Class History

Class History

We, the class of 1959. are about to take our place in the long grey line of Citadel Men. The gold ring we wear encompasses not only the finger it encircles but four years of application and training. And our endeavors had not been in vain, for we emerge better men, having profited mentally, physically, and spiritually from the patient instruction of those in command. The Citadel has been for us a huge proving ground, and graduation from it shows us able to hold our heads high, glorying in the pride of being called Citadel Men. It is only proper that a history of our class be recorded and placed in the archives of the great; for the Class of 1959 might well be called the finest class ever to emerge from The Citadel in its long and colorful history.

Lo, but how we remember that day in September, 1955, when we arrived in beautiful and historic Charleston. The city welcomed us with open arms as it bade us pay our respects to its most cherished institution, and our home-to-be for the next four years — The Citadel. As we drove through Lesesne Gate, the bleak grey walls of our first institute of higher learning arose above the fog- drenched parade ground. We had chosen The Citadel, and here it was.

The following week was possibly the most active one we will ever have occasion to spend. The entire time was spent in sport and fun, with helpful corporals graciously guiding us on tours of the campus, several to be exact. Thev delighted in such games as who could bellow the loudest, and which freshman could maintain 180 steps a minute while crossing the parade ground, burdened with a mattress cover containing everything from collars to M-1 rifles. We were carefully instructed in the proper position of attention, how not to eat in the mess hall, and how to play by the rules in the game of dismounted drill. Certainly a week to be remembered, Plebe Week became a part of our very existence.

After the “abominable week” was finally over, classes started and the Class of 1959 got down to its main pur pose in life, that of graduating in 1959. Classes were tough, but they were not without their diversions. Who cannot remember that Wednesday evening in October when the announcement was made that the Plebe S\stem had been abolished? For the first time in the history of the military, “Brahms Lullaby ” was substituted for ” Taps. ” Like the mad, impetuous fools that we were, we practically tore down Bond Hall in an effort to get the Plebe System re-established. Well, our wish was not long in the making, for the system was re-enacted once more, much to the delight of the unsuspecting class of ‘ 59. “Gad, what fools these mortals be. ”

Aside from aiding the Commandant’s Department in its treatment of the Freshman Class, we had some distractions of a more pleasant nature. Our pep rallies, unique in that they were “come as you are ” affairs, attracted national notice, but certainly lifting eyebrows the state over, was the incident at the Orangeburg State Fair, where a tent collapsed because of an overload crowd of cadets. But in the tradition of the theater, “the show must go on,” and go on it did, at least until the police put a damper on it.

With football season over, and the class of ” 59 having made a name for itself in the Southern Conference football league. Thanksgiving leave finally arrived. At this time 840 hungry freshmen were turned loose on the world. After crowding a year’s good time into five short days, we returned to The Citadel. unfortunately, the vacation was marred by an accident in North Carolina in which cadet Ivars Prikals, Class of ‘ 59, and cadet Dick Cardwell, Class of 57, were both killed. The entire Corps of Cadets mourned the passing of two such fine boys as these.

Christmas carols and sleigh bells filled the air as we prepared ourselves for the Christmas furlough. The Ring Hop finally arri\ed and we watched 295 seniors go through the ring. We could only dream of our big day in December of our senior year. Filled with thoughts of the future, we left The Citadel, anxious to enter into the Christmas spirit.

After what seemed an unbelievably short cation, we returned to The Citadel, our heads now crammed with resolutions for the new year.

With the new year upon us, we breezed through final exams. Religious Emphasis Week, and the Greater Issues Course, which included such distinguished speakers as General Maxwell Taylor. James M. Farley. and General Alfred Gunther. We were finally catching on to the “system,” and time literally flew by, leaving us closer and closer to our final goal — graduation.

Corps Day introduced us to the salt and pepper uniform and the excitement and glamour of competition, the Bond Volunteer exhibition, and the Corps Day Hop. Surely, we were becoming part of The Citadel.

Final exams suffered appreciably because of the beaches surrounding Charleston, company beach parties, and girls. But somehow we got through them, and at last became upperclassmen. We were now part of the Corps of Cadets. With the word “sophomore” firmly entrenched in our minds, we made our way home to take advantage of a well-earned summer vacation.

We returned to Thee Citadel, our “home away from home,” as sophomores. We were determined to do our best to disprove the adage that sophomores were nothing more than glorified plebes. Many changes had taken place during our absence, and our return brought them to light. Col. Byrd had been named the new Academic Dean and Col. Gorham arrived at the school to fulfill the position of Head of the AFROTC department. With Col. Gorham’s arrival began the reign of terror known as the “no weekend leave” period. The latest cruelty joke on campus was “get your weekend? “

But football season was upon us and administrative details fell into the background as we cheered our team on to several victories. Noticeable this year was the addition of a touchdown cannon, graciously contributed by the brothers Criswell.

Thanksgiving leave was taken amid the excitement of the “Blitz Kids” fabulous winning streak. We retimicd from the Thanksgiving Leave to find the ” Blitz Kids ‘ receiving the George Mikan award for the ” most improved team in the nation. ”

The Christmas Hop, with its King ceremony, kissing, and roses, served to remind us that we were so much closer to our goal. Just think, only 910 more days until graduation.

With Christmas behind us, final exams confronted us, but being the aggressive type we are, we finished them in short order, and embarked on the first mid-semester leave in the history of the school.

We returned to a new semester. Highlighting the second semester was the Greater Issues Course, whose speakers ranged from the Reverend Billy Graham to General Curtis LeMay. The benefits we derived from these speeches were innumerable and varied. Even the more accomplished of our class “sack-rats” found it relatively hard to pass into unconsciousness with such an array of interesting speakers.

