Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with David E. Mark
That was also my last semester of law school, and, as a favor to veterans, one was allowed to take the N.Y. bar exam while still in the last semester of law school. So I took that, passed it, almost simultaneously made it through my oral exams, and then had to make a choice in about June 1946 whether I'd try a legal career that, even then, looked like a fairly prosperous one, or go into the government where my pay, as it turned out, annual pay at that time, was to be $3,278. But, even though the oral examiners had been a little hard on me, I thought, and had shaken their heads, saying that I had had a very provincial background, even though living in worldly New York and having once traveled abroad and having gone to a decent university, the Foreign Service beckoned.
I assumed that their having passed me meant that I had a fairly decent chance to move along in the service if I got in. And certainly that was the heyday of American power and glory in the world; and the idea of being associated in some way with the events connected with the impending era struck me as more appealing than the lure of money from practicing law in New York. So I opted for the Foreign Service and arrived in Washington at the—whatever it was—the training division, the predecessor of the Foreign Service Institute, in September 1946.
Q: How many were in your class?
MARK: I think we were something like 30 to 40. I can't remember exactly, and I can't remember all the people who were actually in the class. One of them, though, was Deane Hinton, who is still in the Service at the moment as ambassador to Pakistan and has had a long and illustrious career. But I'm sure that if I saw the list of names, there would be a number who distinguished themselves.
Q: Were they all provincials like you?
MARK: Well, everyone came from some city or other, but in that sense, they too were from the provinces. I don't know what their experience had been, nor do I know how many had really planned for a Foreign Service career all their lives.
Q: But you didn't sense that you were at a disadvantage because you had had heads shaken at you during the oral exam for your provincialism?
MARK: Well, not particularly; I had some self-confidence, though I felt overawed by the whole process. I mean, I was still just 22, and, once in Washington, I was associating with people who were ambassadors, who had had distinguished careers in the service during the war, who were connected with a mysterious government agency that I was only beginning to learn about; and so I did feel overawed.