Captain Turner “Corky” Caldwell, A-Company Commander
I left FUMA in ’69 for the Naval Academy Preparatory School and then to the US Naval Academy where I did a stint as a Midshipmen. I did not care for the whole scene, did not do well academically, and felt that I was better off doing something else. I broke with family tradition, my father and grandfather and uncle having graduated from Annapolis. I floundered for awhile getting my civilian bearings and applied and was accepted to Methodist College in Fayetteville North Carolina. This school was a great place for me to actually act like a kid. You know. No marching, no “sirs”, and all that stuff. I finished with a major in English and a minor in psychology. Looking for work proved problematic. At the time the economy was not conducive to my degree status; however, I received a call from the Headmaster of the lower school at FUMA who offered me a job teaching 8th grade. I accepted and moved back to Fork Union. I lived in the barracks-quite an experience-and wore the instructors uniform. I helped with the baseball team, which I enjoyed quite a lot and was asked to teach summer school where I helped out the older children learn grammar. I had taken a course in college for transformational grammar which I used as a tool for instruction. Plenty of modifiers which were used to illustrate the structure of sentences.
During the course of my instruction, I would talk to the secretary for the headmaster. To be honest, I complained about the working conditions, where I was asked to live, and other assorted emotional diatribes which were part and parcel of growing up. One day she looked at me and said: “Why don’t you call this number – my husband will answer. I did and he became my boss and mentor with Colonial Pipeline Company. I hated to leave FUMA in the way I did. Opportunity was calling though. The crux of my issue with teaching was simple: I did not relish the idea of publishing or perishing, and I could not get excited by the prospect of determining why the influence of so many nasal hairs in Shakespeare’s nose would have influenced his writing of the Taming of the Shrew.
Joining the industrial side of the American dream turned into a rewarding career and totally opposite in what would have been a career path I could have chosen. I was lucky to have worked in a rural area in a facility owned by a multi-national company which paid well and had very good benefits. When I retired in 2012 my specialty included large petroleum tank repair and the operations side of a large diameter pipeline company. Colonial is located in the southern tier of the US and ends in the state of New Jersey. After retiring, I was asked to return to assist with a number of projects. I had a very pleasant follow through.
I met and married my wife Jane in 1987. She was widowed and had two daughters. We immediately had another girl, and I was the definition of instant fatherhood. We have lived in Cartersville, Virginia since our meeting, and we now have our children in such places as Arlington. VA, Athens, GA, and Nashville, TN. All have done well-meaning they are self-sufficient and leading rewarding lives either with children or careers or both. We are very fortunate.
When the mood strikes, I will drive over to Fork Union and take a trip down memory lane. The changes have been very intense. New barracks and all that we experienced in our day, displaced. I think of the times when I would see the older instructors doing their thing, and now I feel the way I perceived them. Such is life and that full circle of “I told you so” which as I recall we had a steady diet of in the Chapel services and from visitors to campus.
I live in a small village where everybody knows everybody else and am happy doing my thing. I like old cars, woodworking, yard work and any other activity which keeps my body, mind, and spirit engaged. I guess I learned at least one thing from FUMA.