1976: Trident Academy Memories From Ladson Mills

How thrilling it would be to begin my memories with it seems like only yesterday, but sadly there are too many mirrors in my home to advance that deception.

It is with genuine fondness that I think back on the summer of 1976 when I was hired to teach at Trident. I was just completing a tour as a Marine Corps Officer and preparing to attend the Episcopal Seminary at Sewanee. Little did I realize it would be one of the most memorable experiences in my life.

It was not just the people I met, both faculty and student, although these were certainly noteworthy. It is how these relationships have remained an important part of my life. Assigned to teach Physical Education and Geography I hid the fact that I was much more comfortable with the latter having taken an extensive college course in the subject. All I knew about physical education was I had spent the previous three years in the Marines doing quite a bit of it.

I recall Jack O’Toole and Dick Fleming taking me under their wing while my department head Susan Taylor admitted she worried as to how she would handle someone accustomed to being in command. She managed to do so splendidly.

There were days of convincing the girls Phys. Ed. teacher and coach Linda Tyson to take my last period study hall and assuring Sally Swan that substitute driving my school van was no problem as the children were quite well behaved.( OK, you got me-that was a deliberate misrepresentation; but I had a schedule conflict and was desperate).

As the years have passed I have enjoyed seeing so many former faculty and students. One of these, former teacher and friend Keith Waggoner, convinced my wife and me to surprise his wife Ann( former teacher Ann O’Laughlin) while they were visiting the beach. The surprise was a complete success. She had no clue as to the identity of the strangers who arrived expecting dinner!

It was the joy of seeing Carolyn Anderson (Carolyn Edwards in Trident days) at diocesan church functions, running into Jack O’Toole shopping at the commissary or visiting with Dick Fleming before his passing.

It is has been bumping into former students Fraser Wilson, Sandy Stuhr, and Danny (now Dan) Mengendoht. It is receiving an evening surprise phone call from Doug Taylor( part of the Orangeburg contingent) as he passed through town. It is the surprise of celebrating an early Morning Communion Service in Walterboro and enjoying the shock when Matheson Wannermaker, who was attending, suddenly realized who I was.

It is the joy of regularly running into GiGi DuPont( now Mrs. Michael McShane) with her three beautiful daughters and thinking how they remind me of their delightful mother I once taught.

For me it was supposed to be only an interim job in preparation for my life’s training, but it became one of the most memorable and joyful experiences of my life.

So here’s to you Trident Academy. You have made a difference in so many lives. Thank you for affording me the privilege of being one of them.

Ladson Mills

Rev. Mills’ 1976/77 yearbook photo

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