The Big Bang of 1980 (The Hailstorm!)

The Big Bang of 1980
(The Hailstorm!)

- or -

Don't Go Outside and Stay Away From the Windows!

By
Tim Carr('82) 
Charles Philipp('80) 
Sam Morrow('83) 
and
Bucky Heard('83)

Talk about cold in the sixties. I remember back in the spring of 1980 the school came under an attack of a large HAILSTORM that broke out just about all the windows. The ice was as large as a golf ball. It look like a snowstorm had hit. Covered the ground about 1 inch.

The storm happened in late March or early April of 1980. I have a photo of the late Kelly Robertson('81)* displaying the size of the hailstones with one in his mouth and one each hand. The exact date of the storm I cannot remember. Before the hailstorm Camp Hill was covered by a snowstorm.

 Kelly Robertson('81) in 1980

*Kelly Robertson('81) and Daniel Vallee('81) were killed in an automobile accident on March 12, 1981 in Anderson S.C. A day I will never forget. It was spring break week-end and they were headed to Kelly's home in Greensboro, N.C.. Kelly was in his senior year, and Daniel was a sophomore.

Story and Photograph by Tim Carr('82)

I REMEMBER IT WELL! ME AND MICHAEL GLUMM('81) WERE WORKING OVER AT THE OLD SUPPLY BUILDING WHEN IT HIT.

WE HEARD THIS WEIRD NOISE COMING THROUGH THE WOODS, AND TO MY ASTONISHMENT I SAW ALL THESE BALLS BOUNCING OFF THE TREES. I JUST STOOD THERE NOT BELIEVING WHAT I WAS SEEING. HOWEVER IT DIDN'T TAKE ME LONG TO RUN FOR COVER AFTER ONE OF THOSE BALLS POUNDED ME ON THE BACK. I HAD A BRUISE THAT LASTED ABOUT A WEEK.

I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT IF ANYONE WOULD HAVE GOT CAUGHT OUT IN THE OPEN IN THAT STORM IT WOULD HAVE PROBABLY KILLED THEM.

Story by Charles Philipp('80)

OH, YEAH! The Hailstorm!

I was in Cpt (George) Pate's 4th period class when it hit. Remember Captain George? I remember that he had always said that in any severe weather situation, to always be calm and not panic.

We had just finished a Physical Science test. A few of us were at the windows in the class. Then we heard it. Sounded like a freight train coming through the woods. Next thing we knew all the windows in the classroom were breaking! Cpt George grabbed his paddle, leapt up from his desk, and began shouting for everyone to get on the floor, cover their heads, etc. Total pandemonium. Scary at the time, but in retrospect, funny as can be.

One of my best memories of 9th grade.

Story by Sam Morrow('83)

I remember the hail storm as well...

I was across the hall from Sam Morrow in Captain Woodward's Algebra Class when I heard glass shattering!!! People were screaming across the hall, but it was mainly Captain Pate....like Sam said, I found it odd that he was raising more Hell than anyone when he always told us to be calm in a dangerous situation!! Ha!! Yes....it was DAMN funny looking back on it!!!

Story by Bucky Heard('83)

First Days at Lyman Ward Military Academy

(October through November 1959)

Story by Brian V. Brunner('64)

Afterword by Paul Tate, LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983

For me it was October 1959! Thirty-nine years ago this month (October 1998).

Based on what Phil Potts('63) had to say about cadet life at the school in 1958-59, I'm not too sure I would have wanted to be there that year. In fact, I didn't want to be there in 1959-60 either, but I think the situations and the overall condition of the school had already begun to improve that year.
(This was Col. Wesley P. Smith's first as President and General T. L. Futch's first year as Commandant of Cadets.)

What sticks out the most in my mind from that year? Rain. Rain. And more rain! I think we wore those black rubber raincoats and clear plastic hat covers almost everyday until spring! I know it was raining when my great uncle and Grandmother drove my brother, Richard, and me to Camp Hill from Atlanta! I will never forget looking out of the car at a foreboding looking building that I learned later was named "Tallapoosa Hall" as we parked in front of Ross Hall. Tallapoosa Hall had this massive three story clock tower on the near end. The front doors were on the ground floor and windows above on the second floor. The large circles where the clock faces should have been on the third floor were covered by white-painted boards. This building would not have been out of place in any number of old black and white monster movies. Ross Hall could have been some old plantation house from the Civil War days, and the Lyman Ward monument out front seemed to be a grave marker with cemetery benches on either side! I couldn't believe what my mind was telling me. Was I really supposed to live here and go to school? The cold rain and gray skies made the entire place and my dark thoughts even more foreboding! My brother and I were about to be left at this place! Dropped off by Uncle George and Grandmother. I could not believe what was about to happen. As I look back on those moments, I know that no one in the world could have told me then that two years later I would do everything in my power to get back to this place!

