A tribute to Giovanna "Gennie" Gambale
Following the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001, Gennie's smiling face was everywhere. Her family hung flyers all over New York. For many New Yorkers, her face was the face of the victims.
Chris from New York wrote: In those days after the attacks, the photos of all those lost souls covered Manhattan like a patchwork quilt of angels. For some reason though, Genni was always the face that stuck with me. Perhaps it was her
smile. Maybe it was her background that I felt that I identified with. Who
knows, but there was something about that picture that always made me stop. I still recall a conversation I had with a complete stranger last September on a street corner in Lower Manhattan where she mentioned Genni's picture too. I have since talked to many other people who remember her photos. I can't imagine what an electric personality she must have had. Even now, she still demands the attention of strangers and is such a loved and remembered person by so many who never even knew her.
Robert O'Conner, a ground zero worker wrote, I will always carry "Gennie" in my heart as a civilian confined space rescue worker from California I found her missing poster fluttering down the street in front of the Hilton New York, New York on the 15th of September and at first I tried to put it back up on a pole but I could not get it to stay up in the rain and her smile was just so beautiful. So I stuck the poster in my pocket and carried it everyday and night on the pile she was my angel watching over me and I was going to be her rescuer alas it was not to be so. Even though I never knew Her Gennie is always in my heart and now when I need strength I ask Her in heaven along with my late Father in heaven to help me overcome and to watch over me.
Gile from Brooklyn wrote, I never knew Giovanna Gambale, but hers was among the first missing person posters I saw around Manhattan, and it always stood out, even when surrounded by dozens of others. Her picture touched me deeply, and although I saw thousands of other heart-rending posters, none have stuck with me the way Giovanna's has.
Those who knew her say that the goodness that shines through in her photograph was real. Moriah Squitieri wrote, I am one of the blessed people who knew Genni. Genni and I went to John Dewey H.S. together. We were 2 stops apart on the F train line. She and I, along with other friends took that long train ride to and from Coney Island every school day for 3 years. What could have been a very boring and uneventful ride, never was when Genni was around. We would laugh and laugh to the point of tears. What a sense of humor she had. I remember that she was so sweet, so bright, loving, kind hearted and generous, a respectful human being who was a natural beauty. I remember how she loved Billy Joel and that she always wore a jean jacket, she loved her family and always did the right thing. I admired her greatly... I just think that it is so beautiful that complete strangers are able to pick up on her warmth and beauty from her photo, all of you are right in your perceptions of her. She was all of those things and more.
Nick Iyer from Newsday wrote of her passion for the Mets: Whenever the Gambale family gathered in the living room of their home in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, to watch the Mets, Anthony Gambale's oldest daughter, Giovanna, assumed her rally position. She would turn her cap sideways, and would sit either at the edge of her chair or on the floor, rooting for the team she gave her allegiance to while she was a student at Public School 58 in Brooklyn."She was always very superstitious," her father said. "Gennie knew her baseball." Studying strategies, trades and team management in her spare time, Giovanna Gambale had an in-depth knowledge of the game, her father said. The 27-year-old vice president of conferences and events for eSpeed seldom lost debates with family members who were Yankee fans and taught some of the men in her family a few things about baseball."She wasn't a casual fan," her father said, as he remembered listening to the outrage in his oldest daughter's voice after a Mets loss or a bad trade.
Nick went on to write this about Gennie: She was "a great listener," her father said. Her ability to blend tact and brutal honesty was rare and attractive to friends and co-workers who sought her counsel. "She was terrific in telling the truth without making the truth hurt," Anthony Gambale said. Gambale "loved to eat, but she hated to cook," her father said. Chinese food was her favorite. "She used to say that she could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner." He said that she had "a tremendous inner strength" and leaves the legacy of "her smile, her giggle," her social graces and her likability. "She was just a fantastic person," Anthony Gambale said. "She was my daughter. She was Gennie."
Genni was vice president for communications and media events at eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald Securites. Cantor Fitzgerald lost 685 employees that day, about 2/3rds of their workforce. She worked on the 105th floor at 1 World Trade Center. Her sister, Antonia worked on the 5th floor. Antonia was able to get out, and called her father in Brooklyn to say she was safe. He told her to come home. Then he said, "What about your sister?" The posters soon followed.
I'll close this tribute with a poem written by Alan Stein from Rockville Centre, NY
I first saw your face on that smoky Manhattan morning
You smiled at me from a store window
It was a radiant smile
I saw you again on the side of a building
Then on a lamppost and on a tree near my office.
In the days that followed I began to look for you
And you were always there
I saw you in the morning on my way to work and in the evening on my way home.
I saw you in dreams and you were an
Italian Princess high above the City in her Tower.
But now your picture is gone
and those of the others are fading or torn.
They say you are missing.
It was only yesterday that you were here
No, you are not gone.
You and the others have left an indelible mark
In our hearts and in our memories and in our lives.
You're not missing,
No, not you.
You will remain forever
With all the others
High above the clouds that now cover our City
In your Tower
A very special Tower
Built for a smile like yours.