Memorable Interview

Vahe H. Apelian, Ohio, 4 January 2013

My first job interview in America remains the more memorable among the many first time experiences I had in the New World after I landed at the J.F. Kennedy Airport on July 11, 1976 as another immigrant. The weeklong Bicentennial Celebration had barely ended. The interview was with the American Cynamid Corporation, which has long folded away. According to Wikipedia it was a leading American conglomerate that became one of the nation's top 100 manufacturing companies during the 1970s. Apprehensive as I was to be punctual and yet not too early, I lingered around the building and presented myself to the receptionist just few minutes before the appointment time. I was asked to wait, but the wait was getting longer than I thought it would. An ominous sign I thought to myself. Who, I wandered, would take genuine interest and offer a job to a new comer like me who is not a local graduate and has no local work experience? Let alone to the fact that I had no experience in the field I wanted to make a career – pharmaceutics – other than relevant education.

Vahe H. Apelian, Ohio, 4 January 2013

My first job interview in America remains the more memorable among the many first time experiences I had in the New World after I landed at the J.F. Kennedy Airport on July 11, 1976 as another immigrant. The weeklong Bicentennial Celebration had barely ended. The interview was with the American Cynamid Corporation, which has long folded away. According to Wikipedia it was a leading American conglomerate that became one of the nation's top 100 manufacturing companies during the 1970s. Apprehensive as I was to be punctual and yet not too early, I lingered around the building and presented myself to the receptionist just few minutes before the appointment time. I was asked to wait, but the wait was getting longer than I thought it would. An ominous sign I thought to myself. Who, I wandered, would take genuine interest and offer a job to a new comer like me who is not a local graduate and has no local work experience? Let alone to the fact that I had no experience in the field I wanted to make a career – pharmaceutics – other than relevant education.

I was immersed in my thoughts when a very distinguished looking gentleman stepped out and met me. He apologized for the delay and escorted me to his office and had me seated on a chair across his desk. He then welcomed me in Arabic to my total surprise. I asked him how is that he has learned Arabic. Adding further excitement to my initial surprise, he told me that he was born and raised in Lebanon and that his father was a longstanding employee of the American University of Beirut (AUB), my alma mater.  We started chatting about Lebanon and AUB to break ice but I remained distracted at the sight of his nameplate on his desk facing me. It spelled his name, Robert Glockler. The last name appeared very familiar to me, even though it is not a common name one would ordinarily encounter. Looking back I wander if my natural inclination to wander off had not become all too evident by my distraction to my detriment.

Some time back I translated my late uncle’s – Dr. Antranig Chalabian’s – narration in the late Antranig Dzarougian’s weekly Nairi about the serendipitous events that lead to the publication of Dr. Stanley Kerr’s book titled The Lions of Marash. My translation of his article was posted in Keghart.com. The Kerrs resided in Trention, NJ. It turns out they socialized with the Glocklers. Henry Wilfrid Glockler was an employee of the American University of Beirut and was deported – for lack of a better word – at the onset of the World War I into the interior of the Ottoman Empire. He thus became an eyewitness to the atrocities committed against the Armenian subjects of the Empire. He had his eyewitness accounts penned down. The manuscript that was written in 1918 had remained dormant in Henry W. Glockler’s archives. Upon the recommendation of Dr. Stanley Kerr, he sent his manuscript to Antranig Chalabian who had it edited, found sponsors and had the memoirs published as a book.

Having made a connection to the name on the nameplate I was facing, I digressed the conversation and in the spur of the moment blurted out if he was by any chance related to Henry Glockler. From the looks of his face it became apparent that he was caught by surprise. He told me that Henry was his father and wondered how was it that I had heard of his name. Without going into the details, not mentioning that I had accompanied my uncle many a time to the printer’s shop, nor did I mention that I had read the book, I said instead that Antranig Chelebian was my uncle. He responded something to the effect that it was a small world indeed and that he had heard so much about him from his father.

