Story by Phillip M. Potts ('63)
I came to Lyman Ward in 1958. Or, I might say, I was "sent" . I was hanging around with the wrong crowds and not very responsible. Of course I was only 13, but my parents recognized that I needed something more than what was offered by them or the schools I was attending. I was in JR. High which is that hellish transitional stage for all kids.
I was devastated when they told me of their plans. "Oh woe is me", I felt. "I am being abandoned and thrown away". Little did I know of the time, experiences I would have and what it would really mean.
I do not remember the drive from St. Petersburg, Florida to Camp Hill. The first thing I do remember is standing between Friendly and Russel Hall and gazing out behind the school. In those days, you could see Daws Mountain in the distance as the trees were not quite as large as they are today. I was placed in Friendly Hall. I struggle to remember who was my first roommate. There were only about 60 cadets that year. Friendly Hall and "New Brick" were where we lived. Russell Hall had not been re-furbished at the time (And was actually not Russel Hall either).
My personal feeling was that the 58-59 year was the last of the "startup" years for LWMA. They were still learning what being a Military Academy was all about. The following year when Col. Smith took over as President and "acquired" General Futch as Commandant was the beginning of LWMA being a true military academy.
I remember it being quite rough. Hazing was not condoned but was commonplace, at least in part of that year. There was a group of upper class men that seemed to take pride in giving us as much grief as possible. They would run us through the woods and generally do whatever they could to make us miserable. I would say that things changed about a third, to one half the way through the year. This group of upper class men had a meeting where they discussed all manner of ways to give us a hard time. They were quite loud and could be heard all over Friendly Hall.(The Pool Hall was in center of Friendly Hall in those days. I know we were trembling in our boots.
The next day, suddenly they were gone. They had made enough of a ruckus that the word had obviously gotten out to Commandant, Major Emens and the President, Major Howell. The year settled down after that to an experience of learning and developing responsibility to some extent (smile). The two upper class men that we looked up to were Capt. Cecil Harris and Lt. Richard Hahn.
Major Howell was an interesting person. He had one glass eye which seemed to follow you wherever you were. He told us how he got that glass eye. In WWII, I don't remember in what battle, A bullet struck his helmut, was guided by the inside of the helmut to the opposite side, and entered nearly dead on sideways, of course damaging the eye.
All of this was nearly 35 years ago so it is difficult for me to pick out specifics.There was no Annual for that year, and all I have are a few letters that my Mother saved and some old catalogs from that time.
I remember Camping in the woods quite often and fishing in Lakes. Yes, there were two beautiful lakes back there. Alberta Peters ran the mess, and would load us up with eggs, bacon, and all manner of goodies when we went camping. She was a dynamo in the kitchen. Those of us that did KP duty would certainly stay on our toes.
Meals were served family style. There were no cafeteria lines, and we simply had a veritable feast laid out (by KP cadets) on the table. We would all stand while Cecil Harris gave the blessing..
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
We trained with old bolt action "03" rifles and though I cannot quite remember, also wooden rifles. I think we went to Ft. Benning to fire the rifles that year but I am not sure. I think I remember the M1 beast kicking the hell out of me..(smile)
I made PFC and held the rank nearly till the end of the year at which time I was busted for making Mulberry wine. I don't think I even had a drop, but a couple of fellows who were in on it implicated me as being in on the brewing stage, which I was. It must have fermented for three months out there in the woods. I think they enjoyed it, I hope they did. (Morrow, Lyons???)
As I remember things from those times I may add to this. To say the least, because of the friends, independence, and experience of that year, I begged to go back, and did for four more years.