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The Education of an Architect Chapter One from an unpublished memoir article by Frank Welch, FAIA photography by Holly Reed

24 Texas Architect

1/2 2012


y the time I graduated from high school, I had begun to think about becoming an architect. I was visual, very influenced by movies and Life magazine. I liked to draw, but I was afraid of the technical courses that were required, the math and physics. There was no question but that I would go to Texas A&M, which was known as “the poor boys’ school.” I enrolled in the summer of 1944 as a liberal arts major and roomed with Paul Ellis, a good friend from Sherman who wanted to be a doctor. I managed to flunk algebra, and, at the end of the first semester, Paul and I decided to join the Merchant Marine, in hopes of avoiding the draft. I was shipped to Catalina Island for training, where I managed to win a trip to Los Angeles by singing in the Merchant Marine Easter Choir, our big number being, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I made one cruise, crossing the Pacific, an experience I loved. I had been in the Merchant Marine for about six

months when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan and the war came to an end. Thinking the draft would end, I resigned from the Merchant Marine only to receive notice from the Selective Service that I had been called up. Paul had done the same, and we both decided we wouldn’t volunteer for anything in order to get out as quickly as possible; after 18 months, I was discharged as a corporal. In the two years that I was away, Texas A&M changed dramatically. The total number of students on campus had quadrupled, many were veterans on the GI Bill—seasoned mature men with wives and babies who weren’t sympathetic to the Aggie military system of student cadet life. Couples lived in flimsy wartime housing or converted barracks buildings. I had also changed and was more confident of myself. I’d seen something of the world—Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Pacific. While in the Army, I’d been stationed near Williamsburg, Virginia, and been to the Museum

Texas Architect Jan/Feb 2012: Education  

Along with the new graphic elements, thisedition inaugurates a few new editorial features.First, there is “Profile,” which will take readers...

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