I can't say I felt, as Phil Potts('63) said, "thrown away". I knew this was the only chance I had to turn my life around, and thereby to stay out of a "Reform School." Yes, we had been in trouble with the law, and the judge had threatened to send us to place very similar to a jail for juveniles. My brother and I had just spent eight days in jail, a "holding tank" as it were, while Grandmother and the judge found a school that would take us despite our troubles. My mother had had a nervous breakdown, and my brother and I were running around with the wrong crowd. "Where was your Dad?" you may be asking. He was killed in an Air Force plane crash way back in 1950. I was five years old when my father died. Richard was sixteen and I was fourteen when we arrived at LWMA.

So, you might say, LWMA was a last chance for us to do good. I think my brother took it as that, but I'm not sure that I had it in my mind ever to do good. I did know one thing, however. I did not ever want to go back to something that remotely resembled that jail. That morning when we left our jail cell, we went directly to see the judge, and from there we drove to Camp Hill and to LWMA without ever stopping at home. Uncle George and Grandmother meant business. All of the clothes and a few other possessions that we would need at LWMA were already packed in two of my Dad's old U.S. Army trunks, one for each of us, and secured in the trunk of Uncle George's big Buick.

That night we got our uniforms from supply, and we were put in room #11 in Friendly Hall. Then we went to chow. Boy, the food was great! Everyday in jail we had fatback and grits (and, sometimes, watery powdered eggs) for breakfast, an almost "edible" lunch, and then cornbread and buttermilk was all we had for supper! The lunches must have been edible because I don't remember them! I can't remember complaining very much, if at all, about the food at LWMA. Now, you know why.

Later that same night in Friendly Hall after study hall was over at 9:00 P.M., we could open the door and go outside into "the hallway"! There was even a separate bathroom for us to use. We could even leave the building and go to the day room in "Old Brick" (Russell Hall) and get a Coca-Cola in a bottle from the machine there. We had to be back in bed for taps at 9:30. No bars on the doors or windows! Not even a fence or gate to keep us locked in! All we had to do was stay here at this school, stay out of trouble, and no more jail and no more threats of reform school! Considering the alternatives, that was just fine with me after I thought about it.

Because of our late start, we had only been at LWMA for a few short weeks before Thanksgiving came. Everyone was to go home for Thanksgiving, right? No, me and my brother were NOT going to get to go home. It was "Too soon", Grandmother said. That was the only time I ever felt homesick at LWMA! It seemed like everyone was going home except me and Richard. I wept that one time. Never again!

Then I found out that we were not alone, that there were others in the same fix. I guess we had about ten to fifteen other cadets who had to stay at LWMA for one reason or another.

I remember Loy Bascue ('61) was the high-ranking cadet in that group. He tried to make our stay at school as much fun as he possibly could and still stay within the rules. For example, the mess hall was closed that week. The school could not afford to pay cooks to cook for the handful of us "leftover cadets". The school had arranged for us to eat our meals at "The Station," the Panorama truck stop at the intersection of Alabama Highway 50 and US Highway 280 about one quarter of a mile west of the school. Loy was a sergeant and the leader of the drill team. Because of these positions, he had access to the drill team equipment. He checked out a white, crack drill team helmet for each of us. He made sure we wore the helmets when he had to march us the one-fourth mile to "The Station" for each meal. After the meal we would march back as a squad too. That was great fun! It would be 1961 before I joined the drill team for real.

Phil Potts('63) also remembers well that Thanksgiving Holiday week as he was one of the "Outcasts" with us. He will always remember the pool table nap and the lighted cigarette! I know that I will never forget his "Flying Saucer" sounds and cat calls he made over the P.A. system at night while he was "CQ" during that week!

We did get to go home for Christmas! I think that first Thanksgiving was the only time I ever had to stay at LWMA over a major holiday break. Phil Potts had to do it often, but he lived a lot farther from LWMA than I did. (He will have to fill you in on the all the other times he stayed at school or had to go home with someone else.)

From that time forward I felt more at home at LWMA in Camp Hill, Alabama, than I did at 3738 Clairmont Road in Chamblee, Georgia.

I hope you enjoyed this story. Next, I will have to tell you about how I did everything I could to get back to LWMA in the fall of 1961.

