|Following lunch, we met in front of the Naval Chapel so that I could lead a tour of the interior and that of the Crypt of John Paul Jones which is located underneath the Chapel.
Midshipmen in my day were required to attended church services. Protestants in the Main Chapel in which the service was held in the Low Episcopalian form. Catholics met in a smaller chapel in the lower level.
In the late 1990's members of the class observed that the Crypt area had fallen into marked deterioration, and thus, took it on as a class project to manage and fund a complete restoration of the area. This was completed in time for our 50th Reunion five years ago.
The Chapel is located immediately to the right of the Main Gate, which I entered as a brand new, not yet 18, high school graduate, July, 1951. Granddaughter Sophie, bringing up the rear, and trying to catch up, was taken into custody by the Midshipmen MPs, for allegedly, J-walking. How she got out of those charges I do not know.
We then took a brief tour of Bancroft Hall, the Midshipman's dormitory. I've included a photo taken at our previous reunion of the room we occupied our last, 1st class year at the academy. It was located in the 4th wing, facing Tecumseh Court, on the 4th deck, and the 3rd window in from the left. In the picture are Patrick Robertson and my roommate, Jerry Gerdon, who was from my home town of Everett, Washington. Of interest, we did not know one another prior to entering. Jerry was a year ahead of me at Everett Hi. My Sophomore year, I was 2nd String third baseman on the high school team, and Jerry the Student Manager. The year book photo of the team shows us standing adjacent!
Another fluke, I entered the academy three days after the main body as my papers arrived late. Immediately after entering the main gate, we were ushered into an adjacent building to fill out paper work, and who should be sitting next to me, Jerry Gerdon. We roomed together that Plebe summer and for the next four years.
Incidentally, Jerry and I were congressional appointees of Henry M. Jackson of Washington state. My mother grew up and attended high school with Henry, who lived just two blocks down Rockefeller Ave. from our home in Everett. When we lived in Washington, DC during my father's tours of duty there, we would visit Henry in his congressional offices yearly
Our paths then diverged, Jerry entering the Air Force, marrying his high school sweet heart, Mafalda, at home in Everett a week later.
Memorial Hall above the main rotunda of Bancroft Hall was where we assembled to be sworn into naval service.
Below, on the Rotunda level, we visited a model Midshipman's room. Rather plush compared to the spartan rooms of my day!!
Tecumseh Court, immediately in front of Bancroft Hall is where we formed up for each of our three meals daily, then marched into the Mess Hall, all 3600 of us, at one time! The daily noon meal formation, is one of the main attractions for visitors to Annapolis.
In my day, here is where we formed up for academic classes, and marched down Stribling Lane on either side of the Tecumseh monument to our classrooms. This occurred for most classes which were held daily from 8 AM until 4. We were then obligated to take part in some athletic endeavor, either varsity or intramural, until the evening meal formation at 7 PM. After dinner, it was study time until taps at 10 PM. Classes were also held, Saturday mornings.
It was then time to attend the weekly Dress Parade. Entering the parade grounds I talked to a group of some 20 or more German Naval Cadets on a two week visit to the academy.
We were rather amused to note that on the lawn of the quarters, just behind the stands, of one the senior officers stationed at the academy, their kids had set up a lemonade stand and were conducting a brisk business!
You will note in one of the last photographs, a West Point Cadet who is on exchange at the Academy. The different academies rotate cadets/midshipmen for some period of time. At our last reunion, there were a couple of Canadian naval cadets present, who stood out with their bright red Mounty tunics.
In the last photo, I show us in uniform, just after our last dress parade, June Week, 1951. Pictured left to right are: George Fetterer, Jim Dickinson (3), Jerry Gerdon, Jim's roommate, and I. Jim was a native of Marysville, Washington, just 5 miles to the North of our home town of Everett. Jim entered the Air Force, became a pilot of light aircraft serving as an advanced air controller in Viet Nam. He received the Silver Star for heroic performance during a helicopter rescue mission there. Along the way he earned a Master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering retiring as a full, Bird Colonel. He died in 1997.