Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Douglas K. Watson
WATSON: I certainly did, but I didn't think about it. I was so dispensable compared with others who had a deeper investment, more value, there. So, when I was asked by Jean Farr, the then personnel officer at the Athens embassy, what my assignment druthers were, Athens or elsewhere, not much understanding how the personnel system worked back in Washington, I said, “I'd like to go to Mexico, Bolivia or Spain.” August (Gus) Velletri, who was the Labor attach� in Athens, took me aside and said, “Son, here you are in Athens. How many chances do you think you'll have during your checkered career to go to a place like Athens? If I were you and they offered me the option to stay here, I'd grab it.” Taking his counsel, I told Jean Farr we would be happy to stay. So, they decided that what they would do is keep me there in the Consular Section for about six months, which along with the three months in Cairo would total my first nine months, and then for the latter nine months I would rotate to the Political Section. And indeed that is what happened. At the end of the Athens tour, I returned to Washington for some further training and an onward assignment. The Athens tour was a very good one. I had a chance to work with Peter (Pete) G. Peterson, who was the Consul General, a wonderful guy. He spoke Greek like a native, being of Greek ethnicity. I also worked for Lois Day, an excellent supervisofair and helpful, who headed up the NIV section, and then for Bartlett Wells in the IV section. I worked with some phenomenal Foreign Service National personnel. The atmosphere in Greece was so friendly compared with what we had found during our brief stint in Cairo.
On the downside, I remember one American consular officer who had been in consular work for years. While I was with the IV section, this officer once came into my office fanning the air after a Greek family of modest means (from the Peloponnesus, in the south of Greece) had left my office after the full interview process. They had perhaps not been as “fragrant” as this officer would have liked, but the officer came in waving papers as if fanning the odor from the room, and then came back in with a can of air spray and made some disparaging remarks about that class of people. A rude awakening for me. Foreign Service folks were just another slice of America.
I then had a chance to work in the Political Section. That was when King Constantine attempted a countercoup against the Greek military government.
Q: I might add that the coup was against Papadopoulos and his junta, which had seized power.
Q: By the way, what were our relations with Papadopoulos? We didn't particularly like him, but...