Links to features
You knew those spirited students

Editor's note: We received a number of responses to the mystery photo, shown above, identified only as "Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Season 1937-1938," which appeared in the class notes section of the Summer 2002 issue. Here are a few of the letters.

BM2A group

The inscription BM2A on the picture is anengineering abbreviation for Brush Mountain Military Academy, a social (drinking and hellraising) club of senior cadets. I was a freshman (Rat) in 1937-38 and heard much about the BM2A.

John J. Richardson '41
Keeling, Va.

[The photo] is similar to the Brush Mountain Military Academy picture in the back of the Bugle yearbook of 1937. There you will find a little story on the BM2A group; we weren't very important, but we sure enjoyed V.P.I. and what it did for us. This picture was of the 1936-37 season. We were a sort of rebuttal to the bachelor's club. There were no special requirements to get in; we just needed 37 [members]. There were 37 of us that started the group in 1937. We were an odds and ends group, jokesters, but we didn't joke very much in those days­we were pretty serious cadets. We had to have special permission to get this picture taken. It was after "Taps," which is quite unusual to be out of quarters.

Harry M. Meyers Jr. '37
Meadowbrook, Pa.

This picture brought back a lot of memories for me. The BMMA was a student group (spontaneous) which was somehow organized for the primary purpose of having fun [and] drinking beer. As a military group, it had a commandant: Skipper John Fultz ('38, Battery M). I recall that we once scheduled a dance "off campus" during the spring of 1938. When [our plans were] published, the commandant of cadets, Army Col. Tenney came up to Fultz on the Drillfield, and after exchanging salutes, Tenney told Fultz that no group of cadets could hold meetings "off campus." Tenney said he was speaking "commandant to commandant." Needless to say, we did not [hold the dance]. You can see we had fun!

Alpheus J. Chewning '38
Hudson, Ohio

My dad (Ralph W. Mullins '38) says that this is a photograph of the senior class privates, meaning the seniors who had no rank during their senior year. They had an organization known as the "Brush Mountain Military Academy." My dad says they were sort of a spoof on the military system, and soon after this photo they were disbanded by the commandant of the time, a Colonel Tenney.

Bill Mullins '68
Raleigh, N.C.

The large letters in front of the group identifies it as the cadet corps of the infamous Brush Mountain Military Academy, a disreputable outgrowth of our distinguished V.P.I. Cadet Corps. As Thomas Jefferson hinted, a spirit of rebellion must reside in any healthy society, and as you can see, ours of that era was not lacking in this spirit. At my age I just look at the picture and say to myself, "Just look at those crazy kids." But I knew enough of them to be able to say with confidence that when our nation faced its challenge in the '40s, it was lucky they were there."

Ed Lane Jr. '37
Roanoke, Va.