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It was the Autumn of 1974 and I was just starting 6th grade at Pforzheim Elementary School in Pforzheim, Germany. It was the fifth elementary school I had attended in five years. As a child in a military family, it was not unusual for me to change schools, but it was very unusual to find myself in a tiny school sharing a teacher and a classroom with 4th and 5th graders. I wondered, “What am I going to learn with 4th and 5th graders in my class?” I was not happy. As a result, I had a terrible attitude, and I was rude to my classmates and my teacher. I remember frequently interrupting my teacher during class by blurting out “I already learned that!”, “I already know that” and “I learned that when I was 5 years old.” Finally, my teacher, Ms. Joan Maas, gently pulled me aside and said three things to me: 1) “You’re smart, but you’re not smarter than me” 2) “I can teach you” and 3) “You’re making the other children feel bad.” I went home and cried because it had never occurred to me that my words were hurtful, or that I made the other students feel bad.
One special thing about growing up in Gateway Gardens was celebrating Christmas! Those special school Christmas productions put on by classes were always bright spots in my memories. I still have a “white Elephant” treasure I bought for my mom at the school Christmas bazaar- a coffee grinder. Santa rode on the back of the fire truck around Gateway Gardens as we chased him through the streets! I remember one time seeing St. Nickolas in Waldorf- walking through the streets! I never got any switches in my shoes – ha! I never got to the Christmas markets, maybe someday!
I was there for fifth grade with Mr. Birdsell but sixth grade was the best. Our teacher, Ms. Joan Maas took us on an adventure. I can tell you almost every book I read that year. Ms. Maas had a friend who built a geodesic dome out of card board. We did plays and puppet shows. Ms. Maas had a collection of comic books about history. The two big things were our trip to Hinterbrand/Project Bold. It was a chalet that belonged to Hitler. We went on hikes and obstacle courses. We rode on a sky lift. We saw an avalanche from way off. In the salt mines we rode on a boat. Ms. Maas taught three of us to play guitar. She also took us on Armed Forces Radio to sing for Martin Luther King’s birthday.
I managed the Munich High football team for one year under Buckli. All of those blue helmets; I painted them. Equipment was very limited. Only so much new stuff per year. The rest was broken and worn out military surplus hand-me downs. Huge cardboard boxes with uniforms, mostly sizes large, super large. You had to go through all of the stuff to find something that would fit. Even shoes were rationed, and then even the cleats for the shoes. In a muddy game in Wiesbaden, I had no cleats. But we still played. Trips were on buses, we were put up in barracks, breakfast with soldiers in the mess hall. One time we got the treatment, sit down and eat, eat, eat, some Sergeant was screaming at us.
I graduated from Stuttgart American High School in Ludwigsburg (Pattonville), Germany. I lived in Goppingen about an hour’s school bus ride away.
Goppingen was up Hohenstaufen outside of Goppingen. I was the only Senior girl in Goppingen and there was one Senior boy. The base was in a nook in the side of Hohenstaufen that was one of a very few Hitler airbases the US never knew about.(more…)
Well, as for my “dormie experience” . . .my dad was stationed at Bindlach, a small base that housed an entire squadron. As I remember it, we had a survival rate of three minutes (and that was a generous estimate as were so close to the Czech border). The nearest high school was 53 km north at Nurnberg. Monday morning, we would get up at 4am and catch the bus to Nurnberg at 6 something. It was almost a two-hour drive and we arrive in time to put our suitcases in the back of the dorm and run to the cafeteria for breakfast then to our first class. We lived right on campus. At the time the place still looked pretty good. (more…)
When Frankfurt Elementary School in Frankfurt, Germany closed in 1995, the staff compiled a booklet of memories. AOSHS is very fortunate to have a copy of this booklet. The school was open from 1946 to 1995. (more…)
Many of us will remember Mr. Huffer as a math teacher at Berlin American High School in the 1960’s-1980’s, where he taught Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus. But clearly from the unusual direction his life took him from his simple early youth in Arkansas to end up on assignment to Special Ops in Cold War Berlin, there was more to Charles A. Huffer than met the eye. (more…)
While we were stationed at Ramstein AFB, and I was attending Kaiserslautern American High School, I was recommended by my teachers for a tutoring job at Landstuhl Hospital. The patient (student?), was a young boy, about middle-school age, however his curriculum was definitely high school. I taught him algebra, geometry, US History, US Government, German and Spanish, Chemistry (minus the lab) and English (I provided books and we discussed them). I met three times a week. He had a badly broken femur and some internal injuries; his older brother and father were also there but were hurt much worse. (more…)
The Class of 2020 is in a position that’s uniquely their own. But certain aspects of it have me reflecting on my own senior year…
The Class of 2020 is about to finish their final year of high school under unprecedented circumstances. Long-held traditions and carefully laid plans have been waylaid. I have some idea how they feel. My senior year was pretty weird, too.