I did write that story after all. See the story about "My Lost Year at Mt. Berry, Georgia" to understand what happened there. (Story # 63 "I'm Going Back to Lyman Ward" in the contents pages.)

 

GET A LIFE!

A Note from Brian V. Brunner ('64)

When I was at the big Centennial celebration on May 2, 1998 an alumnus from my era, after reading some of the stories that I wrote, told me to "Get a life!". (Some of the stories were printed out by Ms. Jerri Beck and given to the people who bought her L.W.M.A. History book.)

I did not know how to respond at the time to that remark. I simply said someone needs to put down some of the things that happened. He said, "Better left unsaid.".

Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'll try to reply to "Get a Life!", by saying these things:

#1. I doubt I would have much of a life at all if it weren't for L.W.M.A..
The school gave me a purpose and a direction that has stayed with me to this day. When I arrived in Camp Hill I was in trouble at home, at school and with the juvenile authorities. All that changed because of the school on "The Hill". It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen. I'm grateful to the men and women who taught us at L.W.M.A., and I hope and pray that the school will continue to help young people in the future.

#2. If my friend thinks that spending time on a computer entering the stories, makes me a computer "geek" and I need to get a real life because of that, I reply: I first went to computer school back in 1968 and I have worked with computers since 1969, a long time before anyone had a PC. I owe my career to computers. Enough said.

#3. My friend has been very successful, and has been able to contribute things to the school that were very expensive. As an alumnus and a friend I am grateful to him for those gifts. I have not been able to make those kinds of gifts to L.W.M.A., so these stories that I write, and the help and ideas that I give Phil Potts('63) on this web site are my small contributions to the school and its history. By the way, my stories are directed to the current students to enjoy. I also hope that some of the stories may cause the alumni to smile too. I'm just sorry I have not found the time to complete the "Things in Tallapoosa Hall" story, or to write a good biography of General Futch. I will keep trying to find the time.

I hope my friend will understand now that I don't need to get a life because the one that was given to me at Lyman Ward Military Academy is just fine.

Brian V. Brunner '64
7/13/98

I'm Glad You Have a Life

A reply from Cliff Leonard ('64)

Brian,

Glad to run into LWMA. Don't know why I checked? I guess it was simply idle net time after a search on eBay for LWMA stuff. I appreciate what you have done. I took up writing several years ago -- and wrote and wrote and wrote. One day I stopped and have not done any since. So each individual letter you enter on that plastic board in front of you is especially appreciated.

As for getting a life -- some folks think that if you are not just like them then your wrong. So thanks for not "being wrong" and for doing what you enjoy.

Cliff Leonard '64
7/18/99

 

Memories of General T. L. Futch and a Saturday at Fort Benning

By Paul Tate, LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983

I only knew General Futch for the 1965-66 school year, my first year teaching at LWMA. He was not there when I returned to resume teaching in 1968-69. General Futch taught an academic class (such as trig, advanced algebra, and calculus) in the academic building to seniors as part of their academic day during 1965-66. He was a master teacher. Such a brilliant man in all areas (besides military) as well, very humanitarian. and humble, and basically more teacher than military general.

Generally, he would sit alone at a table in the dining hall during meals. If none of the other of my colleagues had preceded me and were sitting at the "teacher's table," General Futch would invite me to join him at his table, and I would look forward to those occasions. Sometimes I would purposefully "beat" my colleagues to the dining hall just so I could sit with him. We would have wonderfully enlightening dialogues (actually monologues, with his doing just about all of the talking since was I was content to listen and to learn as much as I could from him). I think he enjoyed being my "teacher."

Once he invited me to accompany him and a group of graduating senior cadets for a trip to Fort Benning one Saturday. He asked me to ride with him in his LWMA-provided car [In fact, at the time, his car was one of two, blue, Air Force surplus, four-door Chevrolets (1956's, I think) that Colonel Smith had been able to scrounge somehow. Each of them was in pretty good condition, as I remember, though both sorely in need of spit and polish, a good wax job. I often wondered why a detail of cadets were never assigned to polish the car, but General Futch would never have asked for anything like that.] Anyway, on the trip to Fort Benning, he drove, and our conversations continued. The cadets, under the command of the battalion commander, were driven by Mr. Eugene Clark on the school's bus.

I did not know when we left the campus early that morning that that day would be one full of pomp, circumstance, military splendor, and the respect that a retired general, even a brigadier, would garner from the Command at Fort Benning.

