The Notary

In Turkey and I imagine most countries in that area, a notary is well respected and well paid. This is the place one goes to have legal documents attested to when buying property or doing other business. I owned property for a time and also ran a business, so I was known at my local notary.


The notary system has been in place since Roman times. The person was known as upstanding and could write (as many people couldn’t, even into this century). I suspect that the system used in Turkey was handed down by the Byzantines, who were famous for their bureaucracy.


When I first started going to the notary, it was in the Narli Han on Istiklal Caddesi. It was amazing how one could step in from the busy cadde and find a quiet place. The han was fairly ramshackle and had a colourful past, from being the Russian consulate to being occupied by many artists and writers. When I was there the bohemians had moved on and only a few places were occupied.

The notary was at the back of the courtyard. It was a room full of papers and boxes and the activity of adding yet more papers and boxes. The floor was peeling linoleum but there were still some columns in the room that at one time must have looked very elegant. Eventually it became too much for the business, so the notary moved around the corner.

This office was in an old building fronting Istiklal Caddesi, though we went in the side. I say we because often my accountant or someone else was with me. It was on the second floor so we took a slow elevator. We entered the room and then had to go down some stairs into the main area. To the left were some booths where we submitted our papers and identification. I usually dealt with a plump young woman who was there for the several years I went there. Actually, everyone was the same in those years. There was also a youngish man who combed his thinning hair back from his face. He also took papers and did much of the photocopying. Another thin youngish man was in charge of doing the stamps and seals, which he did with a flourish. There was another woman, petite, blonde, a little hard looking. She was a kind of junior notary.

While the first clerks were doing their parts, we would sit on a chair and wait, not long usually. It was a good opportunity to possibly feel nervous, as this was, after all, an official business. It was also a good opportunity to look around at other people also waiting. Some were businessmen or women, others kind of village folk, all ages. And even nationalities.

The notary was a small middle-aged man who combed his thin wavy graying hair back from his bony face. He was smooth like a rock. He multitasked and was very civil. He did not smile often, though he was not being negative. He certainly did not chit chat, as most Turks do, though he would enter into conversation. At first I think he was curious about this yabanci woman coming in to do various kinds of business, but then they all got used to me.

Then one day my accountant and I went to the notary and everything was different. The notary had died and now there was a new office with a rather brassy middle-aged woman as the new notary. She had brought some of her own people, of course, though the plump girl was still there. We did our business there then but it was a different atmosphere.

galata street

A lovely street to walk down and good for the leg muscles

The next time I needed to go to the notary, Yasar, the accountant, and I, instead of walking up from Galata to just above Tunel, made a much shorter walk down the hill to Karakoy. It turned out that the small blonde, the smooth haired man and the virtuoso stampist opened their own office on a small side street near the Persembe Pazar (or as I called it, hardware heaven). This office was small and it was certainly not historic, but it was a shorter walk– down. It was a fairly hefty walk up, so I would walk out to the main avenue and on to the tunel.

tunel 03

The tunel is the shortest subway in the world and the second oldest. It was mostly built to carry people up that hard hill to Tunel Square. It takes two minutes either way. From Tunel Square one can go up into Beyoglu or down to Galata or Sishane.

Going to the notary was often a fairly smooth undertaking and it was always interesting. I was able to get inside some different buildings and offices and watch a process that has been going on for hundreds of years. It was easy to imagine these people in clerical frock coats or Ottoman working robes.


Why I like ironing


Even though the ironing usually waits until it is a mountain, I actually like ironing. I put on the tv or a video and iron as I listen and watch.

IMG_2253There is a rhythm to the movements and a logic to the order in which to iron a piece. For example, my mother taught me how to iron a shirt: first, do the collar. If there is a yoke, iron that. Press the back of the sleeves first and then the front. This is a good time to do the cuffs if they need it. I usually work my way around the body of the shirt, one front, the back, the other front. Of course I iron around the buttons when I am so disposed.


