Our old high school holds memories!

I was 12 when Dad moved us back to Fort Frances while he helped build the No. 3 grinder room on Mowat Avenue before beginning on a new house for us across the tracks on Portage Avenue—long before the CNR subway was created.
So my memory of those years and high school, which was one of the main reasons we returned here from Mine Centre, has probably thrived because those were exciting times for me.
Since the call has gone out for memories of our old high school, I volunteer these recollections of teachers from our military-minded principal, John R. Townshend, on down.
I compiled a list of my teachers on duty just before the Second World War broke out. Then so many of our students soon were wearing uniforms.
Right away I will mention pretty Miss Lyon, who would not accept any foolish remarks about her good looks. She was somewhat of a change from our math teacher, Miss Durnin, who took it as a personal insult—to the point of breaking into tears—if we had forgotten to do our homework!
I was no star in the gymnasium, either, where Jim Terry led us through his drills, including the overhead rings. A gymnast of ability himself, he saw no reason why many of us could not achieve an outside “skin the cat” on those rings—and watched without laughing when I fell on my face for a broken nose.
Later, I redeemed some respect on his football team, which was before the Muskies’ name started. We played Kenora and Rainy River high schools with considerable success, and enjoyed those car trips.
We had some great players in those days, like fullback Waldemar Zimmich and John Mihichuk, who was my sidekick as tackle on the line where I played my guard.
I would enjoy bragging about my other high school experiences but an incident in the agriculture class was embarrassing because our teacher, Mr. Gruzleski, wondered who poured a retort half-full of lead shot into his lab sink.
This was one of my absent-minded lapses following his science class!
I could rush here into my good luck with languages because Miss McRae thought I was doing so well in Latin and I told her my dad was Italian.
Hester McCaw, who taught French, had me repeat her classes one year. So my graduation certificate lacked a language and I had to take Spanish in college later.
Yet, having started on a guitar course downtown, our music teacher and orchestra leader, Miss Alderson, who became Mrs. Bert Henry later, was pleased that I sat in with her group regularly while enjoying Danny Murray on his saxophone.
I owe Alice Morrison more than any other teacher because she discovered early that I could produce an essay when other students had “writer’s” block. She would sometimes read my effort aloud to our class.
Perhaps this stimulated my interest in studying journalism after the war ended. Also of help here was my wartime training as a typist for Japanese code.
Then at government expense, I became one of the first graduates from Carleton College (now Carleton University) in Ottawa, and I still believe all my wastage of ink and paper probably started with Alice.
I also remember a certain Penny Player from her English classes.
Other teachers I should name include a Miss Fishleigh, the girls’ gym teacher who wore her short gym skirt around the hallways, and a Miss Graham, another looker.
Oh yes, high school time helped us all grow up! So many good-natured teachers along the way are still much appreciated! I’m sorry to say I may not remember them all, but those who influenced me most were definitely included here.
• • •
I can’t let this flashback on high school leave out one of its secretaries, Mary Andrusco, who has been having a tough time recovering from surgery, her husband, Nick, reports.
Her brother, Bill, was a leading classmate of mine. My own wife, Emily, followed Mary as school secretary.
• • •
The talk grows stronger against all those behemoth trucks with huge loads crowding our main streets. They seem to become longer and more numerous every week.
One obstacle preventing more control is the provincial money on maintaining the town’s main streets, which are officially Ontario highways.
International Falls has a bypass route for oversized conveyances but, so far, Fort Frances just has to bear with them.
• • •
The new Wal-Mart manager, Cindy Killett, has a bookish husband, Ross, who has been loaning me books of more than passing interest. First, I got his uncle’s book of wartime airplane photos and then he brought me his own book on flying.
He knows this well from 26 years in our RCAF.

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