Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mail from Home!

One of my best memories of Linton Hall Military School was coming back to my dorm in the afternoon, after either drill or free play, and finding a letter from home on my bed, partly tucked under the top blanket by the nun in charge of our dorm.

A letter from home was the high point of my day, and the disappointment of not receiving one, especially when it had been several days since I had gotten mail, was a big disappointment, made even worse by seeing others reading the letters they had received.

Unlike the letters we sent out, which had to be left unsealed so they could be read and censored, (in cases when the writer was too critical of Linton Hall, the letter would simply be thrown away and not mailed) it was rare for incoming mail to be opened. It would only be opened when an incoming package was suspected of containing prohibited items, such as food or candy, or when the sender was a girl who clearly was not the recipient's sister. I never had the luck of having a girl write me at Linton Hall Military School; like most of us there, there was no way I could even hope to meet a girl; the few who did have female correspondents apparently managed to meet their sisters' friends, or finagled an introduction to the sister of some cadet.

A letter from home made me happy on a gut level, but I now understand that it was a connection to the better, beautiful world that existed outside Linton Hall Military School, a world that I got a taste of every other weekend, when the time home seemed to race unbearably quickly, and a world to which I looked forward to returning after I graduated from Linton Hall.

Not all letters turned out to be as pleasant as I expected.

There were the letters from relatives who did not know much about Linton Hall's reality, aunts and uncles who wrote me well-meaning but hopelessly useless advice such as "make sure you wear that red scarf I knitted for you when you go outside," "drink something hot at breakfast," "eat some fresh fruit at every meal" or "tell me how you spend your free time." I never bothered to reply that a red scarf was out of uniform, that I couldn't well walk into the nun's dining room and ask them to warm up the milk in my milk carton, and hey, Sister, add some cocoa and a couple of marshmallows while you're at it, will ya?, or turn Jello into an apple, or that there was precious little free time in the highly structured environment of Linton Hall Military School.

Then there was a letter from a friend, who also meant well in telling me what he had been up to and giving me news of mutual friends, but who was telling me about an existence completely different from mine, of things that other twelve year olds like he and I routinely got to do, like walking to the store or just to and from school, and of his having done things I had no hope of doing, like when he told me about a kissing game he had played, and mentioned the names of girls we both knew. And what could I write back that he would understand about my daily existence -- about how my bed lined up with everyone else's bed and with the tiles on the floor?

The worst letter of all was the one I got from my mother, in response to my plea to not be sent back to Linton Hall Military School the following year. I would be going back and she didn't want me to bring it up again, she had said. And as I write this, I've spent the past several minutes trying to write, to explain how I felt, and how I still feel about that, and I just can't find the words. So I'm going to end this post in a very abrupt way. There's nothing more I can say.

Copyright 2012 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
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This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School (Linton Hall School) and all opinions are those of the author.
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1 comment:

  1. I have not had the time to read all your posts. I can tell you I was in 5th and 6th grade during 69-71. I thank you deeply for your writing.

    You are absolutely correct about your recollections and what you feel about them.

    Yet, recently I have decided to see my experience in LHMS in a different light.

    Good luck.