Judy Holmes, 1957

Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories

Judy Holmes, 1957

Crater Lake is one of the most memorable “places in time” for the people I know who lived there. It bordered on being magical. The deep winters with snowplows coming within inches of our boarded up windows to relieve the ice and snow build-ups on steep roofs, the pine marten squeezing in between the boards and glass to grab a scrap of meet and the ever-present Clark’s Nutcracker landing on our outstretched hands for a treat are just part of the memories I hold so dear. In the summers I remember the children having the run of the park, sometimes catching a ride in the back of a ranger’s pick-up for a ride home. We thought nothing of chasing bears away by pounding on the bottom of a pan with a spoon, but then were kind of awed when one ripped away the wooden siding on a garage in an attempt to raid the freezer. We would go down to the dump and make plaster of Paris casts of the really big bear prints. Nothing rivaled the deep blue sky, the hoar frost on the trees around the lake’s rim and the incredible blue moods of the lake. It was almost like an all-seeing eye sometimes sparkling with reflected sunlight and other times brooding in clouds.

When I lived there in 1957 to 59, there was a one room school presided over by Jackie Pool. We were located in the old Administration Building and used to ride our sleds down the hill, hoping we wouldn’t meet a pickup on its way up. Once we positioned ourselves on top of the 17 foot snowbanks in just the right place so the snowplow could cover us in what we thought would be pillowcases full of downy snowflakes. When ice chunks and dirt bombarded us, we quickly relocated. Jackie ran an excellent school full of variety and fun. There were 10 of us, grades one through eight, and I am forever grateful for her exercises on how to diagram sentences as a means of identifying the parts of speech. But there were two other important things I learned in her school.

One is that she had no tolerance for ridicule. We were expected to help other students when our homework was done. That was probably the best part of our education, because it gave us compassion, insight into how others learned, a sense of responsibility to our fellow classmates, a cooperative spirit and pride in being able to give to others. We put on square dance performances in the room above the garage in Sleepy Hollow, held Christmas plays there, enjoyed family potlucks, especially in the deep of winter, and celebrated graduations in this huge wooden structure, being ever mindful it could unload tons of ice and snow at any time. In 1958 Jackie made the two eighth graduates feel just as important as any kid in the city would have felt.

The other person who contributed to our education was Slim Mabery. He was a wonderful ranger who dedicated hours to fitting us all out in skis, including one student who used crutches. He built a rope tow to assist with our ski lessons during the winter, part of our physical education program, and held races complete with trophies at the end of the year. The stronger skiers actually brought a toboggan down the hill just like a ski patrol drill. He had a zest for life that rubbed off on all of us. For the children, Jackie and Slim were the heart of the operation.

Over 40 years later the Lake still holds a sentimental place in my heart. It is hard to explain to those who have not been there, or to those who go to the rim and see a deep pool of very blue water. It was living there and enjoying the amazing kaleidoscope of experiences that make it so special – the natural beauty, Mt. Garfield keeping watch over our little community, Phantom Ship and the Old Man of the Lake, the moods of the lake, the depth and melting of snow, the woods, the canyons, the flowers, the waterfalls, and of course all the people who impacted our impressionable young minds. That’s what Crater Lake is to me.

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