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women in the weather bureau during world war 2

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Personal View of Esther H. Ludwig

Picture of Esther LudwigI worked for the Weather Bureau from 1943 to 1950, seven years in Tucson and six months in Flagstaff. My starting salary was $1440.00 per annum. I first learned of the opportunity through the local employment office. At the time, I had to reenter the work field because my husband was ill and my son was in high school. I left the Weather Bureau in June, 1950, at which time I was replaced by a veteran returning to Flagstaff.

My experience before working for the Weather Bureau included high school and some college; part-time work in a credit department; and teaching at an elementary school for five years. The training provided included three months of meteorology study and supervised training on the job. I was received enthusiastically by other Weather Bureau employees. I was impressed with the dignity and intelligence of the director -and his respect for women! The morale on station was excellent. Everyone was dedicated to their job. There was good rapport.

My duties included regular eight-hour duties - half-hour, hourly, six-hour reports - answer phones - give information to public - radio stations. The shifts were: Eight o"clock a.m. to 4 p.m. - 4 p.m. to midnight -midnight to 8 a.m. I worked eight hours a day, forty-eight hours a week the first year, forty hours thereafter. At my duty station, there were seven women and three men at various times - always two on a shift.

One of the high points of my Weather Bureau career probably was seeing secret flights landing in the dark of night. The low point definitely was being replaced!

Looking back, my impression of working for the Weather Bureau during World War II is that it was exciting and informative. We were a part of history. I would do it again if time, age and conditions existed. I feel that my contributions included perfect attendance and the ability to work well with other employees. I was eager to learn and had excellent phone rapport. Flagstaff was full of experiences - locking myself out of the office at 2:00 a.m., twelve inches of snow on the ground - alone and miles from anyone. A high heel and glass door enabled me to break the glass - reach in -unlock - and get the report out on time!!

My interesting experiences include being privileged to be the first woman in Arizona to give live radio weather reports from the station and gaining friendships that have lasted to this day. In my work I still meet people who recognize my name - and my weather reports.

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