Military School by Dave
I was a spoiled brat. I will admit it. My parents gave me everything. They let me do almost anything I wanted, including grow my hair really long. The only thing that was asked of me was to ‘keep my nose clean.’ I loved being lazy, no responsibility, etc. One day my Dad asked me to help him with a project in the yard and I gave him some ‘smart mouth’ reply. I guess by his action, he had finally had enough. He told me that I needed to get a better attitude or it would be off to Military School. Military School, sure! I wasn’t about to allow myself to be subjected to regimentation. That was for squares.
About a month had passed and I was out with my friends late one evening. Several of them decided to heist a case of beer and we would go to the park and have a party. Everything went fine - so we thought. We got to the park and began drinking. We didn’t know it, but we were followed and before long we were arrested. Needless to say, my parents weren’t happy campers when they were called.
My Dad was quite upset with me. He had to take off work to go to court with me and I got off with a ‘slap on the wrist.’ I didn’t know it at the time, but Dad had contacted this Military School. One Saturday we went for a drive. I saw the sign but didn’t think anything of it. We passed the entrance and what apprehension I had, faded quickly. Little did I know that Dad was taking me in the back entrance.
As soon as we parked, the car was surrounded by MARINES! Before I knew what was happening, I was taken inside. There were guards all around and I knew I was trapped. Dad finally appeared and I pleaded with him. My pleading and begging didn’t do any good. My days of leisure were at an end. I thought, ‘I won’t be here long. I will make their lives miserable and they will throw me out. Dad had finished signing the papers and he said good bye. I tried pleading again, but it didn’t work.
Here I was stuck in this hell hole and no friends around. I sure was going to miss my classmates at school. I was a sophomore and was having the time of my life. My grades were bad - Ds and Fs. Then it hit me, ‘what had I gotten myself into?’ I was soon to find out. As soon as Dad left, I was taken into this room and told to undress! My defiance began at that moment. I was left alone for about 10 minutes. When the MARINES returned, I was still in my street cloths as they called them. Not to worry. One MARINE picked me up and another one took my shoes off and socks. I was stood up and the shirt was ripped off of me. Talk about rough! I was asked to remove my pants but I just stood there. It wasn’t long before they were removed for me. At that point, I had shown my defiance by not cooperating with them one bit.
I was then taken into the adjoining room where a barber chair was waiting for me. I looked at the MARINES and said, “If you think you are going to cut my hair, you are mistaken.” They didn’t say a thing. One left and returned with two other MARINES and they were carrying wide leather belts. I was picked up and placed in the chair and was ‘belted in. I couldn’t move except for my head. A MARINE picked up the clippers and while my head was being held by two MARINES, he began removing my hair. In a short time, I realized that they had anticipated my every move.
I was released and taken to another room where a uniform was waiting for me, right down to underwear. I was taken to a room with a single bed, sink, and toilet. I was told that I would be awakened at 5 AM for breakfast. I told them I was hungry and they looked at me and then at their watch and one said, “Chow Time is over. You wasted yours! Oh! Yes! Chow Time is at 6:30 AM so you have an hour and a half to get shaved and dressed. I was left alone. I thought about ways I could get out of this place.
I didn’t sleep much that first night. Right at 5 AM I was awakened and told to get shaved and dressed for Chow. I sat there in my underwear and did nothing. When 6:15 AM rolled around, the door opened and in came the mean MARINE. He said, “Did you not understand the orders?” I looked at him and told him where he could go. He left and in five minutes the other three MARINES arrived with him and I was taken to this big room. I looked around and saw there was a shower, sink, toilet, and my cloths. I was sat down on a chair and one marine got the washcloth and soap and began washing my face. I told him I could do it myself. He didn’t react to my statement. It was humiliating to have my face washed.
