The Rope in the Clock Tower

By Paul Tate, LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983


I suppose that there are more stories about the ghost(s) in Tallapoosa Hall than anything else. When I was directing plays, we used the attic for storing much of our items (lights, electrical cables, control panels, etc.) that we used annually. It was always very interesting and amusing as I watched the faces of cadets who were about to make their first trips to the attic. After winding up a steep and narrow stairway to get to the attic, one would encounter even steeper stairs to go from the attic into the clock tower. They would always look in the bell tower (actually, the clock tower) for the rope (noose) used by Seven-Toes* who had hanged himself from the rafters. As you know, during your time at LWMA and much of the time I spent there, Tallapoosa Hall was never locked (only classrooms and offices), so many new cadets would go with an older cadet on ghost hunts in the space of time between the close of study hall (in the dorms) and taps.

* "Seven-Toes" was the name someone gave to a seven-toed bum who lived somewhere deep in the back woods.

See the story titled " The Legend of Seven-Toes" for more information.

Things That Go Bump in Tallapoosa Hall After Dark - Brian V. Brunner('64)

Things That Go Bump in Tallapoosa Hall After Dark


    We all know that strange things happen in Tallapoosa Hall at night. Everyone who went to SII and LWMA after Tallapoosa Hall was built has a story about it or maybe about Dr. Ward's house. That place was called "The Haunted House" by everyone back then including Dr. Ward! 
Alumni and current students, if you have a good story about the school, on any subject, send it to: 
Brian Brunner - bbrunner@gsu.edu

Be sure to read Chapter I before II, III, and IV - and Chapter V before VI to get all the background information.

Now on with the fun....

Chapter I

Background Information about the 1959-1960 School Year
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

You will note that chapters II, III and IV all occurred in the 1959-60 school year. To really enjoy those chapters you need to read this one.

This was Col. Wesley P. Smith's first year as president (he was a Major back then!), and Gen. T. L. Futch's first year as Commandant. Col. Smith ran the school and Gen. Futch ran our lives. And they turned this school around in a very short time. A future chapter will explain more.

Notes about the buildings and campus of 1959-60: The buildings were: The house by the front gate. I never knew it had a name until 33 years later. This is the house attached to the new Infirmary. Then up on the hill, starting from East to West, Tallapoosa Hall, Ross Hall (was the dining hall on the ground floor and Infirmary on the top floor. (Mrs. Patterson, the school dietitian lived up there too. She kept an eye on us when we were sick and saw us at sick call. The only problem was she was not a nurse, but she did her best to take care of us.) Next was Supply (in the past this building had been known as the Lincoln Science classroom building and later Shop classroom building), Allen House, Old Brick (Goodwill Hall, later named Russell Hall or just called "the CQ Building " ), a large open space where Alabama Hall once stood, Friendly Hall (later named Kirkland Hall) (CWO Yancey and his wife lived in the house in the middle of Friendly Hall. Mr. Yancey was our Supply Officer and Mrs. Yancey ran the Canteen.), and New Brick (later named Ward Hall then Howell Hall). The Haunted House/Dr. Ward's House, located where the Dixon Chapel is now, had been torn down the summer before. There were no buildings behind the back road except for a small repair shop/tool shed located about where the new mess hall is now. New Brick and Friendly Hall were the only buildings that were used as dormitories that school year. Allen House was the Pool Room (one table), Canteen (no hot food, snacks only) and Barber Shop. Old Brick's and Allen House's dorm rooms on the top two floors were in bad shape and only used for storage. Old Brick had a tin roof that had been put on the building as temporary fix sometime in the past. The ground floor housed the Commandant's Office, CQ Office and the Day Room (With the only Black & White TV on campus.) Old Brick was remodeled in the summer of 1960 to become Russell Hall. The ground floor remained offices and Day Room and the upper floors became dorm rooms once more. Russell Hall was torn down in 1985 to make way for the new HQ building. Not bad for a building that was built in 1909 by the students! 
The new football field (behind the back road) had been cleared, but all we did that year was pick up rocks from the surface on work details. Any former cadet from this era will tell you the rocks kept growing back there no matter how many times we picked them up! We played football on the drill field until the fall of 1963. We used the swimming pool and tennis courts across the road from the west entrance.

