Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Caroline Thompson Simmons
I was on the board of the American school in Ecuador. There was already a flourishing one in Brazil. In Canada our children were too little. I did another thing in Salvador, probably it wasn't even legal, but there was no English speaking Protestant church or Sunday school or the equivalent in Salvador, and I just thought this was an element missing for the children, so I started a small church group, it was really, that met in the embassy. Later on I thought perhaps I shouldn't have used the American Embassy in that way, but on the other hand several Catholic priests said to me, “We just want to congratulate you on doing this, it was something that needed doing.” It was a very simple, ecumenical service — reading the Bible, and the British ambassador came and read at Easter time. It provided something for the children who had no opportunity of that kind.
Q: It sounds as if you put your experience into full play as ambassador's wife. That must have been fun to do.
SIMMONS: Well, I was inclined to get involved, I didn't want to stay on the side.
Q: But if we had stayed on the outside all those years, we never would have lived!
SIMMONS: (laughing and speaking emphatically) And you see this was my argument with these girls who don't want to do anything in the embassy! I cannot imagine it, I simply cannot imagine it. To me the whole fun of the experience was being part of the life of the country. If you're trying to withdraw from it all the time, how can you be getting the maximum out of it? I don't understand. So, I most certainly belong to the old school.
Q: These days, everyone is so used to working, having a job. I do really maintain that if women were paid to be the kind of spouse that you and I were, I think they'd do it.
SIMMONS: But why should money be the criterion?
Q: Because unfortunately that's what we measure our success by in our society.
SIMMONS: That's the unfortunate thing.