In a memorandum to Sargent Shriver–attached to an Evaluation Report on Morocco (1963) done by Ken Love–and written by the legendary early Peace Corps Director of Evaluations, Charlie Peters, Charlie wrote, “Marjorie was as sensitive and as intelligent a Volunteer as we ever had in the Peace Corps.” The lesson that was learned by the Peace Corps was that “even the best young people can be damned silly at times.”
According to Gerard T. Rice in the first serious study of the agency and its creation entitled, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, “The President’s personal support helped the Peace Corps weather its first storm.” Kennedy hand written note to Michaelmore said, “We are strongly behind you and hope you will continue to serve in the Peace Corps.”
At the Peace Corps HQ the feeling was that the agency had weathered this early storm. Warren Wiggins would write, “The greatest thing that could have happened to the Peace Corps in the beginning with a postcard from a Volunteer mentioning that people pee in the streets in Nigeria. It was like a vaccination…..Never again would a major newspaper, under the worst of conditions, streamed anything negative about the Peace Corps. Since then, the Peace Corps has had rape, manslaughter, bigamy, disappearances, Volunteers going insane, meddling in local politics, being eaten by crocodiles, but never again did it get a bad play in national news. The vaccination took; we were immune.”
The PCVs stayed and the Peace Corps program continued and grew in Nigeria. As for Marjorie? Well, early in ’62 she left the Peace Corps and married her Boston lawyer.
Several years ago I located Marjorie via an email address and asked her if wanted to write her account for our website: www.peacecorpswriters.org. Marjorie wrote back saying, ‘thanks, but no.’
Today, Marjorie Michaelmore is 69 years old.
How time flies.