For more information on the buildings in this story see the History - Building List at this WEB Site.

Notes about the Cadet Corps: That year the school taught 7th though 12th grade. That year we only had one Company! Friendly Hall was the First Platoon and New Brick was the Second Platoon. The cadet officers were Capt. Cecil Harris('60), Company Commander, 1st Lt. Dorris Payne('60), HE, was the First Platoon Leader, 1st Lt. William N. Kritzky('60), Second Platoon Leader, and 2nd Lt. Reinaldo Carrasquillo('60), Adjutant. The NCO's were one First Sergeant, Charlie Oldham('61), one QM/Sgt(Supply Sgt), two M/Sgts(Platoon Sgts), some S/Sgts(Squad Leaders) and some Cpls(Assistant Squad Leaders). I can't list all the NCO's by name, they got busted too many times to remember who was what. We had only four squads, two per platoon with about 15 cadets per squad. Each squad had to do "KP"(Table waiter duty) for a week. So we had to pull KP duty every fourth week. There were only about seventy cadets in the whole school. By the end of the year I think we were down to about fifty! We had only seven Seniors, no Color Guard and no band except for Ronnie Ware who played a single parade drum sometimes. We did have a Crack Drill platoon, but the school did not have any rifles!

Notes about OD and CQ: We did not have a cadet OD (Officer of the Day). There were just not enough officers to go around. They would have had to pull OD duty every fourth day! We had enough NCO's for CQ (Charge of Quarters). The CQ had an assistant, a Private or a PFC, called an Orderly to do any running around the CQ needed.

The point I'm trying to make is we were a small school.

Keep reading. Now we get to the Tallapoosa Hall part.

Chapter II

Supervised Study Hall 1959 by Brian V. Brunner('64)  
With assistance from Robert L. Rozelle('64)

Late Fall 1959:

When I first arrived at LWMA in the eighth grade I didn't know how to study well enough to keep my grades up in the passing range. The school's remedy for this was Supervised Study Hall, and I believe something like that is still in effect. To make up for my bad grades I had to go somewhere with other outcasts during evening study hall and be made to study while a teacher looked on. Back in the 1959-60 school year we had evening study hall from 1900(7:00pm) to 2100(9:00pm). The room we all had to go to was the Tallapoosa Hall Library. This room is now the History room and Alumni Association office museum.

About 2045(8:45pm) we were nearing the end of study hall, when we heard some loud noises coming from the upstairs. It seemed to be coming from one of the classrooms, and sounded like more than one person was moving a lot of desks around. We all looked at each other and then ran out of the library and up the stairs as fast as we could. When we got upstairs we found nothing. No desks were moved in any of the classrooms and no chairs in the auditorium were out of place. (The old auditorium area is now classrooms on the front of the building across from the stairs.). That was strange!

By this time Tattoo had sounded(2100) ending study hall, so the teacher dismissed us. The ranking cadet sent Bob Rozelle('64) down the hall to turn off the light in the upstairs latrine(bathroom)*. When he got in there we turned off all the lights and ran downstairs and outside leaving him and the ghost alone in the building. The upstairs latrine is just about as far from the front door as any room in Tallapoosa Hall. (If you are new to LWMA, this room is now a narrow classroom. It is only wide enough for one table, and located upstairs over the latrine on the first floor.) We were trying to scare Rozelle. (Bob said that someone turned off the restroom light too! Then he ran into the restroom door trying to get out!) By the time he caught up with us we were past Ross Hall, almost in front of Supply . As we turned around to see if Rozelle had caught up with us, Roy Bailey('64) yelled, "Look!". He was pointing at the upstairs latrine window. The light was on, and someone was standing there in the window and he seemed to fill up the whole window! Well, that did it! We were all scared now! So as we used to say, we became "little gray streaks of light" and ran all the way past Allen House and Old Brick to Friendly Hall and New Brick as fast as we could. We never knew who or what that was that night. I still don't know, and I don't want to know!

