HOW "GLORIUS GLORIA" HELPED ME PASS THE AFSA APTITUDE TEST
by Art Zoebelein
(reprinted from the Spring 1995 issue of The Phoenician)
Many times in my second career as a prep school chemistry teacher, my students
questioned the utility - in the world beyond the classroom - of knowledge of a topic
such as quantum mechanics or balancing equations using oxidation numbers. Like most
teachers, I was able to respond in many instances with a valid and logical reason.
Sometimes I had to cop out (at least in the student's mind) with the standard
"It's good mental discipline." In those cases, it may appear that the student is
correct, and useful, direct application of the knowledge will never be forthcoming.
But in life you should never say "never." Take this example from my own experience.
In 1938, when I returned to Public School 136 after summer vacation to enter eighth
grade, a longtime former classmate named Gloria Gandenberger attracted my full
attention for the first time. Something had happened to her over the summer months.
She had changed. I had an almost uncontrollable desire to maximize my time with her.
This would not be easy since she was always surrounded by her girlfriends in the lunchroom,
and communication was difficult in the classes we shared. Remember that in those days the
teachers controlled the classrooms and the students toed the line out of fear; chewing gum
in class was attempted only by the most daring, whispering or passing notes to others was
a sure way to incur the wrath of the teacher, and the punishment was too scary to even
contemplate. I did not number myself among the reckless or feckless.
Another strategy would be required, one that would not expose me to the teacher's
reprisal during class but would put me in contact with the glorious Gloria. She lived
three blocks beyond my house so a casual after-school stroll next to her on the way home
was not feasible. It would be too overt an act.
The same was true of carrying her books from one class to another or arranging a meeting
in the schoolyard before or after class. All these things would soon come to the attention
of Joe Stampfel, my next-door neighbor and pal. Abuse would follow, as Joe was still
heavily into baseball cards, baseball stats, and sandlot athletics - as was I, but I had
also developed an additional interest. After all, I was experienced with girls and Joe
was not. Hadn't I gotten my first kiss the year before down in Ethel Kallman's basement
during the Hallowe'en party? What if it was during a game of "Spin the Bottle"? A kiss
is still a kiss! But I digress.
My opening with Gloria Gandenberger came a few weeks later when the sign-up sheets were
posted for after-school clubs. In addition to the usual ones - Science, Creative Writing,
History, French, German, etc. - there was a new one, sponsored by the formidable Dr. Dormont,
the serious and somewhat stuffy principal of P.S. 136. This club would explore something
called Esperanto....and Gloria had signed up for it!
I had no idea what that word meant, and I didn't care. Even the presence of Dr. Dormont
(whom I usually avoided like the plague) would not deter me from signing up for it. With
alacrity I placed my signature under that of Gloria. That would guarantee me one hour every
Thursday of sitting next to the golden-haired Gloria, a heaven-sent opportunity!
The Esperanto Club, I later found out, was not only sponsored by the good doctor, but
was part of his fanatical devotion to the cause of "Union Now," a movement of the '30s to
promote world peace by uniting the peoples of the world in social and cultural ways.
(It was, after all, the year of Munich and the war clouds were gathering.) Esperanto, the
artificial international language invented in 1887 by Dr. Ludwik L. Zamenhof which was based
on words common to the chief European languages, was - in Dr. Dormont's mind - a vehicle to
promote this noble aim. Since my mind was fixed on Gloria and not world union, I was one
of the less serious members of the club.
The Esperanto Club, unfortunately, did nothing to bring Gloria and me closer together
and the following year we drifted apart, thanks to the administrative practice of Andrew
Jackson High School, whereby students were placed in homerooms according to the initial
of their last name. Alas, Art Z. ended up far, far away from Gloria G., and I eventually
got over my infatuation for her.
Oddly enough, though, Gloria Gandenberger returned to my consciousness 12 years later
during an interview with the Armed Forces Security Agency. At the time that agency was
hiring English, math, and language majors, or those who tested high in those areas in
aptitude tests. When the personnel man, Al Ulino, asked if I liked languages, I stretched
the truth a bit by answering with what I thought was an enthusiastic "Yes!" Well, I do
like to study the structure of languages and see how they reflect the culture of the places
where they're spoken, but I don't really like to use a language in translation since I
find learning a new vocabulary quite a huge bore. But I decided to take my chances with
AFSA's aptitude test.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the test consisted of a short description of the
grammar rules of Esperanto, a vocabulary list, and a long paragraph in the language to be
translated into English. My memory was triggered, and out came a flood of information
beyond the basic rules given in the test booklet (and, oddly enough, it was Gloria Gandenberger,
not Dr. Dormont, whose memory was reawakened by this sudden confrontation with Esperanto).
