We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


JOANIE AND HER CAMEL

by Allen Dale Olson

It isn’t every day a groom sees his bride atop a camel racing toward the horizon of the Sahara Desert. Certainly not something we had planned for on our spring break trip to Cairo and the Valley of the Kings.

We were not really bride and groom – we had been married almost six months but because I had gone off to Turkey right after our 1957 wedding to start my teaching duties at the Izmir High School on the U.S. Air Base and she hadn’t got there until her term started at the Kiz College some weeks later, spring break was our first vacation together. From Turkey it seemed only natural that we should “do” the Middle East. Spring Break saw us in Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem, and Cairo.

At Giza, with plenty of help from an official guide, I climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid feeling that would be my most exciting adventure in Egypt. Pepsi-Cola changed that feeling.

Reunited with Joanie at the foot of the pyramid, we walked through a gauntlet of vendors and peddlers all hoping and working hard at selling us jewelry, trinkets, carvings, rugs, and camel rides. Yes, camel rides.

Almost every Egyptian vendor had a camel or two and for a few piastres we could take a ride on one. Joanie wanted nothing to do with a camel ride. But one persistent hawker shamed her into thinking about how she’d feel once she got home without having had even her picture taken on a camel. For just a couple of dollars, he would let her sit on his camel named Pepsi Cola for a photo.

With some trepidation, I helped the camel driver hoist her into Pepsi Cola’s saddle. And while she forced a smile, I began snapping pictures.

However, as I put my camera away, Pepsi Cola bolted from the driver and started running toward the desert with the driver yelling for him to come back. But Pepsi Cola, with a screaming passenger, continued into the sands and ran as if he was headed for Libya.

“Come on,” the driver shouted at me; “we’ve got to get her.” He helped me on to his neighbor’s camel – Coca Cola, by the way — got on his own camel and we started the chase. Some two or three hundred yards away from the street, Pepsi Cola came to a stop, and the driver and I could pull to him on both sides. I confess that my camel did it all by himself; I had no idea how to guide Coca Cola.

The driver simultaneously shrieked angry reprimands at Pepsi Cola and reassured Joanie that she was now safe. He said that he and his camel and I and Coca Cola would walk slowly back to the pyramid on either side of Pepsi Cola so that naughty camel could not break away again.

I thanked the driver as we helped Joanie off her mount, but he turned to me with an aggrieved expression and said that since we had had a camel ride, surely we would feel obliged to compensate him, especially since his companion had let us use his camel to help with the rescue. I couldn’t help but notice that the chase had attracted quite an audience of other vendors and passersby, all seemingly curious about how this was going to turn out.

I could not deny that we had each had a camel ride and that the threat of a run-away had seemed very real. I thought about how I should report that perhaps we had been framed but could not identify a single presence in the small crowd who looked as if he would be sympathetic to such a plea. I recalled the price he had quoted earlier for a ride, so I opened my wallet and took out double the amount and paid him in piastres. I also saw a five dollar bill in the wallet and added that to the mix, which seemed to brig him great satisfaction, because he turned to the admiring crowd around us to proclaim what a fine gentleman I am and brave as well, to help rescue his beautiful wife from desert dangers.

On the bus back to Cairo, I could hardly remember my climb up the Great Pyramid.

 


On Having your Senior Year Turned Upside Down


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


AFCENT FIELD TRIP

by Allen Dale Olson

Tuesday, November 30, 1976, was just like any other day until I got to my office. Joan Tucker, the overseer of all things front office, greeted me by saying I might as well go straight in to see the man as he’s been waiting for you. The man (Doc) was Joseph A. Mason, Director of United States Dependents Schools, European Area (USDESEA).

“Hey, I’m glad you’re here; looks like you’re going have to arrange for the whole AFCENT faculty to go to Washington.”  I knew he had spent yesterday with the Directors of the AFCENT school because of a number of problems, but I didn’t expect anything like what he had just said.

AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Command) had been established in Limburg Province, Holland, as part of the relocation of NATO forces from France into northern Germany and Holland and of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Forces from Paris to Brussels in 1966-67. The AFCENT military community, near Brunssum, consisted mostly of Americans, British, Canadian, and German forces with a sprinkling of Dutch, Scandinavian, and Belgian families.  It took a couple of years, but a school for the children of those forces was formed as one

complex, with four national units all sharing common areas, each unit headed by a principal with a teaching staff who would assure students received a national education but would jointly receive instruction in art, physical education, languages, and history.