* If you look at one of the above image of Tallapoosa Hall you can see the upstairs latrine window. It is located on the second floor under the last gable on the left. As I said, "About as far from the front door as any room in the building"!

* If you look at one of the above image of Tallapoosa Hall you can see the upstairs latrine window. It is located on the second floor under the last gable on the left. As I said, "About as far from the front door as any room in the building"!


(Note: Since I wrote this story in 1998 the Alumni Association office and museum have moved out of the old library in Tallapoosa Hall. Before this room was the library it had been Dr. Lyman Ward's office. Right now it is a study hall. In case it changes again soon I'll give you its location. As you look at Tallapoosa Hall from the front it is the room with triple windows to your left as you come up to the front door from the sidewalk. When you enter the front door and turn left into the main classroom wing it is the first room on your left. - 03/24/2001 - BVB)

Chapter III

Don't Worry About the Light, Lookout for the Door!
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

Winter 1960:

Door leading outside This door had a glass top in 1959.  Note: window on left

Door leading outside
This door had a glass top in 1959. 
Note: window on left

Old Library Door   This door had no window in 1959.

Old Library Door  
This door had no window in 1959.

This was my first day to pull Orderly duty. After Taps that night the CQ sent me up to check the lights in Tallapoosa Hall. Tallapoosa Hall was not locked at night in those days, just some of the rooms were. The first thing I noticed was the upstairs bathroom light was not on. I think this was the only time in my four years at LWMA that light was off when I had to be the Orderly, CQ, or OD. I did see a light on though, it was in the Dean's bathroom. This bathroom is in a little hall between the old Library and the old Dean's office. This light shown out to the side of the bathroom and down the front of Tallapoosa Hall. You could not even see it from the CQ area at all. But, I thought I would try to turn it off if I could get to it. I went in the building and turned on all the first floor hall lights. Then I went down the hall to the Dean's office to see if I could get in that way, but the door was locked. I then went back to the library door to try it. Just as my hand was about to touch the doorknob, I heard a squeaky door opening somewhere behind me. I did a "Rear March" in place and turned around without ever touching the library doorknob! I could see the outside door down under the steps was opening by itself! Back then the top half of this door had a large window in it, just like the front doors.(See the photo at the bottom of this page.) I could not see anybody on either side of that door! All I remember after that is hitting the light switches with my right hand as I ran around the corner and out the front door as fast as I could go. I became the famous "little gray streak light" in front of Ross Hall as I ran all the way back to the CQ office. I reported that all the lights were out and headed for my room in Friendly Hall.

"Good-Night, whatever you are!"

Of course now I think that someone was hiding down behind the solid part of that door trying to scare me. If that is so, they did a good job! I like to think it was the ghost of Lyman Ward because it sounds better that way.

- 03/24/2001 - BVB)

(These photos taken Sept. 2001.)

Chapter IV

Let's Scare Lewis Harrison('63)  or  The Doors Again?
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

Winter 1960:


Remember I was a cadet at LWMA over the time period from the fall of 1959 to the spring of 1964.

Back in days before VCRs, Cable TV, and Personal Computers... I mean back in the Stone Age when all we had to watch was one black and white television set in the dayroom in Russell Hall, the school would rent 16 millimeter movies for us to watch on the weekends. We had three forms of entertainment on the campus then. There was THE one B&W TV, THE one and only pool table in Allen House, and THE movie. The movies were shown on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. These were open times, Friday and Saturday nights were open because no in-room study hall was going on then and Saturday and Sunday afternoons were open as "Free Time" also.

There was no charge to see the movies, so if you liked the movie you could watch it four times over the weekend. I remember doing that for most of the science fiction movies such as "The War of the Worlds", "The Thing", "Them", and "The Day the Earth Stood Still", and many others. I also enjoyed war and aviation movies too and I know I saw "Battleground", "30 Seconds Over Tokyo", and "The Dam Busters" four times the weekends they were shown.

