Jefferson College welcomes all home

Published 12:06am Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sixty years ago, a car pulled out of a driveway that led between two giant old oak trees.

It left behind a young boy with his suitcase, who stared forlornly at the dust rising behind the automobile and wished evil thoughts upon the parents who cared so little that they left him at this imposing school in the middle of nowhere.

He knew no one and was intimidated by the older boys in their uniforms, the stern teachers and the commandant who smiled when his parents were there, but quit smiling as soon as they left.

He was scared, homesick and missed his friends and little brothers. He even missed his old school, where he tended to goof off more than study. He tried to wipe away his tears before any of the other boys saw them.

This was a new world.

Within a few minutes, several boys his own age approached and guided him to his new dormitory. They politely introduced themselves and showed him where he was going to be sleeping.

One welcomed him as his new roommate, and they sat around and talked about their lives outside of the military academy. Afterwards, they walked him around to show him the rest of the campus, including the mess hall, the administration offices, the library, study hall, the older boys’ dorms and the dreaded “path,” where two cadets were already walking off demerits earned earlier in the week.

The boy turned in his street clothes and was issued a uniform and given a list of expectations and classes that he would be taking.

After a large, delicious meal, the boys went back to the dorm rooms to study, play pool and listen to music while their dorm mother watched television back in her quarters.

At 11:30 p.m., the sound of a trumpet playing “Taps” let the boys know it was lights-out time. As he and his roommate whispered back and forth, they heard the sound of the dorm mother walking down the hall, and stifled their giggles resulting from a not-so-dirty joke.

Eventually, this boy grew up to become a young man, an officer and a leader of his platoon. He was well versed in Spanish, thanks to close associations with the many Latin American students at his school, and had the self-discipline that comes from many, many hours of studying with few distractions.

It certainly wasn’t all classes and drills, however — the boy remembered the many dances, the cute girls from town, the occasional fight with the Natchez boys, driving the old bus, playing football and baseball and the public parades he marched in.

But what he remembered most was when he got to be in a real Hollywood movie, “The Horse Soldiers,” with John Wayne!

That was an experience that would be with him for a lifetime.

This is a fictional account made up of many stories of the former cadets of the Jefferson Military College (now Historic Jefferson College), but one that hits many of the high points (and a few low points) of several of the boys who attended school at JMC in the 1950s.

Jefferson closed its doors as a school 50 years ago, but the boys who are now men come back every year for their reunion, to meet old friends and relive old memories.

The reunion this year will be April 11 and 12, and the men of JMC are looking for their fellow cadets.

Please plan to join us this year for a weekend of good food, reminiscing and the general business meeting.

For more information about the Jefferson Military College Alumni Reunion, contact 601-442-2901, info@historicjeffersoncollege.com or “like” us on Facebook to receive the most up-to-date information about the happenings at Historic Jefferson College.

The alumni of Jefferson Military College (now Historic Jefferson College) are coming together for a reunion that marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the school.

On April 11 and 12, the alumni and their families will back on the old school grounds for fellowship, reacquainting and for the annual business meeting.

They are reaching out to the Natchez community to try to locate other alumni.

 

Robin Person is branch director at Historic Jefferson College.