Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward Gibson Lanpher
LANPHER: Yes. When I took the oral exam, I was working on a summer internship at the State Department. I went over to the examining room and there were three senior Foreign Service officers on the panel. I had some sense that it wasn't what you knew so much as they were looking for character. They were reasonably satisfied. I always figured that if you passed the written exam, you had the smarts and the knowledge sufficient for the Foreign Service and that the oral exam in those days was to test your character. At one point in the oral exam, they asked me about 10 questions in a row that I didn't know the answer to. I answered honestly, “I don't know the answer to that.” I think they appreciated the honesty; that I wouldn't try to bullshit them. One of the questioners asked me, “What do you do in the evening? What do you do with your time after work?” This must have been July of '65. He said, “Do you go to movies? Do you go out to dinner? Do you watch television? Do you read books?” I can't remember my specific response. They said, “Well, what do you do?” I said, “I got married a month ago. What do you think I do?” That sort of put a smile on their faces and they dropped that line of questioning real fast. I think they were looking for some humor. I think they appreciated the fact that I always worked during the summers, that I had been everything from a paper boy to a camp counselor to a construction worker to a firefighter. I think they were looking for a varied background. I was surprised when they passed me and was a bit embarrassed by my academic transcript. They said, “Fine. Go back to school and we'll see you next June.” That's when I joined the Foreign Service.
Q: You got married while you were at Brown.
LANPHER: Yes. I got married in June 1965.
Q: Where did you meet your wife?
LANPHER: She went to Penbrooke, graduating in '65. But I had to danother year.
Q: What was her background?
LANPHER: Her father was a professor. Her mother was from a wealthfamily. They lived outside of Philadelphia.
Q: You graduated in June '66. Then what happened?
LANPHER: I was actually sworn into the Foreign Service in earlJune. In fact, Brown had to mail me my diploma.