Now to the main story...

Lewis Harrison was our projectionist during all my years at LWMA except my last, 1963-1964. He was one of the students who had to work around the school for some of his tuition* and one of his jobs was operating the projector on the weekends. He showed the movies in the upstairs auditorium in Tallapoosa Hall most of the time. Sometimes we used an upstairs classroom across the hall. This auditorium had double doors across the hall from the front stairwell. (The upstairs auditorium was remodeled into three classrooms during the late 1960s.) When we used the classroom Harrison had to show the movie on a blank classroom wall instead of the portable movie screen.

During a winter night in 1960 Joe Penn ('62) (Penn's last year at LWMA was '61-'62) and I had been watching a movie in the classroom instead of the auditorium. I don't remember if was Friday or Saturday night, or the title of the movie, but I remember what happened AFTER that movie VERY well.

I was 14 at the time and Penn was one of my eighth grade classmates. After the movie we went out in front of Tallapoosa Hall and played a kind of hide-and-seek game in the moonlight and dark shadows. Then we came up with the idea that we would try to scare Harrison. He had to stay after the movie was over to rewind the three rolls of film for the next showing. Penn and I just knew that Harrison was still in Tallapoosa Hall and we would hide somewhere and scare him.

Meanwhile, Harrison had finished and left while we were outside. We both went in the front doors together. Penn went upstairs first and hid somewhere while I waited at the foot of the stairs. After waiting a few minutes I went up the front stairwell myself. I stopped at the top of the stairs before I actually entered the hall.

The Stairwell and the narrow window 1999

The Stairwell and the narrow window 1999

At this point I have to try to paint a picture for you of the surroundings. In the stairwell behind me there was a tall narrow window just at the midway landing. Through this window shown the light of the full moon down on concrete steps. This bright light allowed me to see the stairwell and the double auditorium doors across the hall very well. I could not see much down the hall to the right where the classrooms were and where I expected Harrison to be, or up to the left toward the room under the clock tower (now the band room). I could see the moonlight through the window at the far end of the hall to the right, but it did not light up the hall very much. As I lookd back at double doors in front, suddenly, the left door of the auditorium opened up about two inches in my direction. I assumed it was Penn letting me know where he was and that I should go through those doors. I put my right hand up into the moonlight and moved my fingers to show Penn that I wanted him to open the door a little wider so I could slip in without touching the door and, perhaps, making some unwanted noise. The moonlight behind me cast my shadow onto the double doors across the hall. Right then the doors opened up a few inches wider right on queue! I quickly moved across the hall and slipped through the doors and closed them as quietly as I could. I then moved along the wall to the right being careful not to trip over the rows of chairs in the auditorium. I stopped about halfway down the wall at the next hall door. I could see moonlight outside the wall of windows across the room. No moonlight shown into that room yet as the moon was still above the other side of Tallapoosa Hall. I had made no contact with Penn yet and wondered where he was. I pulled my out my Zippo lighter, lit it, held it up, and looked around the room for my friend. While I was looking I was whispering, "PENN? - - PENN? - - PENN?" I looked around the whole auditorium including the stage, I saw NOTHING, and there was NOBODY in there! With the lighter still lit I went back to the double doors and out into the hall. On the right side of that hallway, after you pass the stairwell is an indention where the wall stops and turns 90 degrees to the left for about a foot and then back to the right all the way to the end of hall. In the dim light form my lighter I could see Penn crouched down, almost sitting on the floor, in that indention in the wall. I put out my lighter and went over to Penn and asked him in a whisper why he came out of the auditorium. He told me he had NOT been in the auditorium and had NOT seen me until just then. Then we forgot all about scaring Lewis Harrison when I told Penn what had just happened to me. We both jumped up and cleared the stairwell in about three steps then flew out the front doors and became two little gray streaks of light heading for Russell Hall one more time!

