Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Paul D. McCusker
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
PAUL D. MCCUSKER
Interviewed by: Charles Stuart Kennedy
Initial interview date: October 14, 1991
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: Today is October 14, 1991. This is an interview with Paul D. McCusker. This interview is being done on behalf of The Association for Diplomatic Studies. I am Charles Stuart Kennedy.
I might add that Paul has done some interviews for our program too, so we're colleagues on this. Paul, could you give me a bit about your background? Where did you come from?
MCCUSKER: I'd be glad to, Stu. I'm happy to have the opportunity to participate in the program as a subject, rather than as a medium. I was born on the Canadian border, but I was born on the American side. My father, who died before I was a year old, had come from Canada; he and my mother met in Niagara Falls, New York, were married, had three children, I was the third obviously. I grew up with one foot sort of in each of the two countries, and I suppose to some extent I was international from birth on; helped by the fact, too—I remember, talking about consular activities—Niagara Falls, Canada, was a consular post for the United States for many years. And my mother, who was a legal secretary—after my father died she had to go to work immediately- -and in the course of her work she had come to meet the U.S. Consul for the Niagara Falls-Ontario district, and she pointed him out to me. He was a very distinguished looking fellow, somewhat like you, bearded and tall and imposing. And I thought, “Gee, there's a man I'd like to be someday.” That's just a very incidental family sidelight.
I went to a Jesuit College, got out in 1943—the Jesuit College being Holy Cross, which by the way was Clarence Thomas' college many years after me. I graduated in 1943 with my Bachelor's, a major in economics, and promptly went into the Army where I was assigned, after basic training, to the Army Specialized Training Program which was designed for two reasons: a) to keep the universities going because the military was paying the universities for each student in uniform; and the other reason was—it's kind of blunt to say it—but that was the reason behind putting males in training programs whether they had degrees or not. I was one of those that already had my degree. The other reason was to skim off and try to keep from the trenches those with a quite high AGCT, as we used to call it, intelligence tests, scores. Well, it worked in my case.