Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened April, 1989
Oral History Interview with
September 21, 1988
by Niel M. Johnson
JOHNSON: I want to get a little background; when and where you were born and what your parents' names are.
BORING: My name is Floyd Boring; I was born in Salamanca, New York. I was raised in DuBois, Pennsylvania.
JOHNSON: What was the date of your birth?
BORING: June 25, 1915.
JOHNSON: And your parents' names were?
BORING: Earl C. Cleveland, and Frances Mary Boring.
JOHNSON: You had brothers and sisters?
BORING: I have two brothers, both deceased, James and Edward.
JOHNSON: I see. And where were you educated?
BORING: In DuBois High School, and in the Pennsylvania State Police.
JOHNSON: So from high school you went into the Pennsylvania State Police, as a patrolman?
BORING: As a private. We didn't have patrolmen.
JOHNSON: All right. How long were you with them?
BORING: I was almost five years with the State Police. That's when I came directly into here.
JOHNSON: You went into the Secret Service.
BORING: They were hiring everybody into the Secret Service from the State Police that they could find.
JOHNSON: What year would that have been when they hired you?
BORING: November 9, 1943.
JOHNSON: The Secret Service was checking with the State Police of Pennsylvania and other states?
BORING: They weren't checking. The word got out that they
were hiring, that the Secret Service was hiring. So I made an application and was accepted right off the bat. I was in the Secret Service in two weeks.
JOHNSON: What was your first assignment?
BORING: My first assignment was in New York. I was in Syosset, New York, with Franklin [Roosevelt] Jr., and the kids. Then I was assigned to the Protective Research Section in the White House, which was a holding place for people they were going to put on their detail.
JOHNSON: So when did you go to the White House?
BORING: I went on the White House detail on March 1, 1944. I was an agent. Just at the White House.
JOHNSON: What kind of hours were they working?
BORING: Well, in those days, six days a week.
JOHNSON: Forty-eight hours?
BORING: Forty-eight hours.
JOHNSON: Did your shifts change? Did they rotate?
BORING: Oh yes, they automatically changed from days to nights, to afternoons.
JOHNSON: You were married by this time?
BORING: Oh yes; I was married and had one child and one was born in 1949.
JOHNSON: You were living in Washington, D.C.
BORING: We were living at 17th Street, S.E. in Anacostia.
JOHNSON: So you started working for Roosevelt in March 1944.
BORING: I was assigned to Roosevelt; actually I was outside the window when he had his stroke.
JOHNSON: Down in Warm Springs. Did you go to any of his summit conferences, to Teheran
BORING: I went to Potsdam.
JOHNSON: Okay, you didn't go to summit conferences with Roosevelt, only with Truman?
BORING: That's right.
JOHNSON: And you were in Warm Springs on April 12, 1945.
BORING: That's right, absolutely.
JOHNSON: I suppose you remember that pretty well.
BORING: I sure do.
JOHNSON: Can you recall some of the highlights of that?
BORING: I'll tell you the reason why I remember; there was a move on foot for Frank J. Wilson to remove all the agents from the White House detail. I had been on the White House detail, and that was kind of worrisome to me. But I found out that I wasn't one of the people they were shooting for, so I just stayed there. I remained there for, well, through two years of L.B. Johnson's time.
JOHNSON: The first two years of the Johnson administration.
BORING: That would be 24 years wouldn't it. I was up there 24 years.
JOHNSON: When did you find out that Roosevelt had died?
BORING: Well, of course, we were all on standby because we knew he was critical. About 3:30, that's when he died, and that's when we found out. Mrs. Roosevelt had some people come in. By that time she had gotten there. This happened about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the actual stroke. By the time they got the doctor over
there--of course, everything was different in those days, no airplanes to fly around, no helicopters--so the doctor had to drive in from Atlanta. By the time he got there--he was an expert--President Roosevelt was dead.
JOHNSON: Did you stay then with the body on the train?
BORING: That's right. All the way on the train, up to Hyde Park. We were invited to go to the funeral.
JOHNSON: Didn't they stop here in Washington, D.C.?
BORING: Just a short stop, yes.
JOHNSON: When did you first meet Truman?
BORING: Well, I met him because I was assigned back then on the White House detail to Truman, the President.
JOHNSON: What was the first instance when you actually
BORING: Well, actually, the first instance where I met President Truman was when Roosevelt's driver got intoxicated, a guy by the name of Schneider, a Sergeant Schneider, an Army guy. So they decided that they were going to have an agent drive. One of my friends knew I
drove a big horse truck up in Pennsylvania, that you put horses in, you know. They said, "Well, let him drive, he can drive anything." So that's how I ended up with the job; actually, it was mostly outside the city, anyplace outside the city. When we were back in town, a guy by the name of Morgan Geis used to drive.
JOHNSON: Morgan Geis. How about Nicholson, didn't he become
BORING: Nicholson was a front seater, what we call a front-seat man. He was with the President most of the time, when Jim Rowley wasn't around.
JOHNSON: But he wasn't necessarily the one who drove.
BORING: Oh, no.
JOHNSON: The front seater is just the one who rode next to the driver.
BORING: That's right. He carried the speeches and stuff like that.
JOHNSON: You became the driver for Truman, at least when he was outside of Washington, D.C.?
