Cadet Life

Skinny Dippin'

Story By Paul Strobel('43)

It was cold, very cold. The sky was overcast and murky. There were a few cold rain drops falling. It was Valentine's Day, 1943. It just seemed to make sense. Of course it did. Why, everyone would talk about it and so we decided to do it.

A group of us went skinny-dipping in The Lake. We didn't stay in the water too long, though. Some of us, Ken and Tate Russell('43), Irby Hartley('44) later had bad colds and we missed school for a few days. Others, Earley Macon('44), Houston ("Bing") Powell('44)* and Byron Tatum('44) did not succumb.

Dr. Ward was not happy, but he understood.

Dr. Ward seemed to always understand.

Paul Strobel

*We called him Bing because he used to imitate Bing Crosby frequently.

P.S. In my story about the Valentine's Day Skinny-dipping, I forgot to mention another person, whom most of you know.

I don't recall that Wesley Smith('47) was in our group of swimmers that day. But then, his Mom was our Dorm Mother. (Glee!!!!)

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Paul Strobel('43)

SII Dances

Story By Paul Strobel('43)

SII was co-ed when I was there and sometimes on a Saturday night we were allowed to have dances. On one particular night, Earley Macon('44) wished to cut in while I was dancing with Evelyn Bodiford('43). She had previously said that she did not want to dance with him. I never knew why, because Earley was a nice looking fellow and very gentlemanly. Anyway, Earley made the attempt and I, thinking I was certainly a knight destined to honor the lady's wish, indicated that he could not cut in. He immediately asked me to join him on the small stretch of grass just outside of Tallapoosa Hall. I did. In a few minutes I had handily taken the advantage and returned to the dance, elated, pompous,....and for the moment, unaware of how foolish it all was.

Well, the next time we had a dance, the same situation developed, with the same players, and once again, Earley asked me out again. In just a few seconds my new-found prowess as the pugilistic superior of SII vanished!

Fifty-three years later I called Earley one night (he lives in Birmingham) and during the conversation we reminisced about days gone by. Of course, I had to bring up the memory of that encounter. He remembered, and being the constant gentleman, he allowed that it was of no consequence.

I don't think Earley was particularly enamored of the young lady involved; it probably had to do with pride. Anyway, Earley married Josephine ("Jo") Snow ('44) and they continue their SII romance.

I always hoped that Dr. Ward and Mr. Kirkland were never aware of this event. Miss Blaisdell was; I know, because I had to write extra book reports. Wow! It's tough to lose....,but twice?

Russell Hall(early 1970's) (Boys' Dorm(1940's)

Russell Hall(early 1970's)
(Boys' Dorm(1940's)

Russell Hall(1981)

Russell Hall(1981)

This is one of the buildings in which I once lived. Yes, there were dormers on the upper (third) story and alas, they were removed before you took your picture. The dormers, etc were removed after I left. It is also one of the buildings in which I worked (painting interior walls) during holidays when all other students went home. (I lived too far away.) Miss Blaisdell lived in the bottom, left hand side as you face the building.

The large room to the right (opposite Miss Blaisdell's quarters) was a library and it was in this room that we held dances on Saturday night sometimes. In the spring and fall we had dances in the auditorium in Tallapoosa Hall. It would have been too cold for socials in the winter, hence our social activities, few though they were, were held in the library of the dorm.

On Saturday nights - once in a while - we had dances. (The school (SII) was co-ed then.) You had to hold the girl at least 12 inches away from you. The teachers offered a ruler and Dr. Ward offered an "hurrumph" if you disobeyed the rule. Much more could be said about the building...and much, much more about all the good/great memories.

Before we lived in this building we occupied Alabama Hall**. Those students that remained in Alabama Hall were "House Mothered" by Mrs. Smith. (Wesley's mother.) Miss Blaisdell*** was indeed our house mother when we relocated. She was stern and demanded adherence to rules. She was also the most lovable, effective, and mannerly person I have ever known.

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.