Overall, the arrangement worked well, but in recent weeks there had been complaints that the American section had been using more than its fair share of time in the common areas, especially in the gymnasium and sports fields. In the beginning, that was acceptable because, after all, the Americans were paying the largest share of the common costs, and a little later, as the other nationals were told that the Americans had varsity sports programs with other USDESEA schools that required long hours of practice. Schools in the other nations did not have sports teams. They used their gym and sports field for physical education. Students wanting to play competitive sports joined local municipal or regional clubs.

At yesterday’s meeting, the German and British directors admitted they just did not understand the American school sports programs, and even the Canadian admitted that American schools were far more passionate about their school teams than anyone else.

Rudi Bewer, the former Director of the Free University of Berlin, and then Supervising Administrator of the AFCENT school, at yesterday’s meeting said it was a shame that the non-U.S. teachers could not actually see an American school with all of its many complexities so they could get a better feel for what school life is really like in the States. He thought the American local boards of education and parental involvement with PTAs and school volunteers would be very useful in understanding the American need for so much use of facilities.

Doc said the idea caught on, especially when the Luftwaffe representative opined that he might be able to persuade his Defense Minister to allow the faculty to fly on the daily courier to and from Washington. “I told him that if he could do that, I have the man who can make all the arrangements for school visits in the Washington area.” All the school chiefs excitedly signed up for giving it a try. Now I knew why Doc had been waiting for me that morning.

Next day Rudi called me to say the Ministry of Defense was amenable to providing the plane but needed a few details about the concept and what the teachers would actually do while in Washington. He proposed we plan it over the spring break.

Sunday, December 5, Pan Am took me from Frankfurt to Dulles, and next morning I caught up with John Wherry, Executive Director of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) so we could spend the day conceptualizing with his staff. Because his office was in the building of the National Education Association, where I had worked for several years, I was able to scurry around to see former colleagues and solicit their thoughts.

Tuesday morning, December 7, I met with the manager of the Hotel Harrington on 11th Street NW in downtown D.C. and initiated a contract to house the group in April should the trip materialize. Back at NSPRA, we decided that at least a day would be given to seminar-style meetings and that most of the week would be devoted to visiting schools : Montgomery County as one of the nation’s most affluent school communities; Fairfax County, home to most military families assigned to the area; and Washington, D.C. as an example of struggling inner city schools.

Wednesday morning, I met with Dr. Wesley Carroll, Professor of Education at The George Washington University (and my doctoral advisor) about resources available from GWU. The rest of the day was spent with Ken Muir, Public Affairs Director of the Montgomery County Public Schools and with Jim Hussan, a coordinator of cultural relations studies in Fairfax County and former USDESEA employee. With a bulging notebook, I flew back to Frankfurt and home to USDESEA Headquarters in Karlsruhe.

On January 11, 1977, Rudi called to say he liked the draft concept and that the Luftwaffe plane was almost certain. A week later, in Heidelberg, I called on Lynn Whittacre, Dean of the University of Maryland Campus, Europe, to ask about awarding graduate credit to participating teachers on this study trip. She suggested some possible topics for research papers and said she would certify me as the instructor. While in Heidelberg, I met with USAREUR finance personnel about obtaining fund citations for the U.S. side and got their support for working with the British, Canadian, and German commands for their share.

Doc approved the completed plan on Tuesday, February 8, and on the 11th I drove to AFCENT to review it with Rudi and the four national directors, after which I discussed it with the representatives of the Overseas Education Association and Overseas Federation of Teachers, with whom Rudi had been in continuing contact. Meanwhile, Ken Muir and George Hamil (Montgomery County and Fairfax County) worked on arranging school visits, and John Wherry on locating seminar presenters and D.C. school visits. Read the rest of this entry »


We are seeking submissions of stories about schooling on military installations.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 10.36.00 AM

Schooling With Uncle Sam will focus on personal memories–what it was like to work or study in the school system, to live and work in a foreign country or military installation – the mundane, funny, or tragic events and interactions that made for a memorable experience. Stories should be about a certain time, event, or experience about school/work/life with DoDEA (or with its predecessor organizations such as DoDDS, USDESEA, DEG, etc.) Authors included in the anthology will receive a free copy of the book in lieu of payment.  All stories become the property of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collections Library. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help the Museum continue to bring exhibits and programming to the museum community free of charge.This is a chance to preserve a unique history and to be a part of it. It’s an opportunity to share a personal look at a world-wide school system serving America’s world-wide interests and assuring that your involvement with it will be recognized. You can submit up to three different pieces for the book.


