My First Look at LWMA


Volume I of The 1957-1958 School Year


Lewis D. Harrison ('63)
Crane Hill, AL - April 2001

I came to LWMA in the seventh grade. Like most kids that age, I had done some overnight long stays at Grandmothers house, church camp and weekends out with the scouts. My parents told me that I was going to change schools and my new school was going to be a military academy. We loaded a footlocker with personal items and set was south on highway 280 from Birmingham to Camp Hill. It was two lanes with a passing lane on a few hills. Some three hours later we stopped in Dadeville for lunch at the Three Little Pigs restaurant. I did not realize what a treat that was or how much I would look forward to eating there again when I could.

After lunch, we started toward Camp Hill again. I remember seeing a sign "Camp Hill - 6." There was nothing outside of the windows but cows and rolling hills. Then we came to the Panorama Truck Stop on the right and made the left-hand turn on to highway 50 that took us to LWMA. My parents spoke with some people at the school, had a few handshakes and a goodbye. I was now a cadet at LWMA, whatever that was.

Friendly Hall 1963

There were about 25 cadets in the school at that time, some new and some old. I was shown a room in "Friendly Hall." I had never seen a building without a roof over the hallway and now I lived in one! I had never lived in a room with anyone else, but now I had a roommate. And to top it all off, there was only one bathroom for all of us. This bathroom, forever to be called a "latrine," was across the open hall in the back of the house in the middle of the dormitory - forever to be called a "barracks." When I first entered the latrine, there were two sinks on the wall on each side of a doorway right in front. There were mirrors over the four sinks with lights above them. The wall behind me had window on either side of the door that I just came through. One step beyond the next doorway in front, was little room with two commodes on each side, directly behind the sinks on the first wall. The four commodes were pointed the same direction as the sinks and there were no walls between them. One step beyond the wall behind the commodes and you were standing in the middle of the shower room with two showerheads on each side of you on the back wall. Four sinks, four commodes, and four showers that was it!. We would have had a lot more privacy in an outhouse with no door!

Supply Building
Supply Building - 1959

We were taken down to an old green building with wooden warped floors and a sign over the door reading "SUPPLY." I was measured and given some gray shirts, pants, and a hat. Then they gave me a green jacket, pants and another hat. Some of the extras were a black tie, a belt with a brass buckle, and a spring like thing called a collar stay, brass insignia, laundry bag, shoe polish, and a can of "Brass-O" brass polish.

Then all of this stuff had to be hauled back to Friendly Hall. Some of the older cadets showed me how to fold, hang, and put away my new found treasures. Then I had to collect all of the clothes that I brought from home. They called these "civvies" and I had to turn these things into Supply where they would be kept till I needed them. I had no idea when that would be.

My green (dress) pants were not hemmed. So the next day several of the new cadets walked to downtown Camp Hill with a note to be taken to the cleaners, where they would put hems in our pants legs. There were some real nice women at the cleaners that seemed to really enjoy seeing new cadets and fixing their pants. They gave us tickets and said that we would have to return in several days to pick up our pants.

Russell Hall 1959
Old Brick - Russell Hall - 1959

A building called "Old Brick" was the HQ building. The bottom floor was all that was open. As you walked in, there was a hall with a bulletin board on the right wall. On this board were lists. Work Detail, Demerit List, Deans List, and schedules. A room called the "Dayroom" was to the right of the bulletin board. In it was a drink machine, TV, a gas space heater on the far-left side, and some chairs scattered throughout. To the left of the hall was a narrow room like a hall with a long table with some papers on it, a PA system, clock, and a record player. They said this was the CQ room. There were three other doors off of this room. On the left side of the main room there was a stairway that led up to a padlocked door. To the right of the stairs there was a door to a room where I was told the CQ lived.

Ross Hall 1959
Ross Hall - 1959

Ross Hall was where we ate. There was one "old" cadet in charge of each table. Those guys always seemed to get to the table ahead of the rest of us. It was kind of like eating at home. There were plates of food and metal pitchers of milk, tea, and water in the middle of the tables that were covered with a tablecloth. There were no lines or food trays. All the places were set with the plates, silverware, glasses and napkins. Good manners were practiced and, of course, there was a blessing. We all filed in and stood at attention behind our assigned chairs until the high-ranking cadet rang a small bell. At that time we bowed our heads and he said the blessing. Then when he gave the command - "Seats," we all sat down and started eating. We had to say, "Please, pass the this and, please, pass that." This was called "Family Style" as oppose to "Cafeteria Style" serving. I also noticed there were some other cadets waiting on the tables. As soon as a platter of food or a pitcher became empty it was placed on the corner of the table, and our assigned waiter would grab it, refill it, and return it to the table as fast as he could. I was soon to learn that the waiters were on "KP." I would also have to wait on tables and be a kitchen helper to the cooks when it was my squad's turn to pull "KP." The school's infirmary was on the second floor of Ross Hall above the kitchen and dinning room. It is sometimes hard to remember the name "Ross Hall" because we all called it the "Mess Hall" or the "Infirmary," nothing else.

Tallapoosa Hall
Tallapossa Hall - 1940's

Tallapoosa Hall was where all the classes were held. As you came into the foyer, there was a gym dead ahead with a stage at the far end. To the left was a small room in a long hall with mailboxes just like a Post Office. I was told this is where you get your mail. To the left of that was the library. Then, there were a series of doors on down the hall. The first two on the right were offices. The first on the left, just past the post office, was a door that went to the basement and always stayed locked. I found out later that it was a chemistry and science lab. Most of the other doors led to classrooms. There was a stairwell of concrete steps across the hall from the library that went up to the second floor. There was another stairwell of wooden steps at the far end of the long hall. I was told there was an auditorium and more classrooms up on the second floor.

Allen House
Allen House - 1963

A building just to the west of Friendly Hall was called "New Brick." It was a nice new dormitory, but don't remember anyone living in it because I think all of us could fit into Friendly Hall. Beyond "New Brick," Dr. Ward's house was still standing where the Dixon Chapel is now. "Allen House ," next to "Old Brick," was in such bad shape it was all locked up and not in use. Casby's shop behind the back dirt road was the only other building on the hill. The front road was dirt then too. There was some rubble left of "Alabama Hall" between Friendly Hall and "Old Brick," but I never saw Alabama Hall before it was torn down.

Lewis Harrison, Class of 63

LWMA - Campus 1959
Left to Right - Friendly Hall (low white building) - Old Brick - Allen House -
(Note: Dirt road and concrete block parking lots.)

Now go read Volume II of the 1957-58 story called "Mischievous Mischief".    

Return to the Stories Contents Page.

Return to the Alumni Home Page.