The Local National (LN, i.e. the Germans) employees of the U.S. Military Community Augsburg practiced a variety of different professions. While the overwhelming number of jobs had to do with the operation and maintenance of the large Army facilities (OMA) and the continuation of troop alertness, there were also activities in regard to the social and welfare area – ranging from barkeeper to journalist. In the beginning 1960s, Frau Amanda Nebel had one of these jobs at the Sheridan Service Club. Well prepared due to her studies at the Kunsthochschule (college of art) Augsburg, she was teaching young soldiers handicrafts like pottery, working with leather, and mosaic manufacturing etc. at the Sheridan Recreation Center, Bldg 112.
The intention of the U.S. Army’s recreation program was to enable the GIs to utilize their leisure time in a useful, meaningful way in order to keep them away from alcohol and drug abuse. Parallel there were sports, clubs in the kasernes, the library, theatres and other. It was the decade of the 24th Infantry Division. Amanda Nebel was teaching with great enthusiasm the skills of crafts in the basement of Bldg 112. This was also a transatlantic link between the former occupying forces and the defeated. With it not only a cultural exchange took place, but the foreign soldiers should also be saved from homesickness, kaserne blues and faux pas.
Sometimes even family life was shifted with these civilian jobs. For instance Amanda Nebel had her little daughter - from the age of five to nine years - every afternoon with her at her workplace in the kaserne. There the girl could do her homework under the control of her mother. In the evening her father picked her up after finishing his work, while Frau Nebel was working far into the night at the Service Club. Of course there were also days off, much cherished by the family.
This ‘enforced’ inclusion of children in the life of the American garrison was not exceptional. For example, Augsburg citizens remember that their mothers had been taking them to their housekeeping jobs in the Housing Areas. This way, early Americanization, long lasting contacts, and even promotion of English speaking capabilities, took place besides minding the children. The Local National kids thus became disseminators between their native German country and the American way of life. So far a much neglected component of the city’s history.
Frau Amanda Nebel’s job was abruptly terminated by her sudden death. Fifty years later, her daughter offered us the shown memento photos, thus giving what could be called a revival of soldier services by the LNs. We are grateful for her support!
Please see also: Location Augsburg > Facilities and Construction > Sheridan Recreation Center