Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Stephen T. Johnson
JOHNSON: It was. I have a nice portrait that was painted of my mother at that time. We lived right on the beach in a place which I think would cost thousands and thousands of dollars today. We were there and my cousins were there as well. My uncle, Gerald Warner, was also a Foreign Service officer. He had married my father's sister, Retta, and she and her children were similarly evacuated and lived in the area.
Both our fathers came back in the middle of 1942. They were put on the along with other diplomats from the Far East and arrived back in the States. Dad was assigned to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He said this was because the Far East Bureau was basically trying to hide some of its officers from the European Bureau. It didn't have assignments for all of them. So he was sent down to Rio, ostensibly to keep an eye on the Japanese minority down there which apparently behaved circumspectly during the whole war. In fact, he was assigned to the economic section of the embassy and enjoyed it very much. But he lamented it at the time [as] kind of a bad assignment. His peers who went off to China, and other exciting places, a lot of them had their careers very badly harmed because of McCarthyism and the loss of China while he was quietly waging economic warfare in Rio.
Q: I think this is one of the things that as I do these interviews, how for the most part the Foreign Service up through almost the end of the war was relegated to economic warfare in Latin America which was really a pretty minor field of action. But I mean, were sort of shunted to one side. How long were you in Laguna?
JOHNSON: Well, it is kind of hard to figure. I guess we must havbeen there about a year and a half.
Q: And then on to where?
JOHNSON: And then on to Rio. We went down to Rio, and I went to school in Rio. There was an American school near our house. My younger sister, Jennifer, was born in Rio in 1943. I guess it was 1944 then, so it was a relatively short assignment. We came back to the States because Dad went to the military government school at Chicago, which had been set up with the idea of establishing a military government in Japan. I guess in a similar way that we eventually did in Germany. He was both kind of a student and an instructor as I understand it.