View of Irene Behrt Brodie
employment with the Weather Bureau was from 1945 to 1947 at Lander,
Wyoming. At that time I was unmarried and used my maiden name, Irene
Gehrt. My previous background had been high school graduation and
secretarial work in civil service - War Department. The Weather Bureau
provided six weeks of meteorological aide training in Kansas City.
I left the Weather Bureau in March, 1947, to be married.
opportunity had come for a challenging and interesting type of work.
A call was issued for women, already in Civil Service, to apply. I
worked for the War Department in Wichita, Kansas in 1944, specifically
for the Army Air Corps. They had all their offices at the municipal
airport as were the Weather Bureau facilities. In the spring of 194S,
when the war efforts were all pointing to victory in both Europe and
Japan, the personnel department put everyone on notice that the offices
would start to gradually be phased out, putting a lot of women out
of jobs eventually.
time, the Official in Charge of the Wichita Weather Bureau put out
a notice that there were lots of vacancies in the Weather Bureau stations
in the thirteen western states and Alaska. If any women were interested,
aptitude tests would be given with emphasis on mathematics, and if
passed, Civil Service transfers would be arranged as well as the training
period in Kansas City. Several women did apply, but only eight or
ten went through with the program and training from the Wichita area.
At the end of our training, we could choose which station we wanted
to go to so most of us went in different directions and I chose Lander,
Wyoming. I was never sorry for the choice and it has been my home
since then. I am married to a rancher, have five children, six grandchildren
and look back to my choice of this Weather Bureau station as a blessing
station, my duties included observations, map plotting, telephoning
reports, and plotting the charts. I worked three shifts - changing
every week - day, swing, and graveyard. We normally worked eight hours
a day -forty hours a week. There were five women and four men at the
station. I don't remember my grade or amount of pay, but it was considerably
more than women were earning at other types of jobs.
for the Weather Bureau during World War II was exciting. We were filling
jobs for the men in service, and I worked through the end of World
War II and saw the return of fellows to the Weather Bureau. I liked
and enjoyed it from the training period and on through my employment
time. I was made very welcome by my fellow employees. The morale on
station was high.
high point of my career was learning and doing the RAOB observations.
Low point was having to quit. Would I do it again? Yes - it is such
an interesting and fascinating field. I think that one of my major
contributions was filling a void in a field necessary to civilian
and military operations.
I came to Lander in 1945, the Weather Bureau was in the Post Office
building with the instruments on the roof. The balloons for the RAOBs
were inflated in an unheated Forest Service garage behind the Post
Office. In the cold Wyoming winter it was pretty uncomfortable and
in order to correctly coordinate the radiosonde settings with the
recorder in the office, we would warm our hands around an uninsulated
hot water tank in the garage, then stand with our back to the tank
to keep from shivering until time to release the balloon! In 1946,
a new building was built at the Lander airport with all the latest
equipment and room for all phases, a very welcomed improvement. Since
then, another new building was built several years ago. A radiosonde
radio kit and parachute were found in the hills about 60 miles from
Lander and given to me last year. I took it to the Weather Service
office and was shown how things are done nowadays - practically all
automatic and computerized! However, sitting in a corner was the old
RAOB recorder I had worked on 45 years ago!