Nain School at Christmas 1963

by John Caddy Murphy

Students in Nain School, as well as the teachers, got excited to hear that we all would be going down to the wharf to watch for the Canadian Air Force plane that would be bringing Christmas gifts to all the children at Nain. Each gift would have the name of the person it was going to on the package. These gifts were from the Canadian Air Force personnel and their families at the Air Force base in Goose Bay.

The morning was clear with a bright blue sky. The students walked with their teacher on the shiny trail made by many seal skin boots and dogs pulling kamotiks (sled). At first things were orderly, but as we got closer to the wharf, the excitement bubbled over. As we got very close to the wharf, the children rushed on in total excitement. Then it got quiet, as all eyes were looking toward South Point for a sight of the plane. It was very cold and windy, but no one noticed that. Finally, the plane came, in all its shiny glory. The door of the plane opened, and the first crate with its parachute attached was pushed out of the plane. It came down in front of the wharf. The plane then turned and banked to come back in for the second drop. The drops went on, but the parachute on one crate failed to open, and the crate came crashing down right toward the wharf. Everyone at the end of the wharf in one mass went running and screaming back up the wharf. I wonder sometimes, who it was who saw and realized what was happening first and yelled for the children to run away. I think some observant and sharp thinking person saved the day. It was terrifying, and then silence.

The children watched carefully when the next crate was pushed off the plane landing safely.
Out on the ice, the big crates were being dragged by their parachutes in the strong wing across the harbour. On the far shoreline they were caught by the icy ballicaters along the shore. Men went racing after them on their kamotiks pulled by the excited dog teams. The students watched what was like a cowboy movie as the men grabbed hold of the lines for the parachutes and struggled and then pulled them in like cowboys holding down a rearing mustang. The crates were put on the kamotiks and brought back to Nain. These were fathers and uncles of students, the heroes of the day.

After all that excitement we walked back to the school with a lot to talk and think about, as all that happened and what the presents might be that they would be getting in the church on Christmas Eve.

See the video of the event.