Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Response to comments about Linton Hall Military School

I am also on Facebook, where I post these blog entries.
The following is a selection of my responses to feedback I've received from other former Linton Hall Military School cadets.
(I am not posting their comments here since I don't have the authors' permission to do so outside of Facebook.)

Although I didn't go into detail, I do remember hiking and camping at Linton Hall Military School, and I do have fond memories of that, especially since it was the first time I had done either of those in my young life. And yes I remember drilling in the cold, especially one time when it was bitterly cold and windy and the adults in charge were irresponsible and had us drill anyway, but the eighth grade officers showed much better judgement and we spent a LOT of time purportedly having a "bathroom break" in the bathroom basement under the Commandant's office. It was a really smelly/dirty bathroom too (unlike the ones in the dorms) but it was nice and warm and I'm grateful to the officers who risked their rank by doing this.


I too cared about winning ribbons but I wish it had been for something other than drill. I saw and still see that as a mindless activity meant to teach not much more than blind obedience to an officer saying "about face" or "platoon halt." As I get older and appreciate the value of time more, I wish the time had been spent on other activities, such as sports, time for quiet reading in the library, arts and crafts, hiking in the woods, or any of the activities that boy scouts do. Forty years later I still remember how to do about face and the whole rifle drill, but wish I had been allowed to use my time otherwise while I was at Linton Hall Military School.

The blanket incident was significant to me because my family could barely afford to send me there. Today, with the educational and business opportunities I've had (which my parents never had) it wouldn't be a big deal, but it was a lot of money back then. Mostly it has to do with the nuns at Linton Hall, who were placed in a position of being parent substitutes, who were trusted to look after us, who purportedly dedicated their lives to serving God, would act that way.

I stopped being bitter about a year ago when I found other people's Linton Hall Military School memories on Facebook, and saw that things had changed substantially at LHMS over the years.I had often fantasized that when I grew up I would be rich, buy the school, and force them to change things. I'm very happy it has changed and that future generations did not suffer like we did.

‎"Courage" to reveal my name? (Various people brought this up.) First, others have confirmed the bad memories, and have even brought things up that I didn't, such as: being made to hold out two rifles, bucket on head, chewing up a bar of soap for using profanity are all things that I never had to do but observed, since the whole battallion was made to watch. Also, the nuns all went by first names only, no last names in the yearbook. And it's quite common for someone to become known as "Sister Mary" when joining a convent, but her legal name might be "Jane Doe" and she keeps that name on her driver's license, so no one outside a couple of people in the convent knows her real name. Speaking of "courage" a woman in her forties beating the living daylights out of a seven year old second grader with a wooden paddle is definitely NOT courage. Now grabbing the paddle out of her hand would be courage, and I'll admit I never did that. Though if there is one thing I regret not doing at Linton Hall Military School, that would probably be it.


I never tried to run away. Basically because I knew that if I succeeded in getting home I would have been immediately been sent back. But I loved fantasizing about how I would do it.


As far as the roots and wings concept, I agree with you about it being for the family to provide, but at the same time it was a boarding school and we only got to go home every other weekend (some people like the Mexicans or a couple of kids whose parents did not live in the local area, maybe just went home for Christmas and Summer vacations.) So in a way Linton Hall was like a substitute family and I wish I had gotten from LHMS what I did not and could not get from home.


I believe that those sent to Linton Hall Military School (at least at the time I went there) fell into three broad categories:
1) Those who had behavioral problems, and were sent there to be "straightened out."
2) Those who were there to be "babysat", i.e., whose parents did not want to go through all the work of parenting, and who were "abandoned" at least in part by their parents. I fell into this category, as difficult it is for me even today to admit this fact.
3) Those sent there to learn English, most of them Mexicans, many of them sent there with absolutely zero knowledge of English.
As in all generalizations there are exceptions.


I agree that life isn't always fair, or that we pay frequently for the mistakes of others (or even others' intentional misdeeds, not just mistakes. It's not even a matter of me "agreeing" ... what you've said is actually a reality of life. However ... I also believe in striving for justice, and in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and not in punishing the entire classroom or battallion when the guilty person cannot be found, which is something that happened more than once when I was there.
The fact that this happened made me lose respect for the adults in charge. (I use the word respect in the traditional sense, to mean esteem or high regard.) As I said in my first post the Commandant always treated me fairly (although I observed him punishing others excessively.) Sister Mary David did not. I remember one time when she beat me with her paddle. Perhaps one day I will describe where and how severely she hit me, but what hurt even more was that she rushed to judgement and punished me for something I was not guilty of.
The fact that she didn't punish me further shows that she later realized her mistake. Needless to say, there was no apology. That and a few other things made me lose what respect I had for her. She was a good teacher in the classroom, I'll admit.


As always, comments are appreciated. Please include the approximate years you were there, since Linton hall Military School has changed over the decades. If you went to "Linton Hall School" I would love to know how the school has changed from the time I was there!

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


  1. Occur. I attended LHMS year 67-68 and everything you stated is 100% true. There is much more which I could add, but I don't want to go through the embarrasment. There's also a lot to say about classmates bigger than others and bullying in the dormitories before and during lights out. I'd like to consider staying in touch in thi blog. R/former student.

  2. Additionally, I've yet to find pictures of 67-68 school year book (all grades) to see if I show up. I have nothing in my possession that reminds of this school except for saddened emotional memories. I currently serve this great country proudly.

  3. I know I appear as Anonymous, no disrespect to any fellow alumni so please forgive keeping it this way for now, but I'd like to know if any one whom attended LHMS from 67 - 69 has yearbook pictures of 4th, 5th and 6th graders. There is interesting information I'd like to share eventually if anyone can find archived photos that reflect that period and grades.
    Appreciate anyone's efforts in locating photos, thanks.

  4. On the question of an intentional anonymity, i.e., a reluctance to sign with author’s name a completed piece, I refer easily to Victor Hugo, “Speak nothing that can’t be written; write nothing that can’t be signed.” Further, on the identification of nuns with their surnames, beginning from the earliest times at Linton Hall to . . . yesterday(?), the full names of all, with their vital years, are engraved on their tomb stones. Srs Genevieve Blyley, Ethelreda Altman, Frances Strasburger, et al. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2302277&CScn=

    André Michael 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.