Endgame

All the overseas AFS activity had been made possible by the New York Headquarters, different in some respects from all the others. With few of the compensating satisfactions, such as they were---neither the excitement of danger nor the thrill of the chase ----its work was demanding and essential and not very interesting. AFS overseas was the end product of the recruiting of men and money across the United States, which was co-ordinated by the New York HQ; the embarcation of men and materials for their various destinations, which was arranged by the New York HQ; and the continued watchfulness of New York over the activities, needs, and wants of the men already sent. It was a big job, and at the end of the war the staff could feel satisfied that it had been well done.

Always the dynamo that made the whole thing run, Stephen Galatti was at its center.

"In a single day," Joan Belmont wrote, "he has been seen conferring with a mysterious bigwig from the inner sanctum of the State Department, interviewing a shy prospective volunteer, taking messages over the telephone, carrying cold drinks up from the near-by lunch counter, and, being the last to leave the office for the day, turning out the lights and locking the windows. He refuses to have a separate office; instead he sits at one corner of the vast room that is AFS HQ NY. In front of him and all around him typewriters clack in his ear, phones ring in every direction. A steady stream of ambulance drivers, old and new, stagger in under loads of duffle, greeting each other with shouts worthy of any desert army. . . Mr. Galatti does not live in spite of these disturbances but with them. He says he likes to know what's going on. . . .

"Stephen Galatti heads the AFS, he runs the AFS, he is the AFS. It was his sincere belief in the ambulance service that revived it. . . . Records made overseas, victories in the red-tape battle of Washington, and the smooth functioning of the AFS offices at home are all due in some measure to Stephen Galatti's personality. He is a true altruist, giving his all and getting in return only the knowledge that an ideal can be put to practical use."

William H. Wallace, Jr., was the Assistant Director General. Mr. Galatti and Mr. Wallace were head and heart of the AFS, neither exclusively one or the other but the two collaborating brilliantly to produce the organization by their equally ceaseless activities in its behalf. Mr. Wallace fulfilled numberless functions---from keeping track of how many men were where at any given moment (and who they were) to the personal supervision of every East Coast embarkation. The personification of kindness, be offered necessary advice and moral support to those about to depart, he kept a watchful eye on those overseas, and he made a hero's welcome feel appropriate to each returning volunteer. Confessor and comforter, he was "Uncle Bill" to all, and with good reason.

Mr. Galatti and Mr. Wallace inspired an atmosphere of selflessness in their large and busy HQ, where many were overworked and underpaid and others came in to give what few extra hours they had to a cause they believed in. Notable was C. Mathews Dick (SSU 15), who interviewed the prospective volunteers. His boundless tact, insight, and discretion were only occasionally betrayed by a mistake in generosity, and it was the calibre of the men he chose that obviated the need for stronger disciplinary measures overseas (which need for a brief moment had loomed so startlingly large).

The HQ office was at 60 Beaver Street from December 1941 until, after hostilities had ceased, it moved into the house at 30 East 51st Street loaned by Mrs. John Hubbard and, from June 1944, used as a club for men in transit. Amidst all the hubbub of arrivals and departures continued the work for those still overseas and those yet to go. Helpful, busy, friendly, it was a place people were glad to visit and in no rush to leave---a remarkable difference from the overseas HQs, which, to be sure, lacked Shirley, Pat, Weasie, Claude, May, Lillian, Peaches, Rosette, Janet, and Jackie---all charming, devoted, and tireless.

In addition, Joan Belmont, as publicity director, saw to it that the name and works of the Field Service were known across the country. Publicity was the lifeblood of the organization, necessary to bring in both volunteers and money. She had to overcome the obstacles of dull campaigns, when there was no news to send; rapid successes, when there wasn't time to write back; and all the problems that censorship brought. But by the end of the war there were many scrapbooks bulging with clippings. And there were 40 issues of the AFS Letters, compiled by Dorothy Field from volunteers' letters sent in by their friends and parents, which told what life was like in the AFS. This monthly publication was sent to parents and members and schools and other interested parties, and it was of great use in arousing and maintaining interest in the organization.

Money was always important. Until the middle of 1944, AFS raised its own funds. Thanks to the generosity of those who gave, as well as to that of those who helped in the raising of it, the organization was able to provide much for the volunteers that was not at first thought possible. A $20 monthly allowance, at first granted only to mechanics, was given to all volunteers overseas, and later this was increased to $50 monthly for men who had served more than a year.

In mid-1944, AFS became a participating member in the National War Fund, an organization sponsored by the Federal Government to be a guide to and central collecting bureau for relief organizations both home-front and war. The money was given out on presentation of a monthly estimate of needs, and from this source AFS received almost a quarter of its total wartime income as well as a final lump sum to enable it to wind up its wartime business in 1946.

George Rock, "Chapter 17, The History of the American Field Service, New York: Platen Press, 1956.

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