Training–Then and now!

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Cadets of Today

CADETS OF TODAY–enjoy technological and social advantages over those of the past.
…just to love the unloved­never reckoning the cost…

By Frances Dingman –

As the newly-named Salvation Army expanded throughout the British Isles, Booth was trying to train new officers for the field. Until 1880, when the family moved out of the house at Gore Road, Hackney, no training facilities had existed. Now the Gore Road house was fitted up to take 30 women cadets, trained under Booth’s 19-year-old daughter Emma. A year later the General’s second son, Ballington, had charge of a training home for men.

The seven-week course at both homes was practical from first to last; after facing up to bad eggs and filthy abuse in open air meetings, they went on to the slums to wash the bodies of the sick and comb their matted hair. Then they trudged home to peel potatoes for the evening meal. Funds to keep the training going were dependent on the whims of the rich.

The February 15, 1888, Pacific Coast War Cry carries a notice that, owing to great distance from New York City and the difficulty of having a training home there for the whole American field, the national commander, Marshal Ballington Booth, had decided that training should take place locally. Each division, and if possible each district, was to have a “Garrison,” with 12 or 15 cadets, who would remain there three months or longer before being commissioned for the field.

West Opens Garrisons

The first garrison on the West Coast was opened at 1630 Market Street in San Francisco, beginning with half a dozen “lads” and more to come. Captain and Mrs. John Willis were in charge. It also meant a great deal of expense for Captain and Mrs. Willis for their maintenance, besides the responsibility and direction of them while in training. It must have been doubly hard on Mrs. Willis, who suffered from a heart ailment and was not to live many years.

The inauguration of the first Pacific Coast Garrison was celebrated on Washington’s Birthday in the usual Salvation Army style, using “every excitement that can draw people together as an occasion for publishing salvation to a dying world.”

Background Varies

Incoming cadets were, as today, from a variety of backgrounds. Some who expected to spend the time in theological study were introduced to “scrubology.” Others had been accustomed to hardships, and had never known anything else. Some could neither read nor write. Whatever their stratum of society, they came with one purpose–the extension of God’s Kingdom.

By the end of the 1888, divisional headquarters at the “Salvation Castle” on 8th Street in Oakland moved to San Francisco and the Castle became the men’s training home. In 1890, the Adelphi Theater in San Francisco was leased to become the first training garrison for women cadets. Staff Captain Libbie McAbee, an experienced Eastern officer, was put in charge. Captain Clara Long was appointed assistant “Mother.”

Training on a Larger Scale

After 1900, the training garrisons gave way to the Chicago Training College. Classes were very large, and training assumed a more formal tone. Though at the same school, the “side” system was followed, with men and women strictly separated.

When the 11 western states and Hawaii became a separate territory in 1920, Brigadier Andrew Crawford came from the East with the Giffords to take command of the training college. Almost immediately training was begun for the aptly-named Pioneer Session, housed in part of the territorial headquarters building. Of the 24 in the session, two Japanese cadets did well despite language difficulties. All the rest were of American birth except a cadet from the Chinese Corps in the city, and a Korean cadet from Hawaii. The War Cry reports that the Korean and Japanese cadets were the best of friends in spite of fighting then going on between their two parent countries. Four more Japanese were in the following 1922 Session, permitting expansion of the new Japanese Division.

Cadets of the first session plunged into open air meetings around the city, “making themselves felt in the fight against the devil.” Cadet Jeanetta Hodgen, later the legendary Major of Damon Tract, Hawaii, often led the roll of War Cry sellers with sales approaching 200. At the time of the territory’s first Commissioning, 85 had been accepted for the second session.

