Alumni Stories


By John F. Bigger

John F. Bigger, 1956

There are three things that Indian Springs left with me for a lifetime.

1. Doc's concept of "Learning Through Living" taught me how to live with and interact with others; to respect situational differences; and to work within the system when change was needed.

2. Doc and the faculty stressed the concept of "Freedom with Responsibility". In the early days at ISS we experienced more freedom and less structure than we were accustomed to considering our age. Learning to have that freedom and yet be responsible for what I had to do held me in good stead as I went to college, and on to my future life. There is no freedom without responsibility.

3. ISS taught me how to learn. I do not look back on my 4 years at ISS as a period in which I accumulated a great body of knowledge, but rather as a time when I was challenged to "learn how to learn". I learned the skills and discipline to independently seek information, and this has stood me well through college, medical school, and a medical career where there has been massive technological and informational change.

In essence at ISS I was exposed to an educational process at a much earlier age than most. It gave me a head start on adjusting to life in the world I encountered after I left ISS.

Enough of the serious, I remember -

- the night Charles Wilson and I went fishing, taking a rowboat out into the lake (which was a no-no). Having caught 3 large bass we took them to Dr. Armstrong. Being the avid fisherman that he was he immediately grabbed his rod and reel and asked us to show him where we caught them. Being unable to admit we were out in a boat we directed Doc to a place on the bank where he fished unsuccessfully for an hour. I'm sorry Doc!!!

- Friday evenings spent in Dr. Armstrong's common room watching "The Hit Parade" on black and white TV.

- Field days with Bob Moore followed by the worst cases of poison ivy and time spent in the infirmary with Nurse Russell.

- Movies in the library on the weekends
- Washing dishes with Gilmore Jennings and Gordon Doss
- Buffing library floors with John Creamer
- Charles Bryan's production of "Jubilee, Jubilo, Indian Springs Minstrel Show", with the Corrugated Syncopaters, and construction of the watermelon (photos should be in the archives).
- Glee Club trips with Charles Bryan and Lara Hoggard
- Bus trips to downtown Birmingham on Saturday afternoon
- Jean McBryde's (J. Mac's) automobile broken down in the circle with a burned out motor because he did not know you had to put oil in it

- The first faculty group of Armstrong, Crosby, Cobun, Cantey, Warren, Moore, Fleming, Mason and Bryan and their families. What a great group of substitute parents!!

John F. Bigger