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…)
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…)
August 17,1955 was my date to leave for DEG schools in France. I was certain that I would find my assignment to be one of the isolated one or two-teacher schools that Charlie Tinder repeatedly mentioned while he interviewed me at the University of Minnesota. After our flight, via Flying Tigers to Paris, I was pleasantly surprised to be assigned to Verdun, France. Four of us that met at the Litre Hotel, were to leave by train the next morning. They were Margaret O’Hare, Marion Sather, Marian Carmody and myself. Also on the same train were Robert Miller and another fellow whose name I’ve forgotten. He was transferred out of Verdun early in the year.
MY FIRST TEN YEARS: GERMANY
It has been a great experience, my twenty-seven years with the DOD Schools overseas. My only regret is that I didn’t get into the program sooner. Teaching is teaching wherever one is but this was also an adventure. I applied for an overseas teaching position while I was teaching in Seattle, Washington. I was accepted and left for Germany in August, 1950.
My first assignment was in Bad Wildungen as a first and second grade teacher. Subsequent assignments in Germany were Hochest am Main and Wiesbaden. I spent two years at each location before I was finally given an assignment in Sevilla, Spain. (more…)
This write-up is not intended as an in depth description of the American Dependent Schools in Europe. Mostly they are my answers to questions I was asked as I replied to the request, “Tell us like it was.”
The American Dependent School System Overseas is probably the most unique school system in the world; it certainly is the largest, geographically, encompassing about 90,000 miles. (more…)
I was with the DOD schools only one year of this first ten year period I had been teaching at a Methodist Mission School in Palembung, Indonesia so I hadn’t even heard about the military overseas schools until I came home to Fairfax, Virginia in 1953. If I hadn’t made this trip to Indonesia I would most likely never have had the nerve to go to all the strange places that came later.
I think I was quite timid about doing anything on my own at that time but Indonesia changed all that! This was brought about when friends of mine were going to Indonesia to start a business. They asked me if I would like to go with them and teach there. They always declared that my answer was “Sure, where is it!”. I think they may have figured they might need me to teach their kids too. Their eight year old had been in my first grade class in Fairfax. (more…)
My U.S. Federal Government Civil Service Career with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools began September 1941, when I was a young girl. I was hired and traveled from Ohio to Washington, D.C. to work for the Navy Department. Soon after World War II ended, I transferred in 1946 to the Island of Guam in the Pacific where I continued working for the Navy Department for 10 years.
In April 1956 I transferred back to Washington D.C. with the U.S. Air Force Overseas Dependents Schools Office where I began recruiting, selecting, and assigning school teachers to teach the children of our military serving at overseas military bases located around the world. Sometime later, the recruitment of schoolteachers for all branches of the military, the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and others, all merged their recruitment offices, and became known as Department of Defense Dependents Schools System. (more…)
I retired in 1990, but I frequently visit the Oslo American School. OAS will terminate this June as NATO is moving mostly to England and a smaller group will move to Stavanger. There will be a farewell dinner 27 May and I will give a speech, being the oldest long time teacher of over 37 years.
OAS was started up in the fall of 1954. Before that it was privately run by the Embassy. I was a substitute teacher in 1953 while attending the Oslo University and was offered a job in 1954. Two rooms in a hotel and a private home a mile away from the hotel was the best the Embassy could obtain. When the military took over, a former German barracks in Smestad was made available and there was just enough room for eight grades. (more…)
I started with the dependent schools in 1948. My first employment was under Mary Palmer at the Hoyt S. Vandenberg Elementary School in Wiesbaden as Head Registrar for all the schools. That included the elementary schools at Hainerberg, Crestview, Camp Lindsay, Aukaum, and Wiesbaden Air Base. All incoming parents with dependent school children processed through me. I checked the student’s paperwork to determine grade placement and the parent’s paper to determine eligibility. If the parents were civilians not connected with the government, I informed them of tuition requirements. (more…)