TACHIKAWA, JAPAN, 1947-1948
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…)
School Libraries for American Dependents Schools
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…)
A Memorial of John Sigler Robertson: 1954 – 1964
By: John F. Robertson – Son
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…)
Hanau, Germany (U.S. Army) 1950-1951
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
PARIS AMERICAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, SEINE AREA COMMAND
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…)
Wiesbaden, Germany: 1947-1952
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…)
I was with the delayed first group of some 120 teachers. We sailed from New York on the ship “George Washington” the first week of Oct. 1946. We were delayed because of the New York boat strike. The first two groups waited for us in Frankfurt.
My orders got sent to Bloomington, Illinois instead of Indiana. I was corresponding with one of the three Indiana teachers selected and found she had her orders. I phoned and was told to proceed without orders. Things worked out well in New York. (more…)
I clearly remember reading a sign on the bulletin board, about the first part of July, at George Peabody College in Nashville, TN, where I was working towards my Master’s Degree that summer. It stated that Major Bell, from the Military, would be interviewing teachers for the Overseas Military Schools which were being organized to start school that fall. If we were interested, we were to come on a certain date at 9:00 (I think it was).
I had wanted to go overseas in Red Cross work for some time, but this seemed better. I was there on that date, as were about 75 others. Major Bell was there looking very peppy and pleasant. She began by saying that if we weren’t 35 or over, nor had a school for next year, we were to leave. We were also to have half or more hours towards our Master’s. She said that they didn’t have time to get references and felt if we had a school, we were OK; and if we had taught for some time and were over 35, we would know how to organize schools. She also said we must be able to get a leave of absence” from our school. She said we were to be able to get a reference by the next day. I told her I couldn’t because I was from Kansas. She said if Dr. Southall, my professor at Peabody, would give me one that it was OK. Dr. Southall gave her one that day so I, along with several others, was hired. She told us we should be ready to leave for Europe by the 3rd week of August. We had a number of papers to fill out and we were told we would be expected to fill them out so we could get papers to take care of expenses going to Europe. We were told we should bring about $700.00, as I remember, in case we didn’t get paid or get vouchers right away. (more…)
Upon graduating from high school in 1938, I neither had the money nor the dedication to go to college. But after three years of being at home and just helping on the farm or doing odd volunteer work, such as leading a children’s choir, leading a 4H club, or working as a temporary helper in a nurse’s office, I decided that I was cut out to be an elementary teacher and applied at a teacher’s college for admittance.
At that time, after completing a two-year curriculum, one was able to get a teacher’s certificate. But after teaching three years in a one room school and three years in a small village school, I deemed it expedient to go back and get my degree-which I did at the University of Illinois. I had never heard of the Dependent Schools of Germany until I went to the placement bureau at that school. Since I now had my degree and also had experience in all the elementary grades and rural schools, I was deemed a qualified applicant for overseas teaching. In Chicago, at the Fifth Army Headquarters, I was interviewed by Mr. Miller (who was the civilian in charge of the EUCOM Schools at that time) and eventually was notified that I had been accepted. (more…)
CAREER PRIOR TO OVERSEAS TEACHING
When I had received my BA. degree from the University of Iowa in the spring of 1944, I fully expected to take the Civil Service exam for a position of public personnel administration for which I had prepared at the University. However, my mother was extremely ill, so I spent the summer nursing her after her operation and was unable to take the exam when it was offered. Since recruiting was then closed in that field someone suggested that I apply for a clerk-typist position and then transfer into administration.
But,” said I, “I can’t type.” “That’s OK,” replied the person, “the government will pay you to learn and will give you a salary while you do.” This sounded like a great idea to me, so I signed the paper that was to be my fast step toward a government career. (more…)
Wetzler, Germany 1950-1951
Erlangen, Germany 1951-1952
I was interviewed by Fred Miller from School Headquarters in April 1950 at Emporia State Teacher’s College. Mr. Miller had written the Social Studies program for the State of Kansas Schools. I was notified in May that I was selected. When my wife and I arrived in New York to go by ship to Bremerhaven, my wife had to share a cabin with five other women and I shared one with three other men. Upon arriving in Bremerhaven, I had orders to go to Kassel as the teaching principal. My wife, (although not a teacher) had orders to go to Vienna, Austria as a primary teacher. We went by train to Frankfurt then by bus to Bad Homburg where an all-educators conference was held. During the conference my assignment was changed from Kassel to Wetzlar and my wife could go with me, instead as a teacher in Vienna!! (more…)
It was in the spring of 1946 when Dick Meyering and WAC Major Bell came recruiting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was teaching German at the University. Having served in the Pacific during the war, I leaped at the chance to see the other side of the globe in the capacity of a Department of the Army civilian (DAC), working for the Dependents Schools in the American Occupation Zone of West Germany, for here was an opportunity to participate in a unique adventure in American education and, at the same time, observe history in the making as a country in shambles dug itself out of its dilemma.
I boarded the US Army Transport ship (USAT) Rodman” on September 24, 1946, with a number of people who were to become colleagues in days to come. All of us became aware of the environment we were to live in even before arriving in Germany, when we spotted masts of sunken ships sticking out of the waters of the English Channel. “Reserve your dismay” an English officer said to us, “till you go to the cities you are to work in, devastated beyond compare in numberless bombing raids.” (more…)