Interned in Ourfa 1914-1918 by Henry Wilfrid Glockler was published in 1969 by Sevan Press in Beirut. It is 154 pages long. The book is “Dedicated To the thousands of innocent Armenian men, women and children of Ourfa, Turkey, who perished amid the horrors of the infamous [Armenian] genocide of 1915-18.”

Both of these books, The Lions of Marash and Interned in Ourfa were published at the aftermath of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. I remember vividly the community wide 50th Anniversary commemoration in the sport stadium named after the late Lebanese President Camille Chamoun. I believe that the occasion marked a turning point in our pursuit for the just resolution of the Armenian Genocide. It marked the end of our indoor mourning. We seemed to have broken for good the shell that had confined us for so long.  There was much excitement in the air that stemmed from a confidence that instinctively comes about after having overcome what may have appeared to be insurmountable odds.

Source: IOBA; The above graphic posting was made following VTiger's

question  to the author.  Please see the remarks in the comments section.

As to my interview with Henry Wilfrid Glockler’s son, Robert, it took a new turn. The formalities for the job interview gave way to a new discovered familiarity. He invited me for lunch at the company’s cafeteria and I stayed with him in his office long after that.

Not too long after my interview, I got an invitation to the company’s research facility in Princeton, NJ. When I presented myself there, I found out that all the department heads were lined up to interview me for a job opening commensurate with my education and the level of experience I had. I am sure that Robert Glockler had made that possible. I do not know how my interview went. Almost right after the interview I noted to the company that I received a job offer from the Schering-Plough Corporation that few years ago also ceased to exist as well. This time around it was thanks to another Armenian connection. Henry Apelian, a relative, was a director at the company’s international division. He recommended and presented me for an interview. I was offered a job that set me in my career path.

Dr. Antranig Chalabian passed away in 2011. I do not know if he ever became aware that the book he edited, found sponsors and had it published is now being retailed for hundreds of dollars on the Internet as an out of print rare book. I became a beneficiary of his interest in Armenian history. My first job interview in America became a source of comfort for me. My immediate and extended family members were still in Lebanon. I was away from home and by myself, but I was not all alone.

 
 

8 comments
  1. Dear Vahe, The title of the book

    Dear Vahe,

    The title of the book published by Sevan press in 1969 is 'Interned in Turkey' & not 'Ourfa'. All the books currently available on the internet mention 'Interned in Turkey'.

    Could you please clarify how & from where you got the front page 'Interned in Ourfa'?

    1. VTiger, I owe an explanation

      Dear VTiger,

      Your question about the title of the book is in order.
       
      The cover picture was the “artistic” creation of Vahe Apelian, the author of the article. When submitting the text he stated so. That's a rare occurrence, and I was convinced that there must have been a valid reason to do so.  However, I made a search of my own on the internet. Like you, I came across "Interned in Turkey". See the graphic picture posted following the sixth paragraph in the article. On the fourth line it reads, "Dedicated/To/the thousands of innocent Armenian men, women/and children of Ourfa (bolded by me), Turkey, who perished…." An entry in Wikipedia reads, "While collaborating with Dr. Kerr, Henry Wilfrid Glockler, a one-time controller at AUB and a neighbor of the Kerrs in Princenton, entrusted Antranig Chalabian his personal memoirs. Chalabian edited the memoirs and had it published in Beirut in 1969 by Sevan Press. The book is titled Interned in Ourfa (bolded by me).

      Not having a copy at hand makes it difficult to arrive at a final and correct decision. All what you can do is make an educated guess and stand to be corrected.  I believe it was "Interned in Turkey" based only on my recollection. As an activist leftist university student I was very involved in Armenian and local affairs prior to and after the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Genocide. I followed closely what was being printed with respect to the Genocide, especially anything that bore the stamp of Sevan Publishing House. Simon Simonian, the founder and owner of the establishment was our teacher for several years.

      Having only  above at my disposal and weighing the probabilities I thought Vahe's version would have been correct and I let it go. After all, in a way, he was a junior “partner” of his uncle Doctor Chalabian who was instrumental in publishing the book.

