- I was the only third secretary, the diplomatic equivalent of a second lieutenant, when I arrived at our embassy in Lisbon in January of 1948 on my first Foreign Service assignment. As part of my indoctrination, the ambassador decided that I should work for a month in each of the sections of the embassy. He had begun his career, he said, in the file room of our embassy in Paris and thought it the best place to get a good idea of what an embassy did.
- So I was sent first to help Miss Booker in the file room. Emma Booker was a gentle, white-haired woman a few years from retirement. She had not been in the United States for over twenty years, and it was evident she never intended to return. She had a cozy small apartment in Estoril, a pretty resort town to the west of Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus River, a devoted maid, and two cats. She also had a hobby: the roulette table at the Estoril Casino. Miss Booker had found a croupier, she said, who rolled the ball so uniformly that she could plot a pattern to the numbers. She made small bets and claimed to be slightly ahead of the game.
- After a fascinating month with Miss Booker, reading everything that came in and went out of the embassy, I moved on to work for the special assistant to the ambassador. Ted was about fifty, trim, handsome, with iron gray hair and mustache. He was of Greek ancestry and had grown up in humble circumstances in New York City. After graduation from high school, he entered the Foreign Service as a clerk and was assigned to Rio de Janeiro.
- Bright, handsome, and personable, Ted was soon fluent in Portuguese and made friends in the young circles of Rio society. At the embassy he rose rapidly from clerical tasks to become personal aide to the ambassador and his wife. He made himself indispensable in helping the ambassador move and function in official Brazilian circles. Ted married the daughter of a prominent Brazilian industrialist, and stayed on in the Rio embassy in the special niche he had made for himself.
- His wife died during World War II, and Ted, grief-stricken, asked to be transferred to Lisbon, where he remained for the rest of his Foreign Service career. His fluent Portuguese and social graces soon established him in Lisbon society. He had a spacious and elegant apartment furnished with Brazilian antiques and rented a box in Lisbon’s rococo jewel box of an opera house, San Carlos. He became the valued personal aide to a succession of ambassadors.
- He also found another niche. Portugal had been a neutral during World War II, and Lisbon became the refuge for deposed monarchs, pretenders to thrones, and a collection of of European aristocrats from a dozen countries fleeing the war and the Nazis. There was the Count of Paris, last of the Bourbons; Don Juan, son of the deposed Alfonso XIII of Spain; King Carol of Romania, and his mistress, Magda Lupescu. Ted cultivated these exiles, kept track of their plotting, and became their trusted channel of communication to the United States government.
- He was also the channel for someone vastly more powerful and important. One day he said, “Wear you best suit tomorrow. After work I’m taking you to call on Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian.”