Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Mystery of the Cadet Diary #4 (Orange Throwing and Ash Cans) (And Girls)

Continuing with the diary entries. These have more drama and my sense is that he found girls standing in the "sally port" nearly as as attention-getting as the incident involving cadets throwing oranges at the Cadet Commandant and the flying ash cans:

Friday -- Feb 14 (1936)

Wineberger inspected the rear rank at inspection this morning and gave me one merit for excellent rifle. I ought to have had one on my brasses also, but he wouldn’t commend me on them. I sure worked hard enough on them.

It was announced in the mess hall that we would be restricted again this weekend on account of bad weather and conditions in the city. It’s awfull (sic) pretty weather we’re having but the surgeon doesn’t seem to think so. As soon as the rest was given, everybody started yelling at the top of their voice and beating on the bread trays. It took them about five minutes to quiet down.

Something is going off tonight I’m almost positive. I’ve never seen everybody so stirred up. We beat Carolina in the boxing match tonight. Col Gaston came over here after the boxing match and was standing out on the quadrangle. About half the barraks (sic) came out on the gallery and started hollering at him. Everybody was making some sort of crack at him – telling him to get the hell out of here. Some even went so far as to throw oranges at him

Saturday-Feb 15 (1936)

I knew something was going to happen last night and sure enough about 3 o’clock it sounded as if the whole barracks were going to fall in. Somebody had thrown some trash cans off. It was sure planned well – you couldn’t hear anybody running or any doors slam. We tried to cut on the light, but they had thrown the main switch while they did it. I was almost back asleep when Thorpe and Wineberger came in. They looked at the alarm clock to see if it was set but thank goodness it wasn’t. They went in everybody’s room and felt some of the boy’s pulse to see if they had been running. I woke up this morning and looked out on the quad. Great God There (sic) were fourteen as cans down there. Moss took a picture of them. There was also a lot of toilet paper and a great many liquor bottles that had been thrown off before call to quarters last night. After breakfast all the freshmen had to go down and clean all that mess up.

I really put out on the room this morning but didn’t get but one merit. It was a good thing because Shumate was mad about those ash cans and gave a very rigid inspection. He even pulled boys for not having shoe laces in shoes that they weren’t wearing. There were about ten or twelve boys that got pulled for having a mess hall glass in their room. I gave mine to Taylor and he put in (sic) his strong box.

Walked two tours today. I got out ten minutes early on the one before dinner to get dressed for guard mount. I’ve been on guard 2 times now in the past month. Thats (sic) way too often.

We got three tables together tonight and played ping-pong in the room. Taylor, Fortson, Larkin, Joyce, Moss and myself. Just a little while ago some girls were standing in the sally port and everybody came out on the gallery and started yelling at them. I’m forced to knock off and go meet the relief formation, cause (sic) I don’t want another 3 and 3.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Cadet Diary #3

Continuing with entries from the mysterious cadet diary:

Sunday – Feb 9 (1936)

Went to Chapel this morning came back and lounged around the room till dinner. Got a letter from Clarence this morning. After dinner I went down to Belcher’s room at (sic) shot bull till about four and then went to sleep.

They had an amateur show this afternoon. A boy named Purcell won it. Mr. Sturkey says that he and I are going to enter the next one. He is going to be a magician and I his helper. He is very confident that we’ll win it. I know 3 bucks would certainly come in handy.

I’m getting pretty damn tired of this place. The more I think about it the madder I get. There’s not one single thing down here that I’m satisfied with. Can’t get in the hospital even if you are sick – let the laundry lose all your clothes and you can’t say a word about it. Cuss that lady that runs it out and probably get a month or two for it. Have to pay a fortune to the G.M. every time you get anything and like it. One boy went over to the hospital the other day with temperature and they wouldn’t let him in so he goes and tells Gaston where to get off and up town (?) to a hospital. Now he’s got pneumonia. Mr. Trotti (Transcription Note: There is a Tom Mulloy Trotti, Citadel Class of 1937, on the Citadel War Dead List. He was killed at Iwo Jima during World War II and I am assuming that this is the same young man) went over there the other day and got stuck for coming over at off hours. He’s truly sick now, but you couldn’t make him go back over there with a team of horses. Folks say you will appreciate the training (Transcription Note: the words “while you” marked through) you get here after you are graduated, but I’ll be damn if you do now. I dare say there are about fifty freshmen out of 200 that intend to come back next year. I know I Sure (sic) will hate to see September roll around again.

I’m forced to knock off and write to the pater and Clarence and Jeane too if I can borrow any stationery.

Tuesday -- Feb 11 (1936)

Got a hair cut this afternoon. Shumate came in tonight and stuck me for loud laughing during E.S.P. and clothes strewn around room during E.S.P.

