Burtonwood Air Force Base, Warrington, Lancashire, England
1953 – 1954
While attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, in June, 1953,1 decided to check out the possibility of teaching in the Dependent’s Schools.
The very small high school on Burtonwood Air Force Base needed a teacher and I was available. Thus began a most interesting and enjoyable year of teaching.
Some highlights in my memory of that year. (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 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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
The period of 1954 through 1956 will only include two years of my sojourn with the Dependent School system, and will only include Air Force Schools.
In 1953, I was Supt. of Schools in Rockford, Washington and my High School Principal, Ray Reistad, had applied for a position with the Air Force Dependents Schools in Europe, and had received notice to appear for interview with Mr. Robinson (to be referred to as Robie from here on). A position with the Dependent School System sounded good to me, and I asked Ray about the possibility of my also getting an interview with Robie. Ray and I found a telephone number on the application form and called. I was also given permission to come for an interview. We talked with Robie and later received notification that both of our names had been put on an alternate list. (more…)
Gathering thoughts for a trip down memory lane that occurred 44 years ago was an experience in itself. My mind was flooded with flashes of people, places and events. I realized my interpretation of these thoughts had been tempered by the passage of time and my own maturation process. The greatest revelation was the role that the years 1950 – 1952 played on the rest of my life.
Becoming a Department of the Army civilian or DAC, all began one foggy February morning in 1950. Arriving at school, my Principal greeted me saying she wanted me to be sure and read what she had just posted on the bulletin board. It was a very official looking letter from the Department of the Army (DOA) announcing the recruitment of teachers for the Overseas Dependent Schools. (more…)
Life begins at 40″ was not the lure which prompted me to ask the St. Louis Board of Education for a “Leave of Absence” in mid-term from my top-pay position as a 19-year-veteran earning $5000.00 yearly. Rather it inspired me to attempt a whole new way of life when the death of my mother severed filial ties, even though it meant nearly a $1,000.00 cut in salary. (I figured transportation and lodging, less income tax would make up the difference.)
Having decided to go, I had to research, “Where is Tripoli?” since all I knew was the song, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli” and the library didn’t yield much more information! I received instructions to bring “lots of formals and swim clothes,” which meant a frenetic shopping spree in mid-winter since it was January when I received confirmation of my acceptance. (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…)
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…)
Upon arrival in Japan for my first assignment in 1956, I and others were met by the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ed Pino. He inquired how we had enjoyed our thirty-six hour flight from San Francisco. I mention this because we flew in a four-engine prop plane, unlike the jets to be taken on flights to the U.S. just two years later.
We were taken to a Japanese restaurant where we consumed copious amounts of butterfly shrimp amongst other delicacies. It was a very tasty introduction to Japanese cuisine.
WHEELUS FIELD – TRIPOLI, LIBYA 1954 – 55 ERA OF KING IDRIS
Almost didn’t make it to Wheelus Field. Two times my Visa for Libya expired before I could leave the U.S. I had to take a train across the United States. The train ride was necessary because of an airline strike. In Washington, D.C. I had to go to the British Embassy to get my third visa. Then another train ride to Springfield, Mass. where we caught the plane to Wheelus.
The Military Transport Service provided our plane which was not plush. We had a Navy crew with sailors for stewards. They even charged us 85 cents for our box lunches. We crossed the Atlantic and had a two-hour stop at the Azores. Then on to Wheelus where we landed at 3:45 A.M. An hour later we were taken to our BOQ. Our rooms were quite a shock. Two people to a room, no hooks, towel racks, lamps, just an iron cot with a thin mattress. Needless to say I was ready to get some sleep at 5:00 A.M. An hour later I was awakened by an unrecognizable sound. It was a donkey serenade. (more…)
I arrived in Japan in Sept. 1953 by MATS ship, having courses in survival Japanese as we crossed. Not knowing whether we would be assigned to Florida weather or Alaska weather, it was hard to be prepared. Immediately I was put on a train that night for Misawa AF Base. Culture shock lasted for quite awhile as I wasn’t prepared to be tucked into a sleeping compartment on the train while the Japanese men undressed down to their BVDs in the aisle.
After getting almost settled at our base, several new acquaintances and I took off for Hokkaido to take advantage of the Labor Day weekend not realizing that no meals were served on trains and that 2nd class accommodations on the steamer meant sleeping on a raised tatami mat covered bed” with 100 Japanese tourists. (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…)
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…)
We left New York City for Vienna, Austria on my thirteenth birthday, November 10, 1946.
My father had been assigned to Vienna and had left in July of 1945, so we were anxious to join him. I can’t remember his specific assignment, but he was in charge” of the American sector of Vienna, which was divided into four sectors American, French, British, and Russian, as was Berlin. He had superior officers over him so I am not sure what my mother meant when she said he was “in charge”. (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…)
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…)
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…)
I, Ada Bodmer, was recruited for a position with American Dependents Schools, Germany, in 1949. My assignment upon arriving in Germany was to the very remote Grafenwhör Military Post as teaching principal of a two-room school of some 50 pupils, grades 1 through 8. This was a bit of a disappointment in as much as my teacher shipmates spoke so enthusiastically about their assignments in Heidelberg, Munich, Stuttgart, etc. I was, however, excited about being chosen to come to Germany, so I decided to give it my best and enjoy whatever.
The little school was charming. My billet not quite so. I had two small adjoining rooms, one large enough for an army cot and a small chest of drawers. Oh, yes, it had hooks on the wall for my clothes. The other room had a small sofa and a coffee table. In one corner was a small wood stove and a little box of fuel. This stove was to heat both rooms. The bathroom and two showers were down the hall to be used by five other ladies – Red Cross, U.S.O., secretaries, etc. We all took our meals at the Officer’s Club. Not bad. One day I ate breakfast with General Patton’s son. (more…)