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How I got my appointment to West Point
Early in 1951, I was a student at the University of Pittsburgh, in my third or junior year, studying to become a math teacher. The Korean War had begun the previous summer and I was going to be required to register for the draft. The war was not going well at that time and my grades began to erode. I was becoming disillusioned about a teaching career after an unpleasant experience with one of the professors. The parents of the girl I most liked at the time did not want their daughter dating a boy of my faith.
One Saturday evening in January, The West Point Story was playing at the local movie theater. I didnít have a date that evening and I took my mother to see it. We were both favorably impressed with the portrayal of cadet life. A few days later Mom had a severe heart attack, and was confined to bed rest at home. In those days doctors still made house calls. My married older brother Joe was living in Philadelphia at the time. We called him and he came home, but his wife was due to deliver a child. We were all worried about Mom, but she seemed to regain strength during the week. On Sunday my sister Martha arranged for a lady to sit with Mom each day while Martha was at work and I was at school. The lady was to start the next day, and Joe took the train back to Philadelphia. At about midnight Sunday Mom had one more attack and we called for the doctor and the priest. She was pronounced dead at about 12:30 AM, February 5. I thus became an orphan a few months shy of my twenty-first birthday.
In early May I received a phone call from the secretary to the local high school principal . She said Congressman Denny had two possible vacancies to fill. He was newly elected the previous November and his predecessor had already nominated two prospects, but neither had been selected for admission.
Mr. Denny sent out a plea to schools in his district, and my old math teacher suggested my name, prompting the phone call. At first I replied that I appreciated the chance but I was already approaching my final year at Pitt. An hour later I called her back and asked if the offer was still open. It was but I had to take an application to an office in Downtown Pittsburgh that same day. I had only about three hours to fill out the form and carry it to the designated office. When I got there the office was closed until the following Monday and it looked like I might be out of luck. The name of the lady who was to receive the application was Conley. Fortunately there was only one listing in the Pittsburgh phone book for Conley spelled that way. I called that number that evening and luckily she was the person I hoped she was. She lived in a neighboring suburb and asked if I could bring the papers to her home. I did so, and she took the papers, commenting that I seemed a suitable prospect. I was to report to the Federal Building a week later for an aptitude test, which would assist the Congressman in making his selection.
I sought out endorsements from several prominent local businessmen of the Congressmanís party, but to a man they claimed they had not supported him in the previous election. But a neighbor who worked at the courthouse, unknown to me praised me to the proper people when he learned of my status. I got the Principal appointment. Ironically, the alternate appointment went to Jim Torrance. I was a bona fide resident of the Congressmanís district and Jim was not; and that may have been the difference.
Do you suppose my dear departed mother might have arranged a bit of divine intervention?
2 August 2010
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Judith M. McCloskey Obituary
FAYETTEVILLE - Devoted wife, mother and grandmother, Mrs. Judith May McCloskey, 78, of Fayetteville, passed away Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, in Highsmith Rainey Specialty Hospital. Born Judith Adams, she was a distant relative of descendents of former presidents John and John Quincy Adams. She graduated from the Katharine Gibbs Business School, New York City, in 1951, and worked as a secretary for Standard Oil, DuPont and others in New York City and Los Angeles. After her marriage, Mrs. McCloskey converted to Catholicism. She was also a member of Reserve Officers Association League (ROAL). She is survived by her husband of 50 years, John "Jack" McCloskey; daughter, Sara McCloskey-Walcek and husband Steven; sons, Patrick McCloskey and wife Cynthia, and John McCloskey III and wife Victoria; and grandchildren, MacKenzie Lender, Kristin McCloskey, Marianne McCloskey and Owen McCloskey. Mrs. McCloskey was preceded in death by her sister, Dorothea Pike. There will be a visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010, at Sullivan's Highland Funeral Service. A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, with the burial immediately following in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Knights of Columbus Operation LAMB, c/o Sons of Mother Seton Council, 700 Carnegie Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28311 or to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 3300 E. Sunrise Drive, Tucson, AZ 85718.
Published in Fayetteville Observer