Favorite Hangouts

MY FIRST DAY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, MUNICH CAMPUS

I graduated from high school in Petersburg, Virginia in June 1965. My father, who was stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, received orders for a new assignment to Heidelberg, Germany starting in August 1965. This caused some problems for me since I couldn’t get my transcripts to the University of Maryland, Munich Campus (UMMC) in time to start the Fall semester at Munich. Therefore, I had to wait until the Winter semester which started in January 1966 to attend the UMMC. I spent the first five months getting used to Germany and accustomed to the “German way of life” and acquainted to my new surroundings in Heidelberg. Unfortunately for me, I’d learned to speak Spanish in high school, so the only foreign language I could speak was Spanish, not German. This turned out to be a big problem for me for a while. Well, the five months went by fast so it was time for me to head to Munich to attend my first semester at UMMC. My parents couldn’t drive me to UMMC because we were still waiting for our car to arrive from Virginia so my parents purchased a one-way German train ticket for me to Munich. They put me on the train at the Heidelberg Hauptbahnhof and wished me luck and success at the UMMC. They told me I didn’t have to worry about the train ride, because friends told them that I wouldn’t have to get off the train until it arrived in Munich. With that information, I found a free seat in a very nice train compartment and put my suitcase in the rack above my seat. There were three Germans in the compartment with me, but they didn’t speak that much English so it was a quiet train ride until the train pulled into the Stuttgart train station.

As I said, every was going just fine, until the train started backing out of the train station and didn’t continue to go forward. I panicked and started asking the Germans in my compartment why the train was going backwards. Of course, they didn’t understand why I was getting so upset. Finally, I left the compartment and started looking for the train conductor who checked my ticket on the way to Stuttgart. I finally found him and I showed him my ticket and kept asking him if the train was going to Munich. He looked confused at me and just kept saying, “JA, JA, JA Muenchen Muenchen!!! I looked at him and said, no, I mean Munich, Munich and he kept saying “Ja, JA, Muenchen.

To my luck, two couples were walking towards me and they could see I was having a panic attack. Both couples were Americans and asked me what was my problem. I told them about the train backing out of Stuttgart and they all laughed and told me not to worry that the train was going to Munich. They then asked me what I was doing on the train and if I was new to Germany which I said yes. They were going to Munich, too, so they recommended that I come back with them to their compartment and they would try to give me a fast history lesson in “the strange German ways”. I was so glad and relieved to have run into these people, so for the remainder of the train ride I received a very fast course on the German ways. They asked if I knew what Schnitzel was and I said no, what a brotchen was, a Spezi, pommes frites, schnapps, currywurst, etc. They all laughed again and then began to fill me in on the essentials I needed to know to function in Germany. I was so thankful for their help and when we arrived in the Munich train station, I thanked them very much for their help and we all went our separate ways.

My dad had told me when I arrived in Munich I should walk out the front of the train station and get a taxi to take me to McGraw Kaserne. Well, he was right, there was a very long line of taxi cabs right out the front door of the Munich train station. I walked up to a taxi cab driver and started to get in his taxi and he ran up to me and said NEIN, NEIN, NEIN!!!! I couldn’t understand why he was yelling at me and wouldn’t let me get into his taxi. He looked at me, still yelling, but kept pointing at the taxis in front of his taxi. The one rule the couples forgot to tell me was, you have to get into the first taxi in line– another new German rule I learned. I got into the first taxi and told the taxi driver I wanted to go to McGraw Kaserne, he looked at me a little strange and kept saying something back at me in a strange dialect (found out it was Bayerisch). Anyway, I finally arrived at the front gate of McGraw Kaserne, the taxi driver took my suitcase out of the trunk, I paid him (didn’t know I was supposed to tip him) and off he went very mad at me. (By the way, there was about 1 1/2 ft. of snow on the ground that day.)

I walked into the building on the right (found out it was called the “Glass House” the girl’s dorm) and asked where Beukema Hall was located (Freshman Boy’s Dorm). Lucky for me, there were two boys who had just dropped off their girlfriends and they were on their way to Beukema Hall. I arrived at Beukema Hall looking for room B-5, which I found and the door was open. Nobody was there, but a Prefect saw me wandering around, so he showed me where my assigned bed was located. He left, so I started to empty my suitcase and put my clothes into my assigned wall locker and chest of drawers. Right after I finished unpacking my suitcase, my first roommate came walking in. He introduced himself and told me I was taking over his old roommate’s assigned area because he flunked out. He showed me around the apartment, which had two bedrooms, one bathroom, a bunkbed in the living room and my bed was setup was in the dining room area. He also told me his dad was in the Air Force and there were three other roommates with dads in the Air Force and two other roommates dads were in the Army like my dad. (Total of 7 of us in B-5). It turned out all four Air Force roommates had the two bedrooms. The four Air Force roommates’ dads were stationed in England, one Army roommate’s dad was stationed in France and the other Army roommate’s dad was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, like my dad.

