School Days


In the early thirties, as the depression deepened, good teachers were a dime a dozen. Little one- room school houses had to close as families moved away, leaving good teachers unemployed. Since the Chinook school was consolidated and had steam heat besides, it was sought after, which was a godsend for all of us kids who were thirsting for knowledge. Even though we didn't know it at the time.

Frank Morall was one of those great teachers. Unlike J. C. he had a big heart and loved the kids. Frank had had polio as a teenager. He had one withered arm used a brace on one leg and walked with a limp, but you never noticed this when he was coaching ball, or any other of the many sports he taught us.

Frank spent many many hours of his own time after school and on week ends, organizing and teaching. One of our greatest projects was the Eskimo igloo. The winter had been harsh as usual, and by March had left the school yard full of hard packed snow drifts, perfect for igloo blocks.

The project started with clearing snow from a level piece of ground. This ground was not hard to find, most ground was flat in Chinook.

Next a circle was scribed using two stakes and a ten foot cord. Snow blocks were carefully cut with carpenter saws sixteen by sixteen inches and dragged on toboggans (we all had a toboggan) to the job site where Frank waited with instructions on how and where to place each block. The first layer was placed touching the circle we had scribed, the next layer slightly in toward the center and staggered half way of the bottom joint. Even though there were many willing hands, the building crept up at a snail's pace.

Water had to be carried from the town pump and judiciously thrown over the snow blocks after every third layer was put in place. The water froze the blocks solidly together keeping the operation stable and safe.

Ladders had to be used after the half way point. Only the big boys got to use the ladders. I was not one of the big boys. I was a block cutter.

When the final block was placed in the roof and the final water applied, it was time to cut the entry hole and build the tunnel to it for completion of the grandest igloo I have ever seen. In fact the only real igloo I have ever seen except on T. V.

We all loved that igloo and couldn't wait for recess when we could rush out, crawl through the tunnel and marvel at the warmth and light there was in an igloo. The thing lasted almost forever until we even got tired of crawling through the tunnel, and Frank finally got the big boys to smash it so we wouldn't get hurt if it melted.

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