Wednesday – Feb 12 (1936)

Made 88 on an English quiz - not bad. Was down in Richter’s room this afternoon and some boys were scuffing and making a lot of noise. Mr. Sturkey came up then (?) there (?) and jumped on them and got mad at me because I didn’t come to attention. He says to bring my broom with me when I come down to fix his bed at tattoo.

So for this week I’ve gotten a 4 and 5 for failing to meet guard mount (?) and a 3 and 3 for 2 minutes late to relief formation. It’s also a four and five for loud laughing and a 3 and 3 for room in disorder during E.S.P. I’ll just have two tours to walk this week end but oh next week end. 16 (underlined) confinements. I’ll be in Friday nite, and Saturday nite, walk 2 (3?) tours Sat afternoon and serve one confinement Sunday afternoon. That means I’ll have from 3 till 6 on Sunday afternoon free.

Toby said that Larkin wrote the OC to go home this week end, but the dough wouldn’t approve it because he said we wouldn’t be just restricted this week end, but quarenteened (sic). If that’s so, we won’t be out till anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks have gone by. All because one boy has got the scarlet fever – Matthews, first sergant (sic) of “A” Co.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mystery of the Cadet Diary #2

Here is the second installment of the cadet's diary:

Tuesday February 4, (1936)

Forgot to write anything yesterday. Went to class this morning and after dinner, I laid up on the press and went to sleep. Got up and went over to the gymnasium to listen to a “keep your pants buttoned” talk by Dr Ravanell at 4 o’clock. Came back and slept until retreat.

Tonight I was listening to the crystal set (Transcription Note: an early simple radio receiver with a crystal touching a metal wire and no amplifier or speaker, necessitating headphones or an earphone) when Graves came around. I thought I heard him coming down the gallery, but when I asked Moss if it was he said “no.” I heard him rap on the door and got the ear phones off before he got it open. Thats (sic) some fast work. I’ve got to go to the Cadet Committee tonight for about three or four reports. I don’t see how I can get out for less than ten tours. I’m going to roll me an own (?) and listen to Glen Gray (Transcription Note: Glen Gray, a 1930s bandleader) for a while now

Feb.5, Wednesday (1936)

Nothing unusual today. I got Mr. Berger’s ice cream at dinner. Went back over to the gym this afternoon in Company formation and heard the rest of the sex talk by Dr. Ravanell (sic)

I really knew my history lesson today. It was the first time I had really studied it in a long time.

Mr. Andrews said that there were 70 boys in the hospital and 69 had the flu. Theres (sic) a rumor about us being restricted this week and I’ll have to stay in Friday nite and finish that drawing so I don’t mind much.

Saturday Feb-8 (1936)

No exercises this morning thank goodness. By the way we are restricted this weekend.

The corps went to a picture show over in the gym last nite – “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” – It was supposed to be a good picture, but it wasn’t very plain. Everything seemed blurred. The sound was awfull (sic) too. I couldn’t understand but one sentence In (sic) show – “What fools these mortals be.” They had a boxing match tonight but I didn’t go – stayed down in Sturkey’s room till about eleven and watched him do tricks.

A bunch of the boys were drunk today. Some one said that a man came out here and got around $100 (Transcription Note: Around $1500 by today's standards) worth of orders and delivered it. About half of “D” company is on its back right now.

* * * * *

I had to do yet another Google search, this time re: "Glen Gray." I'd never heard of him, but apparently he was a popular bandleader during the 1930s and 1940s. There is a clip of one of his performances on YouTube if you're interested. I had to smile at the cadet's rush to get rid of his radio headphones. In 1936 this would have been a lot harder than it sounds.

More later...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Mystery of the Cadet Diary #1

Here are the first two entries in the September 1935 through March 1936 cadet diary:

Sept 16, - Monday (1935)

Got up as usual and went to the details room after breakfast. Mr Williamson had me to take some sergant (sic) chevrons off his arm. I guess he lost his rank when he became a senior. I got back to the room and boy did I have a time getting things in order before I went to that eight o’clock class. When I returned to barracks from Bond Hall, at noon, Mr. Blake informed me that I was pulled for having an untidy basin.

My shoes were through to my socks during the 12:15 drill. The grass makes your shoes so slick, you can hardly stand up. We learned a new movement today and when we tried it at supper formation, hardly a de (?) did it right. That reminds me, I got pulled again at supper formation for tucking in my shirt.

