Captain O. Pierre Lee

- or -

English I and English IV in the Same Year?

Story By Brian V. Brunner('64)

Please, keep in mind that all the things in this story happened in the 1963-1964 school year. That was my senior year, even though I had to take freshman and senior English that year! Yes, the first semester was awkward for me... There I was a Cadet Captain in charge of "B" company, also known as the sandbox! Why "The Sandbox", you ask? Three reasons all rolled up into one. First, because "B" Company was housed in Friendly Hall. (Later to be renamed, Kirkland Hall, and then to be torn down in 1992.) Second, because Friendly Hall was a "Fire Trap", no cadet with a "smoking permit" was allowed to live there. And third, Friendly Hall was also the only barracks (dormitory) that had a staff officer and his wife living in it. Anyway, the smoking rules then were, I think.. If you were between the ages of fifteen and seventeen you had to have a written "permit" from your parents on file in the office before you could smoke. If you were eighteen or over, and some of us were, you could smoke without this "permit". This was probably the most "BROKEN" rule we had! I quit smoking when I returned to LWMA in fall of 1961, so it did not matter to me anyway. (The reason for that is part of another long story!)

With all that in mind it led to Friendly Hall being the place where almost all of the eighth and ninth graders were living! Thus it was the "sandbox" for all the younger kids.

As the first semester started General Futch assigned me to be the Company Commander of "B" (B for Baby) Company! Then when classes started, because of bad grades in my freshman year at Mt. Berry School for Boys, in Rome, Georgia, I had to re-take freshman English in my senior year. (How I ended up with 4 and 1/2 credits in English is too long of a story for right now. I'll add it later, maybe.) There I was, a cadet Captain, in ninth grade English (eighteen years old mind you) with the next highest ranking cadet a Corporal! All the other cadets in the class are about fourteen years old. The only reason the teacher, Captain T. Wayne Betts, outranked me was because he was faculty and his Captain's pips (really three round brass button looking things) were gold and mine were silver! And of course I was just a lowly student. Since I was the ranking cadet in the class, I had to sit in the front row by door and call the class to "aTIN-S-HUT" whenever Capt. Betts entered the classroom.

By now you must be wondering when Captain O. P. Lee is going to be added to this story! Well, I did not have Capt. Lee for any classes in the first semester, but I knew I would have him for English IV the next semester. I had heard he was a tough teacher and I was about to find out for myself, much sooner than I thought.

Camp Hill High School

One day Capt. Betts was out for some reason, and when I called the class to attention, Capt. Lee strolled in! Capt. Lee was taller than Capt. Betts and he was on the slim side. He had black hair and wore black horn-rimmed glasses. He always seemed relaxed and very calm and he was never in a rush. At least he projected being very cool and calm at all times.

After telling us to take our seats, he put us to work for the entire ninety minute class by giving us the following assignment: "Write a one-page theme on 'If I Were a Buzzard for a Day'."

What did he say? - If I Were a Buzzard for a Day ??? You've GOT to be KIDDING !!!

As you can imagine that did put us to work! I did the best I could, but I don't remember what I wrote. I do remember one of the ninth graders saying later all he wrote was, "If I were a buzzard for a day, I would fly around and around and around and around..." just to fill up the page! While we were writing this, what I thought was a silly as hell, story, Capt. Lee was grading papers from his other classes. As each one of us got through he allowed us to leave the class early. I thought having us write that theme was a way for him to keep us all busy so he would not have to fool around trying to teach us anything! Sort of a baby-sitting tool to use when you have to take over someone else's class for a day. Not a bad idea, I guess.

After that I was not sure what to expect in the second semester! Near the end of January, 1964, I started Capt. Lee's classes in English IV AND Sociology!

I don't remember anything about the Sociology class, except that Capt. Lee's classroom was the last room on the right as you neared the end of the top floor of Tallapoosa Hall. You know, the classroom with windows in the north end of the building.

The English class, in the same classroom, did have some highlights. One was, we did Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth" in the classroom. I also remember that I was not one of the three witches! The other things are two of those "Write a one-page theme" things. He had us do at least one of those themes a week! The two that I really did well on were:

#1. Write a one-page theme on "My First Impressions of the World". That was fun! I think I wrote over a page about that. Capt. Lee gave me a "B+" and a "Very Good" at the top of the page. (See the story below.)*

#2. Write a one-page theme on "an Umbrella"! I wrote a two-page love story set in Ireland on that subject! A "Don't forget your umbrella on a Sunday afternoon walk" kind of thing. I guess I'd seen John Ford's movie, "The Quiet Man" too many times.

I ended up making an "A-" in Sociology and a "B+" in English IV. Near the end of the year and Capt. Lee signed my 1964 yearbook beneath his picture this way:

"Best Wishes to a fine student"

"O. Pierre Lee"

I'm not so sure I was such a fine student, but he was, indeed, a fine teacher!

CAPT O. P. Lee
CAPT. O. P. Lee
From the 1965
Ranger yearbook

NOTE#1: Captain Lee was also the pilot for the school's airplane. Col. Wesley P. Smith had been the pilot, but he was having trouble with his color vision at the time, and Capt Lee had to fill in for him.

NOTE#2: Captain Lee was at LWMA for only two years. After the 1964-1965 school year he was replaced for the 1965-1966 year by Captain (then later) Major Paul Tate who was the academy's English teacher through the 1982-1983 school year (Except for two years in the early part of his tenure).

*15 April 64
Third Period

"My First Impressions of the World"

    I don't remember too much of the very first. The days in the hospital were all mixed up. There was some guy who hit me where he shouldn't have. I could not tell him where to go because I could not talk yet. I tried to bite him, but I did not have any teeth either. All I could do was cry and that made everyone happy!

    Then there was that silly little room with the big glass window. Boy! The people they had locked up in that room outside of the window were a lot of nuts! They kept looking out the window at me, and making funny faces. I think they could have found something better to do than that. I guess they were all crazy!

    Just about all the rest seemed unreal until we got home. It was then that I realized these people who brought me home into their house were two of those crazy people who had been locked up in that other room! Why did they let them out? All they did was make funny faces at me and say, "Goo Goo"! They were silly, and this went on for months.

    I often wonder how I grew up around people like that.


By the way, I still have that English Literature book! It has the above story folded up in it. Also, as I looked through my 1964 yearbook, I noticed that Capt. Lee's autograph is the only faculty or staff autograph I have in that copy of the "RANGER". (I have the 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1964 yearbooks.)

I always thought the only reason I had that English Literature book was because I could not sell it the next semester, as there were no more "next semesters" for me. I'm glad I still have it because I also found the poem "The Deserted Village" by Oliver Goldsmith published in it. That poem is where the title of the LWMA Centennial History book - "Their Country's Pride" - came from.

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