Demerits, The Lake, and The Cabin

Some Reflections of
The Southern Industrial Institute
in the Early 1940's

By Paul S. Strobel('43)


Phil Potts('63) asked me this question:

As a Military Academy, we were given "demerits" for let's say "uncool performance". At SII what sort of similar things did you have.

My Answer was:

I don't recall that we (at SII) ever had "demerits", per se. Dr. Ward had his very own system of discipline. That system was effective and constructive. It has contributed to whatever maturity and integrity we maintained throughout our lives.

The system was simple. When you misbehaved, you had extra chores. We had regular work schedules, over and above class room activities. Extra work meant just that: extra work. Regular work chores included things like cutting pine trees for heating and cooking purposes, waiting tables in the dining room, assisting in the print shop, helping "Babe" in the kitchen, cleaning the cabin at the lake, and washing windows. Every morning one of us was scheduled to deliver fresh milk, cream, eggs and butter to Dr. Ward's house. The walk wasn't really very long, but it sure seemed long; very early mornings and very cold temperatures really can make a short walk very long.

Not for disciplinary reasons, but because I was too far from home to return during holidays, I stayed in the dormitory and was assigned a work schedule. I remember that it does get cold in the winter in Alabama, and especially in an unheated building. My work assignment was painting the interior of the dormitory.

BUTCHANOWHAT? It was a labor of love!!!

"The Lake" and "The Cabin"

Cabin Erected by the Boys Overlooking Lake Mary (Original caption - From the LWMA History Room)

Cabin Erected by the Boys
Overlooking Lake Mary
(Original caption - From the LWMA History Room)

Cabin with porch. Man siting on porch is Mr. J. Brackin Kirkland.

Cabin with porch.
Man siting on porch is Mr. J. Brackin Kirkland.

Cabin Fireplace 1999 (Taken 10/23/99)

Cabin Fireplace 1999
(Taken 10/23/99)

Brian Brunner('64) asked me this question:

Where was the cabin? "The lake"? Is that the same lake we have on campus now or somewhere else? What was it used for? When was it built? When was it torn down?

My Answer was:

This is in response to your request for information concerning the above captioned. I present all of the following from memory, as I have no written records, so you will please forgive any errors which subsequently arise. Memories, especially those which are 50 + years old, sometimes seem to fade into the mists of time. Yet, the pleasures involved tend to grow.

"The Lake" was (is?) not very large. Mrs. Ward lent her name to it, thus "Lake Mary". It may have covered an acre or more and it was not very deep, however, it did provide great opportunities for fun for growing, healthy boys.

The cabin was located very near the lake - not on the lake's bank, but very near. As I recall, it was not very large. Perhaps about twenty feet by thirty feet. It was build of logs from the school's forest. I don't know when it was built but I believe it was quite some time before I came to SII in the forties. The interior was very plain. Just bare log walls, chinked well. It had a wonderful, large fireplace. We would take our blankets to the cabin sometimes on Friday or Saturday nights. Although the floor was pine and accouterments ranged from exiguous to non-existent, it was a treasure house of fun; pillow fights, stories, and camaraderie. Earley Macon ('44) and Ken Russell ('44) could probably give you additional information. Also, Dorothy Moore('54), I'm sure would be able to provide more information.

When I come down there in May, one of the things I look forward to it visiting Lake Mary. I shall be disappointed if it is no longer there. The cabin, too, would be nice to see although I suspect it has long since departed. Regardless, it will be so wonderful to visit old memories which, in this case, never die but become more poignant with the passing of years.