Post 817: heroes and feet of clay…

My Dad was proud the city sent him to Washington, DC in 1947 to attend the FBI National Academy. The training lasted 12 weeks. According to the FBI Academy website, the study included:

“…[a] range of subjects similar to the new FBI agents of the day—forensic science, statistics, records and report writing, investigations, enforcement and regulatory procedure, tests and practical experiences, police administration and organization, and firearms training and first aid.”

First class of the FBI Academy 1935

First class of the FBI Academy
October 19, 1935

Noted in the website:

“Early training was held in Room 5231 at the Department of Justice, then home of the FBI…on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The long and narrow room was aptly nicknamed the ‘wind tunnel.” Firearms training took place at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia, near where the current National Academy is held.”

Dad’s class was considerably larger, as evidenced by this group photo, taken in front of the same fountain in front of the Department of Justice Building:

That's Dad in the third row, second from left.

That’s Dad in the third row, second from left. (The third and second rows kind of blend together, but trust me — that’s Dad OK!)

Here he is....!

Here he is….! Dad in 1947.

There are some interesting details in the full photo. Maybe you picked up on how the gentlemen stand, hands crossed in front, except for one fellow on the extreme right of the first row. Must not have got the memo. :\

Notice, too, two gentlemen in the center, also not standing with hands crossed in front:

Dad in yellow circle; J. Edgar and Clyde in large red circle; and the fellow who didn't get the memo,   next to the red arrow...

Dad by yellow arrow; J. Edgar and Clyde in large red circle; and the fellow who didn’t get the memo, next to the red arrow…

Many of you may remember Hoover held his position for decades, literally till he died. He scared the bejeebers out of Presidents and anyone else who dared to get on his enemies list. His enemy list included virtually every prominent American, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others big and small. He had files…!

Yet he had his own feet of clay. In a time where homosexuals were outlaws, part of a demimonde necessitated by laws and prejudices that hang on to this day, Mr. Hoover and Mr. Tolson, “gay bachelors”, to use the words in the sense they might have been used in 1947 (but with an ironic specificity when viewed in 2015 terms), shared a home.

Yes, they were longtime roomies!

I seriously doubt my Dad ever thought a thing about this arrangement, if, indeed, it was even generally known outside of Washington gossip circles. I doubt he would have approved.

Yet, as a promoter of professionalism in law enforcement, Hoover did have a claim to respect from people like my Dad, who was Chief of Police in my town while I was growing up.

He was a hero to my Dad, and, with other Chiefs of Police in Nebraska, Dad was one of the founders and first members of the POAN (Police Officers of Nebraska), which exists to promote just those ideals of professionalism Hoover espoused.

Let’s take a final look at the Director and his assistant:

J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director and Clyde Tolson, Assistant  to Director

J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director and Clyde Tolson, Assistant to Director

Hands held stiffly at the side. Both wearing rings on the fingers reserved for wedding bands, perhaps as “camouflage” to dispel questions.

What if…they lived today? Would they take advantage of a recent US Supreme Court decision and reveal the nature of their home arrangement?

Or would they still stand there, stiff as figures on top of a wedding cake the Christian bakers refused to make for two “gay bachelors” getting married? Would they continue to hide their feet of clay?

Would America be able to handle it? Would it even matter?