The Unveiling of
"the Green Phantom"
A fond memory by Paul Tate, LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983
Written in December, 1998
The Green Phantom image, logo and caption created by
The "BATTY MAN" photo taken by Pat Maraman('83) and supplied by Gerald Blackwell('83)
Green ink? What cadet would have access to GREEN ink? Blue? Yes! Black? Yes! Maybe even Red! But GREEN...? No way! But nonetheless, there it was. A note, written in green ink on a torn-off corner of a sheet of notebook paper, and secretly slipped under my closed, locked dormitory door at some mysterious time of the night.
"This is a warning! ____________ has got to graduate!
You are trying to fail him. Be warned."
" The Green Phantom "
Frankly, I must admit, I was more intrigued by the mystery of the source of green ink in the spring of 1966 on the Lyman Ward campus than I felt uneasy or threatened by the content of the message.
(As I write this now, I am purposefully inserting a blank line in the space where the name of the very popular, athletic, senior cadet officer appeared in the original note. I am convinced beyond any shadow of any doubt that the cadet named in the note was not the Green Phantom. The evidence on which I base this definite assertion will be revealed later. Incidentally, or perhaps coincidentally, the named cadet did indeed graduate [that same year] without any extraordinary help or hindrance from me, his senior English teacher.)
I had been overhearing my cadet students speak amusingly about a "Green Phantom" who prowled the campus in the dead of night and played tricks or practical jokes on various cadets as they slept. Always these conversations would be marked with mirth and amusement. For example, the unsuspecting cadets would awaken to find their perfectly lined-up shoes and boots under their bed in complete disarray or lined outside the door in the hallway. On other nights, the "victims" would find the items on their shelves or hanging in their lockers completely disarranged from their routine "inspection order." Or, the textbooks from the study desk would be piled into the laundry bag and then the bag would be perfectly re-tied -- again according to regulations. And one could always tell who the perpetrator of these prankish misdeeds was because he would always leave his "calling card." Always it was something green, like a leaf, a green scrap of paper, a bit of green fabric, a handful of green grass, a crumpled paper cup, all basically green, of course. Oftentimes, cadets in a room would awaken as the bugle sounded reveille in the morning to find a green bit of something mysteriously resting on the floor in the middle of the room. Despite their instant realization that they had been visited by "The Green Phantom," sometimes several days would pass before the unsure but suspecting cadets would discover the practical joke that had been perpetrated against them.
In none of the retellings of the antics of the Green Phantom by cadets had I heard that he would leave notes. Therefore, I was not only surprised to learn that the Green Phantom would indeed leave a note, but also that faculty and staff were not immune to his pranks. Later in my teaching day, expecting that my students (or at least one of them) would be aware of my night visitor, I was determined that I would not show any concern in front of students. When I shared the note privately with both Colonel Ramsey, the dean of instruction, and with General Futch, the commandant of cadets, they each chuckled over the note and its contents, as I had.
General Futch said to me, "Oh, well. We'll eventually catch him." That was my first indication that the administration was aware of the existence of a Phantom, green or otherwise. I felt assured.
At the lunch table that same day, I polled each of the other teachers and military staff, asking if they had ever had an encounter with or a "visit" from the Green Phantom. Although each one had also heard of him and each found varying degrees of amusement when I shared the note, my research found the answer to be no. I was the first adult to be "attacked" by this night creature. Little did we know that day that the Green Phantom's bold venture would escalate to include other adults as well. Especially Colonel Ramsey.
(Aside: During these years, a male teacher's salary would include room, board, and used uniforms, generally borrowed through supply. Teachers who wished to take advantage of the free room perk would be assigned a private room within one of the cadet dormitories. Generally, each dormitory had a "teacher's room" on each floor. When Hill Hall was built, a small apartment was included on the middle floor. For several years, Colonel Ramsey, the dean of instruction, occupied this apartment within Hill Hall. General Futch lived with his family in the commandant's house across the parade field. My specific dormitory room assignment for that year was the center room, just above Colonel Ramsey's apartment, on the third floor of Hill Hall. In subsequent years I resided in a lake house I bought on Lake Martin. )
Taps was at 10:00 P. M. and promptly at 10:30 P.M., after the Ten O'clock News was over, Colonel Ramsey would turn out his lights and go to bed. Exactly at 10:40 P.M. on the sporadic nights of his attack, the hiding Green Phantom on the outside would hurl a handful of small pebbles against Colonel Ramsey's bedroom window with only enough force to make enough unpleasant noise to awaken Colonel Ramsey but not enough to break the panes or otherwise do any physical damage. And every time, exactly one second later, Colonel Ramsey with bare feet would tear crazily out the lobby door of his apartment in his pajamas and onto the small porch of Hill Hall to glare into the darkness in attempt to catch a glimpse of the Green Phantom.
"I'll catch you one day!" he'd shout into the silent blackness. "And when I do, you'll be shipped!"
Taken in 1998 from where Kirkland Hall
once stood. The small porch is in the center
of the building.
