'31st-October-1965' was the date of my journey from Kilitbahir to İmroz/ Gökçeada. It took nearly five hours in a boat. I was born in İstanbul and all my knowladge about ' an island ' was limited as Kınalı-Burgaz- Heybeli-Büyükada!
But that day, there was no wind,the sea was calm and I was happy and had no fear. The captain was making jokes with everybody in the boat and intoduced me as ' The new teacher !' to the others.
During the first days, the language ( Turkish ) the people spoke around didn't disturb me .Because in Bakırköy ( where I was born and lived for 21 years) Eleni , Katina, Vasula ( the children,my friends, I played with) Vasil Amca -the shoemaker- ,Andon Amca-the shopkeeper-, all of them were speaking Turkish nearly the same way.
I also used to hear ' the bell' and ' ezan' at the same time . Sakız tatlısı my grandmother made and cookies Maria Teyze cooked had the same delicious taste.
I wasn't surprised at all when I first saw the rich library in the school I was teaching in. Because the schools I was educated in had astonishing libraries full of all kinds of books and a holly atmosphere.
Everything I saw and met on the island wasn't so different from the living-stly in İstanbul for me!
All those years I only tried to be a good teacher and prefered to live in my own world but that isolated me a way from the other islanders and happenings .
And now ! Can I call it fate, I don't know. I am on the 'Island' again and have been living here for a time and will live till the end..
Today, people from different geographies and cultures are living in Gökçeada.If they are combined well and wisely, Gökçeada can have a rich culture , or in other words a living-style, of its own.
During the last years, a lot of good things have been done for Gökçeada, mostly for the sake of tourism. A lot of academicians, artists and people who love this island have done/ been doing a lot of good things.
And me ? Time to time I tried to talk to the people who were living here and to write their stories.
Dear Dr. Hakan Ortakan heartened me to write these life-stories. You'll read the stories of known / unknown people lived / living in İmroz / Gökçeada...
I- İHSAN KAFKAS
İhsan Kafkas has an important place in my life on the 'island'.
As soon as I stepped on the island , the first question I heard was ' Where are you going to stay ? ' My answer was ' Of course in a hotel ! Later I'm going to hire a house, I hope ! ' People who asked the question began to laugh, I couldn't understand. Why?
On the other hand I wasn't restless at all.Because some people at Kilitbahir had told me a name and to meet him if I had a problem. ' Bekçi İhsan Kafkas '.......
After a month, I visited him. He and his wife welcomed me heartily. Since then we've had a great friendship between us. They were not only my friends but also my brother and sister ! They were like my family. And Erol Saygı asked them for my hand in 1969 !
İhsan Kafkas was born in 1925 and has been living in Gökçeada for 45 years.
His father , Haydar Bey, was a soldier in Caucasus army. His mother , Emine Uysal, was the daughter of a family living in Gelibolu. They loved each other and married in Kilitbahir, had three sons, the eldest was İhsan.
Haydar Bey wasn’t in the army anymore,he had a shop but he went bankrupt. To earn money he began to sell scrap metal mostly found on the hills where ‘ Çanakkale War ‘ had taken place. But one day in 1938 while he was trying to cut a shrapnel in pieces, it exploded and he lost one of his legs and died there.
İhsan, as the eldest brother, left the school and began to work as a shepherd to look after his family. In 1944 he joined the army. After 36 months in the army for his military service, he came back to Kilitbahir. He was a shepherd again. He didn’t know how to play a pipe but his voice was beautiful, all the young girls who were working in the fields around were eager to listen to his songs.
Not only his voice but also his good manners , his handsome appearance were liked by the young girls. In 1959,when he was 34, he married Makbule ( aged 18). He called / still calls her ‘ The greatest chance of my life ! ‘
İhsan and Makbule spent their first six months on the mountains to care for the sheep. When Makbule got pregnant, İhsan didnt want her to work with him and they decided to settle in Kilitbahir. İhsan did a lot of different works to earn money and at last he began to work in the boat of Şefik Dağlı. It was sailing between Çanakkale and İmroz.
