View of Mildred Sprung Gholson
I worked for the
Weather Bureau from August, 1942, to June, 1953. I was stationed at
Beaumont, California, and Tucson, Arizona.
did not know the Weather Bureau needed new employees. I was in Los
Angeles and decided to start looking for work at the Civic Center.
I started at the top floor of the building. The Coast and Geodetic
Survey took my application. The next floor down was the Weather Bureau.
They hired me on the spot. I worked for the Weather Bureau because
I needed a job and I always enjoyed clouds and weather.
working as Mildred Sprung. In 1948 I was married and became Mildred
S. Gholson. In June, 1953, I left the Weather Bureau to become a full-time
homemaker and to see what it was like to have regular hours.
educational and practical experience were as follows: The Federal
Bureau of Investigation hired me to work for them in Washington, D.C.
immediately after I graduated from high school. Also I worked for
the University of Arizona Extension Service. When I started work for
the Weather Bureau, my pay was approximately S1220.00/year. When I
resigned I received around S3380.00/year. The amount varied because
of overtime and continually rotating shifts. I went to the Weather
Bureau training school at Pacific Palisades, California.
Weather Bureau employees were very kind and friendly to me. My first
impressions of the Weather Bureau were favorable. The office was between
Bonning and Beaumont, California. The boss was very helpful. Even
found a place for me to rent before my arrival, and met me at the
railroad station. The morale on station was usually very good.
were taking weather observations, cutting the tapes and filing weather
reports on teletype (no CAA in Beaumont,) filing flight plans, taking
PIBALs, plotting and analyzing surface and upper air charts, plotting
pseudo-Adiabatic Charts, giving radio broadcasts of the weather, recording
climatological data, taking samples of atomic fall-out and sending
them to the Atomic Energy Commission, briefing pilots and answering
continually rotating shifts. Each day I normally worked nine hours;
and 45-54 hours a week. In Beaumont, two other women and one man worked
with me. In Tucson there were three women and three men.
high point of my Weather Bureau career was when I got the highest
score in the western United States, Alaska and Hawaii on a Weather
Bureau test. The low points were caused by a particular male employee
who consistently made himself unavailable to answer phones or brief
pilots when I was going off the midnight shift. Since we were required
to complete the surface chart, I worked up to four hours of unpaid
overtime because I was doing his work also! Looking back, I feel that
the Weather Bureau was an excellent place to work. If I had my life
to live over, I would definitely do it again because I truly enjoyed
the work. The variety of duties was a big plus and time usually flew.
my major contributions were punctuality, accuracy, conscientiousness,
and enthusiasm. A few of my memorable experiences are as follows:
balls of lightning of various colors tumbled off the line, I was knocked
back into the building and struck a metal cabinet. We had an immediate
cloudburst and water flooded through the office while I was writing
up my observation. (My joints ached for a couple weeks after the incident.)
b) During another
severe thunderstorm, I was kept very busy filing special observations
when a dust storm severely reduced the visibility. Moderate rain
followed and I reported "blowing mud balls" which were pelting the
windows. And then we had a cloudburst. Many light aircraft were
tom from their moorings and flipped over.
c) A DC-6 AA
[American Airlines] westbound transcontinental flight #211 landed
below limits which I was requesting at the time. A CAA inspector
was on board monitoring the radio communications and heard the many
special weather reports covering the rapidly changing weather conditions.
As a consequence, the Captain was fined and severely reprimanded.
d) On another
occasion, I was starting the six-hourly 1730 report and spotted
a dirigible-shaped object just beneath a 6500 foot overcast at the
west end of the Catalina Mountains. It was moving slowly to the
WSW. At that altitude, the winds aloft were from the West at 60
mph. I called the Central Tower operator and asked him to monitor
it while I filed the weather report. I returned to the roof to watch
it. It would disappear briefly into the clouds and then reappear
further to the SW until it hovered over the city. I watched it until
it got too dark to see it. There was no gondola. The controller
called Davis-Northern Central Tower and they reported that there
were no known aircraft in that area and they too saw it. Our surveillance
lasted 45 minutes. We decided not to report it to Wright Patterson
Field, Dayton, Ohio because no one would believe us and/or we would
be labeled "kooks."