Even for easy pillowcases there is a way to iron and fold. Actually, there are a few ways. Some people fold their pillowcases in thirds (and I bet they do their towels this way, too) but in spite of my mother’s teachings, I don’t. I iron the back of the pillowcase first, then as I fold the front in halves, I iron those. The fancy part at the bottom is on the outside so I can see it. In the cupboard I put a lavender sachet or a scented soap in with the pillowcases to make my bed smell lovely when I change it.

The flat I currently live in has an ironing board in a cupboard. How cool is that! When you open the door to the cupboard, the ironing board comes out while the bottom door of the cupboard opens up to let the support down. There is a smaller ironing board for sleeves that you can also pull down. Beside this cupboard is a little metal cupboard where you can park your iron, though it is now too small for modern irons. There is even a plug next to the ironing board. Obviously ironing was much more important in 1945 than it is now.

Of course now we use steam irons, but when I was learning to iron from my mother, she used a sort of cork with holes in it that she would put into a pop bottle. That was used to moisten the pieces and then as she ironed it created steam and smoothed out the wrinkles.

It’s not just standing and ironing. There is bending to the basket to get the next piece. Walking to the closet to get hangers. Putting the piles away in drawers or cupboards or the charity bag.

IMG_2205Ironing allows me to look at these wrinkly pieces more closely. I can admire my grandmother’s handwork on pieces from her trousseau or practice cross-stitch pieces from a Turkish village. I remember who this came from or where. I notice holes or stains. I decide whether I still like this top or dress anymore. It’s good to be reminded of these things and perhaps is what binds me to them.


Even though ironing is not my favourite activity, I do appreciate what I get out of it, as I go down the straight, if not narrow, ways.

Me and my bras

san diego 1973

I was thinking about this the other day because with cool weather and layering I often do not wear bras. I then though about all the kinds of bras i have worn and how that connects with my life at the time.

My aunt is the one who dealt with the fact that I was sprouting boobs when I was twelve. It was a thing with the girls then to compare who was more developed. I proudly sported a training bra, because after all, no one should see those nipples.

I was a small-breasted hippie chick so I stopped wearing a bra when I went to university. It was women’s lib time and I was full into being a feminist, whatever that meant at the time (a lot of different things, as it always has). I did not burn any bras, but I also didn’t have any. Even when I was having babies, I did not wear a bra, so no messing with nursing bras. It was certainly convenient.  img173 - Copy

I enjoyed this freedom until I did my student teaching, when a well-meaning teacher took me aside and told me I should wear a bra. So I did. Sometimes. A few years later I was in grad school, again free, until my internship supervisors told me to wear a bra. Which I did.

feb 99

Then I was a teacher. For sure I wore a bra, even in my free time. I discovered push-up bras as I discovered my full sexuality. By then I was not so small-breasted, and it was kind of cool to have these melons pushed up and out for people (men) to notice. These bras were a little uncomfortable, but I got used to them and since they are usually sexy, enjoyed that too.

This went on for years until I had my cafe. Then I decided to go for more comfort, so I started wearing bandeaux. There wasn’t much support, but there was some coverage. The push-up bras were reserved for special occasions.  molly scots


I still have bandeau bras and soft ‘athletic’ (ha!) bras and I wear them when I go out.

molly fethi

The whole bra thing is sort of a puzzle. I guess because I have never had saggy boobs (they are just lower now) that bras are less important to me. I was talking about this recently with a young plump woman with round melons and she commented that her boobs would hurt without a bra. Certainly men have a lot to do with bras. Women want perky breasts with good cleavage to entice men. Men want women to have nice breasts for fondling or more. I suppose the most important aspect of bras is that women wear them for their own need or pleasure.

For me, I have decided that I can go without a bra when I am layered and when I feel like it. It is one more step on the ‘frankly, I don’t give a damn’ road.

Across the Oregon Trail

Across the Oregon Trail

Mrs. Josephine M. Clark 1929


When I was married, I came across  a shorthand notebook that recorded some personal memories of crossing the Oregon Trail. These people were my husband’s relatives; in fact, his name is Clark. His cousin Mina asked to borrow it and we never got it back. This is my kids’ history but in general it is interesting, particularly for people who live in or know Oregon. These photos are not from this lady, by the way.

