PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE
Paper: Star-News (Pasadena, CA)
Title: Gung-Ho Memories - Mt. Lowe Academy alumni and staff planning reunion
Date: February 20, 2003
ALTADENA -- For some 40 years, parents enrolled their sons at the now-defunct Mt. Lowe Military Academy in hopes that a military education would turn them into disciplined men.
Whether they attended the school for one year or five, and whether they loved it or hated it, many of its estimated 5,000 alumni say it helped mold them into what they are today.
Doug Hansen, 51, now of Seattle, said when he enrolled in the academy in 1965, he was "gung-ho' for 18 months. But by the end of 9th grade in 1967 he had "lost his taste for military stuff,' and decided to become "more of a hippie.'
"At times I felt incarcerated, but by the same token, I was learning a lot,' Hansen said. "At the time, I looked at it as one of the darkest experiences of my life, not being home enjoying my youth and not being around girls. But looking back as a middle-aged man, it left a more indelible impression on me than the stuff I enjoyed in my teenage years.'
Mt. Lowe Military Academy was located in Altadena, California. Lt. Col. Junso Former cadets and staff members involved in the Mt. Lowe Military Academy Alumni Association - formed in January - are hard at work planning its first alumni reunion, scheduled for Aug. 30.
Though records are scant, the boarding school that once stood where the Altadena Community Garden is now at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Palm Street, was founded by John Dargin.
It opened sometime between 1934 and 1937 and rode a wave of patriotism for its first three decades.
As the Vietnam War drew to a close in 1973, debt and low enrollment attributed by some to the public's attitudes about the military's involvement in the conflict forced the academy to close.
All that remains is its stone-pillared front gate. "Though it was there for 40 years, very little remains of Mt. Lowe' academy, said Dan Steenerson, president of the alumni committee, who attended eighth and ninth grades at the school from 1970 to 1972. "But it impacted the lives of the cadets throughout their lifetimes. We want to maintain the memory of Mt. Lowe.'
Mt. Lowe Military Academy was located in Altadena, California. Ogawa, who served in the Army Reserve and National Guard off and on for 25 years, was on staff at the academy from 1963 to 1971.
"The academy was never designed to prepare students for the military or to augment military recruitment,' Ogawa said. "It was just an ideal vehicle to teach responsibility, to teach leadership, to teach students about learning how to get along with one another.'
Steenerson, 46, of San Diego, said his study habits improved dramatically at Mt. Lowe. Compared with public school, he said, "There was a higher sense of accountability, which extended to outside of the classroom because we were so highly observed.'
Gary Solis said his experience at Mt. Lowe from 1952 to 1957 which cost $87 a month when he enrolled better prepared him for his 26-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps than the other three military schools he attended growing up. He retired from the Marines as a lieutenant colonel.
Solis, 61, who teaches law at Georgetown University, called the academy "the place that first showed me what life was all about and that I was equal to it.'
Mt. Lowe Military Academy was located in Altadena, California. The cadets followed a military chain of command, enrolling as privates and advancing in rank based on performance. They woke every morning to a bugle call and filed out of their barracks for roll call before attending morning, afternoon and evening classes. In between, they marched, learned drills and shot rifles.
Though Ron Duran remembers his homesickness attending the school from 1968 to 1970, before going on to public school for fifth grade, the 41-year-old Merced resident said he wouldn't trade his Mt. Lowe experiences for anything. "It's one thing to go into the military when you're 18, after you've had time to develop your own ideals,' he said. "When you go into that environment in third grade, you're still a child. Having that kind of structure brought to your life at such a young age molds you and carries throughout your life.'
For more information, visit www.mtlma.org
Author: Kevin Felt Staff Writer
BEFORE THE WAR
CIVIL WAR YEARS
INVENTIONS AND INDUSTRY
NORRISTOWN PENNSYLVANIA YEARS
PASADENA CALIFORNIA YEARS
MOUNT LOWE RAILWAY
AFTER THE RAILWAY
BOOKS ABOUT LOWE
EVENTS AND REUNIONS
ARTIFACTS AND HISTORY
ACCLAMATIONS AND AWARDS
LINKS TO OTHER THADDEUS LOWE WEBSITES