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…)
I had the privilege and pleasure of teaching a wonderful and diverse group of students. It was an educational experience for me, as well as an opportunity to meet, know and share teaching ideas with other teachers from all over the country.
In September of 1956, my class had the honor of having our Opening Exercises broadcast over Radio Free Europe and that was a particular thrill for the students.
My two years overseas have given me lifelong memories and enriched my life.
What a wonderful experience! To teach and live in Europe! To meet people from all over the United States and Europe with various backgrounds and cultures. Teaching overseas is something that has truly enriched my life. I enjoyed every moment.
My journey began on August 15, 1955. I left Los Angeles with a group of teachers by train and arrived in New York. We flew from New York to Frankfurt, Germany with a Flying Tigers transport. Many teachers were arriving in Frankfurt from many parts of the United States. Everyone was excited about where they would be teaching in Germany. As soon as each person had their assignment they were seeking others who might be going to the same school. I heard names like Kaiserslautern, and Nürnberg, but no one was going to Schwabisch Hall. I thought to myself, Where am I going?” and “How do I pronounce the name of this place?” Everyone found someone that would be in their school. I found no one! (more…)
Narimasu (Grant Heights) High School, Japan 1952-1954
Heidelberg American High School, Germany 1954-1958
After teaching in Iowa for eight years, I applied for a music position with the Army School for Dependent’s children, hoping that I would be assigned in Europe. After filling out many forms, I finally had a personal interview in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where approximately 25 other music teachers were interviewed that same day. The interview went extremely well and I was pleased with it, but didn’t expect to get accepted. However, on May 5, 1952 I received a letter stating that I had been accepted … but for Japan. I knew so little about Japan, only three words: Mt. Fuji, geisha, Ginza. This was not the time for me to say no” to learn more about another part of our world so I sent a telegram saying that I accepted the position … somewhere in Japan. (One was never given a final assignment until you were actually in the country). (more…)
As I write, the headlines in today’s NEW YORK TIMES are no different from those that have captured our attention for many months about the battles in Yugoslavia. Yet when I think of the Yugoslavia of 1957, my recollection is of two verbal disputes. One confrontation was with a border guard and the second with a trio of Communist officials in Niska Banja about obtaining lodging. Oh yes, there was also a tussle with bedbugs.
There was no conflict in my mind about wanting to teach overseas. I just needed a little shove. During my first two years of teaching third grade in North Plainfield, New Jersey, I eagerly corresponded with a friend who went to Japan. The following two years I taught in Clearwater, Florida and met another teacher who had taught in the Panama Canal Zone. She gave me the encouragement I needed to send in my application. Nine months later I was aboard an Army transport, the Darby, bound for Europe. (more…)
Wiesbaden, Germany (U.S. Army & Air Force) 1951-1956
From the first declaration that I had been accepted by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) – to the trip across the Atlantic Ocean by ship, my wonderful adventures began.
Three other teachers and myself traveled from Bremerhaven to Frankfurt, Germany, by train – then on to Hanau, Germany. In our blissful state – and trying to help the teacher who had broken her leg on the ship – we got off the train hoping someone would be awaiting us to take our heavy luggage. While we were looking about (no red caps available!) the train started up with all our luggage on it The result was I was elected (since I understood and spoke some German) to go to Aschaffenburg with a German driver in a large Army truck to retrieve the luggage – only to find I didn’t know which billets we were assigned – nor where they were at the Kaserne. The School Officer solved this for us. (more…)
BAMBERG AMERICAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, NORTHERN AREA COMMAND 1953-1954
PARIS AMERICAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, SEINE AREA COMMAND 1954-1957
The telegram of May 16, 1953 began: YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO TEACH IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS IN EUROPE. LOCATION OF SCHOOL WILL BE ANYWHERE IN FRANCE OR GERMANY.
Shortly thereafter I left by train from Alhambra, California and traveled to New York to report for indoctrination at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. After several days we sailed from New York on the MSTS General Buckner, a ship carrying supplies, troops, a few officers, one other male teacher and some 200 female teachers. After an interesting, but uneventful voyage we docked in Bremerhaven, at that time an American enclave in Northern Germany. From there we were sent by train to Frankfurt am Main for assignment at the I.G. Farben building (with open, no-stop elevators one jumped on.) (more…)
Escuela Bella Vista Maracaibo, Venezuela: 1952-1953
To the reader:
This is not an erudite paper on overseas schools in the late forty’s and early fifty’s. It is, for the most part, a child-oriented, child-centered collection of minutia of importance primarily to those who worked with young children during those years. (more…)
My first army teaching experience was at Schofield Post School, Schofield Barracks in the (then) Territory of Hawaii.
I went to Germany in 1950 and was assigned to Aschaffenburg. During the school year 1951-1952, I was first assigned to Augsburg and then (when troops moved) was transferred to Nürnburg (December until June 1952). After a year at home I again enlisted” and went to Heidelberg (1953-54). Three years later I taught for the Air Force at Tachikawa Airbase in Japan (1957-58). (more…)
Understanding a brief background history leading up to my early years in Germany and Austria and now my voyage evolved might be necessary at this point.
My father, Major Chaplain Mert M. Lampson, spent his entire war service in The United States Army during WWII in the China/Burma/India theaters of operation. Immediately after the war, and a months leave with his family in California, he received orders to report for military occupational duties in Europe, specifically Germany, where he was to be part of the large military controlling forces that occupied various countries in Europe. (more…)
Early experiences with Dependent Overseas American Schools were most interesting, at times exciting and generally unpredictable. Each person had special unique experiences and I will list here some that have left a lasting memory with me.
Let’s start with my interview by Virgil Walker, the first Director of Dependent Schools, the summer of 1947 at University of Michigan where I had just completed a Master’s Degree in School Administration. As an experienced science teacher qualified to coach all sports, I was offered an overseas teaching position. My problem was Margaret, who had no teaching experience and couldn’t be hired. We planned to get married but regulations at the time didn’t permit teachers to take dependents. Virgil said we should keep in touch. Regulations did change and I was name requested for Germany in 1948. So we were off to Germany on the same ocean at the same time, but our military orders had us on two different ships. (more…)