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women in the weather bureau during world war 2

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Personal View of Mary Evelyn Ross Lucke

I began working for the Weather Bureau in January, 1944, at Havre, Montana. At the time, I used my maiden name, Mary Evelyn Ross. I had learned by word-of-mouth that the Bureau needed new employees. I went to work there to do my bit for the war effort - and to earn money for college.

My experience included one quarter of college, and I had worked in a department store and a bank. I left the Weather Bureau in January 1946 to return to college. The Weather Bureau provided on-the-job training in reading instruments, typing and measuring clouds, measuring winds aloft, and plotting maps. The boss and our four female co-workers were the other personnel at the duty station. The morale on station was good among the "girls." The boss was an old "fuddy-dud" and quite "macho," even though he was effeminate. As near as I can remember, I started at $130 a month after leaving a bank job that paid $70.

My duties consisted of hourly reports, PIBAL runs, and weather maps (my favorite job). I worked eight-hour shifts - day (8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m.), evening (swing), midnight (12:30-8:30). We normally worked eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. The last few months I worked, we had an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. shifts with a two hour lunch. I worked night shift with no days off because the two new girls weren't experienced enough to work alone.

I don't really know what would be the high or low points of my Weather Bureau Career. My first impression of the Bureau was - I liked it! I really liked the work. Would I do it again? Yes, because I learned so much and it was fascinating. I feel that my major contributions included being efficient and doing excellent daily maps.

Interesting experiences included the time I stayed on the roof tracking a PIBAL for 50 minutes when the temperature was -30. I couldn't move my fingers for quite a while. Another time, I recorded a rather fierce thunderstorm which "hit" at 3 a.m. The boss, on arriving at 8 a.m. chewed me out for making such a mistake because Great Falls hadn't had a storm first. According to him, all weather came from Great Falls. After I showed him the map and the frontal system, he calmed down.

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Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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