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women in the weather bureau during world war 2

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Personal View of Roy L. Anderson

Editors' Note- The narrative of Mr. Anderson has been included to supplement that of Ms. Anderson and since he also worked for the Weather Bureau.

I started with the Weather Bureau in December, 1941, at Lander, Wyoming, and was promoted and transferred to Rapid City, South Dakota, in July, 1942. I enlisted in the military in April, 1943. (My wife, Hope Anderson, took my place at Lander while I was in the service.) Then in February, 1946, my military service ended and I returned to work for the Weather Bureau at Lander. I worked there until fall when I went to UCLA to get my BA...back to Lander until April, 1948...then to Great Falls as a weather forecaster until my retirement in December, 1974. Before working for the Weather Bureau I had experience in farming, auto mechanics, and electrical wiring - plus two years in college. I took a civil service exam for Weather Bureau work...was accepted about three years later. I had seen a notice on the college bulletin board and applied. I wanted to work for the Weather Bureau for job security and because I liked the work, especially the challenge of weather forecasting.

At the first station in Lander, Wyoming, the MIC gave me excellent training in weather observations. I was welcomed in a very friendly manner. The morale on station was excellent. We enjoyed our work and enjoyed doing the job to the best of our abilities. My first impression was that it was a good place to work...but with frequent night shifts. My duties included taking 3 and 6 hourly surface observations and entering the data in record books. Later I took RAOB soundings, and after 1948 I did aviation and general weather forecasting. I rotated through all shifts, working eight hours per day, five days per week. (Sometimes 6 on - 2 off until a 4-day weekend.) At first there were two men, then five men at Rapid City, later, after 1948, at Great Falls usually 20 men and four women. My starting pay was $1440, promoted to $1620 at Rapid City (1942-43).

By working for the Weather Bureau we were doing an important job for the government and the nation. I would do it again, because I liked the challenge of the work. I think that my major contributions included reliability, always on duty as scheduled. The high point of my Weather Bureau career was promotion to aviation forecaster at Great Falls, Montana, in 1948. At Rapid City, South Dakota, during winter the wind was so strong the radiosonde balloon at release was at such a low elevation angle the blowing snow obscured the balloon, and although the sky was clear the radiosonde balloon would not be sighted at all, preventing wind direction data...this sometimes went on for 4 days at a time. Most unusual.

On a personal note, while I was in the Army my wife "held my job" in the Weather Bureau at Lander, Wyoming. After the war I returned to work at Lander, taking the position my wife had occupied, and later was promoted to forecaster in Great Falls...retired in 1974, and this year, September 29, 1990, my wife Hope and I are celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary...both still in good health. We are enjoying retired life. Weather Bureau employment helped make it a good life for both of us.

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