Ann’s parents were refugees of the Russian Revolution of 1917 after the Communists came into power. They were Germans who had to flee from their German settlement in Russia to avoid capture and internment. They avoided capture by traveling at night and hiding in the daytime. They arrived at the Austrian border and, because they were of German extraction, were put in a displaced person's camp in Germany, which was called Lockstadter Lager. Ann was born there. Ann’s account of her family’s immigration to America and subsequent fascinating life experience including her employment tenure at Vought/LTV follow.
I was born Erna Elizabeth Kuxhausen December 4, 1922 in a displaced persons camp at Schleswig-Holstein Germany. I immigrated to America with my family in 1923 when I was 9 months old. We settled in Russell Kansas. My parents became American citizens as soon as possible. I have a “derivative citizenship” because I was a minor. Russell happened to be the home of Bob Dole and we attended the same High School. He graduated in 1941. I graduated in 1940.
Come World War II, at the age of 21, I decided to join the United States Navy. I went to the recruiting office in Salina, Kansas to sign up. When I told them I was born in Germany of Russian/German parents, the Seaman at the desk says, "Oh, my goodness" Yoeman First Class, and then he had to get the Chief Petty Officer. The Chief couldn’t handle it either, so they had to get the Commander.
The Commander looked at the paperwork and said, "Oh, you don't have a birth certificate", which I didn't. He said, "Oh my goodness, we'll have to go to the State Department with this”. In the State Department they would have a record of my father's citizenship however at that point it became my responsibility to obtain the documents from the State Department. The Navy really didn't care about a birth certificate as much as whether I was a citizen.
I went home and a lawyer who lived next door got an affidavit, (a file at least two inches thick), verifying that I was who I said I was. An additional complication was my first name. I was baptized Erna Elizabeth Kuxhausen but when my father with his accent would call me they thought he was saying Anna so I went though all the school system as Anna Kuxhausen. My lawyer friend went to the State Department, got this real big thick file, and brought it back to me. I took the file back to the Navy and they decided I was legit and I joined the United States Navy in 1944 to become a member of the “WAVES”, (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service).
I went through Navy Boot camp at Hunter College in New York City. I traveled on a troop train in 1944 from New York City to San Francisco. There were 25 WAVES on this troop train and thousands of soldiers. A female Navy Lieutenant in charge of us made sure that all went well under this circumstance. It took us 7 days to get from New York City to San Francisco.
I and the 24 other WAVES were sent to the Receiving Station, (Treasure Island), in San Francisco. We sat in an office for two weeks because they didn't know what to do with us. Finally the Commanding Officer came out of his office and pointing to me he said, I'm going to take her, she's going to be my Girl “Friday." I had a lot of fun and a lot of perks and I enjoyed it immensely. I married a Chief Petty Officer while I was in the Navy. I was discharged after the war when we WAVES had to get out.
My husband remained in the service and we were assigned to a base on Treasure Island.
When my daughter, who was born in Italy, was in the third grade, the teacher called me and said, "You must talk to this child" and I said, "Why" and she said, "Your daughter has an imagination that you wouldn't believe." She said, "The assignment was a family tree and this kid is trying to tell me she was born in Italy, her mother was born in Germany, and her grandparents were born in Russia.” I had always told ”Melodye, we have to say the truth". She ended up in tears from that meeting but she did learn to add that her "Daddy was born in Oklahoma." She's had to go through life explaining all of that.
After we came to Texas my husband was among the first to go to Viet Nam in the late 50's. That was the beginning of the end of our marriage and we divorced. We have three children, James, Robert and Melodye.
After the divorce I needed to find a job. This was in 1960. First I went to work for a company in Grand Prairie Texas that was building transformers. I interviewed with this gentleman and was hired. They asked me where I wanted to work and I said, "Which pays the most?" They said, "Out in the Shop.” I worked out there six months; everything I touched, I ruined. When I was in the Navy, I had an aptitude test, and they told me I had the mechanical ability of a fourth grader. So the men kept doing my work for me ( we had an internship there). One day the Superintendent called me in and said, "You and I know that everything you touch you ruin, and the men do all your work for you. I can't fire you because I have to have complaints but I'll pay you to go out and get another job."
I had some business in Dallas with my insurance man. While I was there I told him I needed to get another job. The intercom came on and the Manager said, "I'll hire you." I took that job in Dallas for short time but I did not like the commuting. I knew that there was some sort of a plant in Grand Prairie. I did not know what they were building but I decided to try for a job there because it was just five minutes from my house. I went in and applied and they interviewed me ever so long and hired me.
I went to work immediately at the Flight Tower. My first day at work was on the Monday after Mr. Ling had bought the company on Friday. Mr. Konrad had told me to make sure no one parks in the pilots' parking spaces. So every time anybody would park there, I would go out and tell them they were not allowed to park in that location, and that they had to park somewhere else. I didn't know these people I was talking to were
This big car drives up and this gentleman was sitting there so I went out and told him he couldn't park there. He said, “I can't" and I said, "No, I can't let you park here." He asked how long I had worked here and I said that this was my first day. He just laughed, and went into the Flight Tower with me and told Mr. Konrad and Mr.Brill, "You've gotta hire her because she's going to be a good one." And it turned out that this man was, Vought’s Vice President, Dan Gilmore. That was my first day’s experience at Vought which was also the day the company name became LTV.
My boss was Mr. Al Brill who was in charge of Air Transport Flight Operations. Mr. John Konrad who was the Chief Test Pilot was also Director of Flight Operations. My job was to schedule the company owned airplanes and greet and badge guests of LTV who arrived via aircraft. I worked at the Flight Tower until the early 70s when Mr. Ling left. I then moved to the main plant working for Mr. Joe Millsap in Manufacturing Enginering and then Mr. Jimmy Littlejohn who was working on the Air Trans Program. From there I moved back to the Airport area, (Bldg 76), doing Quality Control work delivering aircraft. I retired from LTV in 1986.
Considering that I was an inexperienced new hire at Vought I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been placed in such key locations in the company. I found myself working with top echelon Vought/LTV management personnel and meeting very exciting visitors such as Astronauts. During the time I was assigned to the Flight Tower it seemed to me to be very near the center of company activity with the testing and delivery of aircraft and the coming and going of important people. The job was exciting and gave me a real sense of accomplishment. My years at Vought/LTV were extremely interesting and challenging leaving me with many happy memories.
Below is a photo of Ann at work in the Flight Tower with LTV/Vought Management people and guests.