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Breakfast Roll Call
6:30 A.M. My peaceful sleep and surreal dreams are shattered by the boom of a howitzer cannon. The resounding thunder of the cannon rolls across Lake Maxinkuckee without hesitation. The Culver day has begun.
A naÃ¯ve callboy rushes to make reveille call: “Notice, sirs! Notice, sirs! Bravo Company sirs, notice! Reveille has sounded. Uniform of the day, Duty A, sirs!”
I aimlessly shuffle my hands along the window ledge for my glasses; it doesn’t help being awake before sunrise. I lie in bed for a moment, half asleep, pondering the decision I made to become a Culver cadet. I guess I missed the brochure advertising reveille at 6:30. My feet slap down on the cold tile.
I open my door to the hallway’s bright lights. The fortunate few who possess the talent to sleep through the cannon remain in their beds until I act as the cannon’s back up. Shuffling along the hallway, I fulfill my position as hall officer. The battered, half-broken broomstick I use every morning doesn’t miss a door—smack, wack.
“Let’s go, get up!”
But my words travel across the barren hallway without acknowledgment. On the way back to my room, I give an extra hard wake-up-call to any cadets still sleeping, this time using my fist and the broomstick—bang, wham.
From inside the rooms, a common complaint escapes, “Ok, I’m up! Go away.”
It’s too early for leadership. Once in my room, I take my clothes off, grab my towel, and retreat to the warmth of the showers. I turn on the closest knob. Cold water sprays out of the head at first. I jump and back away quickly, every time, I never remember. The callboy’s voice reaches the shower.
“Notice, sirs! Notice, sirs! Bravo Company sirs, notice! First call to BRC, uniform for BRC, duty A, sirs!”
My supply of warm water ends abruptly and I abandon the lighthearted atmosphere of the shower room. In my room I put on my wool duty-pants and tight-fitting duty-A shirt. Formation in the company streets is dark and dreary.
Unit Commanders shout commands. “Form up! Let’s go! Left face, right face.” First sergeants bark out names, “Carey . . . Here! Hamm . . . Here! Darnell . . . Darnell! Here!”
A hundred and fifty drowsy infantry cadets march to the dining hall with the beat of a drum guiding them. Once we’re inside, food lines are long. Glasses slip from lethargic hands— Clink, clink, crshhh.
I direct the new cadets to a table and remind them: Personal Inspection is at 7:20 a.m.