Staff

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.

Miss Seraph Blaisdell

Story By Paul Strobel('43)

Think back. Did you ever have a teacher when you were going to school - elementary, high, or college - whom you respected and looked upon as a fountain of wisdom and as a friend? A teacher who never escaped your memory? One that, even today, you feel occasionally is looking over your shoulder? Well, I did and I want to tell you about her. When I am through telling you about her, I want to "read" something to you. And then you will know why she was so important.

I was in my junior year at SII. Just getting along. Miss Blaisdell had what I thought even then an old first name. Her name was Seraph (not Sara). She had more ways to motivate a student to learn than I sometimes thought there were stars in the heavens.

Once she complimented me on my handwriting. Said it "looked purposeful". Said, with a little effort, I could improve upon it. You're right; my handwriting advanced from indecipherable to almost readable.

Working in the woods (one of our chores) one day a tree was felled and a limb struck me on my back. I fell on a two-bladed ax that I had been using and cut my right wrist badly enough to warrant steel clamps and a sling. Everything was inconvenient and ungovernable. Miss Blaisdell mentioned that I would have to make up a lot of missed book reports, unless I could learn to write with my left hand. She said she knew I could. I did. I can write, somewhat legibly, with both hands even today.

Miss Blaisdell mentioned one day in class that "Paul's book reports were improving considerably" and that she was sure everyone in class could improve their's, also. I did not like to read! Miss Blaisdell required book report after book report. Surprisingly, I began to enjoy reading. She imbued in me a love for knowledge and a special love for inspirational, motivational reading. Miss Blaisdell was more than a teacher; she guided me, quietly and subtlety, in directions that have enabled some worthwhile achievements. As my life has unfolded over the decades I look back with fond memories and deep appreciation and think about a little old lady who wore her grey hair in a bun, looked intensely through silver rimmed spectacles, and dressed in a fresh "frock" each day. Unfortunately, perhaps, she was never aware of the influence she exerted. (Or is she? She is probably still looking over my shoulder.)

I was reading tonight and a particular passage held my attention long after I had read it. I want to "read" it to you. It caused me to think of Miss Blaisdell, Dr. Ward, and all the classes, past, present, and future of our Alma Mater.

"Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, - and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry - shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate that happy period."

The aggregate of all the schooling the author of the above had amounted to less than a year. He taught himself, for the most part. Lincoln is quoted more than any of our presidents; only Jefferson comes next.

Remember, participate in and otherwise support your Alma Mater. There are still requirements for a Miss Blaisdell.

Paul S. Strobel ('43)

J. Brackin Kirkland

Story By Paul Strobel('43)

Opportunities for work seemed always to be plentiful at SII and the variety of tasks knew no boundaries. One of the tasks assigned to us occasionally was duty in the print shop.

J Brackin Kirkland    Photograph from -  "Their Country's Pride"  The Centennial History of L. W. M. A. by Jerri Beck  Page 91  Copyright 1997 - LWMA Board of Trustees  Camp Hill, Alabama

J Brackin Kirkland
Photograph from -  "Their Country's Pride"  The Centennial History of L. W. M. A. by Jerri Beck
Page 91
Copyright 1997 - LWMA Board of Trustees
Camp Hill, Alabama

The print shop was a small building and it was located where the medical facility now stands. After the print shop was done away with, a building was constructed which became the residence of Vera Orr, secretary to Dr. Ward. That building is now the medical facility.

Working in the print shop was a duty enjoyed by most of us. Of course, it was a small operation and the gentleman who operated it came in only once in awhile as needed. We set the type by hand. I became aware of the degree to which my spelling had improved during this period. I could not help but make improvements; the print shop operator had a very quick eye and an oral response equally as fast.

One day I carried a large supply of newly printed letters to Mr. Kirkland to be signed and mailed. I was instructed to wait while Mr. Kirkland signed these letters. I remember being disappointed at having to wait because I had planned to go to the gym to play basketball.

