mean this means that so many more of young children will be put to work in those places!"
"And that is just wrong! I mean, those children are so liable to be harmed by the things of their working conditions!"
"I can tell you this also, right here, where it tells about how yet another child just lost both her arms due to an unfortunate accident where she was working in a steel mill!"
"Not another one!"
"And so many of those unfortunate children who went to the school that is about to be torn down will likely be the next ones in line for just such!"
As the visitors from Oz were listening to these things they each had a reaction of their own. Jack Pumpkinhead had his hand up over his long jagged mouth. The Scarecrow was frowning while shaking his head in disbelief. The Tin Woodman had tears streaming down his shiny metallic cheeks. Professor Wogglebug also appeared to be blinking at tears that were welling in his big bulging eyes.
Then the Scarecrow was the first to speak. "This is so... unbelievably terrible," he muttered.
"Oh! I can't bear to think of those poor children going to work in areas where they can only be hurt!" the Tin Woodman wailed.
"I can't either," agreed Professor Wogglebug, "or of having so revered a structure as the oldest school in the city being desecrated!"
"Is there anything we could do about these things?" asked Jack Pumpkinhead as he spoke his mind.
The Wogglebug seemed to now be deep in thought. And then his expression began to lighten as he turned toward his companions and voiced his own thoughts.
"My friends, I do believe we must do all we can to save the old school building from being destructed, and the many children from having a very horrible fate thrust upon them also."
"That is a very noble suggestion, H.M.," said the Scarecrow approvingly. "But what exactly can we do for the cause?"
Now the Wogglebug began to think again. Then he spoke saying, "Our first course of action I believe must be to learn as much as we possibly can about our cause and everything surrounding it. And to do so, I believe for a short while we should each go in a separate direction and find out more about the school, and the children, and these supposed working conditions they have, and thus learn more about what can be done to amend all of them."
The other three all nodded with approval to his speech.
"Well said, Wog," said the Scarecrow.
"So where should we all go?" inquired Jack Pumpkinhead.
"You, Jack, go to the North," Professor Wogglebug began instructing, "You, Scarecrow, go to the East. You, Tin Woodman, go to the West. And I myself will go to the South. And in this way we shall find out as much as we should know about our cause."
They then all voiced their agreement to this. Then they all headed in their own separate directions.