Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with James D. Phillips
PHILLIPS: There were hawks and doves. Some argued for a more confrontational policy but there was not a deep division. There were extraordinary people in the embassy at that time. Cecil Lyons was the DCM. Perry Culley was the consul general. Bob Anderson was head of the political section.. They all knew France and understood the situation and generally accepted Bohlen's leadership.
Q: Did you run across French officials at all or prepare things fothe ambassador?
PHILLIPS: The ambassador had an executive assistant who was my boss who did most of the front office substantive work. He had more contact with the Quai d'Orsay and other ministries. I went through the telegrams each morning and selected ones I thought the ambassador should see and put them in the order I though he should see them. I would also work on his schedule. If he couldn't go to a particular function I would make sure that he would be represented by an appropriate officer. All of the military attaches were Army generals or Navy captains. So I had fun as a former enlisted man sending generals to ceremonial functions beginning with mass a7:30 on a Saturday morning.
Q: As an ex-enlisted man myself there is something about speaking on behalf of the ambassador that is kind of fun. What about congressional delegations?
PHILLIPS: They came in huge numbers and often it would fall to me to escort them around. In those days there was a congressional liaison office at the embassy because there were so many congressional delegations coming through. A mainstay of the office was a wonderful young man who is still there named Johnny Berg, and I worked closely with him. I think I saw the show at the Lido a dozen times because congressmen always wanted to go. There is one story I can tell that shows what kind of person Bohlen was and how things worked in those days. A visiting congressman went on his own to the Crazy Horse Saloon where they had a pretty risqu� show featuring an American football theme with scantily-clad cheer leaders using the American flag as a back drop. The congressman, whose name I don't remember, came to Bohlen and complained that the flag was being desecrated. Bohlen told me to get two seats for the show and he and I went. They were using the flag as the congressman described, so afterwards Bohlen asked the owner of the Crazy Horse to use red, white and blue bunting instead the actual flag. The owner agreed and that was the end of that, or so I thought. About three weeks later, Ambassador Bohlen called me in and grinning sort of sheepishly said he couldn't help wondering if the owner had really kept his word about the flag. He said he thought we needed to go back to check. So we saw the show again and I believe he was a little disappointed that it was in strict compliance as far as the flag was concerned. We had no excuse to keep on checking.
Q: You were at the embassy when President Kennedy was shot. Whahappened there?