I was born in Knox Co Illinois June the 29th 1843. I will try and tell a few instance that can remember in crossing the plains.

In 1850 April the 30 Grandfather with his family started to Oregon the family comcisted.

Aron Smith Grandfather

Nancy Grandmother’s mother

My father 3 children Hazard Smith

My mother Sarah Smith

Henry White, son in law

Eunice his wife and 3 children

Ben Vanburan son in law

Catherine, his Wife, 3 children

Moses Smith, son

Almina Smith daughter.

Almira Smith Daughter

Perusha Smith. Daughter.

Pheba Smith. Daughter

wagon trainThis is Grand Fathers family. There was 2 hired men or teamsters John Barker and John Crouch. There was 4-4 horse freight teams and 4-2 horse teams for the … Then there was William Colizon, the Captain of the train. John Vanburan and Wife and there was 2 other Families I have forgot their names. but I think Brown was one their names. Colison had 2-4 horse freight Wagons and 2-2 horse teams.


Our Captain was bringing a fine Stalion across or Started with him but the Indians took him. As I was only 7 years old, I don’t no Where wee was camped but an Indian came to the train and told the men that in one moon, the Shoshonies was a goin to take the horse and if wee Was a Sleep they would cut off our heads. I can rember the night well that the Horse was stoll. Wee was camped on a creek and the Indians was thick all through the camp. Wee could See where they had crawled in the sand it was in a cove and the roads wound up a canion too the high ground. Where the Indians had left their ponies the men said there looked like a thousand ponies in the band. Wee traveled a half day along the road where they went and then they turned off toward Salt Lake. The Horse was seen in WallaWalla 2 years after wee got through too Oregon by John Crouch. One of the teamsters that was with the train. That was the only trouble wee had with the indians after the Horse was taken the malicia from WalaWalla travelled with us through the Hostile country. There was another train 10 days back of us that were nearly all massacreed it was called the Wagner train.

ore trail river floating

Wee had no more trouble I can rember Where wee got too Government Springs only one day more too the Dalles. Well they camped on 3 mile above the Dalles Several days too get ready too come down the river too Portland. At the Dalles they sold fore head of horses, and part of the train went over the Barlow rout too the Valley. William Colison and his part of the train. Well Wee got too Portland the 26. day of October 1860

Wee came down the Columbia from the Dalles too the Cascades by boat. Then over the portage on the old tram road too the lower Cascades on tram cars halled with mules. The man had too lead the horses. The wagons was put on the flat-cars. It was a single track or walk one mule ahead of the other. When wee got too the lower Cascade wee took the Boat again for Portland which was only a village there was only a few houses in site all timber, and East Portland heavy forest.

ptld 1850s



Well, as Soon as the men could get things stratened out wee Started for the Willemut Valley. My Grand Fathers oldest son Abshim had come too Oregon 2 years before by the way of the Istmus and Settled near Sublimity there is Where Wee Went. Grand Father Baught the Tom Fine place 3 miles east of Sublimity my Father Haszard Smith lived in Sublimity three years a Blacksmith Ben Vanburan settled in Jeferson a Blacksmith. Henry White Went too Albany carpenter and mill Write. My Father was alwas moving fro place too pace he lived in Sublimity 3 years then he bought the Frank Cowell place and only stade there a few months and moved to Henas Priory that is on the middle fork at the Saintiam he sold out in about a year and bought the Lewis Stout ferry on the Saintiam sold that and went too Jefferson in 65. in may 66 the Silitz reserve was thrown open for settlement and he moved too the Yaquina.


Wee was 3 days driving from Jeferson too Pioneer for too Pioneer the 8th day of May 1869 Doctor Kellogg was booming Pioneer at that time he had a Small Boat that run down the river too Newport there was quite a town at Elk City at that time. Kit Abbey and Marsh Simpson had a Saloon there Tom Blair the Hotel Johnson had the Store. My father settled on a place between the Olala Slough and the Depo Slough there was only a few families when Wee got there.