Story By Paul S. Strobel('43)

Yesterday I was thinking about the Centennial in May and part of the process involved "imagineering". I thought about all the changes that have taken place over the last century at SII/LWMA. Needless to say, I hope, I am more familiar with the last half of the one hundred year span than the first. One of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I mentally inventoried the school's physical assets had to do with plumbing. Now, you may think that anyone who takes the time to think about 50+ year-old plumbing has cerebral hemispheres which have circulatory systems desperately in need of Roto-Rooter. You may be right, but then, memories, like holding tanks, sometimes contain strange artifacts. SII's accommodations in the early forties would not have reminded you of a luxurious penthouse in the Beverly Hilton. Moreover, facilities were certainly not air-conditioned and room service was definitely unavailable. In all fairness, however, they were comfortable in the winter months, except in the basement, and there was always running water. I often wondered on Saturday nights, though, why the water ran. Why wonder about it on Saturday nights?

Alabama Hall (Boys' Dormitory)

Alabama Hall (Boys' Dormitory)

Allen House (Girls Dormatory)

Allen House (Girls Dormatory)

Saturday nights were scheduled for showers. The basement, with some concrete but mostly dirt flooring, was our "shower room". The "shower" did not boast a shower head, rather the end of the water pipe that conveyed our shower water arrogantly displayed a brass faucet. There was a small window at ground level which had lost several of its panes. The cold air circulating from the outside through the broken window, the cold, damp floor, and water that surely must have been piped in from a glacier all contributed to memories that last, happily, longer than chill bumps. So it was reasonable to wonder why the water had not frozen, since so many other things did. (I learned why those monkeys disliked cold weather.) (Forgive the small hyperbole.) Ah, but it was a time of great rejoicing after we had completed our Saturday night ritual. Just to be finished and alive was a cause for celebrating. Our dorm mother, Mrs. Smith, inspected our ears, elbows, necks and hair just to make sure we had scrubbed well - - - and you couldn't fool her!

I don't think the girls' dorm was that inhospitable. Course, I wouldn't know 'bout that.....:-) :-) :-) :-)

Ah, the good old days.

Notes about the buildings in the early 1940's

Looking up the hill from the road - - -

Goodwill Hall (with Dormers) 

Goodwill Hall (with Dormers) 

Dr. Ward's house (way to the left), to the right of Dr. Ward's house was Alabama Hall (my first dorm), to the right of Alabama Hall and further back was the dining room, to the right of the dining room, on the road, and just east of Alabama Hall was the brick building with dormers - (Goodwill Hall) - that was converted to a dorm and we moved into that building from Alabama Hall. To the right of the brick building with dormers was a wooden building with a front porch that extended clear across the front and large columns -(Allen House) - this building was the girls' dorm. To the right of the girls' dorm - and set back a little was a carpenter shop(This building started out as the Lincoln Science classroom building and later Shop classroom building and last the LWMA Supply rooms). To the right of the carpenter shop - and set back a little - was the building we used as a gym - (Ross Hall) -. To the right of the gym - further along - was/is Tallapoosa Hall.

Paul S. Strobel ('43)

T.A.'s Dilemma - John Nixon('80)

This incident occurred one week in the latter part of 1979.

One evening during the break of study hall, Cadet Thomas "T.A." Moore ('80), whom I believe we all voted as our class clown, thought it would be funny to play a prank on Mike Lamond ('80), the Officer of the day. Cadet Moore went to the C.Q. building and proceeded to announce over the school loudspeaker system, "Officer of the day, Cadet Mike Lamond, report to C.Q. immediately, the school building is on fire." Not realizing that the loudspeaker system could be heard all over town, Cadet Moore was shocked to see several of the schools faculty arrive on campus as a result of his announcement.


As part of his punishment, Cadet Moore was ordered to carry in his possesion a fire extinguisher for one week. This was not the lightweight unit we all know of today, this was the old soda and water type that seemed like it weighed a hundred pounds. Everyone knew when Cadet Moore was around by the clanging of the extinguisher as he sat it down.

Remember that Cadet Moore was the class clown. He was determined to have the last laugh. Somehow he obtained a toy fireman's hat that had a battery powered revolving light on top. Cadet Moore alerted us to watch at morning formation if we wanted a good laugh.

The next morning as the Battalion formed on the front row, we all kept a watchful eye towards Cadet Moore. The Battalion was called to attention and report was given. As the Company Commanders gave their report, we all watched toward Cadet Moore. The Battalion roared as Cadet Moore, fire extinguisher in hand and fireman's hat on head with light flashing, reported, "Fire Chief Moore's Company all present and accounted for!" Somehow the Senior Army Instructor did not find it as funny. We never understood why.

Just thought this was one for the record books.

John Nixon, Class of '80