The Valentine Hop, closely followed by the Corps Day Hop, gave us occasion to trip the light fantastic to the melodious strains of Billy Butterfield and Les Elgart.

Three months later, it suddenly dawned on us — we were juniors. But even this enjoyable, if not unbelievable, fact did not keep us from our summer furloughs. Certainly the summer found many of us practicing the varied grimaces of tried and true corporals.

September brings the rain, but this September also brought the class of 1959 back, and as juniors at that. Yes, our cup of joy was filled. Newly sewn chevrons glistened on our full dress blouses, we didn’t have to come down to formation until assembly, and best of all, we could walk across the parade ground. What more could we ask of life?

The campus had changed considerably o\ er the summer months, and we had to become accustomed to the new and varied innovations. Mark Clark Hall provided us with one of the finest student centers in the country. Our campus also boasted one of the largest parking lots in the country; only we called it a parade ground. It already contained a guided missile, Jet airplanes, a torpedo and a Sherman tank. For awhile, it w as rumored that General Clark had somehow managed to appropriate Navy destroyer which was to be parked in the middle of the parade ground. But the rumor was short-lived, and the proposed destroyer never arrived.

In an effort to maintain academic proficiency, The Citadel’s administration did not allow a Thanksgiving Leave except to seniors. Col. Gorham’s Charleston Pass Service did operate, though, and many of us visited homes in Charleston and the surrounding towns, there to partake of the Thanksgiving meal.

The Christmas Ring Hop was as colorful and spectacular as it had been our freshman year. Its glamour was certainly- not tarnished by annual repetition, and the lilting strains of Johnny Long provided dance music for the Corps.

In March of 1955. The Citadel received its first resident chaplain. Col. Robert S. Hall. In no time, Col. Hall endeared himself to us, both through his early morning chats about various aspects of the Athletic Department, and through his warmth and wisdom on Sunday mornings.

The Dean’s List, the first of its kind at The Citadel, was also established in March. At last virtue had its reward and many of us surprised our bewildered parents by informing them that we had received academic honors.

As juniors, sixty-one of us made our debut as the Bond Volunteers. The culmination of three years of extensive drill and precision, the performance of the Bond Volunteers on Corps Day was spectacular and breathtaking. Many a chest swelled with pride as a small blue patch with the words “Summerall Guards, 1959” upon it was sewn to the left front of our field jackets. Many a deter- mined resolution was passed to make the Guards of ’59 the best unit yet to emerge from The Citadel.

The 82nd Airborne Division played host to the entire Junior Class when it journeyed to Fort Bragg, and there it witnessed the airborne infantryman in action. Topping all of the propaganda, though, was our jumping from the 3.5-foot mock tower. Amazed paratroopers watched cadets sail through the air, screaming such stock phrases as “Geronimo,” “Kayak,” and ” Major Tuttle. ” The Citadel dance that evening was attended by several bandy-legged cadets in full dress uniform.

The rest of the year literally flew by as we became involved in beach houses, “P. J. parties,” and final exams. With the graduation of the class of 1958, that fabled day had ani\ed — we were seniors. At last we had taken command.

Our arrival in September was climaxed by our receiving the coveted Citadel class ring and the election of class officers. The class of 1959 elected Art Richards president, and Duke Burnette vice-president. Bob Micky- tuck was elected class secretary, and Winton Cline, class treasurer. Pete Wallace was unanimously voted in by Company A as social chairman. It was to be Pete’s job to coordinate all senior tea dances, cookie parties, etc.

The wealth of tradition afforded us the annual Senior State Fair leave, and following tradition to the letter, we proceeded to party ourselves out. We returned tired, but contented.

Just prior to the Senior Thanksgiving leave, the Summerall Guards journeyed to Athens, Georgia, where they performed at the half-time of The Citadel-Georgia foot- ball game. Aside from the appreciative reception of the people of Georgia, the trip was not without its highlights. Looking back, any member of the Guards can remember the nominal $1.45 issued to each man to pay for his four meals away from the campus. Although we were not Rangers yet, we nonetheless learned the basic rules of survival, survival on .35 a meal, that is.

The Ring Hop was again upon us, but this time it was something special. We had earned the right of going through the Ring, and what a grand feeling it provided. This more than anything confirmed us as seniors.

With the first semester exams out of the way, and red name tags upon our chests, we set about to complete our senior essays. With much procrastination, it was only two weeks before commencement that many of us finally got them in.

Such happenings as the Summerall Guard trip to the Gasparilla celebration in Tampa, Florida, did much to waylay the Senior Essay. Six hundred thousand people witnessed the Guards performance, and almost as many served as hosts that evening as we proceeded to show Tampa some of the old college “go-go-go”.

The Valentine Hop and Corps Day Hop brought us the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey bands, respectively, and we danced until the wee hours of the morning, completely enraptured by the beauty of our dates.

The senior year proved a good one to us, and often- times we caught ourselves reflecting upon happenings in the past or musing over the future. We were at last ready to take our place in the oft-spoken of “long grey line.” Graduation week went only too fast for us, as we tried to delay our departure. It suddenly dawned on us that The Citadel, our Citadel, was to be behind us soon. The thought that we were about to leave what we had joked and talked about for four years frightened us. We had become a part of The Citadel, and The Citadel had become a part of us. As we walked across the sprawling white platform completely enclosed by friends and proud and beaming parents, we realized that something other than and more important than graduation was taking place — we were now Citadel Men.

John Cummisky, Jr., The SPHINX 1959