Who Stole Marjorie's Postcard? Part 10

In 1965 Bob Gale, then running the Peace Corps Recruitment Office, traveled out to Ibadan, Nigeria, for a COS Conference. Gale had been a vice president at Carlton College and had developed the famous Peace Corps recruitment blitz [the most famous of all was the first in early October 1963 when teams of recruiters hit college campuses; these were mostly non-RPCVs as the first PCVs were just arriving back in the States. These all-out assaults on college campuses were very successful at recruiting Trainees. These early blitz teams were replaced by ’67 with teams of RPCVs working out of regional offices, and HQ non-PCV staff rarely traveled outside of Washington to recruit Volunteers.]

Back in Nigeria, Gale arrived late in Ibadan from Washington and met up with a Nigeria APCD and headed for a local bar where he was the only white man having a drink. Then in walked another huge white American kid and a smaller African. Gale recognized the American. He had recently been the co captain of the Carlton College football team when Gale was there, and was a PCV in Ghana. He was hitchhiking through Nigeria and had been picked up by this smaller Nigerian who, when learning his rider was a Peace Corps Volunteer, immediately told him that he was the person who had discovered the famous postcard of October 1961, four years earlier.

The Nigerian explained that he was then working at the post office in Ibadan and had been told by a group of left-wing students at the University to look for any postcards from PCVs that might discredit the Peace Corps.

In her book, Come As You Are Coates Redmon asked an RPCV from Nigeria about the claim and the RPCV replied that “We’ve heard stories and stories. I think that no one knows the whole truth. But one thing is certain. Peace Corps Volunteers in Nigeria never send postcards. They are haunted.”

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  • Dear Mr. Coyne,
    Walking by library shelves a few weeks ago i saw the title-“Come as you are”. My son had another book by same title about a famous grunge band-Nirvana, Well, the title caught my interest and I’m reading Redmon Coates book on the Peace Corps and can’t understand how I never really heard much about Sarge Shriver, et all. What a beautiful story.
    Now what’s driving me crazy is I had a room mate at Florida State University back in 1977 or so. Debbie Gale was my suite mate. She was from WAshington D.C. and said her dad worked for the FBI or CIA. She was tall. I know in Redmonn’s book Bob Gale is described as tall, and blue eyes.
    I can’t help but wonder if this partier from DC was related to Bob Gale and if she was one of his 4 kids??
    My total respect goes out to you all from the Peace Corps. Growing up in Miami, Florida I would see the Peace Corps flyers in the hospita where I volunteered. I was 5 years old in 1962. For years I wondered about joining the Peace Corps and am glad to finally read about what a class act it was or is. If you see Redmon Coates please tell her she has a great story and I am glad to know what a great person in Sarge Shriver and Wiggins the Peace Corps got its start! Warm Regards, Melanie Richard Gainesville, Florida

  • Thanks, Melanie. Coates died a few years ago. As for Bob Gale; he was never in the CIA or FBI. He was an academic, a dean, and then joined the Peace Corps Administration, this would have been about 1964.
    I am stunned that you didn’t know–at least hear– about Sarge Shriver. You must have learned by now his contributions to the US and the world, as well as, his marriage and connection to the Kennedy family.

    Coates published her book in 1986, some 23 years ago.

  • I’m one of Bob Gale’s kids and I believe he was a cousin of my father’s. I met him sometime in late 80s or early 90s at my parents apartment in Washington DC and he worked for the FBI as I recall.

    It’s the only contact I ever recall. Both my parents are now dead and id live to connect with them.

    Morgangale@comcast.Net

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