You can bet Joe Penn and I never tried to scare Lewis Harrison again!

Chapter V

Background Information about the 1963-1964 School Year
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

You will note that chapter VI occurred in the 1963-64 school year.

Col. Wesley P. Smith was still president(a life long job). Gen. T. L. Futch was to go on as Commandant until his last year at LWMA - 1966-1967. The school had really improved and was getting better each year. General Futch put the school in the NDCC(National Defense Cadet Corp) program in 1962-63. He was also able to get the school into the JROTC(Junior Recruit Officer Training Corp) program in 1965-1966. He left us much better off than when Col Smith found him in 1959. Col. Smith was still trying to increase the number of students; pay off old debts; improve the buildings and add new ones; and trying to keep the school from going bankrupt, all at the same time. I'd say he did a great job. Col. Hovey is still doing the same things today and doing a great job too.

Notes about the buildings and campus of 1963-64: The first new thing you noticed was the big LWMA wall in the middle of the entrance. This was the first school year the wall was there. The buildings were: The house by the front gate, its top floor was used as the Infirmary. Col. and Mrs. Johnson(General Futch's in-laws - their wives were sisters.) lived on the ground floor. Col. Johnson was in charge of the building and grounds and Mrs. Johnson was the school nurse, and a good one too. Then up on the hill, starting from East to West, Tallapoosa Hall, Ross Hall(ground floor was still the dining hall. The top floor was now a dormitory.), Supply, Allen House(Pool Room and Canteen), Russell Hall(The ground floor still housed the Commandant's Office, CQ Office and the Day Room. The upper two floors were dorm rooms.), Friendly Hall, Ward Hall, and now the Brooks Rifle Range. This building, designed and built by Col. Johnson, is behind Ward/Howell Hall and a little to the west on the near side of the back road. The small repair shop/tool shed was still on the back side of the back road. During this time(1962-1964) in the Haunted House/Dr. Ward's house area Lt. Clinkscales(a teacher) had parked his small house trailer. 
Note about Friendly Hall: This building was thought to be a fire trap and no student who had a smoking permit was allowed to live here. That's why most of the residents were 8th and 9th graders. Thus it became known as the "Baby Company" or the "Sandbox" - a term that is still used for the younger cadets dorm.

This was also the first year(football season) we used the new football field. We did not have to pick up rocks any more!

In the big space between Russell Hall and Friendly Hall, where Alabama Hall had once stood, was a sign showing a drawing of the new dormitory that was to be built on the site(now named O. V. Hill Hall). The sign displayed this: "Site of the new Cadet Dormitory, Housing for 80 cadets, Staff housing, Pool Room, Canteen and Supply Room." Construction on this building started before the end of the year. It replaced Allen House and Supply, and these two old buildings(built in the 1925-1928 era) were torn down in the summer of 1964.

Notes about the Cadet Corps: The school taught 8th through 12th grades. We had over 150 cadets at the start of that year! What a change! Russell Hall was 'A' Company, Friendly Hall was 'B' Company, Ward Hall was 'C' Company and Ross Hall housed the Band Company on the top floor. This was the first year the band was a separate company. The cadet officers were(At the beginning of the school year) Captains Harry Gill - acting Battalion Commander, Doug Dromey - 'A' Company Commander, Brian Brunner - 'B' CC., Thomas Eve, 'C' CC. Shepard Lindsey, Band CC. Lieutenants, Robert Rozelle adjutant & and drill team commander, Robert Bell - Platoon Leader & Athletic Officer, Matthew St. Clair - Armorer S-4, Robert Boyd - Battalion S-3 & color guard commander, Robert Bickerstaff - PL, William(Rusty) Beckham - PL, Diego DeSedas - PL, Charles Drawdy - PL, Alex Hardwick - PL, Pierce Harris - PL, George Pollard - PL, and Jacky Kennedy - PL. (All Officers were in class of 1964) More of the Battalion Staff were, S/MAJ Norman Curl('65) - Battalion Sergeant Major, M/Sgt Eddy Soto('65) - Supply Sgt. First Sergeants were Frank Wilson('65), Luther Gardner('65), B.O. Jennings('65), and Ian McKenna('65). Of course we had a bunch of SFC's - Platoon Sgts. S/Sgts - Squad Leaders and Cpls - Assistant Squad Leaders. Too many to name or remember now. By late spring after all the Captains (Except Shepard Lindsey, the band leader had to stay with the band.) had been "acting" B.C. for a month, General Futch promoted Doug Dromey to Major as permanent Battalion Commander. I was made the Battalion Executive Officer(XO) and George Pollard was promoted to Captain to command 'A' Company(My former job at the time). Charles Cook was promoted to 1st Lt. to replace George as a PL. By the grace of God and General Futch I graduated second in command of the cadet corps.

