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Harmonica High

by Richard Brautigan

(from The Tokyo-Montana Express, Delacorte Press, 1980)

At odd moments like a brief bird, a sudden and enchanting obsession has flown into my mind and sat there for a while in the branches of my intelligence staring at me with a happy expression on its face and then flown away to return again for short visits later on.  It always keeps coming back.

In other words: Harmonica High!

I daydream about a high school where everybody plays the harmonica: the students, the teachers, the principal, the janitor and the cook in the cafeteria.

Everybody has their own harmonica playing away from the time school opens until it closes.  Harmonica High is a happy school where the only subject taught is playing the harmonica, and after school the students leave, taking with them harmonica homework.

Harmonica High doesn’t have football team, a basketball team or a baseball team.  They have harmonica teams that eagerly accept all challengers and never lose.

On the first day of school every September the incoming freshmen are given harmonicas and on the last day of school the graduating seniors get to keep them because the harmonicas are their diplomas.

There are beautiful green trees that grow around Harmonica High and from September until June there’s always a harmonica breeze in the leaves and you can hear the school from a mile away.

It’s a different concept of education that can only be described as Harmonica High.