I went to school on a U.S. Army post in a small German town near the border between East and West Germany. The U.S. military’s Cold War-era mission there was to defend a mountain pass that was strategically important: the Fulda Gap. It was there that the Russians would most likely come through to the West in case of an invasion. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t! The border came down and the two countries became one again. Yay!)
I’d lived in Fulda and attended school on the Army post since 2nd grade, and I always assumed I’d have an ordinary senior year much like my brothers did years before me. But in 1993, the U.S. Government decided that with the Cold War over and Germany reunified, it was time to shut down some American installations in Europe — and Fulda’s fate was sealed.
My brother and I went to the American Army schools — 9th-11th grade for me, Frankfurt High School; elementary school for Dennis. The FHS student body was 900 and included kids like me who walked to school, kids from farther away who arrived in Army buses each day, kids from even farther who lived in the dorm all week but went home on weekends, and kids from REALLY far away like Moscow or Damascus (children of diplomats in places where there were no American schools), who stayed in the dorm all semester. Although 900 sounds small to a New Yorker, it was far too much for the original 1954 building so we also had some “Quonset huts” for the overflow (strictly speaking these were Butler Buildings; real Quonset huts are half-cylinders, but it’s the same idea: prefab temporary buildings made of corrugated metal that can be erected in a few hours).
In 1997, I was delighted to receive a transfer to return to Germany after sixteen years away. In the interim, the Berlin Wall had come down, and East and West Germany were reunited. America was involved in conflicts in Bosnia and Korsovo, with parents deployed from Giessen. Improved telephone service and the Internet made communication with the States quick and inexpensive. When I began teaching in DoDDS, families whose children had special needs were not sent overseas; but educational trends had evolved since the cultural upheaval of the 1960’s to include mainstreaming of special needs students and the concept of IEPs.
Until after I arrived, I didn’t discover the troublesome relationship between the school and community that existed in Giessen. The NCA report given in early 1998 stated that “there’s plenty of technology,…“discipline is a major concern,…[and] kids have little pride in the school”— facts most of the faculty well knew.(more…)
When I arrived for the first time in Europe, vaguely retaining some high school German, I felt much relief to be passed along to my destination by veteran DoDDS teachers through their amazing relay system. A fellow teacher met my plane at Rhein-Main AFB and registered me at the military lodge. The next morning, another teacher delivered me to the Frankfurt Main Train Station with instructions to get off the train when it stopped at noon, for that would be Nürnberg. Someone from the Nürnberg faculty settled me, jet-lagged, into the American Hotel across the street for the weekend, and on the following Monday, he sent me by train on the last leg of the trip to Ansbach.
My first impression of the Ansbach Junior High was that it looked like a Girl Scout cabin in the woods. “L-shaped,” all the rooms opened to an outside covered walkway while the library and principal’s office was in the corner. We were a small faculty—I can only recall five or six of us—because we only taught grades 7-9, each our own department head.(more…)
Some time early in 1949, I read an article in an educational magazine about the Army Dependent Schools in Germany. The article announced the teacher recruitment schedule for persons wishing to teach in Germany. I showed the article to Hetty and said this could be our last opportunity to see Germany. I was afraid she wouldn’t like to go so far from home, but, instead, she said it wouldn’t hurt to send in an application form.
By the time I had filled out the forms and returned them, I knew I wanted very much to have a teaching assignment in Germany. While I waited for an invitation for an interview, I got out my German books to brush up on my reading and speaking ability. On the application form I included the names of five references who knew of my German background. I wrote each of them a letter asking permission to give their names as references. (more…)
I anxiously awaited orders to fly to Germany in August 1955. The time came and went for my departure. Finally, orders arrived with the explanation that my passport had been misplaced. But all was in order, and I was to leave Portland, Oregon, on August 21,1955 for New York. I was on my own until I reported in on August 22. Then I was sent to the THE ADAMS residential hall at Fort Hamilton, New York, for three days. Thus, August 25, my 25th birthday, I flew across the Atlantic on military transport. After an over-night in Frankfurt, I was sent by taxi to Wiesbaden. Since it was after business hours at the Air Force Base, my taxi driver suggested the Goldener Brunnan Hotel. My two nights there gave me an opportunity to enjoy Wiesbaden. It was enchanting to a farm girl from Oregon. (more…)
On a cold, gray, rainy day mid October of 1947, four travel-weary teachers from California arrived at Tachikawa Army Air Base where the 317th Troop Carrier Group was stationed.
