View of Charlotte Schmidtke Jones
I worked for the Weather Bureau from March, 1943, to approximately
June of 1949, with a break of approximately three months in about
1945 while attending the University of Washington. I used a different
name part of the time - I married in 1949. I left in 1950, just before
my first child was born, to become a full-time at-home mother.I returned
to the Weather Bureau in August of 1969 and stayed until March of
1986,at which time I was eligible and took retirement at the age of
the ten-week training session, my work stations were Sexton Summit
or Sexton Mountain, Oregon; Boeing Field, Climate Office, Federal
Building, Lake Union Building, and NOAA at Sand Point, (all forecast
offices in Seattle). I learned that the Weather Bureau needed new
employees from an article in a ladies magazine - I don't remember
the name. I always found the weather fascinating and the weather people
I worked with were my kind of people.
seventeen years old and a Senior in high school when I started with
the Weather Bureau. I had very good grades. My brothers and I had
a wind vane and thermometers and watched the weather regularly.
salary, after the year's probation, was $1440 a year. Our training
was excellent. We learned basic weather dynamics - charting - radiosonde,
and PIBAL observations and aviation surface and synoptic weather observations.
Wherever I worked I was welcomed and made to feel at home. My first
impressions of the Weather Bureau? It was a long time ago - but the
main thing I remember is how fascinating the different weather jobs
were - ocean weather observers, fire weather - radiosondes and PIBALs.
At that time weather observations were also vital to the growing aviation
business. Morale was excellent wherever I worked - for the majority
that is. There are always one or two poor sports. At Sexton Mountain
my duties were hourly aviation weather observations, six-hourly synoptic
observations and climate; at Boeing Field I took hourly aviation observations
and six-hourly, made pilot balloon runs, plotted upper wind and radiosonde
charts, and gathered climate data; at the old Federal- Building (Forecast
Office to Sand Point) my duties were charting and radiosonde plotting,
collecting and disseminating river data.
on station at Sexton and worked mainly twelve-hour shifts. It was
a three-mile hike to the road. Otherwise I worked primarily rotating
shifts - days - swing and midnight. Normally I worked an eight-hour
shift -except for Sexton. Weekly I worked forty hours. On a few occasions,
because of illness or other emergencies, I worked two shifts - sixteen
hours. The high point of my career was receiving a Bronze Medal Award.
The low points were trying to do a good job while going to U. of W.
and working steady graveyard shifts. When working for the Weather
Bureau during World War II, primarily the senseof teamwork impressed
me. There was a mutual support system and most of the men had been
in the service and were pleased to have women on the staff. There
were some (few), of course, who could hardly wait to see us go. Because
of the caliber of women hired, there was very little (if any) backbiting,
talebearing, or bad-mouthing of anyone.
I do Weather Bureau work again? Yes-yes-yes. I can honestly say that
in my twenty-three years there were very few times that I didn't go
to work with a good feeling of looking forward to fascinating weather
situations. I also worked with delightful people. My contribution
always was that of a woman - I never wanted to be a man. I was fully
qualified technically for the job and I added the woman's touch -
diplomacy, never retaliating for any reason, putting the product ahead
of my ego and just doing the job. At Sexton Summit (Mountain), it
was fun to see all the animals - deer, squirrels, porcupine, and skunks.
Nothing is quite like shooing a skunk away from the instrument shelter
or hiking up the mountain around 11 p.m. and going very carefully
when you hear the rattle snakes doing their thing.
hot day a brush fire started in the valley, jumped the highway and
was about one-fourth mile from the station when it was brought under
control. We were within 15-20 minutes of being evacuated. We fed the
fire fighters a splendid meal and then were quite short of supplies
until more could be brought up.
interesting night I remember being called a crumby little "bobby soxer."
A young 1st Lieutenant was complaining to the forecaster that I had
closed the field due to low ceiling and he couldn't take off. The
forecaster backed me up all the way so the young man curled up on
an unused desk and slept the night away.