It was just a bundle of letters – 19 really – that I stumbled throughoutcame across while going through boxes from my fathers estate. Half the letters were from my father, 11-year-old Johnny Taylor, to his mother (my granny). 3 were really to my father and a number of more were to either my great-grandfather or my grandmother, but they all involved my papa and his year at the Augusta Armed forceMilitary college in Fort Defiance.The letters extended about a year from the summer season of 1941 till the summer season of 1942, a really, extremely hard time in my householdsdomesticities, however a specifically challenging time for my dad. First for some background. My grandma had matured in Staunton, where her moms and dads, Vince and Nan Griffith, still resided in 1941 and where my great-grandfather ran a customizing company. My granny had actually fallen in love with and wed an insurance provider agent, John Taylor. The couple (my grandparents) were living down in Greensboro, NC, in 1941, with their two kids, 10-year-old John, and 18-month old George. In February, catastrophe struck. John Taylor Sr., was detected with pancreatic cancer and died within 6 weeks.As can be anticipated, my grandma was devastated emotionally and economically. Hence started a period of about 3 years where the three Taylors went hither and yon, moving from their brick home to initially one house and after that a 2nd smaller sized house. John and baby George remained at the same time with their grandparents in Staunton, their grandma and aunts and uncles in Norfolk and even their paternal uncle in Pocomoke City, Maryland. My grandmother was trying to select up the monetary pieces of her life. Having actually just ever worked for a brief time as a secretary before satisfying her other half and getting married, she felt the needhave to return to school and review her secretarial abilities. She returned to Staunton and took typing courses at Dunsmore Company School and then went to New York City for a shorthand class. Ultimately in 1944, after having been separated for much of 3 years with various relatives, the three Taylors shut down their life in Greensboro and landed completely in Staunton, where my father and Uncle George grew up.The focus of this article, however, is what happened to my daddy, who turned 11 in June of 1941,
simply a couple of months after his daddies death. Maturing I had actually heard bits and pieces of the family story, but it was just after my daddies death in June of 2012, when I discovered that batch of letters, that I was able to put this together.It appears that in the summer season of 1941, my granny and daddy transferred to Sherwood Opportunity to remain with her moms and dads. George might have spent the summertime there, but by the fall was in Pocomoke City with his late fathers bro, Uncle Vernon. As fall approached, the question would have emerged about my fathers schooling. Just whose idea it was for my papa to attend Augusta Armed force Academy(AMA )in Fort Defiance is unpredictabledoubts, however my great-grandfather probably had a lot to do with it. He was good pals with Maj. Charles Roller whose household established the school and operated it. Apparently the conversation leaned towardsfavored the idea of making a guy out of my dad. It does not seem likely that my papa, who had simply lost his dad and was now living in a strange town, had a great deal of say in the matter.So in late September, young Johnny Taylor found himself in a military uniform at a strange school surrounded by people he had actually never ever seen. The first letter house was just 3 heartbreaking lines, beginning with: I am having a really excellent time right here. But I am a little bit homesick. He then went on to demand that his mommy bring his Bible and radio and to come go to soon.After transcribing the letters, I dropped in at the Augusta Armed force Academy Museum in Fort Defiance to fill in the spaces in between the lines. There I discovereddiscovered enough to address most of the questions I had about my papas year at AMA, consisting of the reality that cadets had seven various uniforms and were expected to invest 7 hours a day in the class and more time in the evening in research hall.AMAs history reaches back to the years just after the Civil War. When Charles Roller came back from the war, he tutored numerous young veterans in the Mount Sidney location and ultimately opened the Augusta Male Academy in the 1870s. By the 1879-1880 school
year, he had 15 boarders and 30 day students. Eventually the M was changed from male to military, however uniforms were not requiredelective till 1905. Rollers health decreased in the early 1900s, and he asked 2 of his boys, Charles and Thomas Roller, to come housethe home of Fort Defiance and take control of the school. They were still at the helm when my dad arrived in 1941. There were about 250 students at the school the year my daddy existed, including numerous of Hispanic origin from Cuba, Mexico, Central America and South America who came from wealthy families who desired their sons to discover management, military skills and English. The year that my daddy spent at AMA saw 30 students from Cuba alone on the cadet roster.My father was a junior cadet and a first-year cadet, which would have made life challenging. Although he was in the younger group of students, he was by no indicates the youngest. Technically AMA accepted boys who were 12 years of ages up to their early 20s. Nevertheless, unofficially, AMA accepted boys as young as very first grade. My dad was 11 and was positioned in the sixth grade. No matter the age, all students followed the same everyday military and course schedule, including