Friday, April 2, 2010

The Girl Who Was No Kin to the Marshalls – Anne Hobson Freeman

Anne Hobson Freeman - March 19, 1934

Freeman as far as I can tell has no connection to Gardner. –Good-

There have been a couple of stories that have hit close to home (actually more than a couple) but this one hits close in a few ways.

Researching Freeman, I discovered that she lives here in Virginia only 116 miles away from me – just over 2 hours by car! Pretty cool!

I was pleasantly surprised to read this story especially so since I had such familiarity with some of her scenes.

I did find this interesting story by her describing vacationing on Willoughby Spit in her youth.

Here is a map (with my GPS track) of a recent 20 mile run that took me down the Spit and onto the beach she mentions in her online story. I’m sure on my next run down the Spit; my thoughts will bounce back to her.

In her story contained within The BASS, she mentions Portsmouth VA. which is less than a 5 minute trip through the tunnel for me. Cool little connection for me there.

Finally, the primary setting for this story takes place at the Virginia Military Institute or VMI.

In High School, I was involved in JROTC. (yeeeeess, I was a dork). Two of my 3 best friends were also in JROTC with me and during our years there, we were quite successful within the program.

That’s me on the right in the front (I was the Company Commander) and my two best friends are behind me. The gentleman in the middle is in Iraq now on his second tour (and doing quite well for himself inside the military establishment) and the young man in the rear is a successful scientist living in North Carolina.

We all wanted to go to VMI. Of the three of us pictured above, only the middle man made it there and graduated successfully. My other friend, not included in the picture, made it through the RAT LINE – but was suspended for academic reasons, served some time in the army, was readmitted to VMI and graduated. He also saw some time in Iraq but is now a successful independent businessman in Lexington, VA.

I had a particularly heartbreaking rejection from VMI. It was the early spring of 1990. I had applied to VMI, and they had received my application and invited me to the school for a tour of the campus and an interview as a “future Keydet”. So, the family jumped into the car and headed west into the mountains to visit the beautiful VMI campus.

We arrived on campus in the late afternoon, and headed over to the admin. hall to meet with an admissions officer. The officer came out with a strained look on his face, introduced himself and asked us into his office. He sat us down and it was obvious that something wasn’t quite right. He explained to us that he and his staff had attempted to reach us for the past several hours in an attempt to cancel our campus visit.

“You see” he said...”You are not going to be admitted here”, “We didn’t want you to waste you time coming out here...we would have preferred to give you the news over the phone rather than you making such a long trip here for nothing”.

I just sat there looking stupid – my mother sighed and I saw tears well up in her eyes...she asked what it was that caused them to reject me.

It was a simple list actually – no extracurricular activities, poor academics and low SAT scores.

Easy rejection.

Looking back, I would have rejected me too!

Well, as the world works, my rejection at VMI and acceptance to Norwich was yet again one of the best things that ever could have happened to me.

It’s impossible to say what twists and turns my life would have taken if I attended and graduated from VMI. VMI is a wonderful school with rich traditions and I know many fine men who graduated from that school.

But –

What I gained from Norwich though what I needed in life.

Norwich, I believe suited me better.

I don’t think I was ever cut out to be a Keydet.

Once again, it’s interesting to look back at the paths your life has taken and wonder at the person you have become or the person you could have been.

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