One thing I’ll never forget – yesterday when we marched back from chapel we had to stand at attention while Colonel Gaston gave a speech. After about ten minutes a dozen or more boys had fainted and fallen on the cement. They were of course carried off the quadrangle, but the colonel didn’t lower his voice. He only said “A few of you are dropping out of ranks but you’ll get accustomed to it after a while (sic)

* * * * *

Ummm – I see I haven’t been keeping my diary so well – as a matter of fact I haven’t kept it at all. I shall have to begin anew

Things have changed considerably since I last made any entry. I am no longer having a fascinating time, but on the contrary, a very boring one. The reason I write so poorly is because I was just in G W’s room visiting during E.S.P. when (sic) the door opened I thought sure it was the O.C. but it was only another boy visiting. As a result I am very nervous. I’m not nearly as home sick as I was when I first got back from the Xmas holidays although I would like mighty well to be home. I passed chemistry for the semester and so that lets a big worry off my mind. I haven’t heard from Math, History, Drawing, or Mil (?) Sc (?) yet but I believe I got by on them.

Well I’m going to write what I did today whether Ill (sic) keep it up or not – God knows.

Sunday February 2, 1936

Went to chapel, came back and played ping-pong up in Hughes’ room till dinner, rather a little before dinner – I came back and went to sleep and slept on through dinner, (sic) Got up about 4 o’clock hungry as all get out. The canteen was closed so I went over to the little stand in the park and got a coca-cola (sic) and some candy. I sat down in the park – thinking I might see some jobs (Transcription Note: girls) I could introduce myself to, but no luck (sic) everybody I saw was ultra young. It was too cold I guess.

Went to supper and sat over in “D” company area. Made a break by calling some bird (?) Mr. Ming (?). I saw Mr. Haley today in his civilian clothes. He’s been away for over a week and now he’s come back to quit. Forced to knock off now and get my history note books together. (Transcription Note: Apparently he is following the Southern custom regarding meals, i.e., "lunch" is "dinner" and "dinner" is "supper.")

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mystery of the Cadet Diary - "Memory Keeping"

The dh found this diary at Cline's Antiques on Highway 49, which is located not too far from Pfeiffer University. For those of you not familiar with the place, if the Smithsonian were a junkyard, it would look like Cline's. It's amazing what you can find there sometimes just by riffling through the right box.

I have now read the diary in its entirety. I know the diary-keeper's name. I know the dates it was kept - September 1935 through March 1936. I know that he referred to his father as "pater" and to girls in general as "jobs" and that he was a cadet in a military school.

But I didn't know what military school. He never mentions it by name, but there were clues - Murray Barracks, sailing to Fort Sumpter, a fellow cadet named "Trotti," a nurse named "Miss Malloy."

A Google search revealed that there was and is a Murray Barracks at the Citadel. There is also a Citadel alumnus on their list of War Dead named "Trotti," a marine LTC from the Citadel Class of 1937 who was was killed at Iwo Jima during World War II. I was even able to find a scanned page from a 1939 Citadel year book which mentioned a nurse named "Malloy" on the school's medical staff. The cadet also mentioned a Colonel Gaston and a kind of small mutiny against him during which some of the cadets yelled insults and threw oranges at him. Unfortunately, a search for his name and the Citadel didn't show any Google results.

What makes this brief diary so intriguing to me (aside from the orange-throwing) is the observant and matter-of-fact way it is written. The cadet who wrote about his rigorous school life wasn't given to self-pity. Yes, he was annoyed sometimes, sometimes exasperated, sometimes out and out angry (the size of his handwriting changes accordingly), but there is still that pragmatic undercurrent: It is what it is.

The diary is also a window to another time, an insight into how we, as human beings, don't really change. In his day he was trying not to get caught listening to a crystal radio set instead of an iPod. And, like the present, young men ogled girls and some of them got drunk and misbehaved if they could.

What I don't know is what happened to him. Did he pass the courses he was worried about? Or did he leave the Citadel and that is why he stopped writing in the diary? Did he eventually graduate? Did he serve in World War II like the fellow cadet from the Class of 1937 named Trotti? Did he ask the "good-looking job" he saw clerking in a store for a date as planned? Is he still alive? I'd like to know what happened to Colonel Gaston, too, what kind of man he was that mere cadets would dare hurl epithets and citrus fruit at him.

I think I'll be posting some of the diary entries -- so you can wonder, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sun Dog

I took this photo yesterday at sundown, and I wanted to share it with you. On the left, near the bare trees, is the setting sun. On the far right is a fine example of a "sun dog." It was quite something to see in that the phenomenon looked like two distinct suns. I'm glad I had my camera.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Irony Is Where You Find It

This building, located in a nearby small town, was built, according to the slate plaque imbedded in the facade, in 1915. I like it a lot. I never see just the stone work. I am always mindful of the intensive labor it took to construct it. I don't see the cold stones, as it were. I see the warm hands that made them.

The building has had many incarnations. The ones I remember are "grocery store" and "empty."

It is not empty at the moment. It has been all spiffed-up, and it looks very nice.

This is the left window:

And this -- for my very observant and astute blog-readers who appreciate the incongruousness of this world -- is the right window:

And that's all I have to say.