Emerging into Manhood
Big man on campus.
Pi Beta Phi housemother, 1921
BY THE TIME MY FATH ER GRADUATED from high school, Dallas was a full-fledged city with a population of more than 150,000 and a downtown area, according to an article in Collier’s, with the “most imposing skyline of any city save New York.”1 When the United States entered World War I, in April 1917, Dallas joined the war effort with typical gusto. The Texas State Fair grounds became Camp Dick, a training center for U.S. Army aviators, who were housed in converted stables. The Army Air Corps established a second training base next to Bachman Lake, where pilots received final instructions before going to Europe. After the war, the base became the site of the city’s airport, Love Field, named for an army cadet killed in a training crash. The airport was dedicated with much fanfare in 1927 by renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh.
According to family lore, Judge Clark, who consistently tried to control his children’s lives, was inspired by the prevailing surge of patriotism to decide that his son Tom should become a general. Consequently, he enrolled my father at the Virginia Military Institute, widely regarded as the “West Point of the South.” My grandfather admired VMI’s involvement in the Civil War as well as its academic reputation. The great southern general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was an eccentric chemistry professor there when the war broke out, and its corps of cadets gained renown for a pitched battle at New Market, Virginia—a victory that cost ten students their lives. Later, the Union Army burned the institution.
VMI made a deep impression on my father, who at eighteen had never been outside Texas. Discipline was stringent, and “brother rats,” as fresh-