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Chilocco School Short Stories
As an Employee at Chilocco


      If there are dimensions in the world like Einstein believed there were,  certainly Chilocco could have been an example of that. As a student our lives were lived in a Utopian environment. Everything we needed was provided. We had clean sheets, plenty of water for showering, three balanced meals a day, a beautifully landscaped campus, great stone buildings, and good friends who were  without stress. If we conformed to the rules and regulations,  life was most pleasant.

      Upon becoming an employee there was a sudden awakening to a different world existing apart from what  had formerly been known when I was a student. Compared to today's standards for the working person, of course, there was no comparison. But, for the difference between student and employee this was where the thought of dimensions came into play. Oh sure, we still were in the same buildings, walked the same sidewalks, and lived on campus as well, but somewhere within this time frame there was another world.

      Not too many former students became employees at the time. This was a bit of a stumbling block but not much.

      When I opened the door to take my place behind the desk outside the principal's office everyone else was already in their place. One of the male administrative persons looked up at me and then glanced at the clock. I was five minutes early but apparently he felt the need to double check. This was a quiet reminder for me of my standing among these seasoned workers. Although I had gone through the discipline of the school there was an unstated attitude with some of them that clearly indicated how they felt. Too young, too untried, and just plain, too new. It was like the cat in the hat. “Too spotty, too tall, too big, too small.”  In other words there was no pleasing some of them. Fortunately, I was too young to care. I had been given the detail to work in the office when at the school so the chores were not that much different. I knew the regimen. Of course, responsibilities were greater.  But the equipment, the tools, the staff of the school, with all these things I was accustomed and acquainted.

      Juco had prepared me with endless hours of shorthand training. Writing thirty pages a day of it would brainwash even the slowest of people to learn.

      Dr. Wall, the principal, dictated methodically. The secretary before me said I could write the transcription in as he lingered over this phrase or that statement. The letters of a government organization were usually dry with language even a girl could easily understand. Sometimes my eyes drifted to look out the windows where the white geese were bobbing on the lake while I waited for him to gather his thoughts on one subject or another. The artist in my soul made me want to study the man, too. He was tall, dark and decidedly handsome. His long delicate fingers were outstandingly noticeable for a man of his size. He had a young family, a strong devoted wife and generally seemed to be very contented with this new job. He came to Chilocco well able to handle government schools. When he spoke the words were sometimes halting and measured as if he was used to speaking to people of another race who might not easily understand English. Indeed, he had been in a school of Navajo children who mostly didn't speak English.

     Endless hours of working with forms and paper work gave me a respect....no!  respect is not the right word.  Rather, it gave me an empathy for the people who work in bureaucratic positions. The hours of filling out forms might have been maddening for a young girl except that Dr. Wall, who was a true leader, was so patient. I always felt  he could have done the work himself except for once when I had to be gone for a day, I realized differently. One of the teachers laughingly showed me a memo he had typed to her.  She said, “Dr. Wall was sitting at your desk answering the phone and trying to type this. It wasn't a pretty sight.”

     Needless to say, I never missed a day of work after that.


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