One day Osman Demircioğlu,a policeman on the island, offered him to work as a night-watchman for the police office in İmroz-( 1960 ). On those days there were four policemen and five night-watchmen in the police station.
The salary of the night-watchmen was collected from the islanders.
In a short time everybody loved them and called İhsan as ‘ Papa İhsan ‘ and Makbule as ‘ Makbuş ‘.
They had their son,Erol, in 1962...
While İ:Kafkas is telling us his story , we can also learn about İmroz in the sixties. He says that during his first years on the island there were no important crime or criminal in İmroz ( neither today ! ) and the only prison in Çınarlı was mostly empty. For this reason the guardian and his family had chickens and goats in the garden of the prison.
İhsan worked in Yeni Mahalle at first. The only Turk was Ferit İzmirlioğlu ( from Crete, married a Greek woman
He was an advocate. The governor, Şerafettin Türkmen, wanted İhsan to work in Çınarlı . In Çınarlı there were some Turkish families from Sürmene, Rodos and Selanik, They were settled here before 1960.
Families from Sürmene were dealing with fishing.
Mustafa Üzümcü ( Mustafa Dayı ) and his wife ( both from Rodos ) were lighthouse keepers. ( The lighthouse was on a hill near the Kaleköy Harbour. When we heard the whistle ,we got excited.Some of us for our friends we were going to meet soon, some of us for the travel we were going to set out. S.S )
There were some official establishments in Çınarlı ,such as Bank, PTT and Hospital. İhsan Kafkas can remember the names of the doctors in the hospital - Gündüz Bey, Dündar Bey , Gümgör Bey and Dimitri Foka.-
There were two kinds of school in Çınarlı, one was for Turkish sutudents , ‘ Cumhuriyet Primary School ‘
The other was ‘ Primate Rum School ‘ –primary and secondery - ( The second one wasnt ‘ private ‘ after 1964.
This was the school I began to work in 1965 – İmroz Ortaokulu - . We all – the teachers and the students planted some pine trees in the school garden. They grew up in time but , unfortunately, they fell down because of the great storm in 2004. When I saw them being cut, I became very sad and asked some cones from the men who were cutting them . They couldnt understand anything, just looked at me for a time and gave me two ! S.S )
İ.Kafkas goes on : There were two ship sailing between İstanbul and İmroz ...Ayvalık and Gemlik... twice a week.on Wednesday and Saturday.
There were also six boats :
1- Gülbahçe : Captain Vangel İpsaro ( from Kaleköy)....between İstanbul and İmroz......mostly for loads.
2-Küçük Dağlı : Captain Şefik Dağlı....between Çanakkale and İmroz....for loads and people.
3-Büyük Dağlı : Captain Ali Dağlı.......between Çanakkle and İmroz...for loads and people.
4- Gilivri : Captain Ali Dağlı
5-Hababam : Captain Mustafa Hıra : between Ç.kale and İmr. ..carrying people and loads.
And the last (6) was Kaderim : Ahmet Talay and İbrahim Talay: between Ç.kale and İmroz ..
There were two buses belonged to Dereköy and Tepeköy...a minibus for Zeytinliköy.....and for the villagers of Bademliköy there was a tractor ( owner was Andon Vulgarel)...In Çınarlı Yani Çirka had a special car but Madam Katina Çirka, his wife, drove it. She was the only women who had a car and could drive in those days.
During the last years traffic is very heavy in Gökçeada..Service buses ,buses, caps, tractors , cars, buses for tourists........
( The voice of his whistle was the most beautiful voice for my dark nights. I was a young girl and living alone. Although tere was no reason to be frightened , I had imaginary fears and the voice of his whistle was like a friend’s and I was having confidence in me and sleeping like a child. S.S )
İhsan Kafkas was / is a respectable man..He is a trusted man.. . Although he is like a storm ( ! ) in his own house time to time ,he never lets anybody hurt his family.
The couple, İhsan and Makbule, lost their beloved son , Erol ,in 1999. They are trying to be happy with their lovely granddaughter, Cansu..