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 another academic, like Babbitt, coming to the Peace Corps from being the vice president for development at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a Humphrey supporter. He 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. (I’ve written about him before, how 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 when his true age was discovered.)
Haddad (who went onto 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 of that. 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 that is retold in Coates Redmon’s book and sums up the surprises that awaited the Peace Corps when Gale came ‘on board’ (as they use to say) at the Peace Corps.
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 really knew him. He had no real connections to the Kennedys, but he is hired by Shriver 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 Sant Cloud, Missesota.
But when Haddad and Gale walk into the Jockey Club there is Minoru Yarmasaki, the famous architect, who would design the World Trade Center, but who had already designed five of the new buildings at Carlton College. He greets Bob Gale as a long lost brother, and Haddad and Gale join their party and the Jocket 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.
Now what waits for the agency with Bob Gale’s arrival?