Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Caroline Thompson Simmons
SIMMONS: The one person who knew Miss Bassell really well was Mrs. Walter Dowling. Her husband was ambassador to Austria and I can't recall where else. We were together in Rio. I know she was an intimate friend of Miss Bassell. In those days we had such a wonderful collegial relationship in the Foreign Service. I think we were all trying our best to help the younger people with their problems as we saw they needed at that time. I remember trying to find the right arrangements at post for one young woman who had a Downs Syndrome child. Of course this sort of thing was all done informally, it would be handled officially now.
Q: Your husband left the Service in '57. When June Byrne was organizing AAFSW, did you still attend meetings?
SIMMONS: Yes, I did, and some of the discussion groups held at the Guy Mason Center on Wisconsin Avenue. I first heard June Byrne talk about the Association at Walter Lippmann's (the noted political columnist who joined The Washington Post in 1962.) house — June's husband was Helen Lippmann's brother. I remember June's saying “We've absolutely got to do something” and I think she was right — she was young, she'd just returned from a post where she could see the whole picture, and she got the thing started. But I do think she should look sympathetically on what was done before.
Q: That's an insight I don't have in any of our interviews, so I appreciate what you're giving me now.
SIMMONS: We all had a wonderful feeling about the Foreign Service. There was a particular group of officers at the post of whom one would say were “old school tie” but I don't think they necessarily were. They'd grown up together, had been together in the Service for years, they all knew each other, we all knew each other. For example, my husband was a witness at the John Cabots' wedding in Mexico City. She died recently. Perhaps at her funeral, perhaps at another's, I heard someone say almost disdainfully, “Foreign Service always looks after its own.”In those days you knew people, you were close enough to the families to support everything that happened in their lives, you know. It's a little different now. Too big.