Monday, December 20, 2010

Linton Hall Military School's declining enrollment

I have just found some interesting statistics about enrollment at Linton Hall, as well as Linton Hall tuition figures.

Note how it reached its peak in the 1950s and declined to half that number by 1988-1989, the last year that it was a military school.

The school had eight dorms, each with a capacity of around 50 beds, so it looks like it never reached its full capacity of 400 resident cadets.

Year..... Enrollment Faculty Tuition

--------- ---------- ------- -------------

1934-1936. 84 ...... 12 .... $ 315

1940-1944 152 ...... 12 .... $ 315

1951-1953 250 ...... 15 .... $ 500

1962-1964 225 ...... 13 .... $ 720

1970-1971 210 ...... 20 .... $1,580

1980-1981 173 ...... 26 .... $2,310-$4,235

1987-1989 109 ...... 21 .... $2,186-$6,396

Source: "The American Pre-College Military School; a history and comprehensive catalog of institutions"

by Samuel J. Rogal, 2009, page 202. ISBN: 978-0-7864-3958-4

Note: I found this by searching for the book's title in Google Books. The entry on Linton Hall takes up only about half a page, with a short paragraph describing it, and the above statistics.

Copyright 2010 "L.H. Cadet" Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of just copying and pasting. Thanks!

This blog is NOT affiliated with Linton Hall Military School. The opinions contained are those of the author.

Linton Hall Military School, and how it sucked up our parents' money

Although the land on which Linton Hall was built was donated for the purpose of building schools for poor boys and girls, Linton Hall was an expensive boarding school. I wouldn't begrudge them charging a lot, if we had gotten a commensurate value in return. But that was not the case. What we observed outside the academic and military program, was the hypocrisy of the nuns' living a purportedly religious life while in fact acting towards us in very un-Christian ways.

Specifically, I felt as if we (or our parents actually) were a resource to be milked for as much money as possible. I mentioned in my first post the many times when we smelled something good on the way to dinner, steak or roast (a smell I could not have been mistaken about) and ended up getting something entirely different, bologna or hot dogs. The delicious food that we smelled was obviously only being served in the nuns' dining room.

Point is, this wasn't a charitable institution. I have a copy of the 1979-1980 list of expenses. (The school was known as Linton Hall School by then, but there was still a military program.) The fee for room and board at the time was $1,645 for the nine-month academic year. (Tuition, supplies, uniforms, canteen, etc. were all billed separately.)

By then I had long left Linton Hall Military School and was a recent college graduate living on my own. My rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Washington D.C. suburbs, only a few miles outside the Beltway, was $275/month, including utilities. My food expenses averaged $150 per month. Actually this was for food as well as cleaning supplies and toiletries, all of which I bought at the supermarket. And I ate good food, including pot roast, a couple of steaks a week, fresh fruit and vegetables. It wasn't caviar and champagne but neither was it macaroni and cheese or tuna casserole. And, as any man in his early twenties, I had a good appetite. (Yes, I kept track of expenses and still have the information.)

How do my expenses compare to what Linton Hall was charging? Let's say that I was eating twice as much as a child, so a child would have spent $75/month on food. I believe Linton Hall spent much less than that, since I certainly wasn't living on hot dogs and beans and canned vegetables, which was the type of food we typically got fed; not to mention that I was buying my groceries at a supermarket and they were buying groceries in bulk.

Let's also say that eight cadets shared the same square footage as my apartment, and that the ratio of cadets per toilet, sink or shower was six to one. (As I recall, there were eight toilets and eight sinks in the bathroom, and approximately 48 cadets in each dorm. There were approximately twelve shower heads in the shower room, but the shower room was typically shared between two dorms.) So dividing my $275 monthly rent by six, I come up with $46/month. I'm not taking into consideration the fact that my apartment was in a DC suburb, not out in the sticks like Bristow, and that I had a kitchen. The apartment complex also included a pool and tennis court, as well as parking and grassy areas.

