The most famous recruitment trip of them all was in early October 1963. It was the one that gave rise to the term, blitz recruiting. Gale put together five advance teams and five follow-up teams. Each team spent a week in southern California and then a week in northern California, visiting every major campus in both areas. Coates Redmon sums up the ‘teams’ in her book.
“One advance team consisting of Nan McEvoy, then deputy director of the Africa Regional Office, and Frank Erwin, then deputy director of Selection, were assigned first to Los Angeles Sate University (where there was only modest interest in the Peace Corps) and next to San Francisco State University (where there was considerable interests). Bob Gale, Linda Lyle (his secretary) and Dough Kiker took on the University of Southern California in the south and then the University of California at Berkeley in the north. Gale had friends at both.
“As director of Recruiting, I had to go where I knew I’d do well. I did have to outdo everyone else. And at Berkeley I did.” At Berkeley, he got nearly two hundred questionnaires in one week –and the advance team is not really required to get any applications–and then the follow-up team came in and mopped up about seven hundred more. Sarge came out and spoke at most of the schools where we e recruiting, and at Berkeley and San Francisco State he got absolutely tumultuous welcomes.
The working day for the advance teams began at about 8:00 a.m. and ended between 11 p.m. and midnight. Both in Los Angeles and in San Francisco, the word would get passed from team to team where they could congregate later, and until about 3 a.m.in restaurants and bars. Everybody wanted to compare notes, and party. Gale was great at putting together teams whose “skills, attitudes, and metabolisms were similar to his own” and he was known at the Prince of Partying.
But all of the ‘good times’ were about to come to an end.
Certain people back at Washington had heard that more was off-key about the first ‘blitz’ advance-team recruiting trip than just the late-nights.
When Gale and Kiker returned to Washington, with another record number of Peace Corps applications , over sixteen hundred by the end of two week, Gale was called into Deputy Director Bill Moyers’ office for a private conversation.
This had never happened before and as Gale walked into Moyers’s fifth-floor executive suite offices, he knew he was in real trouble.