I did very well on the exam and was hired on the spot. My 30-year career in cryptology was
launched, and the rest is history.
So I salute you, Gloria, wherever you are! You will never know the major part that you
unwittingly played in my life....and that's really quite a pity!
(NOTES: Gloria E. Gandenberger was born 24 February 1926 in Brooklyn, New York City, daughter
of George William Gandenberger Jr. and his wife Johanna. The Public School 136 is situated in
NYC Borough Queens (Township St. Albans), where the family lived in the 1930ies.
Address of the family: 205-16 116th Avenue, St. Albans, Queens, NYC.)
Arthur Joseph Zoebelein
Arthur Joseph Zoebelein, 72, born 14 Feb 1926, of Front Royal, died Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1999,
at Warren Memorial Hospital.
A funeral was held on Jan. 27 at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas with Father Stanley
Krempa officiating. Burial was at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors.
Mr. Zoebelein was a member of the Disabled American Veterans; member of the Board of
Directors, U.S. Section, of the Association Rhin-et-Danube; and editor and publisher of
the newsletter of the Phoenix Society, a group of retired NSA cryptologists.
He was a graduate of Andrew Jackson High School in New York City, Johns Hopkins University,
and the U.S. Army War College.
He was a veteran of World War II, having served as a rifleman in the 274th Infantry Regiment,
70th Infantry Division in Alsace and Lorraine, France, during the Battle of the Bulge and
the attack of the Siegfried Line and Sarrbrucken, Germany.
He was wounded in battle and received a number of medals, including the Purple Heart;
Bronze Star; Conspicuous Service Cross from the State of New York; Good Conduct Medal;
service medals for the American Theater, European Theater(with two battle stars), and Victory;
Legion of Honor de Rhin et Danube; Medaille de la France Liberee; and Medaille Comemmerative
Francaise de Guerre Mondiale.
He was a cryptologist with the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade for 10 years. He then
worked for 20 years in liaison work, education, and cryptologic history. He was the liaison
officer to the British Foreign Office; cryptologic advisor to the Director of Intelligence in
Stuttgart, Germany; NSA representative to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon;
head of the Cryptologic School of the NSA; liaison officer to the U.S. Intelligence Community and
Intelligence Community Staff in Washington, D.C.; and Chief of the Office of Cryptologic Archives
and History, NSA.
His second career was as a chemistry teacher and the head of the Science Department at Wakefield School.
Surviving are his wife of 50 years, M. Camille Zoebelein; two daughters, Melinda Gurney of
Manassas and Stephanie Prince of Charlotte, N.C.; one son, David Zoebelein of Victorville, Calif.;
one sister, Anne Zoebelein of West Chester, Pa.; and seven grandchildren.....
--- --- --- ---- ---
NOTE: The following was sent to me in March 2005:
"A Brooklyn Girl and her Amorous Class-mate" or "HOW GLORIUS GLORIA HELPED
ME PASS THE AFSA APTITUDE TEST". "Glorius Gloria" is Gloria Gandenberger
who was born 24 February 1926 in the Autumn Avenue of Brooklyn, daughter of
George William Gandenberger Jr. and his wife Johanna. The mentioned Public
School 136 is situated in NYC Borough Queens (Township St. Albans), where
the family lived in the 1930ies. Address of the family: 205-16 116th Avenue,
St. Albans, Queens, NYC.)
Author of the story is Gloria's former class-mate Art Zoebelein, born 14
February 1926, who closed the story in 1995 with these sentences: "So I
salute you, Gloria, wherever you are! You will never know the major part
that you unwittingly played in my life....and that's really quite a pity!"
I found the story some years ago published at the web site of The Phoenix
Society", first published in the 1995 spring issue of its newspaper "The
Phoenician". Web site contact to this organization:
www.thephoenixsociety.org/board.htm (E-Mail address you can find there).
RETURN to QUEENS MAIN
RETURN to BROOKLYN MAIN