Carefree days

by Peter Twitchell

Remember when we used to have carefree days when we were a lot younger long ago? We got up in the morning and got ready for school. All of us knew it was expected of us to be at school, no if’s and’s or but’s. So we put our best foot forward and ran to school.

My Mom & Dad lived on the other side of Bethel, about 3 miles upriver on the other side of the Kuskokwim River. So from kindergarten 1956 to 1965 I would miss approximately 1 whole month of school for 9 years.

My building blocks for algebra weren’t there when I was a freshman in high school. Mr. Murphy would give us a math ‘problem’ to solve and nothing was clicking in my brain. I didn’t know the steps to finding the answer.

There was 6 rows of desks in our classroom at Kilbuck and 1 student from each row went up to the chalkboard to show our work. When it was my turn and I went to the board I looked at the ‘algebraic problem’ and I froze.

I never comprehended what ‘y’ was or what ‘x’ was. I stood there listening to my classmates burn chalk. Five minutes standing there in front of a class of 26 students seemed like an eternity for me. I always felt less than par. It was the worst feeling in the world.

I felt like a totally different person when I was setting my traps and snares for fox and rabbits. I felt right at home in the great outdoors in winter and summer.

As a boy dad taught me all about hunting and survival and at the age of 8 I knew all there was to know about guns – safety, shooting and cleaning them. Dad taught me a thing or two about survival that helped me all my life.

I knew where to find blackfish to bait my winter hooks. I was taught to respect nature and all the animals in it and it provided for me and my family all our lives.

As time went along, life became a little more complicated like that math problem, but I survived like my ancestors endured all their lives with hard work, sometimes working 3 jobs in servitude to my fellow man. It’s given me a purpose for living. I worked 50 years of my life with gratitude.