Say what you want about Luther Gulick, just don’t joke about his faults — those on the tennis court, anyway. Newsweek tried it light-heartedly in a wartime profile, and found itself…well, shall we say, ill-served? Here’s how it started, (with thanks to our intrepid digitizer-in-chief, Sarah Rappo, who spotted the material in a catch-all alphabetical file, “N” for Newsweek):
You’ll notice, by the way, that Gulick helped Governor (not yet Prez) Calvin Cooledge straighten out the Massachusetts budget. Also that among the triumvirate who reorganized the executive branch for FDR, Louis Brownlow was the idea man, Charles Merriam was the brakes, and Gulick was the one who ran around doing the hard work — the leg man.
Anyway, back to tennis.
In its profile of Gulick on July, 13, 1942, Newsweek mentioned he “hates publicity” — prompting the indecipherable friend of Gulick’s who saw the article to scribble in the margin in red pencil But not doing so bad.
The piece went on to note that Gulick was the father of two boys, a lover of modern music and painting, and a rather bad tennis player…
The wielder of the red pencil was moved to scrawl, I’d sue ’em.
Gulick went him one better. He challenged all editors of Newsweek, male or female, within ten years of his age (which was then 50) to a deadly duel. “Weapons: Tennis raquets [sic] and so-called Victory balls.”
Gulick also took modest issue with the magazine’s characterization of his role in reorganizing the Army’s Services of Supply division. In truth, Gulick protested, he played a “very, very minor part.”
The tennis challenge left Newsweek officially quaking but actually unfazed, replied Managing Editor Chet Shaw. The 40-to 60-year-old staffers in Gulick’s bracket either didn’t play the game “or else would collapse after a few minute of exercise.”