To come up with an annual cost per cadet, I will multiply $46 rent by 12 (even though we only lived there six months of the year) and multiply the $75/month for food by eight. (we were there nine months a year, less Christmas and Spring vacations, and alternate weekends.) There were also five dorm prefects, plus (I believe) four full kitchen workers, including Sister Benedict,and I will value their work at $3,000 per year. At the time, the minimum wage was under $1/hour, so I am being generous in assuming nine months of full-time employment, or 1,500 hours, at $2/hour. Total labor value of the prefects and kitchen workers of $27,000 per year, divided by 200 cadets, gives $135/year per cadet. The total cost per cadet would be $1,287 per year, which is substantially lower than the $1,645 they charged; as a percentage it's just over 75%. Do you think that they could have fed us a little more, an extra scoop of mashed potatoes with each meal, another slice or two of bread at breakfast, one banana or apple a day? I'm talking about spending an extra dime a day (bananas cost a nickel each back then) which works out to $25 over the 250-day academic year. Couldn't they have gotten the plumbing fixed so that showers always had warm water? I remember how so many times that water was freezing.

And we "cadets" did out own cleaning of bathrooms, shower rooms, dorm floors. Those of us who were officers also were a source of unpaid labor, child labor, forced labor (we had no choice) in supervising the younger cadets. We spent so many hours doing grunt work instead of time which could have been better spent developing our academic skills, engaging in sports and other extracurricular activities, or even building up our social skills, especially with girls, which is an experience that is very important as someone enters adolescence. Officers worked as live-in nannies in the dorms, at study hour, during drill and free play. Eighteen officers were in charge of approximately 200 children, or more than ten per officer. How much would you expect to pay a nanny to supervise ten children -- if you could find someone willing to be so overworked? We, the officers, did it for free.

So our parents were told how much was being charged for room and board, and this is America after all, free market capitalism and all that.

But what was wrong is the ways that they found to nickel and dime our parents with all kinds of extra expenses.

First of all uniforms. Roughly twice a year (I don't remember exactly) it was time to go through our uniforms and see whether anything had become worn or we had overgrown it. In the two years I was there, I did not gain a single pound (due to the severely limited amount of food we got) and I did not grow much in height, maybe an inch or so. Yet I remember many times being told by some nun that I had "overgrown" my clothes and ended up with way too large, ill-fitting clothes. Then there was the expensive dress uniform used for parades, and we even had to buy a pair of white trousers ("white ducks" they called them) which we wore just once a year, on Military Day.

I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and never received a penny in financial aid from Linton Hall Military School, but I would have expected the nuns to exercise more responsibility with other people's money, especially since many of the parents (mine included) were far from wealthy.

There were also frequent haircuts to keep our hair short, and charges for "canteen." We each had a canteen card that was punched every time we received a piece of candy after school. Sometimes an officer would rip up a cadet's canteen card as punishment (it happened to me) so that the remaining value was lost to the coffers of Linton Hall.

Once in a while one of the nuns would set up a "toy store" in the visiting room next to the principal's office and the younger kids would be invited to purchase toys which would be billed to the parents. I'm not clear on the details since I was one of the older cadets and we didn't get to visit the "toy store" but here was a nice little profit center where little children got to decide to spend their parents' money without permission!

Any insignia we received (stripes or bars, for the officers) apparently wasn't really an award, just something they lent to us while at Linton Hall. I'm saying "apparently" because I still find it hard to believe, but that's what my dorm nun told me on my last day there! I had a choice of either turning everything in or paying for it. I paid for it. Was that also the case with the ribbons and medals we earned? I don't know.

I'm suspicious of that nun because of something else. One thing we needed to bring to Linton Hall Military School was two military olive color blankets. We hadn't been able to get those, and when I arrived at LHMS, dorm nun #1 offered to sell me two blankets. These were used blankets, which I suspect someone had just happened to leave behind when leaving Linton Hall. One of them was in pretty bad shape (torn and cut) but was still usable not as the main blanket, but as the one that was folded over our pillow when we made the bed. The price was $5 each, which was then (late 1960s) a hefty amount. The minimum wage was just under a dollar, and our monthly local (landline) phone bill was $3 and change. I would say that $5 back then was the equivalent of $30 to $50 in today's dollars.

When I left Linton Hall, I was in another dorm with another nun. As I was packing my stuff on my last day there she informed me that the blankets had actually been rented and that I couldn't take them.

I believe I also mentioned in an earlier post that when I arrived at Linton Hall, the principal, Sister Mary David O.S.B., asked me if I had any money, and took it. I still remember that my mother was there with me and I asked my mother to take my wallet (and money) home, but Sister Mary David talked me into leaving it with her "for any expenses." I was naive and believed her, but never saw that money again. Did it end up in my canteen "account" or not? If it did, it means my allowance was used to pay for me to stay there, adding insult to injury. All I know was that I had three one-dollar bills, which was six weeks' allowance, and I never saw it again.

