When I began this project, i.e., analysis of the yearbooks, I expected to present an objective, third person annotation of the most prominent people, events and history. However, as I got into the project, I discovered that I simply could not remove myself from most of the individuals about whom I was commenting because I knew personally most of them and had some personal relationship with many of them. Hence, I often could not resist the temptation to personalize my comments. Therefore, the result is some combination of objective fact and personal memoir.
For those of you who may not know or, heaven forbid, may have forgotten, The Bolles School was named for Richard J. Bolles, who, having died in 1917, had absolutely no personal involvement in the school. The main building that now bears his name, Bolles Hall, the dormitory, was built by his two closest confidants, Agnes Cain and Roger M. Painter, who, upon his death, assumed control of his vast estate. It was built as an elegant hotel (1925) , the San Jose Hotel, at the height of the Florida boom, just before the bubble burst.
The hotel lasted less than a year. It was then leased to the Florida Military Academy, at that time located in Green Cove Springs. However, this school went under in 1932, at which time Agnes Cain and Roger Painter, now married, decided to found their own school. They did their homework well, and The Bolles School opened its doors as a military preparatory school on January 5, 1933.
The school lowered the flag on the military chapter in June, 1962. However, that final salute did not mean that Bolles had abandoned its military commitment. In the half century since then your alma mater has sent dozens of graduates to West Point and Annapolis, both men and women. More great news, in fact, fantastic news, about women will appear in the conclusion. Remain alert. You will have an opportunity to render a 2010 salute you could never have imagined when you graduated.
Now, back to the beginning. The first graduation, 1933, witnessed one lone graduate, Sidney Register. The last military class, 1962, witnessed seventy-one graduates, which brought to a grand total of 1455 young men who graduated as Bolles cadets. During these years, dozens of alumni served in WWII, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War, nineteen of whom made the supreme sacrifice. To these men in particular we dedicate this military retrospective, but in a broader sense the dedication embraces everyone who wore our nation’s uniforms or, for that matter, everyone who wore the Bolles cadet uniform.
Probably, the official statement of Virginia Military Institute best exemplifies the military ethic: “It fosters punctuality, order, discipline, courtesy, and respect for authority.” Ultimately, the military tradition “emphasizes honor, integrity, and responsibility.” Whatever is true for VMI is true for any quality military institution, including The Bolles School.
I have annotated only those items which, in my judgment, explain and advance the narrative. It follows logically that the earlier yearbooks, particularly the first, 1934, require more attention because they present most of the pertinent facts, which do not require repeating in later issues. In fact, the very first yearbook is a treasure trove. Of course, everything in 1934 is a “first” and therefore of universal interest. It is also obvious that most of these first cadets are now lying peacefully at ease in perpetuity since they long ago observed taps for the last time. I have included many pictures that require no comment but which, nevertheless, advance the narrative.
We apologize for the uneven quality of some of the images. Time has taken its toll, and the originals continue to deteriorate. The preservation of this history while it is still reasonably accessible is an important reason for this project. We hope hereby to grasp this history before it fades completely into oblivion.
I admit up front there will be some errors and important omissions, for which I apologize in advance; but I will request that you attribute such lapses to an eighty-four year old memory and not something deliberate. Please advise me of such lapses, and I will correct them. Inevitably, there are repetitions. Many annotations replicate and reference items that appear in the Companion Text which follows. Please enjoy visiting with these first alumni as together you revisit your alma mater.
LET THE TRUMPETS SOUND!