My new roommate asked me if I would like him to show me around UMMC to which I said YES!!!!!!! Well, he showed me where all the different dorms were located, the college building which also had the commissary and movie theater in it, the snack bar and then he asked me if I would like to see some of the bars outside McGraw Kaserne. He showed me Die Frau, 5 and 5, Student Keller and the Blue Room. We ended up in the Blue Room where many students were hanging out all ready. He introduced me to several of the students and asked me if I would like a beer, and to which of course, I said YES!! To my surprise, the waitress bought to our table two VERY LARGE liter mugs of beer. I couldn’t believe my eyes. At that point in my life, I had only drunk beer out of a pint beer can, I had a swimming pool worth of beer sitting in front of me. Long story short, I eventually drank the whole thing, feeling very proud of myself until he asked me if I wanted another one. I was in shock, I told him I thought I needed to get back to the room and sort through my things. He said okay and I left. When I got back to the room, I fell on my bed and slept until the next morning. When I finally woke up, I went to the bathroom and found out that large liter beer gave me the runs!!!! HA! HA!I ended up surviving UMMC and have always looked back at my days at UMMC with very fond memories and some great friends.

A popular gasthaus near the college campus

Blue Room- This was one of our favorite “watering holes” right outside of McGraw Kaserne. The history for naming of the “Blue Room” goes like this. In German, slang for drunk is the word “Bleu”, bleu also mean “Blue” in German. Since Bleu has the dual meaning and the spelling is close to the English word Blue, just turn the “eu to ue” and you have “The Blue Room”. That Gasthaus changed many, many student’s lives who entered this Gasthaus. I wasn’t at McGraw Kaserne for more than two hours before one of my new roommates took me to the Blue Room for my first one liter mug of Paulaner Brau. Photo: Steven Sirbaugh


Student Dress Code

Back in the ’60’s, the U of M, Munich Campus had some very strict and strange rules, especially when you look back at them today. Well, one of the rules was that at dinner each night, all boys had to wear a coat and tie to eat at the “Meal Plan”. By the way, we were only fed during the week; not on weekends.
Well, all these strange rules would get to us after a while and we would rebel. The way we rebelled against these “Meal Plan” rules was having a “Tom Jones” night. This would only happen once or twice a semester. Word would be spread around the campus that a certain date would be a “Tom Jones” night. Many female students would not show up that night for dinner, and most male students would dress appropriately for the occasion. One roommate would wear an army jacket, no shirt except for the collar and a shoestring for a tie.
We would enter the “Meal Plan” that night and make sure we stocked up with throwable food items on our food trays. The food fight would not start until everybody had finished eating and then all Hell would break loose. Stephen Sirbaugh from Noch Eins.


Andersen Elementary School

Kim Medders

A fun day in my classroom at Andersen Elementary School on Guam. I taught 5th grade there in 1983 for the Territorial Government. About 80% of the kids were Air Force as the school was just outside the back gate of the Air Force Base. At this time there were no DoDea schools on Guam so the military kids when to the Guamanian public schools or private schools on the island. The Guamanian kids from the village of Yigo were in the minority at the school, but great kids.

Fred Perez (pronounced Paris), holding up the blue star in front, really surprised me one day by bringing in a Japanese skull for show and tell. He and his father had been boonie stomping and found it along with a rusted out machine gun. I asked him if he was going to turn it over the Japanese Consulate, to which he replied, “Heck no Mr. Medders. It’s my skull, I found it!” I was a bit taken back by that at first, but the memories of what the Japanese did to Guamanians during the war was still pretty fresh at that time.  I couldn’t blame Fred from not wanting to help someone who might have murdered his grandpa.

The classroom was really old and falling apart. I spent my first week repairing desks, the sink in the classroom, and the wooden louvered slats in the windows. I “fixed” the chalkboard by putting a poster over the hole. Not a lot of fancy teacher supplies on the island, so I had to create a lot of my room decorations using construction paper. Books were old and outdated.  I did a lot of chalkboard teaching that year.   On any given day, all manner of creatures would scamper through the room, adding to the carnival of excitement my teaching bought these young minds!

All in all, my year on Guam was the most fun I had in my 27 years of teaching.  The kids were great, the challenges taught me self reliance, and I loved the island and people living on Guam.  My wife and I decided to leave because of pay.  The teachers there did not make much at the time, and I felt I needed more if I wanted to start a family.  Still, 38 years later, this small island in Micronesia still calls to me!