      Hopefully, somebody reading this article and the ensuing exchange will provide us with an actual picture of the book-cover.
       

      1. Articles in Spurk Weekly about Interned in Turkey & not Ourfa

        Sireli Dikran & Vahe,

        Thank you very much for your explanations.

        Through my brother in Lebanon I could get hold of two articles about this book published in my father's Spurk weekly.

        The first article is the book review (krakhosagan) of 'Interned in Turkey' (& not Ourfa) 1914-1918, in the section of 'New Books'(Nor Kirker) by Mr. Armen Donoyan dated 14/04/1970.

        The second article is by Vahe's maternal uncle Mr. Antranig Chelebian, again in the section of 'New Books'(Nor Kirker) with the title of 'Arjekavor Tserakiri me Dkhoor Votisagane', dated 19/04/1970.

        Together with these two articles there are ads of 'new release' (louys desav) of Interned in Turkey 1914-1918 (& not Ourfa).

        Furthermore, in the Spurk issue of 31/05/1970, in the section of 'namagadoop', there is a letter by Dr. Roupen Takvorian of Nicosia, written to his childhood friend Mr. Henry W. Glockler & Mr. Glockler's reply letter in the Spurk issue of 21/06/1970.

        In case you are interested in having the scanned copies of the above then please let me know together with your email addresses.

        Sirov,
        Vartan

        1. Ողջոյն – Greetings Vartan

          Ողջոյն  Sireli Vartan

          I admit that I will never be able to mimic the tone of your late Sassountsi father’s unique greeting that came over the phone.

          Thank you for searching and the correction you made in Wikipedia. These exchanges gave me some solace that something good came out of the error I made.

          Yes, I would like to have copies of the two articles and the correspondence of the author and his friend. My email address is vapelian@yahoo.com.

          I have not read the two articles in question. However, reading the title Antranig Chalabian had chosen for his article reminded me of the person he was, precise and artistic. What a wonderful depiction for a title, specially within the context of the era, 40 plus years ago – ‘”The Sad Odyssey of a pricey Hand Written Manuscript” of Henry W. Clockler that became the book in question, Interned In Turkey 1914-1918

          Sirov,
          Vahe

      2. Wikipedia Corrected
        Dear Dikran,

        Based on the evidences I wrote about earlier,I edited/corrected the appropriate section in Wikipedia.

        Regards,
        Vartan

    2. Turkey not Ourfa

      Dear VTiger

      I owe you and the readers of Keghart.com an apology.

      I checked the Internet many a time searching for a picture of the cover of the book and hence came across to the book's title numerous times, yet again apparently I saw what has remained etched in my mind about the book, Ourfa. Thus you have the erroneous title depicted on my "art work" and in the body of the text.

      Several years ago I donated a good number of my books about Armenians to the Armenian Library and Museum of America Inc. located in Watertown, MA. I had brought some of these books with me and I had others sent after settling here. They had been my silent companions for many years. ALMA is where they are now safely secured. I am under the impression Henry W. Clockler’s book was one of them. Any reference to the book in my text is from memory.

      A short while ago I sent an email to the Executive Director of ALMA Inc., Susan Pattie, asking her to kindly look for the book in their collection and should they have a copy, have the cover of the book scanned and sent either to me or Keghart.com as a response to your well observed commentary.

      Hopefully the book will be located there and a copy of the cover will be available for a visual correction of my error.

      Apologetically

      Vahe

  2. Memorable Afternoon and Memorable Interview

    Robert Glockler who, as noted in the article, conducted my first job interview in the United States more than three decades ago, was alerted by his brother about this article. Robert's brother in turn  was alerted of the article by friends of his. 

    Thus one thing lead to another and after over three decades Robert and I met in Orlando, Florida where he came to visit us. Robert and I spent the whole afternoon together. The formalities of a job interview had given way to friendship. That single interview had made us old friends.

    It was as memorable afternoon as it was a memorable interview

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