Monday, July 21, 2008

All Over the Map

So… I mentioned this past Friday I remembered two addresses from my childhood, and I put up a post about one of them… 3 Rue Mozart. The other address I remembered was 41 Bahçelievler Yolu, Ankara, Turkey. And I spent literally hours yesterday with Google Earth and Google Maps, unsuccessfully looking for that particular address. It doesn’t exist, to the best of my knowledge, and I suspect the street was renamed at some point in the nearly 50 years since I left Ankara.

I had some clues to work with. First, my house was about a ten minute or less bike ride from Anıtkabir (Atatürk’s Tomb, pic on left... click for larger), which is arguably the most recognizable landmark in Ankara. Second, my house was across the street from a major university…which I believe was Ankara University. But, my…oh my… how things have changed! Back in the day, the house I lived in… an apartment building, actually… was one of about four apartment buildings on “our” side of the street, the rest of the neighborhood was empty lots. The university was still in the process of being built (or added on to), and there were no trees to speak of, except for very young saplings. There was lotsa brown grass, though… Looking at the Google Earth pictures one can see that’s certainly not the case today, 50 years later. My neighborhood, which was expanding rapidly back in 1957, is now established. There are large trees on the university campus, and not many vacant lots can be found in the general vicinity of where I lived. Which is not surprising, given the population of Ankara was only 453,000 in 1955; it’s up to 3,763,591 today.

The Google Earth screen-shots:

Metropolitan Ankara (overview)

My neighborhood (red arrow; the profusion of blue dots is Anıtkabir)

I was nearly 12 when my father was transferred directly from Paris to Ankara, without passing Go. “Go,” in this case, meant a trip back to the US before continuing on to my father’s new assignment. The family had just spent three years in Paris and Mom was homesick. She desperately wanted to go home before we went to Ankara, but that was not to be. I strongly suspect my father bribed her into acquiescing to the direct move, sweetening the deal with a promise of an extended vacation on the Riviera and northern Italy. He delivered on his promise, and we spent two weeks in Nice/Cannes and vicinity (including Monte Carlo) before driving down to Livorno to turn the car over to the Navy for shipment to Istanbul. In the meantime we toured northern Italy, including Pisa and Florence. My best memory of Italy was climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is almost guaranteed to give one vertigo. My father and I climbed half-way up the tower, but he didn’t want to go all the way to the top, unfortunately. Mom and my sister stayed on the ground…

So. We turned the car in to the port people in Livorno and took the train to Rome, where we spent a few days doing all the touristy stuff one does in The Eternal City… including being blessed by Pope Pius XII… our family and about 15,000 close friends others gathered in St. Peter’s Square when the Pope made his weekly appearance to bless the crowd from his balcony. From Rome we flew to Athens, where we spent another few days with Air Force friends of my father… and did more touristy things. I’m pretty sure Dad did a little bit of work while we were there, too, but my memory is hazy in this space. From Athens we flew to Istanbul and then on to Ankara, which would be home for the next two years.

And what a home it was! If you think Paris is exciting, Gentle Reader, you should have been in Turkey during the mid- to late-‘50s. Everything, and I DO mean everything, seemed exotic to my parents, my sister, and I. The language. The food. The clothing. The architecture. Every-freakin’-thing. And the BEST part was the fact Americans were generally and genuinely well-liked. There was no militant Islamic movement, and no terrorism…at all. For me... as it was in Paris, so it was in Ankara... when it came to “getting around.” Except for the fact I rode my bicycle to most places I wanted to go, or rode the bus. And I had a lot more freedom, too, in the sense my parents allowed me to go further a-field, as long as my journeys were in some sort of group… usually friends.

Today’s Pic: My sister Norma and I. This photo was taken by a Turkish portrait photographer during the family’s stay in Ankara, and is hand-colored in the style prevalent at the time. The artist got the colors wrong, too, as my shirt was tan, not green. Mom blew a gasket over this lil detail, but she bought the pictures anyway. (Yeah, the pic is a re-run. I originally posted it in March of last year.)


  1. Buck: "Time Marches On, for people and places"

  2. Love the photo. You look like you're about to kick the photographer's ass. I notice the slightest hint of a smile, but your eyes say, "Kill."

    (Maybe it's the coloring. But that's my initial impression.)

  3. I always thought those tinted photographs looked ummm...strange. Neither one of you look happy.

  4. I LOVE the hand-colored photo of you and your sister. There is a richness to those old pictures. Our new modern digital pictures, etc. look very accurate, but to me portraits painted by hand or colored in sepia tones look so elegant. I do agree with Becky that you and your sister don't look happy.

  5. I love the stories about your childhood. They are so interesting.

  6. well wonder you have such an eclectic pallette! You've lived around more food than i've even thought about! Play on...!

  7. I just saw my future sister-in-law, Catherine, who also lived in Turkey while her father was stationed there. Her stories are similar to yours - lots of freedom and oh-so-interesting. I love the tinted photo - I see a bit of SN3.

  8. Pat: Too true, Bud.

    Jim: I have absolutely NO recollection of the sitting... none at all. But I do remember Mom throwing that hissy-fit!

    Becky: I like the hand-colored photos, particularly the Russian ones done at the time. As for my sister and I... I don't think "happy" was on the agenda that day. ;-)

    Sharon: I agree with you about these old, hand-colored photos. I'm also wondering if there are portrait studios that still do it. I would imagine so, but you'd probably pay a premium price for the service.

    Ashley: Thank you, yet again!

    Jay: As with anything, my parents were primarily responsible for what eclecticism I have, Mom particularly, when it came to food. Like a lot of women, she collected cook books and recipes. UNlike those same women, she had a LOT more opportunity to explore different cuisines in their native habitats. And she took what she liked and made it her own. Did I ever mention she was an excellent cook? ;-)

    Lou: I think Catherine and I have had an exchange in your comments before about Turkey. If I recall correctly her father was stationed at Karamursel, on the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. Karamursel was probably THE Garden Spot of all American installations in Turkey... and it was beautiful, indeed. I spent a week or so there (TDY) while I was stationed in Sinop.

  9. Oh, I didn't mean that there is anything wrong with them. They just aren't my cuppa tea.

  10. There is something fake about the hand colored photos; I have one of my brother and I when I was 3 or 4 (making him 10 or 11). We don't really look quite real; we look good but not real.

    They are very cool though and it's nice to know you can still get them done.

  11. Becky: Understood. A lot of folks don't care for them on the grounds they're not "real." I can't argue that.

    Kris: Agree on the "fake" POV, but it was all you had before color film became ubiquitous (and cheap). I think it's a great good thing the art form survives.


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