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.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post your memories. Your memories, barely scratched the surface. Just from what was posted, I have a feeling we were there at the same time. Just the physical abuse that took place could take up pages. Saying half the nuns were ok, I think is a gross over statement. Please keep posting, I will check back.
    A Priest, Fr. Blaze used to call LH, little hell...

    1. You are sure ringing my bells. I was there in 1954 for 5th grade. By the time I left my calloused hands could easily take 5 each. Those nuns were perverts. The janitor was selling us porn. Laughable.

  2. And thank you, eds, for replying. It's good to know someone is actually reading this. I remember Father Blase Strittmatter OSB calling it "Little Heaven" during Mass ... though I agree that Little Hell would have been more appropriate.

  3. I would like to thank you for creating this blog and writing your recollections of Linton Hall. I would like to add my mine to yours as well.

    During the three school years I spent there (2nd grade 1960, 4th grade 1962, 5th grade 1963), I felt completely alone in the crowd of boys, and I thought that everyone around me was happy and enjoyed 'playing soldier'.

    I was not Catholic and was not 'exposed' any church, religion or Military at my young age of seven when I entered LHMS (I had been exposed to some of Jesus's sayings and the Ten Commandments). To say I didn't want to be there would be putting it mildly. I despised it, and the Nun's displayed a Sadism that to this day I cannot forget (51 years later). I learned one thing at LHMS; the meaning of hypocrisy. When the Nun's said 'turn the other cheek' it was for beating a kid bare assed in front of a whole classroom. Luckily I never was called upon for such treatment, I would have probably been hauled off for slapping a Nun. Every night I laid awake in the cot visualizing my parents faces wondering if I'd ever see them again.

    I remember many things and sadly only four things that were good; LG BBQ Potato Chips, Turkish Taffy bought at the Canteen, discovering wild onion'Grass'(I would smell it then eat the grass, I didn't know there was a onion underground). Lastly, listening to the Drum and Bugle Corp.

    I remember being 'promoted' to Corporal, I don't know why.

    I remember being in 'A' Company, and being in a guide position.

    I remember 'sham battles', and the day a boy was carried off bleeding from his eye, I never participated, I'd put down the Daisy Rifle (fake) or hand it to some boy who lost his.

    I remember trying to avoid 'cow pies'

    I remember 'visiting day' sunday, sitting on a bench waiting and waiting for my parents car to come down that long driveway.

    I remember that the Nun that wrote my name on my clothes misspelled my last name as Beet instead of Beck.

    I remember always being called my last name not ever by my first.

    I remember breaking some rule and having to do 'full and half bends' for whatever time the Nun dictated, and if you tipped over, having to start over again, while the Nun watched you.

    I remember when kids didn't get in line on time the whole school lost 'extra' playground time.

    I remember getting stuck in the 'infirmary' with the Mumps while everyone got to go home for the Holidays.

    I remember the 'field day' and the bag of candy.

    I remember learning the 'suffer' gesture that kids like to use to tease.

    I remember having to go to Mass, and all the kneeling.

    I remember on special days having to march up the hill to the fancy church and the smell of the funny thing on a chain.

    I remember hiding on the floor in the back of my parents car on the big day, and when the Nun found me and made me get back in line for the parade. (my first try at escaping)

    I remember the big day when we had to wear our fancy uniforms and parade on the asphalt.

    I remember the day I just started walking down the long driveway to the highway and almost making it before they caught me and brought me back. (I would have walked all the way back to 15th and K if I didn't get picked up)

    I remember getting to spend third grade in DC at public school.

    I remember going back to LHMS for the 4th and 5th grades.

    I remember the so called 'hot' breakfast on visiting day when we'd get a piece of fried bologna.

    I remember seeing the Magnificent Seven movie in the gym.

    Continued on next post:

  4. I remember my last day at Linton Hall Military School, it was the best day of my young life:

    That day I was awakened by a Nun I did not know, it was still dark outside and it was way before Reveille. I was told to hurry and get dressed. Then I was escorted to the cafeteria, I was the only one in there. I was given cold cereal and told to wait. Then another Nun that I did not know, sat across from me and said "Michael, you are a good boy and we like you, but your Father". I had no clue what she meant. Then after I finished the cereal she escorted me to a bus outside. The bus took me to the Trailways bus depot in Downtown DC. No one from the school went with me and all I had was the clothes I was wearing, all my possessions were still in my locker. I walked three blocks over to my parents restaurant at 1308 H St NW. There were my Mom and Dad at work, and I was finally rid of Linton Hall and I was disappointed that all my things were left behind, but at least LHMS was behind me too.

    Later my Mom told me why I got kicked out. She said, my Dad got in a argument with the head Nun over a charge for a 'Birthday Party' (my birthday was before school started, and I never heard of anyone at LH getting one). He refused to pay and she got nasty and he said no way I'm paying for a party that my son didn't get. He wound up telling her he wasn't paying and she could "go fuck herself"! They didn't even know I was coming home! I never got the contents of my locker so I wonder what they did with my things labeled Beet. I do still have a rubber cross that they gave out one Xmas. It has Beck (correctly) handwritten on it.