Despite crowded conditions there was an emphasis on a “home” atmosphere at the school. The terms “girl and boy cadets,” reflected the comparatively young age of the candidates. Brigadier Freda Renner recalled, “The men had nothing to do with the women, even when they were married, except when we were in our rooms. We ate in separate dining rooms. We had no contact with each other, just on our day off. We couldn’t wear jewelry, except our wedding band, and if we had a gold band on our watch, we had to take it off and put a black one on. Most of those with engagement rings chose to turn the diamond inside their hand rather than leave it off. When we went to the meetings, the men took the back of the streetcar and the women the front, or else the men took the bus and the women the streetcar. We had no conversation with each other. Just once I said, ‘Hi, Bill (Miller, her first husband) how are you?’ and the officer said, “Eyes to the front!” For some years the training principal also doubled as divisional commander of corps in the Bay Area.

New Building at Last

What celebration greeted the dedication of the beautiful new Training College on Silver Avenue in 1928. Commissioned in the Centenary year of 1929, the new officers went hopefully out into the beginning of the Great Depression. There The Salvation Army managed to train six sessions, totaling 309 cadets, before finances forced its sale in 1935. There was no session in 1932-33 because of the lack of funds. The Training College moved back into the headquarters building at 101 Valencia Street until 1941, when the former Japanese divisional headquarters on Laguna Street was available.

Wartime reduced the men in the class of ’42-’43 to just seven. The Liberty Session of 1944 had two men, both married. Later classes reflected the return of the war veterans both in the average age and the number of married cadets, including the Hunters, Uptons and Duplains. The traditional “side” system for men and women was abandoned at this point. After 1947, cadets were allowed to have children with them rather than boarding them with relatives during training.

When it became evident that the traditional nine-month course was no longer adequate, Commissioner Samuel Hepburn announced that the first two-year session would begin in September 1960. The training program was being geared not only to include new courses, but to provide additional class hours for the required International Officer Training Program. More field training was then possible, with cadets placed in appointments for the summer months. With the doubled number of cadets and the continuing acceptance of married couples, housing became a more urgent priority. Sometimes single cadets were housed three to a room. A cadet dorm building had been acquired, in which married couples lived on the first floor and unmarried male and female cadets each had a floor, with a lounge room on each.

New Location Needed

The area in which the school was located had become increasingly dangerous. By the ’70s, male cadets were required to escort females when they went down the street to a small convenience store at night. Tragedy struck in 1974 when Cadets Thomas Rainwater and Linda Story were accosted by a gunman who shot Rainwater fatally and permanently injured Story. This was found to be the work of the “Zebra” killer then terrorizing the streets of the city.

Commissioner Ernest Holz set Lt. Colonel Charles McIntyre on a quest to find a new location for the school. Territorial headquarters, too, had outgrown its building. Cities in and around the Bay Area were searched without success for suitable accommodations. Then, as if prayers were answered, the lovely campus of a Catholic girls’ school, Marymount College, was put up for sale and purchased for both facilities. The School for Officers’ Training moved to Rancho Palos Verdes in 1975, followed by territorial headquarters the next year. Though in a location some considered too luxurious, the price was reasonable and field training opportunities were readily available in the Los Angeles area.

Captains Art and Carolyn Storey moved in mid-session. He recalls the immense physical part of moving and rearranging, but also that there was more room for everything. From being in a crowded inner-city, they were where their children could play on the grass, where the children’s schools were excellent, day care was better; there was more peace and quiet, even though more travel time was needed for the weekly routines of War Cry selling, field training, and corps work.

Other things on the down side to relocation were opposition to leaving the Army’s traditional “Cradle in the West” as well as the considerable blow of losing many valued employees. Lavonne Robertson agreed to continue as SFOT librarian in the new setting. Others were hired locally and trained by the officers. Major construction has since occurred, with the separate day care building being built in 1988.

Contrast with Today

Major Doug O’Brien, assistant principal at the now-named College for Officer Training, has been on the staff since1991. He sees that the most important changes during the last 50 to 70 years would include the expansion to a two-year course; the increase in technology; the elimination of the “side” system; and the shift from mostly single officers to largely married with children. These factors have affected every aspect of the training. At present there are 81 cadets, with a staff of 29.

Every year, the school negotiates with territorial headquarters to see how much space they may have for cadets. This does not mean that acceptable candidates may have to be turned down–living conditions are condensed or expanded to accommodate the available space. Single cadets now are in separate rooms with a shared bath; families have more space depending on the number of children. Meals are served in the dining hall except for Saturdays. Meals may be taken to rooms. Old-timers are surprised to hear there is a small refrigerator in every quarters.