After two weeks on a stormy voyage from Fort Mason, San Francisco, to Yokohama aboard the troop transport, M.M. Patrick, and processing at 5th Amy Air Force Headquarters in Nagoya, we were ready and eager to assume our teaching positions as the last group of teachers to be assigned there. At the time of our arrival on the base, the School Board was in session. The presiding officer of the School Board had given orders for us to be brought to the meeting as soon as our suitcases had been deposited at our living quarters, which were in a Quonset hut. (more…)
I was hired by Richard Meyering on July 23, 1946, as an instructor with the Dependents Schools in the European Theater. I was very excited about going to a foreign country to teach.
Eight Michigan teachers left Ann Arbor together for New York City on September 10, 1946. They were Donna Baker, Pearl Baxter, Philemena Falls, Alta Fisher, Constance Morrison, Roberta Snyder, Grace Van Wert and Kathryn Wilkenson. We were scheduled to travel on the General Alexander (I believe that was the name) but it hit a mine on its trip from Germany to New York so we were delayed in New York for ten days until September 20 when we left on the General Richardson. (more…)
These reminiscences date from the years 1953 – 1954 that I spent working for the Army’s Dependent School Division, Northern Area Command. While all three have to do with my MG” they are not about the car but rather, about the kindness I experienced in Germany.
IN THE NICK OF CRIME
When I returned to my Frankfurt teaching station (Frankfurt American Elementary School) after a Washington’s Birthday holiday observance that I’d spent on a visit to pre-Wall Berlin via rail, I noticed that my MG wasn’t where I’d parked it. (This was in February of 1954.) (more…)
Before I returned home after two years of teaching in Wiesbaden, Germany, 1950 – 1952, I wrote to a friend: Soon I will be returning to the U.S.; I am so appreciative of the opportunity I have had to live in Europe for the past two years. The places I have seen, the people I have met, the customs I have observed – all made me realize how fortunate I have been to teach American Dependent Schools overseas.”
I was teaching in Laguna Beach, California, when I applied for teaching in American Overseas Schools. When I was notified that I was accepted, I asked for a leave of absence for a year, and this was granted. The excitement of getting ready to leave and getting papers in order kept me busy until it was time to catch the train for New York. At Union Station in Los Angeles, I met others who were looking forward to teaching in Europe, and we wondered how it would be to teach American dependent children away from the United States. (more…)
After two years as a Special Services Librarian (1950-1952) Heidelberg Military Post, Germany, I became Chief Librarian for the Dependent Schools, stationed at their offices in Karlsruhe, Germany. This move from Special Services to Dependent Schools was not without conflict between the two services. In 1951, I was invited by Sarita Davis from the University of Michigan to apply for her job as librarian with the Dependent School System. Special Services refused to release me and recommended another for the job. (more…)
John Sigler Robertson, GS-9, entered Federal Civil Service in 1954. He began his initial employment as Procurement Officer for HQ US Army Europe at Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg, Germany, from October 1954 to June 1956.
In 1956 the unit was slated to move to France. John arranged a lateral transfer in 1956 from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Air Force, HQ US Air Force Europe, USAFE Dependent Schools, Lindsay Air Station, and Wiesbaden, Germany. He was initially employed as Statistical Analyst working for Mr. Arthur Strommen. (more…)
I had graduated from San Diego State College and taught elementary school for four years (in California and New York), when I signed with the US Army in 1948 to teach the children of dependents in Germany. I was 24 years old.
It all started with an article in the New York Times. I filled out an application, was interviewed, took a physical and was hired. My salary was $4, 659 a year, which was more than I was making teaching in Great Neck. The Army said there would be 200 American teachers in Germany in 1948. Everyone was hired for just one year.
We sailed in the rain August 3, 1948 from the Brooklyn Naval Yard in an old hospital ship, USAT Zebulon B. Vance. We were told the ship had its bottom filled with cement so it would be steady when it carried wounded soldiers. And it was steady … steady and SLOW. New York to Bremerhaven, Germany, took us 15 days. The Queen Mary passed us three times! Going, coming and going again. But of course, we were in no hurry, having a wonderful time aboard ship and enjoying every day. Our accommodations were bunk beds, maybe three tiers high, in an enormous room. We had one big communal bathroom with a long row of showers. (more…)
Reminiscences of my first year teaching with the dependent schools was in, 1955 and 1956 in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, a former capital city, rich in history, culture and location. It was a wonderful background setting for me to teach a combination of grades two and three.
My sister Nancy was assigned to teach grade one. Six grades were taught in a former shoe factory by a faculty that represented several States, as did the military personnel. The relationship and cooperation of the military families was great for a successful academic year.
Besides teaching, I studied German to add to my list of languages which I used in singing lessons. I gave a fine recital in one of the oldest Stathalle’s of the city that spring. (more…)