Entropy, Wet Mech, and Juice
So began, what cadet 'common wisdom' held, was the even more difficult Junior - 3d 'Cow' year of academics. Get through that year and the 1st Class - 'Firstie' or Senior year - would be a comparative breeze according to those who had been through it.
The Subjects: Fluid Mechanics - irreverently referred to as 'Wet Mech' - and Solid Mechanics, Electricity - or 'Juice', Social Sciences - which would include world history and international relations, Military Instructor Training, Tactics, and again a go around of formal 'Physical Education.'
But there were many other tempting 'activities' Cows could engage in - provided they had control of their grades, and didn't get into demerit troubles from all the temptations that were gradually opening up to cadets as they entered the last two years of their West Point stay.
Alan Ladd, Donna Reed and West Point
But even before classes actually started, a Real Diversion took place. Hollywood was actually doing a feature-length Movie about West Point! Filming it on site and as much as possible, up close and personally including real cadets, snatches of their daily lives, and lots of the impressive architecture.
But it was a real movie, with a fictional story, plot line, featuring Alan Ladd as the cadet, Donna Reed, and George Macready. It was released in 1948 as "Beyond Glory"
The main diversion for cadets was standing around when filming, with all the bulky cameras, tripods, sound systems took place starting out in Central Area where the famed clock tower stands. The Army and West Point endorsed the effort, with the stipulation that it could not interfere with cadet life.
The cadets saw, perhaps for the first time, what it takes to modify reality to make a good movie. For Alan Ladd was too short for Donna Reed, his movie paramour and war widow. So they had to have a low stool for him to stand on whenever he was close to Donna!
When it hit the circuit the fall of 1948 an early reviewer said
"Beyond Glory," which opened last night at the Paramount, is a manful effort to extol the martial virtues and to defend the Academy against its detractors..."
Needless to say "Beyond Glory" was hardly a 'War and Peace' classic or even as good as several other movies about West Point such as 'The Long Gray Line'. But it sure was a diversion for cadets as they came back from leave to see Hollywood doing over West Point.
For example, when the Alan Ladd movie was in play, an earlier Pointer Staff put up a photo of Donna Reed's sister calling her an 'Ideal Femme. 'Here is her picture as it appeared in that Pointer. Seemed to me she was as attractive as Donna herself.
Girls - better known as "Femmes" by cadets were a perennial and photogenic subject for the 32 page magazine. Every one of the 19 issues published each academic year contained a 'Femmes Page.' The plethora of lovely young ladies associated with cadets who 'Come up in June' were a rich treasure-trove of photographic subjects. For cadets, who could not be married until they graduated, starved in the Monastery of West Point for a little feminine pulchritude, the Pointer could be a great way to entertain them. I decided who better could be the 'Femmes' cadet photographer than me? The opportunity came in the following year - 1949-50 - when 'our' class would be in charge of the Pointer.
Of course we 'insiders' took advantage of putting whomever we fancied in the Pointer. While she was just a little young to be dating cadets (15) I slipped a picture of my sister into an issue.
Sister Bette Lee
Next West Point (8B)