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. Continue reading
In July of 1954, 150 American schoolteachers left Seattle on board the Navy transport, General William E. Mitchell, destination and assignment unknown. The teachers knew only that they had been assigned to the Far East Command, which included the four main islands of Japan and the island of Okinawa. Previous to their departure, these teachers had been interviewed at leading universities throughout the country, screened and selected as representatives of the American Government to a foreign land.
Their departure followed three days of indoctrination in Seattle, during which time they were given opportunity to turn back as they were reminded that they were going to a land of former enemies where human life is very cheap and nature often chaotic. Continue reading
Len Sylvanus McCartney
Superintendent and Principal, Yokohama American Dependent Schools
by: Col. William F. Wollenberg, U.S. Army (Retired)
LOREN SYLVANUS MCCARTNEY
Lieutenant Colonel Loren Sylvanus McCartney, U.S. Army, Retired, was the first Superintendent of the Yokohama American Dependent Schools and the first Principal of Yokohama American High School. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
COACH AT YAMATO HIGH SCHOOL
In August 1964, I landed at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Meeting the plane was Joe Blackstead, Superintendent of Schools. It was then that I learned that I was assigned to Yamato High School. I was told by Principal Olan Knight that I would be teaching social studies, physical education and coaching football, basketball and baseball. This was the year of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The USA basketball team needed a gym in which to hold secret workouts. Coach Iba picked our gym at Tachikawa for these workouts. I volunteered my services to Coach Iba and I was asked to run the shooting charts during the Games. Some of the players on the team were Bill Bradley, Walt Hazzard, Mel Counts and Larry Brown.
The USA team defeated the Russians in the Championship game in Tokyo 73 to 59. This was the sports highlight of my 25-year career in DODDS.
However, this was not my first visit to Tachikawa Air Base. In December 1945, I landed at Tachikawa in a B-25. When World War II ended, I was stationed at Buckner Bay in Okinawa. I had gone through the Battle of Okinawa as a Navy Mo.M. 3/c. After landing, I needed a ride to Tokyo to meet a friend. So I caught a train at the Tachi train station for U.S. military personnel only. However, I made sure no Japanese civilians got in back of me at the train station. I had gone through too many Kamikaze attacks and had been shot at too many times at the Okinawa Battle. I just didn’t trust our former enemy. Tokyo, I found to be devastated by B-29’s. The firebombs had done their job. However, I did notice the only thing left in many of the burned homes was a safe. I never saw so many safes in my life. After a five-day leave, I returned to my base in Okinawa.
Sincerely, Joseph Steffen
P.S. I hope you can use the above for The Early Days Book” for the period 1956-1966. (Report written January 9, 1999.)
Copyright 2004 American Overseas Schools Historical Society
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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.
Copyright 2004 American Overseas Schools Historical Society