The dining hall was now a cafeteria. This change was made(in 1960-61) because we could not fit all the cadets in the dining room at the same time. It also did away with the table waiter KP duty.(We were all glad about that!) We had about 35 seniors, a five member Color Guard, the band had about 30 members and so did the crack drill platoon(named the Silver Rifles).

We had M1 rifles that we drilled with and we would take them to Fort Benning to fire on their range once a year. The drill team had M1903 Springfield bolt-action rifles that weighted only 6 1/2 pounds as opposed to 8 1/2 pounds for the M1 and they cost fifty cents each for the shipping. They were good for throwing around, as we did on the drill team.

A note to Mothers and Fathers: We never had any firing pins in the M1's or 03's except when we went to Fort Benning to fire the M1's. The school also had some .22 rifles that were used to teach us how to aim and shoot. They were always kept in the armory and we never handled them except to fire them on the school's two rifle ranges under the direct supervision of the military staff. There was no way we could have drilled with a rifle that had a firing pin in it.

L.W.M.A. is still a small school(even in 1998, 200-225 students), but very large in the education the students receive. Not only the classroom and military education, but the learning how to get along with other people; how to work together toward a common goal and taking pride in getting there; and how to depend on yourself and take responsibility. All of these things and much more go into the L.W.M.A education and experience. L.W.M.A. is NOT a military trade school to create little robots. It's a place to grow up and learn how to be an adult, and be able to go on to college. Those of us who went on into the military had a great advantage over those who had no military training. Quite a few went on to high rank, and have long careers. As I said that was not the main purpose of L.W.M.A., just a great side benefit.

Chapter VI

Does THE Light Come Back On by Itself?
by Brian V. Brunner('64)

Late Spring 1964:

I had returned to LWMA in my sophomore year after being made to go to Mount Berry School for Boys in Rome, GA as a freshman. At that time I really wanted to be at LWMA, and nothing was going to scare me away. I became accustomed to whatever it was in Tallapoosa Hall and knew it would not harm anyone.

I was now a Senior and a Cadet Captain.(Yes, it can be done!) I had been a Company Commander('B' and later 'A' Company), Acting Battalion Commander, and now I was the Battalion Executive Officer(XO). My room was on the top floor of Russell Hall. I had the room on the front East end. When I wanted to go outside, all I had to do was go out of my room turn right, open the outside door, and I was standing on the top level of the fire escape facing the roof of Allen House. If the upstairs bathroom light in Tallapoosa Hall was on, you could see it from this location.

That night I had OD Duty(maybe for the last time), and I had to turn that light off again as usual. After I turned off all the lights and took the bed check report, I headed for my room. I needed to write some letters(Yes, after Taps, it was a bad habit I had.) so I took a chair out on the fire escape to use the outside light above the door. This was a Friday or Saturday night so Taps was at 10:30 p.m., and I was out there for a while. Around midnight I was just sitting there thinking what to write down next, when THE light came back on!

I bet you think I went up there to see what it was? Well, you're wrong. I did not want to know the truth that badly! I was going to graduate soon, so I thought I'd leave it to some underclassman to find out.

"Good-Bye, whatever you are!"