  5. Thanks Michael J. for posting this. It's so wonderful that half a century later there is the internet and we can share the truth about Linton Hall Military School without fear of having it censored (as our letters home were.)
    Yes they found all kinds iof ways to get money from our parents, maybe I'll write a blog entry about it one of these days.
    I admire your father for his choice of language. He couldn't have said it better.


    I think the one thing that we all have in common is the loss of childhood much sooner than any of us were ready for; something you can never get back. I attended LHMS from 1964 to 1970. When I started there, they had Kindergarten, I can’t even imagine how it must have been for those kids. Kindergarten or 8th grade we were all held to the same standards. I wonder if the staff would like to have been treated when they were kids, the way they treated us?

    Watching a TV show, I heard the best description of military school. “What's the difference between military school and jail? Inmates have rights.” We had no rights and if something happened to you and you tried to seek justice for yourself, who would would listen? No one. If you had an officer or prefect who didn’t like you, they would make your life hell. We all learned at an early age that life was not fair. Was it fair for a whole company to be punished for something one person did?

    I have tried to make sense of it all and just wonder to myself who was really running LHMS and who thought that punishments that were handed out were right or fair. Was it fair to a kid who wet his bed to have to walk around all day with the wet sheets wrapped around his neck? Was it fair to a kid who was late for a formation to get hit in the head with a metal clip board? Was it a just punishment for a kid who used bad language to be given a bar of Dial soap and told he had to chew the whole bar? These kids had to walk around all day with a metal bucket tied around their neck, so that they could spit the chewed soap into the bucket. Chewing the soap caused their mouth and lips to swell and they were not allowed to drink water. If you really did something “bad” you had to hold a rifle in each hand, extend your arms, like you were being crucified. When your arms got tired and the rifles started to drop, you were hit on your elbows with a smaller rifle. Or, being spanked with a leather gun sling. There was more but I think that kind of paints the picture. If these things were done today, it would clearly be called what it was, child abuse.

    FOOD. Did we ever have fresh anything? Everything was processed food, most of it out of a can. Spam twice a week and hotdogs and beans twice a week for dinner. No fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables. The only fresh thing we had for breakfast, lunch and dinner was one piece of chicken for Sunday dinner. That was our big meal of the week. One piece of chicken, instant mashed potatoes, canned green beans, a piece of cake and a Coke. A normal meal for most, a feast for us.

    “Sister, I don’t feel good. I have a headache.” “You have headache? I’ve had a headache for two weeks, go to class.”

    I think a lesson we all learned was that the only one you could depend on, was yourself. If you had a bad day, who was there to talk to? No one. There was no place to go to be by yourself, no where that you could just relax, no where to get away from the madness………………

    Were there good things? Movies once a month, canteen where you could buy candy, field day, vacation, the last day of school. If you were really lucky, like me, you got to come back in couple of weeks for summer camp.

    I took the time to write these things out, because I think they need to be said somewhere in print and something's just need to be said.

  7. I don't know why there are not more places on the web like this; why more people are not speaking out. Catholic nuns treated us like that, are you kidding me........ I truly believe many of them became nuns because they had issues with men. Not all but definitely some.

  8. Anonymous, thank you for writing this! I was also there during the late sixties though not as long.

    I was lucky never to have wet the bed while there (generally happens to younger kids and I was one of the older ones) but the way they were treated makes my blood boil. Bedwetting is something kids can't control. And to treat them so sadistically (I remember them having to wear piss-soaked pajamas around their neck all day) was wrong, no ifs ands or buts about it. And EVERY adult (nuns, Bill, and Commandant) saw what was done to bedwetters and they did NOTHING to stop it.

  9. Reading the posts on this particular page – and, I must add, not only on this one! – has confirmed the accuracies of the many memories I retain of my five years of detention in LHMS. Shipped off from a thoroughly dysfunctional family to give them time and space to refine their own pathologies without the distractions of adult responsibilities, the boom was allowed to lower on me with its full weight.

    The mid-to-late 1940s was a difficult time for the entire nation, none of which touched us students – excuse me, Cadets – in a realistic form. It was at LHMS I learned the truest of hatreds, not of race, but of abstraction from, especially, Sister Ethelreda (Altman) and Sister Genevieve (Blyley). The Jews killed Christ and The Lutherans (the lowest of all) rent Mother Church asunder. Years AFTER we, The Americans, had won the war we were being trained by combat veterans from Fort Belvoir to bayonet Japs and eviscerate Krauts. I have many more substantial examples that will lay out clearly the full extent of the cruelty of these Brides of Christ. Sic semper tyrannis!

    If anyone reading these few words would like to continue pursuing with me this fascinating enquiry as a matter of obligation please feel free to call me or write to me at any time.