I asked Mr. Kirkland why he couldn't use a rubber stamp to apply a facsimile of his signature and I attempted to support my suggestion with the idea of saving time. Mr. Kirkland looked straight at me for a moment and then taught me a lesson which I have always remembered. His reply was that if people thought enough of the letters to take time to read them, the least he could do was personally sign them. The lesson translated into an old saying, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." Perhaps my analogy seems obfuscated, but at that age Plato and I were not conversing.

Mr. Kirkland came to SII from Boys Club of America where he served as an executive. He was a tall, wiry individual who's motions telegraphed strength and the agility of an athlete. I always imagined these physical characteristics were the result of his years on the rowing team when he was in school. On Saturdays you could usually see him wearing his leather work gloves and performing manual labor around the school grounds. Removing stumps was one of his specialties. Setting examples for young people was another.......

Dr. Lyman Ward

Story By Paul Strobel('43)

3/31/98

There probably are not many folks around who knew Dr. Ward. Certain of those still with us may have known him better than I knew him. Regardless, I would like to share a few of my memories of him with those of you who, unfortunately, did not know him.

Dr. Ward was barely less than six feet tall and relatively thick in build. He had a rather large head and a thatch of blondish-brown hair which he parted in the middle, distributing the mantle equally between east and west. His voice was of moderate timbre, projecting a tone neither deep nor high-pitched. He was not particularly handsome and his countenance most often expressed both calmness and intellectual curiosity. His physique imparted an image of formidableness and his bearing and gait, despite his girth, gave one the impression that he not only knew where he was going, but also specifically how to get there, and no one should attempt to persuade him otherwise.

Considering his goals, he certainly was in many ways, an idealist. Yet, considering his achievements, he charted courses which demanded an abundance of practicality. In an era when money was not plentiful, he resolved that a building was required for his school for the benefit of students. Determined that it would be done, the State of Alabama was confronted by Dr. Ward and thus was born the beautiful Tallapoosa Hall. Not all students could afford even the small cost of SII schooling, yet few were turned away. People who had previously been confronted by Dr. Ward for donations reached for their checkbooks when they saw him coming. (Surrender is not necessarily inglorious.) Not adversarial was he, but so convincing! No convoluted, articulated arguments, just straight to the point.

His love of the classics, his readings to us at assembly, the inscription on his wife's grave stone, and so many more gifts and talents characterize a gentle man and provide clues about a man who will never be forgotten.

Dr. Ward was not a simple person. Rather, a complicated individual with thoughts of great depth and a passion for humanity. Much has been written about him; he was listed in Who's Who in America among other publications.

Aware of my lack of literary talent, I apologize for the absence of skills to adequately portray the greatness of Dr. Ward. Nevertheless, my recollections are expressed with humility, respect and a deep appreciation for having known him.

I just wanted you to know who's footsteps you hear in Tallapoosa Hall. When you hear them, pause and say "Hello" to your friend, Dr. Lyman Ward, and wish him a HAPPY CENTENNIAL!

Dr. Ward's House (Sometime before 1950)

Dr. Ward's House (Sometime before 1950)

Lyman Ward Monument Dedication (1950) 

Lyman Ward Monument Dedication (1950) 

The Gravesite (1999)

The Gravesite (1999)

Lyman Ward Monument (2000)

Lyman Ward Monument (2000)

HE PROVIDED THE MEANS FOR  THOUSANDS OF BOYS AND GIRLS  TO OBTAIN AN EDUCATION THAT  MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN  DENIED THEM.     ERECTED BY THE ALUMNI ASSOCATION  AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT AND GRATITUDE  May 21, 1950  

HE PROVIDED THE MEANS FOR
THOUSANDS OF BOYS AND GIRLS
TO OBTAIN AN EDUCATION THAT
MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN
DENIED THEM.


ERECTED BY THE ALUMNI ASSOCATION
AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT AND GRATITUDE
May 21, 1950