I had also taken a little brown paper bag with candy to Linton Hall. Lots of Sweet Tarts and other goodies. The dorm nun told me candy wasn't allowed and told me she'd hold my candy "for safekeeping" and give it back to me the next time I went home. I had to ask for it, and a lot of it was missing.

What did this nun see when she looked in the mirror and saw the face of someone who lied to a naive, innocent child, so she could steal the candy that he had bought with his own allowance?
Did she or any of the other nuns have a conscience?

One of this blog's readers recently posted about Linton Hall attempting to charge his father for a birthday party that never happened. It appears as a comment to my first post on this blog. I will let readers find out that boy's father's reaction to this.

Copyright 2010 "L.H. Cadet"
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of just copying and pasting. Thanks!
This blog is NOT affiliated with Linton Hall Military School. The opinions contained are those of the author.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Linton Hall Military School from an adult point of view

My first post was about my memories ... what I remembered as a child.

I just want to reflect a little on what I feel that Linton Hall Military School gave me (or failed to give me) after I left.

There's a cliche that children need two things: roots and wings. Wings is the preparation for adulthood, which involves many things (academic, social, and practical skills, for example) but also self-responsibility. I believe that it's important to children to be given the opportunity of making small mistakes and learning from them. This becomes more important as children get older. For example, a two year old might be told to stay away from matches because a parent says so, or in order to avoid getting a smack in the butt. An older child can and should know why he should not play with matches -- at least not indoors, and not near flammable substances such as dry leaves.

I think only by having an allowance does a child learn to manage money, to save and spend it wisely. Likewise, by having his own room and having the autonomy to hang or not hang his clothes to learn that it's not wise to throw clothes and other items on the floor because they get dirty, wrinkled, damaged, lost and so on. If you need to ask for permission before spending your allowance or if you are told precisely how to fold your clothes and make your bed, your room might look very neat, but you aren't really learning self responsibility.

I've known college students who didn't learn this and had so many clothes strewn across the floor that it was hard to see what color the carpet was. I've also known adults unable to manage money -- much less credit -- and who ended up paying $38 for a cup of coffee as a result. That's not a typo; $3 for the coffee plus $35 bank overdraft fee for using a debit card to pay for the coffee when their checking account was overdrawn.

By having every aspect of my life micromanaged at Linton Hall Military School, I do not feel that Linton Hall prepared me for having the self-responsibility that others had when entering high school. You know, count of 30 to brush your teeth and wash your face, count of 30 to get dressed, count of 30 to make your bed in a very precise way. Great preparation for going into an institution such as the military, prison, insane asylum or monastery, but not for learning self responsibility.

I wonder what it was like for those who spent the majority of their childhood there, from grades 3 to 8 and how well they were able to adjust to life outside Linton Hall Military School.

Copyright 2010 "L.H. Cadet"
Please respect copyright by linking to this blog instead of copying and pasting.
This blog is NOT affiliated with Linton Hall Military School. The opinions contained are those of the author.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Linton Hall Military School

Linton Hall school blog
I got sent to Linton Hall Military School, Bristow, Va. back when it was a military school run by Catholic nuns. Here are some of my memories:

Academics were generally good. It was easy to make friends since we only got to go home every other weekend so I was with my peers 24 hours a day.

At Linton Hall Military School, mail was censored. We had to leave letters home unsealed so that the principal could read them to make sure we didn't say anything bad about the school, otherwise the letter would be thrown away instead of being mailed.

No phone calls to or from home except for the rare occasions when we were on a field trip and could get to a pay phone and call collect. No cell phones existed back then.

Nuns used to watch us (boys) every time we took a shower. Most of the 8th graders were 13, but a couple were 14 or 15 years old and fully developed.

There were no doors on the stalls in the bathrooms.

Camping was fun unless it got too cold, but if it got under 32 degrees you were awarded the "Over and Under" patch. (Overnight, under 32 degrees.)
Linton Hall School

Being always hungry. They fed everyone the same amount. An 8th grader needs to eat more than a 3rd grader. Sometimes there were leftovers for seconds but that was unusual. Nicotine beans ... that's what we called them, they were baked beans that usually got burnt while cooking and they tasted pretty bad. Smelling steak while marching down to dinner, getting your hopes up, then figuring out that the smell came from the nuns' dining room and all we got was something like bologna sandwiches. They definitely didn't eat the same food we did at Linton Hall.