    Cordial greetings to all . . .

    André Michael Smith,
    (212) 222-3243

    Bach Muss, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  10. I have just come across this reference to the early history of Linton Hall and believe it may be on interest to fellow alumni. AMS

    Sarah Elliott LINTON of Linton Hall
    12 Jan 1822 - 25 Oct 1901
    ID Number: I65459

    OCCUPATION: Sister Mary Baptista of the Georgetown Visitation Sisters§ RESIDENCE: Bristow, Prince William Co. VA§ BIRTH: 12 Jan 1822 DEATH: 25 Oct 1901, Georgetown, DC
    RESOURCES: See: notes [S2471] Father: John Tyler LINTON Mother: Cecilia Ann GRAHAM
    From "History of Linton Hall," by Sister Andrea Verchuck, presented to Society of Historic Prince William (March, 1992) Archives, Benedictine Sisters of Va., 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, Va 22013:

    At age 13, Sarah Elliott Linton's grandmother, Sally Linton, died, leaving her entire estate to Sarah. When Sarah graduated from Georgetown Visitation at age 16, she had a strong desire to become a Catholic, but the family firmly opposed her wish. Her determination persisted and she was baptized Catholic at age 20. Two years later she entered the order of the Georgetown Visitation Sisters and in October of that year she was given the name of Sister Mary Baptista.
    Meanwhile, after Sarah's departure, the Lintonsford plantation did not prosper. Her mother and half-sister built a smaller house for themselves on another part of the property, but Cecelia died shortly after it's completion on 21 May 1878. The original mansion burned and then the second house. After the Civil War, Sarah's half-sister, Anne Philips found herself among the land poor. In consultation with Sister Baptista, Anne began selling smaller parcels for farming. After reading "Monks of the West" Sister Baptista thought of giving over whatever remained of the Linton estate to the Benedictine Order for educational purposes. In 1892 a trust was drawn up for the remaining 1,736 acres of Lintonsford. The Deed of Trust read in part: "...a large tract to be used by the Benedictine Fathers to hold, manage and use said land for poor and homeless white boys and youths," and a 500-acre tract "for the purpose of establishing thereon a school for the training and education of poor and friendless white girls in the habits of instruction and virtue, and in learning useful occupations suitable to their conditions in life, in such manner and under the direction and control of such religious or charitable order or organization as the said trustees may deem most suitable." Later on 1 Aug 1893 the charter for the Benedictine Society of Linton Place, Prince William County, was issued. It specified that the company was formed for the purposes of establishing and conducting "an industrial farm and school for the maintenance and education of youth in arts and sciences and in the different branches of industrial and agricultural instructions."
    Also, see "The Fruits of his Works, A History of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Benedict's Convent, Bristow, Prince William County, Virginia," by Sister M. Helen Johnston, Linton Hall Press, Bristow, Va.
    The Linton Hall website is at

    Linton Hall School is located at 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136
    Phone: (703) 368-3157; Sister Andrea Verchuck; (703) 368-4848.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  11. Hi everybody! I really had fun reading all your comments, mostly are exact as same as mine, but at the end I liked the school.
    At the time I was there (let me tell that I am Mexican), to learn the English language, the Principal was Sister Gertrude (scary) and I reached the rank of Corporate, that gave A breath to keep on going.
    I would love to hear from my contemporaries and also have a picture if so exists (maybe of the Parade)

    Hope someone that had studied there became important in whatever doing.

    Migeul PaYRO (1960)

  12. I was there from late '56 to '61 1/2 +-... there were two other males besides the Jesuit Nun's on the property, George the Handyman and Father Bonafas(spelling ?)... Mass everyday at 5-6 AM Breakfast @ 7, class at 7:30... Meatballs made of Liver with Spaghetti every Saturday, ate soap for swearing and paddled on hands, knuckles or butt for everything else... as stated above, the Nun's observed everything and there was always one in the dorm. I got to go home to D.C., Once, while there and twice to an uncles in N.C. for a week... My parents were restricted from visits and I them except for the one time. The people I remember, Goody, Blackie Martinez, Sammy... Blackie gave me his bed on my 1st night of arrival... I got out for a short time in the 4th grade, 4 months, but was returned when I got into trouble again. from there I toured various reform schools until my tour in the Marines '67 - '72.

  13. And Yes, "Bill" may have been the Handyman's name as I think George was the 7th or 8th grader that threw me on a chain link fence puncturing my cheek, temple neck & chest... got to go to the infirmary, alcohol wash and a butterfly stich and all the Orange Juice one wanted while there... Blackie and a few others got him back for me... I was in 'bout 4th grade... just after my return and who can forget the Spring Milk always sour because of the Green Onions the cows ate and we drank... "YOU TAKE IT YOU FINISH IT"... Farm work, Alter-Boy requirements and Field Days for cleaning... Ran away once, got caught not to far down the road... didn't try again.