Royal Bensol put a mill at the head of the Depot Slough that Sumer and Father done some login for the mill. Captain Dodge had a store at Oyster Ville and Shiped out oysters and brought in suplies on his scooner. In June 1866. Baldwin and Sam Case built the ocan (??) house at Newport. Peal Abey had a Saloon and Sam built the Abey House right– built and put in a good Store.


In August 1868. there was a man by the name of Ballard driving a band of cattle on the road near Fort Halsey he met a lot of Indians and they was scaring and scatering the cattle he told the Indians too Stop untill he got the cattle past but they kept on and he shot and killed one of the Indians. That made a Great excitement on the Yaquina. The Indians thretened to go on the war path but Ben Simpson was Indian agent on the Siletz at that time and soon had them quieted down. In 1867 my Father was apointed Blacksmith on the Siltez reserve wee stade there untill general Parmer was apointed Agent then all the employes were changed Ben Simpson them built the Onita mill and oe or 2 Schoonersthat made lively times on the Bay thenun 1872 there was a big Selebration at NewPort and all the Indians from the Siletz were there and the Indians were drinking and one indian drew a gun on Tom Boil and Tom shot him dead then there was another Scare the Indians was tutina (?) Dick one of the Worst Indians on the reserve. The night after the Boat towed a caw from Newport too the mouth of the Depo Slough then the indians Went on into the Slough too the old mill Where they met the team for the reserve. General Parmer went on that right too the agency and there was some of the ded Indians friends along and they wanted too Kill Parmer on the road but there was another Indian of another tribe that wouldn’t agree too Kill the Agent at the Siliz Res.

Mrs. Josephine M. Clark



Please return this to

Mrs. Vina. S. Barbour


PO Box 402

Some random Galata and Karakoy memories

Recently I came across a file that I had made for a young German woman, Lisa, who was doing a project for university about Galata. She came to my first little cafe and asked if she could interview me.  Of course I said yes and then she also asked for some of my favourite photos. And this is the file I came across.  I decided I would post them and write what I remember about them.  Some of these were everyday places in Galata and some were down the hill in Karakoy.  Ah, another stroll down memory lane.  How lucky I am to have such memories.

apple man

I don’t remember this man’s name, but he was quite a character.  He spoke in a gravelly thick voice but was always cheerful.  He came up with different ways to sell things on the street, fruit, small cucumbers that he peeled and salted, and then this, the spiral apple phase. This was around 2004, when there was still traffic in the square.


cevdet on the square

For a few years I often helped my emlakci (realtor) friend Sait when he was showing flats to yabanci (foreign) buyers.  It was a great way to see into buildings around Galata.  From this flat, the tower was on the right and this is looking down at the square.  And by chance that is my friend Cevdet in the green t-shirt. Ah, the good old Galata. There was a stone sculptor in the open courtyard, then the municipal bread stall, the manav (greengrocer), the market.  One time when I was at the manav, some guy in a car made a comment about me, a yabanci woman.  I did not catch it, but the grizzled old manavci told him ‘she is ours’.  I really appreciated it.


ecuadorians 2 folklore or real life

There were often activities on the square, some larger, some smaller.  These Ecuadoreans starting coming in about 2005, every year bringing a few more, including some women. Some of the musicians were very young. They came only for the season and then went to Europe or back home. I actually had a small group play in my cafe once.  They did not speak English and not much Turkish.  My Spanish is spotty and I don’t know Quechua, but one young man spoke French, so we got along ok.  He and some of the others have university degrees.

The other group is young Turkish women getting ready to dance.  I loved their bright clothing and I am glad that there are a lot of folkloric activities there.


galata dig2

I am going through these photos as they are in the file, so this is not quite Galata.  It is a dig down the hill from the tower.  My friend Kay was staying in the Galata House Hotel across from this.  We and another friend Asha were sitting on Kay’s tiny balcony and got to look at it more closely.  Galata was like that– lift a stone and there is history under it. When I left, the dig, still undug, had a big fence around it.  Someone told me it was going to become a parking lot, but I don’t see it happening.  But you never know, in istanbul.