learning the best ways to drill and carry rifles. First-year cadets experienced an environment comparablemuch like basic training in the armed force. The boys needed to eat square mealsfull meals, indicating they had to sit at the table with their backs straight and eyes taken care of forward. Without looking down at their plates, the kids needed to utilize their utensils to bring the food straight up to deal with level and afterwards at a 90-degree angle into their mouths.Cadet life at AMA was not fulled of luxuries. The spaces were Spartan with iron bunk beds, thin bed mattress and a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. My father recalled that one had to be cautiousbeware not to touch that dangling light bulb because it occasionally delivered an electrical shock. There were 2 cadets per room and each cadet had his own table, closet, rack, light and
bunk bed. Rooms were inspected often, in some cases a number of times a day, and needed to be in ship-shape. I also discovered that the total expense for a junior cadet like my father to attend AMA was$760 a year. That covered scholastic direction, military guideline, athletic direction, board, laundry, laboratory costs, uniforms, school books and stationary.As is apparent from reading through these letters, the small stack that survives does not stand for all the letters that went to and from my papa during his 1941-42 school year at AMA. Among the most considerable events during that year, and among which my daddy spoke of every Dec. 7, was Pearl Harbor. Although not mentioned in any surviving letters, my father recalled the shock that swept across campus when news of the attack was heard. Numerous of the older cadets desired to employ instantly. To be at a military school when the nation was attacked was rather a moving event. The Roller bros obviously called the cadets into the auditorium to deliver the news of war and to calm them down as well. Numerous of the upperclassmen who finished the following spring went straight to the war front. Fifty 5 AMA graduates would die in battle by the time the war was over in 1945. The war also developed havoc amongst the teachers at AMA– more than half were prepared or left AMA for the war effort throughout my daddies year at the school. Two letters discuss one particular brand-new instructor whom my father did not like veryquite. A further fault in my fathers eyes was the realitythat the teacher was ancient– 65 years old!Mention of his schoolwork and grades occurred in simplyalmost every letter home. In truth, the folks at the AMA museum pulled my dads grades, and I discovered that he did veryeffectively in his research studies that year. His letters also discuss going into Staunton on Mondays(the only complete time off for the boys ), seeing films at AMA on Saturday nights and spending time in the infirmary. He likewise points out 2 brand-new children who showed up in the second semester. The one from Philadelphia he liked a lot, however the child from New york city had a funny accent
and my dad might not comprehend him.Although direct references to homesickness had vanished from my dads letters by the spring of 1942, it is clear that he was counting the days up until school was over. There are onley [sic] 17 more days, and just 2 weeks and three days, that doesn’t seen long does it? Ill quickly be in good old Greensboro once again, he wrote in May.There is no doubt that my papa took advantage of the disciplined scholastic study at AMA. His courses that year were health, math, English, geography, history and spelling. In addition to their academic work, the cadets were organized into a battalion of four companies and studied military science and tactics.The school year ended around the first of June and my daddy was back home in North Carolina. Whether or not a decision had actually currently been made about my dads go back to AMA is unidentified, nevertheless, I feel certainknow that my father had already comprised his mind that he would not be returning.By late July my father had undoubtedly encouraged his mother
that he requiredhad to remain in Greensboro since she composed to Maj. Roller informing him that my daddy would not be returning. Years later on my father recalled that, bottom line, he had threatened to flee must he be gone back to AMA.For his part, Maj. Roller seriously desired my dad back and he wrote to his excellent buddy, my great-grandfather, virtually pleading for my papas return. Having such a studious and well-disciplined young man would be a feather in the schools cap and he was not eagergoing to give up without a battle. Maj. Roller went to fantastic lengths to discuss how the school had actually made lodgings because of the war including hiring older teachers. Maj. Rollers letter to my great-grandfather ended up like this: You and I have been friends for a third of a century and I am not ready to allow anything to keep John from continuning [sic] on right here till he graduates.In completion, Maj. Roller offered to reduce the tuition rate for my dads education should he return. How much influence Maj. Roller had or how much Granddaddy had more than my dad is unsure. All I know is that he did not go back to AMA.A couple of weeks later, Maj. Roller must have noticed that Cadet John Taylor was not returning, however he took out all come by writing my father straight and attempting to pressure him to return. He ended the letter by telling my dad that the school now had a popular football coach at the helm. I will never ever know, of course, however I might think that the final sentence did nothingnot did anything to endear my papa to AMA or Maj. Roller. I never knew my dad to care anything about football.