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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

Healy, Nancie Lee
We live in a glass house,   pp. [27]-29 PDF (1.7 MB)

Page [27]

'sol participated.
We Live in a Glass House of Dillkrer
Wife of John D. Healy, US Resident Officer, Dillenburg
WE LIVE IN A GLASS HOUSE. Not literally-our
house in small-town Dillenburg is nothing like the
cli om home of modern architectural design. Ours is a
figurative glass house, and we call it that because we are
as iouch on display there as we would be in one of those
spi)iwling 1952 ranch models exposed on four sides to
til public and the California sun.
Why? This small incident, I think, puts it pretty much
ii Pih proverbial nutshell: One day, as my resident-officer
ftiisfondl was going out the front door with an armful of
hnst ball bats, he playfully shook one at me. A German
boy stranding nearby called, "Watch out, or it will be in
oino tow's paper that Mr. Healy beats his wife."
Not that we mind. In the first place, we are virtually
Dilii nburg citizens now and the townspeople's interest
in utir affairs is the usual curiosity small-towners have
tlo,)I their neighbors. Besides, we are in the unique posi-
tion tl being the only Americans residing there, and since
it is in an official position, what is more natural than
il. our comings and goings are public property?
VlVhcn we first came to Dillenburg a little more than
i xi co- ago, I was alternately tagged as "Mr. Healy's
dcitil t1aer- and "Mr. Healy's mother." My grocery-shop-
pihl was the object of closest, but silent scrutiny. People
stalt d openly at our house as they walked by and stared
ait iis On the street. They guessed at what we ate, how
iint h money we had, how old we were.
t L. THAT SEEMS a long time ago. Everyone knows
A our relationship now; my shopping expeditions are
invoiidbly the occasion for an exchange of recipes, the
p1otllste of a sample of culinary art or a dinner invitation;
tihe (x tnt of our funds has been estimated pretty accu-
ilr el', I think, and our ages are generally a matter of
rei(,l. What's more, it's a wonderful feeling to walk
clayx a the street of a small town and be able to shake
bit dsI- after the European fashion -with almost every-
tocix one meets. I never could do that in Philadelphia, Pa.
\Ap L from what we call our "social success" in Dil-
laola Iq, and by that I mean our acceptance as part of
tit c ommunity, our life there has had a broader-  and
owu Ii more important - aspect: my husband's job and,
innid oitally, mine. To tell about it I must go back to
ft-( U beginning.
Wa came to Germany in the late fall of 1950. My hus-
Ih (l1, formerly a political science instructor, was given
a stotl period of training in Washington for his first
Foi(c, n Service assignment and, following our arrival,
lel were subsequent training sessions at Frankfurt-on-
the-MMin and Wiesbaden. We then learned that we were
tO jo to Dillkreis (Dill county) in the north German state
of Hesse. My husband was to be the US resident officer
or, in common alphabetical parlance, the KRO, there.
The US resident officer-and there have been approxi-
mately 140 of them in the US Zone -became known as
the grass-roots representative of his government in Ger-
Dillkreis is north of Frankfurt and west of the university
city of Marburg, with borders touching both the British
and French Zones. Dillenburg, the county seat, nestles in
a scenic valley on both sides of the river Dill, part of it
perched on the lower slopes of the forested Westerwald
mountain range. Most of the county lies within this rocky
and infertile forest which extends to a majestic high point
above Dillenburg and then falls abruptly into the Rhine
Valley at Coblenz.
N THE MAIN, the resident officer's job is to effect the
I broad Department of State policies filtered to him
through the Office of the US High Commissioner for
Germany by programs adapted for the so-called grass-
roots level. As his country's personal representative, he
is also charged with winning respect and friendship for
America. His every move is geared toward democratiz-
ing German life, but not Americanizing it. When he pushes
plans aimed at increasing civic consciousness through
better-trained citizens, he presents the democratic ideal
but not necessarily the American one, even though it
bears the American stamp. Furthermore, he must be a
keen political reporter and keep the schedule of a country
In "our" Dillkreis, the economy is based on a combi-
nation of small gardens, similar to our truck gardens in
the States, and small industries. There are sharp contrasts
Mrs. Healy (third from left), author of this article, is
pictured with group of essay contest winners before start
of two-day visit to Bonn. Her husband, US resident officer
for Dillkreis, is second from  right.           (Juinqst photo)
JANvARY 1952

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