BORING: Right. Well, most of the time, I'd say. This is how I met him; it's a strange thing. He kept noticing me in the front seat. "By the way," he said, "I see you are driving most of the time. How are you connected with me?" I said, "Well, Mr. President, I've been assigned to drive you." And he said, "Well, could you tell me your name?" I said, "Sure I can." So I told him my name and he said, "You don't mind if I call you Floyd do you?" I said, "No." So that's the kind of guy he was.
JOHNSON: He was friendly, I suppose, to all.
BORING: Yes. He knew everybody by name, all of the agents by name. We'd bring new agents in, and he'd talk to them. He liked to talk to young people, loved to talk to young people.
JOHNSON: But he was friendly to everyone as far as you can tell?
BORING: Oh yes.
JOHNSON: So that instance, I suppose, was just a few days after he became President, or a few weeks after he became President.
BORING: Oh this was probably within ten days, because he noticed me right off the bat.
JOHNSON: He went to the funeral, of course, in Hyde Park, on the train.
BORING: That's right. But I wasn't involved in that. See, Monty Schneider could have had that job had he stayed there. When he got loaded, he thought Truman wouldn't have him, see. But he could have had the job.
JOHNSON: Did he drive drunk at one time?
BORING: No. He got drunk and disappeared, and he wasn't available. You've got to be available when the President calls for his car. That's how I got involved with it.
JOHNSON: So after the funeral of Roosevelt was over, then you came back to the White House.
BORING: That's right.
JOHNSON: And now you're working for President Truman.
BORING: That's right.
JOHNSON: If you weren't driving the Presidential limousine,
what kind of duties did you have?
BORING: Well, I was in charge of one of the shifts. I graduated to be in charge of one of the shifts. We had three shifts. I was in charge of one of those shifts. I guess at one time we had five guys, and right after the assassination attempt we had nine.
JOHNSON: Almost doubled the number.
BORING: Doubled, right.
JOHNSON: Per shift.
JOHNSON: Three shifts, seven days a week?
BORING: That's right.
JOHNSON: So you would need probably around 20 men or so wouldn't you, to man all those shifts?
BORING: We didn't have that many men. They absorbed guys by using us, for say, sometimes 14 hours a day. Say you were on the 8 to 4 shift, and there was a movement, or some kind of a thing going on in the afternoon; we would be called in for that afternoon shift, understand?
BORING: We would have to work right straight through.
JOHNSON: But they did pay overtime?
BORING: No, no overtime.
JOHNSON: And it was a 48-hour week?
BORING: That's right.
JOHNSON: Six days a week.
BORING: They owed me 80-some odd days when I
JOHNSON: They changed to a 40-hour week, though, didn't they in '49 or '50 ?
BORING: They changed it around 1950, I think it was.
JOHNSON: Did you work with the White House police force?
BORING: We worked in conjunction with the White House police
JOHNSON: Did you have any supervisory duties over the White House police?
BORING: No, they had their own supervisory force.
JOHNSON: They had their own places to man, their own locations
BORING: They had their own supervisors. They had a captain, I think, and on down.
JOHNSON: Did you do any of the advance work?
BORING: Oh yes, a lot of it. I did advances in Potsdam.
JOHNSON: You were there with Rowley?
BORING: That's right, doing advances. I have been all over the country.
JOHNSON: Did you have any problems with the advance work in Potsdam?
JOHNSON: You had to work with the Russians to some extent didn't you?
BORING: Well, yes, but they were fairly easy to get along with. You know they do police work something similar to what we do. I mean, policemen, the world over, are pretty much alike.
JOHNSON: They've got to have the same concerns, I guess, and the same kind of techniques and methods.
BORING: That's right. The British are good and so are the French. I've worked in both places--with the British and the French--and the Russians too. I did the advance work for Eisenhower--the pre-advance--when Gary Powers was shot down in the U-2.
JOHNSON: When the President was on the Williamsburg, were you on the Williamsburg or did you
BORING: Most of the time. Most of the time I was on one of the shifts. They had, for instance, two guys on day work, two guys on 4 to 12, and one man on midnights, and sometimes two men on midnights. We worked it out among ourselves.
JOHNSON: But you were on board the Williamsburg, or did you have another boat that accompanied the Williamsburg?
BORING: Oh no, no, I was on the Williamsburg.
JOHNSON: But was there a Secret Service
BORING: Yes, there was the Lenore.
JOHNSON: And it accompanied the Williamsburg on many of
BORING: It accompanied the Williamsburg on most things. We had a couple of agents on there.
JOHNSON: And that was a yacht.
BORING: That's right. It's now the Honeyfitz.
JOHNSON: And where's it anchored?
BORING: This President doesn't use a yacht. It was used by JFK; they called it the Honeyfitz.
JOHNSON: Does it still exist?
BORING: Oh I'm sure it does. It is privately owned.
JOHNSON: Did you have any problems with security for the President when he was on his yacht? Were there any incidents of danger and threats?
BORING: Well, one danger--the President couldn't wait one morning until I got down there, to get off the boat. It was on the Potomac River, near an island. He couldn't wait, and so the President gets in the water, and he was a bum swimmer. He was about like he
was as a driver; he was going like this here, and losing ground. So I got back upstairs, and I saw his plight. They were getting all excited, and these fellows were going to drop a boat almost on top of him. I said, "Hold on there, don't do that." So I just took one of these--a life preserver--and it almost went on top of him. He grabbed that thing, and we pulled him in.
JOHNSON: That was about his only sport, I guess, his swimming.
BORING: Yes, it was. He loved swimming.
JOHNSON: Are there any trips that stand out in your mind, in regard to providing protection?