After the washing, shaving cream was applied and the shaving began. I had what I thought was a pretty good- looking beard for someone being my age, 15. It was gone in no time. Then I was further humiliated by having my head washed and then lathered. It wasn’t long before the shaving began and in a short time I had a very smooth head. I was told to take a shower and get dressed. I just sat there and the MARINE said, “Don’t tell me we are going to have to give you a bath as well. Well we can handle that!” Two of the MARINES began to undress. I knew that they were willing to get in the shower with me. I finally gave up and took a shower. I really liked the feel of the water splashing on my smooth head.
And so it went. I tried to defy their requests but ended up either doing it or having it done for me. Slowly I began to realize that I was trapped here. I soon learned to do what I was asked when I was asked. They didn’t tolerate delay of any kind. The best part of the whole deal was that I had to keep my head shaved. I really liked it. Of course I didn’t want the officers to know that. One day I asked one of the officers if my parents had called or had stopped by. I was told NO! to both of the questions. He told me I wasn’t allowed any visitors until two months had gone by and I had a spotless record. So far I was informed, I was far from the ‘spotless record.’
Finally after 4 months, my parents were allowed to see me for 10 minutes. I tried pleading my case and it fell on deft ears. Neither of my parents was giving in. Dad said he liked my haircut. I let him think I didn’t like it one bit.
I finished my sophomore year in the Military School. I had indicated to my parents I wished to go back to regular high school. I tried to hide the defiant attitude but they saw right through me. I guess my parents are as dumb as I thought they were. I didn’t get a vacation that summer. It was the same old grind. The MARINES were on my case all the time. I noticed that others were in the same boat. I met one co-inhabitant, Jim and he told me he had been there one year longer than I had and he was tired of the struggle and had given in. I told him that I wasn’t going to give in. Jim told me that it was best to give in and do it their way or I would be there until dooms day.
Slowly I could see what they were trying to do and I fought it all the way, but eventually, I gave in. Before long I was given some time out from the minute by minute strict routine. I knew if I slipped up, it would be back to ground zero and we began again. I was allowed to see my parents for 10 minutes every other month. I finally realized I missed them and loved them. I also discovered I hated them. Hated them since they didn’t give me any structure. One day when I was visiting with my parents, they apologized for not providing me structure at home. They assured me that when I got out, there would be structure and it would be followed through with on their part.
I had been at the Military School for a year and a half now. I had to follow a strict timetable each and every hour of the day. Physical activity was a must. I went from a lazy, soft individual to a rather robust young man. I was finally allowed to grow some hair on my head. I loved the hair, but missed the smooth dome.
One day, I was informed that my parents were coming to take me home. I understood if I didn’t behave, I would be back here and I would begin again at the beginning. I was never so glad to see my parents. I hugged both of them and thanked them for coming to get me. I told them I was a changed person. I was surprised to hear Mother say, “If you made one misstep, you will be back here faster than lightning.” I thought I could count on her for some support. It turns out that she was as determined that I make something of myself as was my Dad.
I got home and found that my room was void of the computer, stereo, TV, and video games. I had my books and that was all. I began my senior year at my high school. I didn’t recognize anyone I knew. They all had changed. I had changed also. The day before school began, I went to our family barber and had my head shaved. I loved the feel and look. Mom and Dad liked my shaved look. Everything was going great until Halloween! I went out with some friends and we got out of control and broke out some windows of several cars. Of course I was arrested and appeared in court. The judge had two choices: Long Jail Time or Back to the Military School. I told the judge to give me jail time. I told him I didn’t want to go back to the school. I knew what was facing me there.
The judge talked with my parents in chambers and he sent me back to the Military School. I knew my chances of having the same group of MARINES over me, was slim to none. Little did I know that my parents had requested the same four MARINES! I was ordered to undress and things began all over again. I was determined not to obey them this time. Well! The cloths were ripped off of me including my underwear. I was told to get dressed and to get ready for chow. I sat there naked and didn’t do anything. I didn’t think I deserved to be back here for such a little thing as breaking a few windows out of cars.
The MARINES returned and I was still naked. They dressed me by putting my shorts, shirt, and pants on backwards and then marched me to chow. Everyone was staring at me. Talk about being humiliated! Well! The remaining senior year was spent in the Military School. I thought as soon as my senior year was up, I would be free. It turns out that my parents requested my stay to be longer. I was still 17 and wouldn’t be 18 for 10 long months.
