October 8th, 2019
I attended the Academy when it was the Southern Industrial Institute (SII) from summer 1950 until graduation in May 1953. The school was vastly different than it is today. At that time, it was a co-educational regular school, not the military academy we know now. Not only was the school different, but Camp Hill was different as well- it was much more vibrant than present. There was a movie theater, cafe, five and dime store, and various other small businesses. I stayed year round at the school working on various projects. My favorite was as a camp counselor the summer prior to my senior year. During this time, we had multiple 2 week camps for boys ages 8-12. We mainly lounged around the swimming pool- there was no manual labor. We just got fat and lazy from eating all the free food the school farm had!
After graduating, I was planning to attend Auburn University, but instead married my girlfriend, who had also attended SII. I worked various jobs around Birmingham: from driving a truck to office work at a chemical plant down in Florida. In 1965, I moved to San Diego and began an 11-month on the job training program. I worked my way through the organization, ultimately retiring from there too. By this time, I was a supervisor of the in-house and off-site inspectors at the location in Riverside, CA.
I had not been back to Camp Hill since 1954 until about 5 years ago. My wife and I have visited the campus twice during this period. Last year, my two daughters and I attended the dedication of the commemorative brick walkway near Tallapoosa Hall. My daughters had never been to the school- it was very nice to have them see where I met their mother.
Having seen how the school has progressed during the 65 years since my graduation, I felt that I had to help in some way toward the continuation of the signature programs. As a result of this feeling, I have committed to a monthly contribution to Southern Preparatory Academy. I feel very strongly that if you were to go there and observe what is going on- you would make some sort of contribution too.