Bringing food or candy from home was prohibited and punished. I did it and was lucky I never got caught. I stole food while in the cafeteria line. I admit it. I never got caught. I still have such a fear of going hungry again that I will not say how I did it since the information might come in handy again someday. Some of us got caught and punished for "stealing" food. I have to put that word in quotation marks.

Linton Hall Military School

Some of us would put a little toothpaste in our mouths before going to bed since it's hard to fall asleep when you're hungry. We didn't know that swallowing too much toothpaste can be harmful because of the fluoride that's in it.

When I first got to Linton Hall Military School a nun asked me if I had any candy and when I innocently said yes she took it and told me that I would get it back the first weekend I went home. Of course I had to ask for it and only about half of it was left.

I got asked the same question about money. That wasn't allowed either and I was told that it would be put into my canteen account. It never was. Just a couple of dollars, but back then candy bars cost ten cents each, and the minimum wage was around a dollar an hour.

They cut off all our hair, like a military buzz cut. Long hair was "groovy" back then so we looked totally "square" when we went home. No girls. What does not having contact with the opposite sex during childhood and early adolescence do to a boy? Make you shy and totally lacking in social skills with girls? It did for me. Make you interested in girls only for sexual gratification instead of seeing them as human beings? Somewhat for me. Did some boys become gay or have homosexual experiences as a result of having no social contact with girls and seeing each other naked in the shower every other night? I left LHMS before that happened to me, but I wonder about others.

Linton Hall Military Academy

Someone said that not having girls around was good because they didn't distract you from academics. I disagree. Not having enough to eat didn't stop me from thinking about food!

The cold. Being outside for hours in winter with thin cotton pants, khakis or fatigues (same material except olive green color). Some of us had long johns underneath. I didn't. That was our uniform at Linton Hall Military School!

Having to keep your hands out of your pockets while marching in the cold, even if you lost your gloves.

Having to wear your wool knit hat horizontally so your ears stayed uncovered in the cold. Is that why I'm becoming hard of hearing?
Linton Hall blog

Everyone in the dorm, class, or batallion (that's the whole school) getting punished when the culprit wasn't found. Punishments at LHMS included running or marching out in the heat or cold. I remember someone being made to run laps outside in winter in his underwear.

Deep knee bends as a punishment. Is that why I now have knee problems?

Paddlings from nuns.

The "suffer" sign. A gesture that other cadets did, fanning their fingers when you got punished. "Cadets?" We were children aged 8 to 13 and not adult soldiers in the military!!!

About half the nuns at Linton Hall Military School were fair. Mostly the ones that came in just to teach class during the day and had no disciplinary responsibilities.

The Commandant (an ex-marine in charge of the military program) treated me fairly. That's because I never got in trouble of course.

Sister Mary David OSB principal and in charge of all this, may God give you your just reward. That's all I'm going to say.

Lockers had no locks. Stuff got stolen from mine.

The Officer's Rifle Club. Every other Friday, 13 year old eighth graders shooting live .22 caliber ammunition from rifles at paper targets in the basement under the classroom wing. Can you picture that happening nowadays?

Some memories I'm leaving out because they would identify specific people even if I didn't mention them by name.

On the fun side I remember some of the Mexicans teaching one of the nuns a couple of words in Spanish. Except instead of the real words they taught her obscenities. So instead of saying "hello" she would say, ummm, I'll let you guess.

The absolutely best memory was when I left for good after graduating. I don't really remember the moment except that I know that I never turned around to get one last look. I did visit Linton Hall Military School years later on Military Day and overheard a nun lie through her teeth and say that they did not advertise and kept the school full just through word of mouth. In fact, enrollment had substantially declined and a couple of years later Linton Hall School no longer was all boys, or boarding, or military. I hope this means that no more children suffered like we did.

Read more in my book, "Linton Hall Military School Memories," over 200 pages, 7x10 inches, only $5.69 (or less) at
Linton Hall School


Copyright 2010 "L.H. Cadet"
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of just copying and pasting. Thanks!
This blog is NOT affiliated with Linton Hall Military School. The opinions contained are those of the author.