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The bells of the Russian Orthodox Church call out to the faithful January 1970.
No roads, no landing strip, no harbor - 600 miles (and days of travel) southwest of Anchorage sitting on the bluff overlooking Belkofski Bay - talk about isolation! And yet, in an earlier day, a thriving fur trade center.
By the time of this picture (October 1980), only a few villagers remained. Waves of emotion wash over me still (1997) in viewing this picture of our home for two years. It was the third school that I taught at (1969/71) but at that time it was MY school - over time I learned to be mechanic, janitor, teacher, principal, census taker and so many more roles while in that position. This was one of about 38 one-teacher schools administered by the State Operated School District during that period.
The teacherage was in the school, so each day, my "drive to work" was about 50 feet down the hall - talk about blurring the lines between work and family. . . Fourteen to eighteen students attended here over those two years. During one fall season - 18 rabid foxes were killed in the village, the FV Teressa Lee crab catcher/processor ran aground and was salvaged by the village men, our third child was delivered in the teacherage, the 1970 U.S. Census was taken and I signed a death certificate.
During this time period in Alaska history, the village teacher wore many 'hats'. Most of them were unofficial or assumed but were no less real. I intend to tell some of those stories here over the next few months.
Teaching has always been an adventure for me.
April 18, 2001
An e-mail arrived from Beth Johnson telling about her mother being a teacher in Belkofski in 1928. She retold some stories that her mother had told her and her brothers.
In one she mentioned that at times it was so cold in the teacher's quarters that her mother had to put newspapers under her mattress to insulate from the cold."She told me it was so cold she had to put newspapers under the mattress to help keep her warm."
In fact, the old school was still standing when we were there in 1969 (it was being used to store empty fuel oil barrels). Inside was a very small stove that was broken and rusting away. I salvaged the cast iron stove and sent it back to my father piece by piece via mail.
On the right is a picture taken today (April 19, 2001). It is not usable now and flakes of rust are falling off of it. It is about 21 inches high.
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