“Beame” Me Down, Luther

Mayor Abe Beame /NYC Records

Luther Gulick had pretty shrewd political instincts. He disdained President Gerald Ford, largely for his pardon of the disgraced Richard Nixon, whom Gulick HATED, along with his sleazy VP, Spiro Agnew. So when Jimmy Carter ran against Ford for President in 1976, Gulick (a onetime Republican devoted to FDR and the New Deal) sent the Georgia peanut farmer a fan note.


Carter responded, kind of pro forma.


But Gulick’s gushing note three years earlier to another political victor, Mayor Abe Beame, came to haunt him.


By late 1981, Gulick had changed his view considerably, as he wrote Leona Baumgartner, former city health commissioner and a close friend. Now Beame was “our friend” (in quotes) whose “gimmicks” had landed the city in bankruptcy.



Gulick was wrong about something else as well, he noted. Then nearing 90, he said he had never much expected to live into his 80s. In fact he would reach almost 101, having been born (in Japan) the year Grover Cleveland became president and dying the year Bill Clinton took office.