Topeka Daily Capital
March 4th, 1959
My friend Tom Kiene, who administers the lash at The State Journal, is preparing to introduce me formally to a civic club. It’s my personal feeling that these affairs seemed pleasant only when compared to receiving a sentence in court, but that’s not the subject of this epistle. That will keep. . . .
What upsets me is the fact that when I glanced at the notes Tom was preparing for the introduction, I noticed he overlooked one of the most significant and interesting parts of my life.
Would you believe that, just before I went out and won the war, I played a major role in shoring up our internal security? Well. . . .
It started one day in 1940 in Oklahoma City when a friend of mine commented: “Say, did you know the FBI is interviewing people for jobs in Washington?”
“So what,” I said, using one of the sharpest retorts of the day.
“Why don’t we apply?” he asked.
“Why should we?”
“Have you heard,” he grinned slyly, “that there are eight women to every man in Washington?”
“Where do we apply?” I asked. . . .
We applied, and in the weeks that followed I learned the FBI was checking my background. From time to time, friends, neighbors, former teachers and former employers would ask me if I’d gotten the job. I’d ask what job, and they’d say an FBI man had been around to talk to them about me.
Just when I was becoming really concerned, wondering how deep they intended to dig, I received a registered letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington. In the little town of Britton, the suburb that is that now is a part of Oklahoma City, it caused quite a stir.
I opened it before a crowd in McLemore’s Drug Store, where the post office was located. It instructed me to report to Washington to go to work and told me to say nothing about it to anybody. The crowd was waiting anxiously.
“Well?” someone finally asked.
“Classified,” I snapped and man, I felt nine feet taller than J. Edgar Hoover.
Later the whittlers and tobacco chewers around MacLemore’s decided my letter was about the most exciting thing that it happened since the marshal caught a New Yorker making a U-turn and yelled at him, “what the hell do you think this is – a pasture?” Fined him a dollar, too. . . .
I arrived in Washington on a winter day and plunged immediately into the task of making this country safe from treachery within. I progressed from messenger boy to badge checker to file clerk to fingerprint man and I want to tell you the spies kept clear of me. That is to say, I never saw one.
I also went to law school and dreamed of the day I could take the test to become a special agent like J. Edgar, Clyde Tolson, E. A. Tamm and the other big men on of the FBI. I was closing in on this goal when I heard from my draft board.
They wrote that they were preparing to draft me and I wrote back and said I’d like to go but didn’t think I could make it, since I was too important to the FBI. I reminded them they could sleep safely each night, knowing I was on the job in Washington. I didn’t mention the 8 to 1 ratio that got me there.
They wrote again and said, rather acidly, “it is our impression the FBI is supposed to catch draft dodgers, not harbor them. This is to notify you we are starting immediately to process you. . . .”
Later, my boss, a special agent named Saux, admitted the bureau probably could get along without me. So I went into the Navy and I might mention in passing that the FBI hasn’t done much since.
So, Tom, if you have to introduce me, how about dwelling on this chapter that moves through the FBI to the Navy? Something like:
“Seldom in time of national emergency has one man serve so brilliantly on so many fronts. . . .