One evening in my room I broke. I sat there and cried like a baby. Of course no one had any sympathy for me. I had been this big, tough guy and now I realized I wasn’t as tough as I had thought. I decided to play the tough guy a little longer. Little did I know that I was being watched and my crying jag was recorded. From that point on, I was never given a minute of rest during the long 16 hour day. I was kept on the move and when sleep time came, I was really completely spent.
Finally 3 months before release, I broke down and gave in. I was tired of fighting the system. I was allowed some time to myself, allowed to let my hair grow (and that was most important to me) and given some TV time. The day I was to be released, I was told to go to the barber shop and get a haircut. Of course I thought since I was getting out, I didn’t really need of a cut, but I was wrong. My MARINE pals marched me to the barbershop and told the barber “SHAVE HIM!” I knew if I gave them any difficulty I would be back to square one.
When I was ready to go home, I received a phone call from my mother. She told me that since I seemed to want to defy authority, I needed more time there. I was sunk. Yes you are correct - back to square one. It started all over again. The same four MARINES were there at all times to make sure I followed rules and regulations.
When I turned 18, my parents still wouldn’t sign papers for me to get out. I decided to get a lawyer and get out of this place. No matter how hard I tried, no lawyer would take my case since there was no way I could pay their fee and my parents sure weren’t going to do any out of pocket expenses.
I found that I was stuck here for another year. One night, I finally really broke. When my MARINES came to awaken me at 5 AM, I was still sitting there crying. Here an 18+ Year Old male crying. All that was asked of me was to conform to general acceptable behavior that society expected. Once I began to LISTEN to what my teachers were trying to say, I began to see the light. They told me one day, that they see there is a chance for me yet….that I had turned the corner. 9 months later, I found myself again ready to leave. By then I had grown my hair out to where I could put a part in it. The morning of my departure, I was asked to go to the Barbershop and get a haircut.
I didn’t wait to be told the second time or dragged there. I went on my own and ask the barber to shave it all off. I realized I liked the bald look best. It didn’t take long to take care of it for the day. This time when I left, I found myself shaking hands with each of the four MARINES and thanking each of them. I never thought I would ever be thanking them for the program they put me through. The last thing I heard from the mouths of the MARINES was, we know you won’t be coming back here, it will be prison the next time. Talk about yanking the kink out of my tail as it were.
I am home now, beginning college. I signed up at the Junior College just outside of town. I wanted to see if college was for me and if it was, I would work and put myself through college. I got a good job which requires me to be on time and neat in dress and that goes for the hair. I have kept the head shaved and love it. Being out in the sun a lot, I now have a good tan on the head and it sure enhances the look. I love college work and am doing well. My parents told me that they would help me with the last two years, but I had to prove myself the first two years.
Well! I did really well in college and finished my undergraduate degree at a university near home. I surprised my folks when I graduated that I had sighed up for the MARINES. Due to my degree, I was accepted for Officer Training School and I entered OTS once I finished basic training. I was in good shape so I didn’t have any difficulties with basic training. When I entered OTS, I knew I wanted to go and thank the four MARINES who finally turned me around.
On my first furlough, I made it a point to go and see the MARINES. I was so happy to see them. I was also so happy that none of them recognized me. When I finally clued them in, they looked astonished. I told them that I wanted to come and thank them again for what they did for me. I look at the three boys I was running around with at the time my trouble first started. Two are in prison and one is hospitalized with acute Coke related illness. I thought I could be there also, but my parents loved me enough to give me what they called, “Tough Love.”
I have decided to make a career of the MARINES! I just hope sometime I will be able to help save a young man like I was saved. Oh! Yes! I am still BALD! I make sure that the head is smooth at all times. I can’t imagine me growing hair.
PS: I made it a point when I finished OTS, to make an appointment to visit with the Judge who sent me back to Military School. He too was surprised to see me. I hope down the road I will be able to give back to my community a fraction of what has been given to me.