The 1950s weThis Week September 1955re an anxious decade in the United States. While the quality of life for many Americans was greater than it had ever been, the populous was on the edge of a communal nervous breakdown. The threat of global destruction via atomic war loomed large in people’s minds, and was added to be the fear of the rising tide of youth and their culture. Congressional hearings were held to determine just how destructive comic books were to the nation’s youth, a youth that was, according to anxious people, becoming more and more delinquent. Rock and Roll music was seen as a contributing factor to this, and juvenile delinquency even got the Broadway musical treatment with West Side Story. Ellery Queen got join the bandwagon with this piece of fluff published in the September 11, 1955 issue of This Week, reprinted in Q.E.D. as “Object Lesson.”

New York City Public High School teacher Miss Louise Carpenter calls on Ellery Queen to scare straight three delinquents in her class. Then, just before he arrives, an envelope with seven dollars in it is stolen from Miss Carpenter, in the classroom. Which, oh which of the three could have committed this premeditated theft of seven dollars? Ellery has one class period to figure it out. Of course, he does, just before the buzzer sounds, with enough time to lecture the children on the theme of “crime does not pay.”

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