These attacks on Colonel Ramsey's sleep were becoming an all-too-common occurrence. Warning announcements would subsequently be made both by General Futch and Colonel Ramsey at reveille and at retreat formations about what would happen to the Green Phantom whenever he would be caught. These cautions would always be followed with pleadings for the Green Phantom to step forward and declare his misdeeds on the promise of less punishment or retribution. Silence. No movement. Next would come the reward phase of the announcement. "If any one of you knows who this Green Phantom is, please come privately to us and tell us." There never was any private reports made or any rewards given.
After about a month of this torment, caused more by the frustration of the inability to "catch" the Green Phantom than from the disruption of sleep caused by pebbles on the window, Colonel Ramsey devised a strategy to entrap the Green Phantom. This strategic "war plan" was surely the best-kept secret ever. It worked. It actually worked. To a certain extent, that is.
Here was the plan, the success of which depended on "the good guys" assuming their battle stations at a time when no one would be aware of it. Every night until the Green Phantom was caught, teachers and staff who lived on campus would be asked to silently and secretly leave their rooms before evening study hall was over (9:30 P.M.), go outside to their pre-assigned places and hide themselves -- behind trees, inside large shrubbery, inside staff automobiles, at the edge of the woods - any place where they could secretly observe movement and behavior of cadets without being seen between the end of study hall and 10:40 P.M. One staff member would be assigned to station himself inside Colonel Ramsey's apartment solely for the purpose of turning off the TV and turning out the lights immediately after the News was over. Colonel Ramsey's own selected station was to be inside the darkened and unoccupied dormitory room, which was nearest to the sidewalk running in front of the U-shaped, wooden dormitory known then as Kirkland Hall (This building in previous years was called Friendly Hall. In 1999, it does not exist at all, having been torn down in 1992.) to the left of Hill Hall. His station had two windows; one looking out toward his apartment, and the other looking down the sidewalk in front of the center faculty residence of Kirkland Hall.
The room Col. Ramsey was stationed is last window to the right in this
picture. The window looking out on Hill Hall is on the back wall of that
room. The window you see overlooks the sidewalk in front of this building
in the general direction (left) of Howell Hall; "F" troop's dormitory.
The first night of the battle plan came, and all of Colonel Ramsey's army assumed their battle stations, silently and unobserved as scheduled. Colonel Ramsey entered his station, closed the door, and waited until 10:40 P.M.
No one saw him prior to this, but right on schedule, the Green Phantom stalked around the corner of Hill Hall, lurked across the lawn, and flung his handful of stones against Colonel Ramsey's window. Then he turned and sped onto the sidewalk, running toward Kirkland Hall, and unknowingly, into Colonel Ramsey's waiting grasp. Already Colonel Ramsey had exited his station and was waiting for the Phantom. Just as he got to the edge of the building, the Green Phantom ran directly into Colonel Ramsey with such force that both of them were almost floored. Though momentarily addled, Colonel Ramsey was able to grab with both hands onto the Phantom's arm before he pulled away, fleeing his unexpected capture into the darkness behind Kirkland Hall. The only possession of the Green Phantom that remained with Colonel Ramsey was the Phantom's skin underneath Colonel Ramsey's fingernails.
The others of Colonel Ramsey's private troops gathered around their leader to hear him proudly proclaim, "By damn, I didn't catch him, but I sure did mark him! And I marked him good! All we have to do now is wait until the reveille formation."
He dismissed his forces and went to bed pleased with the success of his strategic war plan and with the unveiling to come.
Reveille came, General Futch serious in facial expression and demeanor, and Colonel Ramsey grinning cheek-to-cheek in anticipation of finding his mark. After each company commander and the battalion staff had each reported "All present and accounted for," General Futch ordered the Cadet Corps to stand at attention in formation. Then he told them to roll up the sleeves of their fatigues, thus to expose their forearms. Then, he and Colonel Ramsey, beginning with each cadet in battalion staff and then moving to each cadet in "A" Company, inspected the forearms of each cadet, looking for the marks that had been left by Colonel Ramsey's fingernails. The inspection pace quickened as they frantically moved from cadet to cadet until the very smallest cadet in "F" troop had been inspected. No marks. No Green Phantom.
Major Brown!" General Futch called out. "Are there any cadets in the infirmary? Did you or your wife (Margaret Brown, the official school nurse) treat any cadet with arm injuries last night."
No, sir," Major Brown responded. "There are no cadets in the infirmary, and we did not treat any cadets for anything since yesterday morning."
Do a physical body count," the general ordered, as the cadet corps remained at attention in formation. The tactical officers completed the head count swiftly.
All are present; no AWOL's," General Futch said with a sigh as he turned and walked into the CQ building, leaving Colonel Ramsey looking defeated, lost, and forlorn.
And then, turning to the Cadet Corps, he cried out, "Which one of you belongs to this skin underneath my fingernails?" Silence. No movement.
Throughout that same class day, and the next, and the day after that, Colonel Ramsey intently walked up and down the aisles of desks in each classroom each period in Tallapoosa Hall, anxiously looking for the marks that he was sure belonged on the arms of the Green Phantom.
We never found him, and the Green Phantom never appeared again.
Who was .....
Beware ... The Green Phantom ... LIVES!!!
MU HU HU HU HU HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH!!!!
Green Phantom image, logo and caption created by Gerald Blackwell('83)
Now go read the
"BATTY MAN" - LIVES!
Greald Balckwell's alter ego!
Photo taken by Pat Maraman('83)
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