"My family arrived in Tangier in June 1947 and thanks to your blog, seven years worth of memories have come flooding back. Until we were able to get a space heater, the humidity and/or rain caused everything to mold–leatherbound books, shoes, even some cake flour sent by a relative in the U.S. We lived with erratic electric service and water turned off from midnight until 9 a.m. I feel very fortunate that relatives saved letters sent by my mother in those early days before we came to think of these things as normal.
My daughter and I are considering visiting Tangier [and thought] that you might be able to use a few days assistance from someone who had familiarity with the American Legation during the International Zone period."
So began an email early this year, which led to a new friendship with the Long family. Margery King (née Long) and her daughter Jennifer did visit Tangier earlier this spring, and wowed us with stories from the time when Tangier was the International Zone, and when this building was still the American Legation, responsible for US diplomatic relations with soon-to-be-independent Morocco.
Marge and Jen did more than tell stories, they provided a unique glimpse into the world of post-war diplomacy in the Tangier International Zone. They brought along a veritable treasure trove of invitations that Marge's parents received as the head of an important Cold War era project, the establishment of the RCA Tangier Relay Station (read a 1953 article from RCA Review magazine, and recent photos of the former relay station, both from "Coldwar-c4i" website).
Look closely (click to enlarge) at the scan of the Longs' invitation cards, and you'll see a wealth of period detail.
The Administrator of Tangier International Zone, one J.L. Archer, invites the Longs to a cocktail. But instead of some Foreign Office official who didn't make it to Gibraltar accross the Strait, this happens to be José Luis Archer of Portugal, one of the last foreigners to hold sway in Tangier before independence in 1956.
Then Mr. and Mrs. Long need to go "black tie" for a dinner at the American Legation, at the invitation of Minister John Carter Vincent. Presumably this was before Vincent's 1952 forced retirement from the Foreign Service after Senator McCarran's infamous "Who Lost China?" witch hunt. From the Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training:
John Carter Vincent, forced to retire in 1952 by Secretary of State Acheson, was serving as “diplomatic agent” in Tangier at the time that he was excoriated during hearings by Senator McCarran’s Subcommittee on Internal Security. Having served as a senior member of the staff in Chungking, he was well known as a sharp critic of the government of Chiang Kai-shek…
The Senator was a defender of the Nationalist Chinese generalissimo, as well at the Spanish one, Francisco Franco, whose Nationalist forces had occupied Tangier during the years of World War II. The era came to be known by the name of McCarran's Senate colleague – McCarthy. Maybe John Carter Vincent's invitation to the Longs was a farewell to Tangier?
The generosity of the Long family continues. Marge has made a generous contribution to the TALIM endowment, and her sister Phyllis has contributed two watercolors (photo at top) of the Cape Malabata and Cape Spartel Lighthouses, the latter of which was the object of an landmark international treaty.
Phyllis Long's watercolors should be of interest to invitees at our upcoming "Paint the Legation" fund raising and July 4th event.
It all started with a random landing on TALIMblog. Someday I'll tell you about the US Marine security guard who lived here in the late 1950s. He too was a blog commenter.
Social networking – who would have thought that it could stretch back a half century?