Just outside the gate at Fort Benning, General Futch and the bus pulled into a large parking area. Within less than 30 seconds, a highly shined, brand new, O.D. painted Army sedan drove up beside General Futch's dulled LWMA car, and a first lieutenant and his NCO driver immediately got out, snapped to attention, and saluted, holding it until General Futch, chewed cigar stub still characteristically resting in the corner of his mouth, casually returned the greeting.

"Sir! I am First Lieutenant _________, and I will be your personal escort for today," he said, "And General ___________ has requested that I accompany you and your group directly to his office as your first stop." After an exchange of greetings, introductions, and handshakes, the aide opened and held the back door of the sedan for General Futch (and me, dressed of course as a civilian) to enter. The driver had already placed in the holder on the front fender of the car the small fender-flag of a brigadier general. The lieutenant joined the driver on the front seat, and we were off to Army Command headquarters with the LWMA bus following close behind. There was very little, if any, talking during the short drive.

I had heard General Futch tell the Cadet Battalion Commander Higley Parr before we left Camp Hill that once the group had arrived at the Command Headquarters that the cadets would need to wait on the bus while he went to greet the "commander." He told Higley that the military escort for the cadet tour would begin at Headquarters.

When we arrived at Headquarters, there was a small contingent of honor guards waiting out front. I said to General Futch as we drove up, "I'll wait with the cadets on the bus." He replied, "No, I want you to go in with me. I want you to meet a friend of mine." After the expected exchange of salutes with the honor guard, the lieutenant led us into the inner rooms of the headquarters.

Immediately we walked into the commandant's office, and there on the visitor's side of a massive desk, facing toward the entrance door, standing at a rigid attention and saluting, was three-star Lieutenant General __________. I realized instantly that he was honoring General Futch, who slowly returned his salute. Instantly the commandant, a younger man, moved to General Futch and embraced him. They exchanged pleasant greeting, and after General Futch introduced me to him, the commandant said to me, "General Futch was my first commanding officer after I graduated from West Point in _____(year)." I knew there had to be something special about each of these two military leaders.

After a few minutes, General Futch said to General ________, "Let's go outside now. I want you to meet some of the finest young men I have ever known." The two generals eagerly went outside and stood by the door of the bus as Higley Parr, followed by each of the other senior cadets, stepped down to pop a salute to the three-star general, shook the general's hand, and then stood at attention as General Futch told the commander the name and the home town of each of the cadets whom he introduced. Higley Parr had done well in coaching the other cadets in what to do as they got off the LWMA bus and onto an Army bus that waited nearby. General Futch and I joined the cadets on the bus for a guided tour conducted by a major and two NCO's.

The commandant rejoined us at lunch when he treated General Futch and our cadets at the Officer's Club. There he spoke to us about being a cadet at West Point and how much General Futch had influenced his earlier days as an Army officer shortly after graduating. All of us were impressed. I was told that there was much excitement among the cadets on the bus returning to Camp Hill as their discussions centered around the splendid military kinds of events that they had witnessed that day. My conversation with General Futch in the car was equally as interesting but, I suspect, not nearly as exciting.

The Big Chill of 1963 Part II

Gov. George Wallace's First Inauguration Parade

Story by Phillip M. Potts ('63) 
and
Brian V. Brunner ('64)

Updated 1/15/2001 with photo from Samuel Chambers ('65)

Part 1

Phil's Hot Note
by Phillip M. Potts ('63)

George Wallace was elected Governor in Nov. of 1962? (A question from Brian Brunner)..

Yes, he was sworn in Jan 14, 1963. I "think" a number of us marched at his inauguration.. Blurry but I remember standing on the streets of Montgomery admiring the young girls in the band ahead of us..

That led to this memory...

From: Phillip Potts
Date: 5/15/98 7:30 am
To: Brian Brunner

If this was a dream then the previous messages brought it to the forefront..

I am pretty sure that we did march in the inaugural parade, and I remember going to the Capitol building and going into the Governors office. I believe Captain Tapley was with us because of the following events..

It seemed we stood forever on the street waiting for the parade to start. I cannot remember if it was the drill team or just a contingent of us. What I do remember is that I was standing in front of the group.

Standing there idle for so long, we started eyeing the young girls in the band that was in front of us. With our sharp uniforms the girls of course were eyeing back. One girl in particular seemed particularly attractive and was occasionally making a small wave at me..

I remember the bus ride back.. The school was "Rockland" or something like that. Turns out that their bus was in front of us. Suddenly I heard "Hey Potts!, someone up here is looking for you". I ran to the front of the bus and the young girl was in the rear window waving..