galata fest boy watchers

There was an event going on by the tower with a good-sized audience.  The boys climbed the wall for a good vantage point. Getting up onto the wall is not really easy, so this is a young manly sort of thing to do. Some are sitting above the cesme (chesh may), which was once a place to get water and also was once in another place. I am not sure why they moved it and I am too lazy to research it.






genoese bldg1 getting water galata

These two places are in Karakoy.  The first one is on a side street going down from the tower.  I liked the medieval walls, the grated windows, the thick iron doors still going strong.  They are full of small industries, or were then, early  2000s.  The second photo is a working cesme on another street below the tower.  You can see the woman getting water from  it with probably her bored husband waiting. And here is this beautiful fountain surrounded by a squat industrial building. Galata was full of interesting and often not very beautiful contrasts like that.

hamal with flowers

This is Huseyin the hamal.  He is going or coming to a job where he carries big or heavy or awkward things.  I have seen him carry kitchen appliances or stacks of boxes. I don’t know what that padded rack is called, but old-time hamals use them a lot.  There is also a man who comes around once in a while to mend them. Huseyin was in his 60s but both he and his hamal brother were still working.  I had Huseyin haul some things for me a few times.  I would ask how much he wanted and he would reply sort of ‘whatever you think’, which put me in a quandary because I did not know the normal price. So I asked what normal price was and we agreed.  I often added a little something. He grew up in Galata, but he had moved his family to Sisli some decades before.  I suspect it was when Galata was in one of its down and out phases, guns, drugs, prostitution. Actually, there are still several government overseen brothels down the hill in Karakoy, in the old day full of sailors.


This is the view from my bedroom when I lived on Muellif Sokak.  That is the Golden Horn. I looked at that view for three years.  Lovely.


IMG_0025 IMG_0028

Yes, it snows in Istanbul. Though this much may happen once in the winter.  It is fun though, as it brings the city to a halt and it brings out playfulness in many people.  The guys on the left have a percussion shop and the snowman on the right were both on Galipdede, the main street leading from Istiklal down to the Galata Tower.  In fact, we yabanci often called it ‘the music street’ because of all the music shops.  Years before my time it had been old book street.  I think there was one old book shop left when I was there.

jewish doormy pix 675

Galata was not very Muslim  until maybe the last century.  For centuries there were active churches and synagogues.  Several have taken on other uses or have become derelict for lack of congregation.  The gray doors are for a synagogue which became an art gallery.   The other door is a little church tucked in to Karakoy.  This may be the Turk Ortadoks Kilise (church).


old bldg galata

Not sure why I included this.  Somewhere I have a lovely photo of the wisteria in bloom. I kind of like derelict buildings, wondering what their stories were. These are about a block from the tower.


omer's cherry sculpture seller

Two more faces of Galata. Omar is at the manav when it was right on the square.  I always thought he looked like a greengrocer, sort of jolly guy.  However, he also has a temper, which I saw a few times. A few years before I left he disappeared from the manav,  His brother, Bayram, a big booming Kurd, was kind of the godfather of the whole clan, which is a whole other story. He and Omar fell out, so Omar went away. It was around that time that  I learned that Omar had killed someone many years before.  Gulp. Here he is just a proud weaver of cherries.

The other man I saw often and occasionally bought from. That is my phone on the table, so you can see when this would have been taken.  At any rate, he sold rather dried up fruit and nut bars, which I think people bought out of pity than taste. But he was out every day, even when he had had something done to his leg and walked with a cane.


stairway to buyuk hendek synagogue2

These are quite old stairs left from when many of the roads around Galata were stepped.  These are the kind of stairs horses could go up.  I remember reading Pierre Loti’s account of riding a horse through Galata and wonder if he rode up this way.

The other view is looking down some stairs, perhaps these same ones, at the Ashkenazi synagogue.  It was not being used much at that point, mostly for bar mitvahs and weddings.




tea gartden winter 2

This is the tea garden in snow. The tea house is on the right.  At that time it had a wood stove and was very toasty. This was when it was gradually becoming less of a kiraathanesi (cafe for men) and if not welcoming of women, at least tolerant.

Wow, and here we are at the end of a zigzaggy tour of the past.  They were very good years.  More to come.