The Days of Military School

Commentator Daniel Pinkwater reminisces about his time at a military school in California.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

There are ways to drill patriotism into the skulls of young people. In his educational experience, commentator Daniel Pinkwater not only learned to respect the Stars and Stripes, but to rub elbows with the offspring of the stars.

DANIEL PINKWATER:

For reasons having nothing to do with good sense, my father enrolled me in a military academy when I was in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. This was a military school in Hollywood, and my classmates were the miserable sons of movie stars and otherwise rich and famous persons.

Joe DiMaggio Jr. was in my class, an extremely nice boy. Everybody liked him. Marilyn was married to his weird dad, and she would sometimes come to school for the Friday afternoon parade, at the end of which, she would squat down, throw her arms wide and squeal, `Joey, come to Marilyn!' The kid would die. We other fifth-graders would die in sympathy with him. The high school cadets died, too, but differently.

Another nice boy and a special pal of mine was Sean Flynn. Picture this. Sean and I are in the Iris Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Two little kids watching the movie "Kim" based on the Kipling book, with Dean Stockwell as Kim, and playing Mahbub Ali, the dashing red-bearded horse trader who is Kim's protector and always saving him from danger and taking him on nifty adventures, is Errol. This is a great boy's movie. We're watching it. Both of us are having the same thought: I wish my father were like that. And then I realize it is his father.

Joan Crawford's son went to the school, too, but he was younger than me. I didn't know him much. He used to run away a lot. It wasn't a bad school. For the most part, the kids were good to each other, wretched and lonely as we were.

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SIEGEL: Daniel Pinkwater lives in New York's Upper Hudson River Valley. He's the author of over a hundred books, including "The Education of Robert Nifkin" and "The Artsy Smartsy Club."

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MELISSA BLOCK (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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