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By Tim Ripley

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It is the failures o f the oth­ ers that makes for the strength o f the fuhrers. When there’s no worthwhile banner, you start to march behind worthless ones. When you don’t have the genuine article, you live with the counterfeit. The co-op managers used to harass us. In his anger one o f them called us “tramps” because we were handing out leaflets in front of his shop. I can still recall our (bitter, bitter) sniggers. A Socialist, who used “tramp” as an insult. He would have chased Maxim Gorky* away!

Objects disappeared without trace. Nobody could intercept the hands o f the criminal 6 • M EM OIRS OF A R EV O LU TIO N A R Y child — my hands. I was harangued at length, I was admonished, I of­ ten saw my mother’s eyes fill with tears; I was beaten too, and punished in a hundred ways, because my petty crimes were mad, exasperating, incomprehensible. I drank the salted milk, I denied everything (natu­ rally), I melted into wretched promises, and then went to bed, in in­ consolable grief, thinking o f K in g Lear leaning on Cordelia.

And juvenile labor was paid ridiculously low wages, if it was paid at all. Plenty o f employers offered two years’ apprenticeship without pay, in return for teaching a trade. M y best early job brought in forty francs (eight dollars) a month, working for an old businessman who owned mines in Norway and A lgeria. If, in those days o f my adolescence, I had not enjoyed friendship, what would have I enjoyed? There was a group o f us young people, closer than brothers. Ray­ mond, the short-sighted little tough with a sarcastic bent, went back every evening to his drunken old father, whose neck and face were a mass o f fantastically knotted muscles.

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