About half the present cadet body are first generation Salvationists. This usually means they have a little catching up to do on the Army’s background and specific beliefs. Backgrounds differ in the academic preparation they have had before entering training. Unlike some territories, the West has no pre-training programs for accepted candidates. However, there is a five-year continuing education program coordinated through the Education Department after commissioning. There are two seminars per year on a fixed subject range, called “Cycle Seminars.” Officers are expected to fill educational requirements in a program of independent studies.

Cadets and Technology Differ

Another difference in the makeup of the cadet body of the last few years, he says, is that there are more cadets who have overcome trouble in their backgrounds such as divorce, addiction, etc.

The West has helped lead the way among the territories in having the best technology available, the best computer training and office equipment, to help them face the complicated ministries of the outside Salvation Army.

Although every Salvationist should be responsible for candidate recruitment, since 1976 there has usually been an officer appointed to the Territlrial Youth and Candidate’s Department with that specific focus.

Among requirements for entry, cadets must have been Salvationists for at least six months and be endorsed by their corps officers. Recommendations from local officers and divisional staff are considered. Divisional/corps financial support is not limited to tuition; many receive far greater subsidies. If the cadet receives anything, the grant will cover the tuition first. Additional money is needed for family care and personal needs. Many cadets bring cars to training with them.

The Salvation Army is concerned that the lack of money does not keep a good candidate out of training. Unspecified small scholarships are received during training from generous donors.

The age limits for incoming cadets are much the same as 50 years ago: basically, 18-40. Exceptions may be made in certain cases, and married cadets can be 42. Candidates must supply a budget to show how they plan to manage financially while at the school. Transcripts, medical, psychological, and dental exams are also required. Medical coverage is good for cadets, but there are no maternity benefits for the first year.

With more families being accepted, day care is an important consideration. Excellent day care is provided for pre-schoolers. School children go by van to local schools, with parent cadets and staff members sharing the driving in the morning. The day care worker picks them up in the afternoon, and an officer runs a special program for teens. In addition to supervised homework time, there is a teen center for social life.

Field Training Evolves

Field training has evolved in the past ten years or so. The increase in the number of families has meant that cadets now stay at the school instead of going throughout the territory during the Christmas season. In both San Francisco and Los Angeles, cadets have attended mid-week meetings planned and scheduled by the division. Often this includes meetings planned and led by the college, or even a series. They work at the division’s schedule and pleasure. The first year, as in the past, cadets are in brigades of eight or ten, working together on programs and field training. The second year, they are in teams of two or three.

There is a significant difference in house duties nowadays. They no longer do dishes or gardening, but do have vehicle washing and checking, vacuuming, window polishing, etc., around the campus.

Most cadets earn an Associate in Arts in Ministries degree while in training, though they do not have to have a degree to be commissioned. Cadets come from a variety of backgrounds in preparation for the Army’s multicultural emphasis. Some classes continue to be taught in Spanish although the college has broadened its curriculum to include supported English classes for a variety of English as a second language (ESL) cadets. Simplified English is now used in these classes and is supported by additional English language classes which review and discuss material presented in these supported classes. For those who speak mostly Laotian, Korean, or Chinese there is an English Development Component, providing expanded training in English as used in practical ministries with multi-language groups. Susan Deng-Brewster is an ESL specialist who both teaches and prepares officers to teach supported courses or ESL courses.

Instructors are surveyed in mid-course, and cadets not keeping up are interviewed with the education officer. She might ask for further testing for deficiencies, and suggest help such as adult educational programs in Torrance. A student may be exempted from an elective class to concentrate on some required subject.

It appears that a cadet from 50 years ago would be comforted by some familiar aspects of training and amazed by other technological and social advancements of the present day.

(Sources, General Next to God, by Richard Collier; Pacific Coast War Cry ; Western War Cry, oral histories in museum files, and interviews.)

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