My name is Scott Land Thistle – Cadet Thistle at the John F. Mackie Military School for Boys. This account is written from a daily journal that I was required to keep during my participation in The Program.
Please don't ask me about my past prior to arriving at Mackie. I still suffer amnesia. I remember a little about a hospital. Father drove me cross-country from that hospital to John F. Mackie in northern Arkansas. I think it took him two days. I wasn't fully functional when I arrived.
The first thing that happened was Nurse Yardley took my clothes away. The date was Saturday, 14 June 1980 when I arrived. I didn't miss my clothes: a set of ragged pajamas, stained briefs, an undershirt, a pair of dirty white socks and some slippers, plus a threadbare bath robe. I was better off without those things. Being naked didn't bother me because I didn't remember to be ashamed of being naked.
The school was all but deserted because of a week-end camping trip for the cadets. The only people present at the school were me, Father, Commandant Mackie, Nurse Yardley, Mr. Ray and the Giovanni family.
Saturday night wasn't much because I was tired from travelling. I was also still hurt. But Nurse Yardley insisted that I bathe. The nurse wound up bathing me because I wasn't able to bathe myself. I didn't know how!
"Get up," Nurse Yardley told me. I woke up with two things: a full bladder and an erection. That worked out because Nurse Yardley wanted specimens; urine and blood. After a few more medical tests, Nurse Yardley took me to breakfast.
I was naked. Nurse Yardley wore a white dress, white shoes, white hose, and a little white nurse's cap. Mr. Ray wore a red polo shirt and blue shorts. Father wore tan slacks and a white shirt. Commandant Mackie wore a white shirt with gold collar pins, a red tie, and blue trousers with red leg stripes. Mrs. Giovanni wore a house dress and Mr. Giovanni wore a red checked shirt and blue jeans. Did I mention that I was naked?
Breakfast was grits, eggs and sausage. I had some difficulty managing breakfast because I didn't know how to use a spoon. I had been living off of milk shakes or someone else fed me.
After breakfast my education began.
"This school was named after my ancestor, Corporal John Freeman Mackie, United States Marine Corps, Medal of Honor winner," Commandant Mackie told me. The commandant was a tall black man with a shaved head and lots of muscles. "Corporal Mackie was the first Marine to win the Medal of Honor. On 15 May 1862 Corporal Mackie's ship, the ironclad USS Galena, steamed up the James River and shot it out with Fort Darling in the Battle of Drewry's Bluff."
It was my first lesson at Mackie. A few minutes later Mr. Giovanni tested me. The testing lasted until lunch time.
Father wasn't present when we ate in the Giovanni's caretaker cottage. I learned that Mr. Ray was the commandant's secretary. Nurse Yardley was the school nurse—of course. The Giovannis were the caretakers and retired psychologists.
"Tell me about The Program," Mrs. Giovanni said. Mr. Ray had let me know that there were only three proper answers to questions at Mackie: yes, sir; no, sir; I will find out, sir.
"I will find out, sir!" I answered back.
Mr. Ray chuckled. He was a small, slender man with straight black hair and light brown skin.
"After lunch I want you to read the Program pamphlet," Mr. Ray said.
"We do it differently here," Commandant Mackie explained that at Mackie all new students spent the entire month of August naked under the 'optional volunteer participation plan.' "You volunteered and your father signed your permission form."
I had no objections. Being naked meant nothing to me. Commandant Mackie modified The Program because the normal one affected 'good order and discipline.' The Federal Office of Social Awareness had approved the Mackie variation.
"The August Optional Volunteer Participation Plan is just the beginning," Commandant Mackie continued. "Most of your physical training will be done naked. The swimming pool is a no-suit area. We have a comprehensive Human Sexuality curriculum. We practice Outreach. During and after your naked month you will be naked in public. Under the Equal Protection Act and the Natural Sexuality Act the indecent exposure laws have been nullified for women and for men under the age of 21. The cadets on the camping trip left here nude and will return nude on Monday."
Mackie was a BOYS school—all the cadets were male. Mr. Giovanni said that there had been some reservations with the Office of Social Awareness because the Corporal John Freeman Mackie Military School for Boys had a single-gender student body, but there was no law mandating that The Program had to include naked people of both genders. Originally, The Program had been aimed only at girls. Gender equality activists changed The Program ... and other things.
The rest of the week was tests, tests and more tests. Written tests. Oral examinations. Physical performance tests. I wasn't able to do a single push-up, not a single sit-up. I could only run a few steps before I ran out of air. When I jumped into the swimming pool, they had to pull me off the bottom of the pool.
And I spent my nights in the dispensary ward. Nurse Yardley insisted. Mrs. Giovanni backed up the school nurse.
"Here at Mackie the cadets run things," the commandant began his welcome speech that way for everybody. "This is a MILITARY school. Personal accountability, self-discipline, and a sound education are what we offer here. The cadets do all their own housekeeping. Cadet officers are supervised by myself and eight drill instructors. The teachers teach academic subjects. The drill instructors and senior cadets teach military subjects and run our athletics program. You're starting on the bottom, but there's room for advancement."
The Giovannis ran the Human Sexuality classes. Under the Mackie version of The Program the participants couldn't request relief. Then there were reasonable requests—other boys could make a reasonable request involving physical contact.
"We are not prejudiced here," the commandant told me, "but 'no' means 'no.' When there is a dispute about a reasonable request, the matter gets referred to me. Do not force the issue. Another unique feature of the Mackie edition of The Program is that we tell everybody what is reasonable and what isn't—and how to make a reasonable request."
Unreasonable requests included submitting to oral sex or penetration with a foreign object or with a sexual organ—UNLESS the cadet decided to grant that request.
"And you had better clear having anal sex with a drill instructor first."
"Sir," I asked, "what's anal sex?"
I saw little of the other students because the Giovannis were tutoring me in June and July. I learned to swim. I was given a crash course in human anatomy—and the various 'normal' sex acts. Mr. Giovanni was an old guy with a bald head and white hair covering his round body. Mrs. Giovanni had saggy breasts and a round tummy, too. Her pubic bush was white even though she had brown hair on her scalp. They told me that when I began the formal Program we would visit other schools participating in The Program.
But that didn't stop me going into town with one of the staff. Naked, of course—not even shoes. It was warm enough, most of the time. I began to appreciate getting the requirements of The Program out of the way during warm weather. I saw that many women were naked in Pocahontas, Arkansas—the nearest town and Randolph County Seat. I didn't get a close look at them—they were not under Reasonable Request rules, after all. Besides, I was carrying out tasks assigned to me.
Commandant Mackie insisted that I write Father once a week, and that I write my sister and mother at least once a month. That was six letters per month, minimum of 100 words. Performance is all about measuring quantity. I don't have any idea how they measure quantity in The Program.
The last week in July I moved into a barracks room with seven other cadets. Cadet Corporal Hernandez was in charge of the squad. He volunteered to be naked for the entire month along with his squad. The other cadets arrived during that final week from 27 July to 31 July—and all of us boys lost our clothes for the duration.
I didn't get why the other boys were stressing out. It was just skin.