11 x 14
Oil on Birch
Donated in honor of Bruce "Mac" McCormick to VES to be auctioned at Hight Library Oct. 16
Langhorne Chapel, built in 1919, hosts the beginning of every school day for students at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Va. Many will attest that it’s the prettiest building on campus especially in the early fall. As a young teenage student in the mid 1980’s, I was less appreciative of its beauty and its neighboring trees changing color from flat green to brilliant oranges and yellows as they reminded me that the long academic year ahead had only just begun.
Every morning before classes began, the whole student body and faculty would assemble in Langhorne for worship and announcements. The condensed Episcopal service provided most students with a few opportune minutes to catch some extra sleep, but when it came to announcement time, everyone perked up and sat straight in the hardwood planked pews with curiosity and anticipation. This is when far more important issues were heard - such as early departure times from class for traveling athletic teams, teacher complaints of recent unsolved rule breaking throughout the dormitory area, and most importantly, Bruce “Mac” McCormick’s infamous list of students who had been approved and denied upcoming weekend leave privileges. Mac would save those “denied” for last and would call their names out one at a time with a mile long grin. He would wait a few long seconds for maximum dramatic conclusion and then pivot on the balls of his feet , take a deep breath and finally bellow out a most enthusiastic and drawn out Halifax Va accented “Deeeennnniiiieeeeddd!!!!”.
One particular morning, however, another member of the faculty stole Mac’s thunder as all eyes and ears were on VES legend, coach and teacher, Rock Lee, who had decided to voice his disapproval of the recent wave of “bathroom humor” that had noticeably crept out of its appropriate place in the dormitories and had unfortunately swept through the hall ways and classrooms of his beloved institution. When Rock got up to speak, it was dead silence in the very acoustic hardwood filled chapel with a beautiful flag draped white plastered cathedral ceiling. Fearful respect was given to this man, who in his late fifties had just recently ran to the gym in the middle of a nonproductive football practice, returned to the field fully dressed out in pads and helmet and quickly humbled seventeen and eighteen year olds in tackling drills. All of Rock’s announcements were delivered with high emotion that started out slow and methodical but ended in high voltage intensity with his right fist pounding the pulpit. This day was no exception, as he began his complaint of the students’ recent behavior with a gentlemanly comparison of Nicholas’ antics outside of John’s bedroom window told by the Miller in Chaucer’s Canterbuy Tales. This controlled poise only lasted a few minutes before a fiery and temper flared rant commenced that ended with a “If I walk through the halls and hear another……” At this point, Rock, being a respectful Christian, could not, in Church, find a word to describe the crude bodily function that had made him so mad. Silence had once again filled the walls of Langhorne as everyone was holding their breath in anxious anticipation to see what word was going to come out of Rock’s mouth. Suddenly, from the choir section of the Chapel directly behind our current speaker, Underclassman Howie Bowman leaned forward as if he was going to kneel and pray only to give the congregation a loud and reverberating sample of what Rock wanted to, but couldn’t, describe in words. The whole congregation, including the faculty, erupted with thundering laughter as Rock stormed out of the side door with a face as red as the prayer books littering the shaking pews.