The reason I think that Capt. Tapley was with us is that he became quite irritated and bluntly told me to get my butt back in my seat..

This gets better. There were of course not hordes of girls in Camp Hill or nearby.. Most dances were populated with "imports" from all over. Being the immature imbecile that I was, I was taken with this event and commence to do a pretty stupid thing.

I knew the name of the school and commence to write a letter to the school describing the events and asking if they would provide me with any information regarding this young girl.

A week or so later I had a discussion with a couple of folks that surprised me. Usually discipline was handled by General Futch. But I think there was a discussion about what this really was all about and it was decided to handle this poor soul (me) in another way.

I was down by the infirmary and Colonel Johnson and Mrs. Johnson called me inside. They sat me down and showed me a letter that had been received from the girls school with words like "Cease any and all communications".. and letting them know that it was not appreciated that LWMA cadets were pursuing their girl student. They talked calmly and without saying it conveyed the idea that this was quite a stupid move.

I have to say that when stopping to think, which we do not do in our youth at times, I realized that it was indeed not appropriate for sure.

I wish I had someone from 63 to remember this with me. At least the parade and such. Unfortunately, seems that all 63'ers have either passed away or are completely lost..

Part 2

Brian's Cold Hand
by Brian V. Brunner ('64)

Brian's reply was...

From: Brian Brunner
Date: 5/15/98 11:42 am
To: Phillip Potts

This is what I remember about that Trip/Parade in Montgomery in January 1963.

1. It was COLD! This happened the same month you built the Iceman out in front of Russell Hall! We had to line up a long way from wherever the reviewing stand was located. I think there was a park on one side of the road, and houses on the other. It was so cold that the people living in those houses let us in to get warm while we were waiting for our turn to start marching. Too soon after that, Robert Rozelle('64), the Drill Team leader called us back outside. The parade was finally going to move. We started off with our rifles on our right shoulder. We stayed at Right shoulder until we arrived near the reviewing stand. We had on thin white cotton gloves, but I felt like my right hand was frozen to the rifle. I had no feeling in that hand at all! When we went to do the 21 count manual of arms, each time I grabbed the rifle with my right hand I felt like I was holding nothing but air. It's a wonder I did not drop that Springfield(1903) rifle right there in the street! I can only assume that we were all in about the same shape. I guess all our extra drilling paid off. I think that when Bob gave the "Fall Out" command I was numb all over. The old "Blue Goose" bus had to have felt warm after that.

2. You were the "B.C."(Battalion Commander) at the time! No wonder you were out in front of the Color Guard, Drill Team, and Band! And I guess that's why you got to go to the Governor's Office. (I don't remember that part at all.)

3. Captain Tapley was not only mad at you, but at all of us in the bus too. After we got back in the bus, someone noticed in the next bus to the right of us a couple kissing each other! That bus was parked about 200 feet away from us. Well, this someone said, "LOOK at that!" , and everyone sitting on the left side of the bus jumped up in the isle and bent over us on the right to get a better view. Of course the whole bus leaned over to the right, as we watched this young girl kiss the boy whose lap she was sitting on! That was one of the reasons Captain Tapley was upset. He made everyone sit down and we left shortly after that.

4. I'm not a member of the class of 1963, but I remember that parade! It was too cold to ever forget! I don't remember the letter writing problem you had, but it's a great story for the "Stories" page. I can almost see Col. Johnson's eyes smiling during the whole time he was talking to you.

     - Governor's Day -  LWMA Campus - 1965   (left to right)  Paul Woodard ('67), Samuel Chambers('65), Steve Huchko ('68),  Gov. George C. Wallace,  Thomas Bridges ('66), Mark Estopinal ('69), Rolf Sasser,  Louie Hayes, Jr. ('67), Charles Rickey, Omar Nagle, III ('66),  Walter Hobson, Frank Richmond ('65), Wesley Bain ('67)   Photograph contributed by   Samuel Chambers ('65)   

 

- Governor's Day - 
LWMA Campus - 1965

(left to right) 
Paul Woodard ('67), Samuel Chambers('65), Steve Huchko ('68), 
Gov. George C. Wallace, 
Thomas Bridges ('66), Mark Estopinal ('69), Rolf Sasser, 
Louie Hayes, Jr. ('67), Charles Rickey, Omar Nagle, III ('66), 
Walter Hobson, Frank Richmond ('65), Wesley Bain ('67)

Photograph contributed by Samuel Chambers ('65)