Bob Gale was six foot two, blue eyed, and owned a big personality. People who didn’t like Bob Gale eventually ended up, if not liking him, appreciating what he did for the Peace Corps. He was an academic coming to the Peace Corps from being the vice president for development at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a Humphrey supporter.
Gale had decided he wanted to go to Washington with the New Frontier and work for the Peace Corps and got in touch with Hubert Humphrey, who he knew, and a meeting was arranged with Bill Haddad (another early Mad Man) who was already working at the agency.
William F. Haddad was the Associate Director for the Office of Planning and Evaluation. (At the age of 14 in post-Pearl Harbor, he had enlisted in the Army Air Corps pilot training program and advanced to cadet squadron commander before his true age was discovered.)
Haddad (who went on to become a Congressman from New York State) had come to the Peace Corps from being editor in chief of the Maco Publishing Company in New York and had been involved in the production of the famous pictorial essay, The Family of Man. He liked Gale because Gale was, in his eyes, “versatile.”
Haddad convinced Shriver to create an office called “Special Projects” and he put Gale in charge. It was an office free to do absolutely anything, a combination ombudsman and gadfly, a close cousin of the Division of Evaluation both logistically and philosophically.
I’m not sure Haddad had any idea (really) of who–or what!–they had in Bob Gale. But here is one story.
Gale was famous at Carlton College (which, if you don’t know, is an excellent college in Minnesota,) for having raised over twelve million dollars for an endowment in increase faculty salaries, student aid, and to launch an era of new buildings on campus.
When Gale arrives in Washington no one knew him. He had no real connections to the Kennedys, but he is hired and Haddad suggests that they go out for dinner to celebrate. Haddad wants to go to the Jockey Club in the Fairfax Hotel, now the Ritz Carlton. “You never know who you’ll see there: Marlon Brando, Onassis, Lee Radziwill,” Haddad tells the mid-west boy from Saint Cloud, Minnesota.
But when Haddad and Gale walk into the Jockey Club there is Minoru Yamasaki, the famous architect, who would design the World Trade Center. He had already designed five of the new buildings at Carlton College when he had first met Gale. He greets Bob as a long lost brother, and Haddad and Gale join their party and the Jockey Club’s famous maitre d’, Jacques Vivien, never presents anyone a bill, and even joins the crowd when champagne is served in the early hours of the morning.
Welcome to Washington, D.C. and the Peace Corps, Bob! (As if you didn’t already belong there.)