Three decades later, the daughter of Natalya Tsaryova – the essay heroine – brought a typewritten copy of the publication and a unique photo chronicle of the first days of the first Norilsk school to the Norilsk Museum.
Izolda Tsaryova arrived to the Far North with her parents in the autumn of 1939. The head of the family, a builder by profession, was assigned to Norilsk. His wife, a teacher of foreign languages, had already worked for over 20 years at a school in Makeyevka, a city in eastern Ukraine. Their daughter by this time was only eight years old.
In Norilsk in 1939 there was only one school, where the experienced teacher was very happy. Natalya was offered a place as a teacher of the German language in the upper grades and director of the evening school for working youth. Isolda went to second grade.
In Izolda’s personal archive (sitting in the second row on the far right), a series of photographs from the celebration of the New 1942 Year by schoolchildren, and even how the boys swim in lake Rudnoye in the summer of 1941 have been preserved.
Alexey Bondarev at the beginning of the essay conveys Natalya Tsareva’s first impression of the school in Norilsk: “Shreds of tow hung between the logs. A cracked stove smoked the low ceiling”. And then he tells how in the very first summer the German teacher, with the help of the combine’s head, Avraamy Zavenyagin, took the schoolchildren to lake Lama: “They were taken there by seaplane. There seems to be no better place in the Arctic! As if you find yourself in another world”. That trip is illustrated by a photograph in which Natalya is giving a lesson in needlework to her daughter.
Natalya was an example not only for students, but primarily for her daughter, although she chose the profession of an engineer, not a teacher. Izolda told about this in the interview to the Zapolyarnaya Pravda newspaper’s correspondent before leaving for the mainland in the late 1980s:
“My mother devoted her whole life to school and students. She loved children and her work very much. She worked in Norilsk for many years, and when her health failed, she left for Donetsk, home. But in winter she came to us. Mom met with schoolchildren a lot. I couldn’t imagine myself without communication. I am an optimist – my mother gave me this trait. She often said: “It is only in appearance that I have grown old, but my soul is young”.
Natalya Tsaryova taught in Norilsk until 1961. After her male colleagues had left for the front, she became the director of the school. In the fifties she headed school №2. The Tsaryova’s work was awarded with the Order of Lenin and the title of Honored Teacher of the RSFSR. She was the first of the Norilsk teachers to receive this title in 1958.
Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: funds of the Norilsk Museum