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.
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
[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
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
Alpheus J. Chewning '38
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
Bill Mullins '68
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