wehican

Early 70's In Izmir

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Wish I had found this site earlier. Found it while looking for Disko Hit.I was stationed in Izmir 1972-1974 in the Army, in the JSSG. I worked in the telephone central offices at Landsoutheast HQ and Disko Hit. Cant remember if I worked at Sirinyer in that time. Got to be kind of a blur.Other than a fishing trip to Lake Van and a visit to Sardis, I didn''t get far from Izmir. Did spend a lot of time at the NATO Rod and Gun Club and hunting in the area. Saw and did a lot of things there.Two years of my life I value very highly. I loved the people and the country. Worked with some interesting people. Hard to find the quality of people you had in the military on the outside.Ataturk scratched my heel while I was there. I had the fiercest and strangest cat in all of Turkey. However, I sincerely doubt I will fulfill that legend. There was a legend Ataturk would scratch the heel of the next great ruler in Turkey. This was supposed to be the reason so many Turkish guys wore their shoes with the heels scrunched down, like sandals. Or something like that. :-)I hope to post on the Izmir forum in the near future. Can't believe how big that city has grown.

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Welcome to our forum wehican and thank you for sharing your memoires of Turkey in the 70's and also the Ataturk legend. Have you got any photo's at all?

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Welcome to the forum Wihican. I would have loved to experienced Izmir back in the 70s, before all the development took place.

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Thank you, Abi. I had hundreds of photos, but don't have immediate access to them now if they still exist.Sunny, Izmir was kind of a wild and wooly place back then. Was not dull. Could get quite gritty. Was also the combat driving capital of the world. A red light was just a signal to honk your horn and flash your lights before you barreled through it. Total anarchy on driving.I will now move over to the Izmir forum for any more posts.

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Ah! The driving hasn't changed then. :)

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This site is like a gust of wind hitting dusty memories in a closed room. Don't know where to start. Can't remember many of the names of places, much less how to spell them. I learned enough Turkish to get by, but damned if I could spell the words.I traveled there with my wife and young son. Was a grueling trip. But I fell in love with Izmir the first night there. Stayed at the Hotel Izmir. Looking out over the city from the balcony in the blue hour was magical. The doves cooing, and the haze in the air. Looking through the haze of millions of ghosts from antiquity. Then to be awakened later at night by yelling in the street below and seeing a nude young woman running down the street with the employees of the hotel chasing after her, yelling "Polis!!. They caught up with her a block or so away. She was freaked out on something.That set the tone for my stay there, and an education about people. :-)Sunny, the driving there wore me out. However, my little red Datsun 510 commanded some respect there. I even made dump trucks stand on their nose. Hate to tell you how many sidewalks I drove down there.What really amazed me about the driving there was at the train tracks heading out to Bornova and Disko Hit. The gates went down, and the six lanes all filled up one way on both sides. Gates went up and you had six lanes of traffic facing each other. Within moments traffic was smooth again. One did learn to get behind trucks when that happened.Tooling down the highway outside of town could be quite the adventure. You look down the road and see three trucks abreast coming at you, playing chicken with you. Was not uncommon to see one of those little Anadols on the side of the road with the top sheared off. That road to Cesme was good for that.Turkey was under martial law when I was there. They had checkpoints set up on occasion out on the highways. At night you paid particular attention to dimly lit flashlights on the side of the road signalling you to stop. There were submachine guns attached to the body holding those flashlights. You best stop. Which brings up the airport security screening. You went out into the courtyard with your bags, opened them up for inspection, all the while with a Turkish soldier looking over with his submachine ready.

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You'll find that things generally are more relaxed now, at least, on the surface In the 90s when I used to regularly travel from Cesme to Izmir and vice versa there used to be regular control stops by the Jandarma but these have all but finished in the last 10 years. Of course, now there is a lovely motorway from Cesme to Izmir that cuts down the time for trips to the airport considerably.In fact the city has changed so much since you were here that you wouldn't recognise it.

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Thank you, Sunny. That building on the right may be one more than where I lived. There was a small empty lot used as a car lot between my building and the intersecting road. There was a little distance between that building and the next down the street. That balcony with the red thing hanging would be where I lived if that was the building.

Took a lot of pictures from that balcony. Loved that balcony during the blue hour. Loved that road.

Drove over that median a few times. Posted Image

The sounds of the air brakes on those Mannheim trucks was very loud going down that canyon of 8 story buildings.

Was reaching to wind up a cuckoo clock on the earthquake column in my living room around 2 AM when the earthquake of Feb 1974 hit. Lots of shaking and a big flash of light. Thought it was an atomic bomb at first. Was moving back and forth about 2-3 feet without taking a step. Ran back and grabbed my son and ran down the stairway, observing a nice sized crack opening in the elevator shaft as I bounced downward. It was just a hairline afterwards. The shaking ended just as I reached the lobby. Then it occurred to me that running into that canyon of tall buildings had its risks.

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Oh, yes. The Turkey trots.

Izmir was under a severe drought when I got there, and they shut the water off for most of the day during my time there. Would come on in the morning for two or three hours, then go off, then back on for a few hours in the evening. Flooding bathrooms and balconies from forgetting to turn off the water valves was quite common.

The water company loved it. Thirty seconds of air running through the meters was equal to thirty minutes of water. However, this made the water lines even more unsanitary than usual, them being so old, because of the air in the lines breeding all sorts of nastiness. The SOP was having a few plastic 5 gallon jerrycans of water for drinking, and a filled bathtub for flushing and cleaning between shutoffs. Twelve drops of Clorox bleach per gallon for drinking water. Amazing what that does for the taste of water.

Unfortunately, just breathing the air could give you the runs.

Was an interesting custom there about restaurants. Good ones wanted you to inspect their kitchens for cleanliness. Do they still do that?

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I was stationed in Izmir from 1997 - 1998 and used to hear lots of stories about how it was. There was a big hotel on the waterfront then, with a club, called the Kordon hotel, that generated a lot of the stories. That belongs to the Turkish military now. These days there are very few US personnel in Izmir, and most of them work out at Sirinyer Garrison.

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Ken, there was a big hotel just west of the HQ that I can't recall the name of. Classy joint. Had a hotel clerk named Gul that I fell in love with before leaving. She was more than the typical Turkish beautiful woman. I stayed in that hotel the last two weeks of my tour.Some time before I arrived Izmir had been closed as a liberty port to the U.S. Navy because of three drunk Marines taking down the Turkish flag and polishing their shoes with it right there on the bay. It had just been re-opened before I left and the fleet was returning from Beirut. The JFK and support vessels hit town. 8000 Navy and Marines. I was on the fifth floor facing the bay and had to listen to those Mike boats going back and forth all night for a few days. Those things were loud.The PX was stripped clean, the NCO club was jammed. Their presence was an inconvenience. However, the taxi drivers and women working in the compound made some fortunes. Seventy cent taxi rides became twenty dollar fares. One dollar and forty cent tricks made as much or more. Drunken sailors and Marines can get quite stupid.A few days after my departure, Turkey invaded Cyprus. Disko Hit was the big show back at that time for the Americans, along with the support contingent for that community.It was a wild and wooly place. Americans lived on the economy, no barracks or base. Could be very treacherous for the troops and dependents, depending on who they hooked up with. Drugs were a problem. Turk dealers rattled off the name of every American they knew when caught because that was the only way they could get a sentence reduced. If a dependent was involved, the Turk DA would alert the American authorities of a warrant coming down. Those dependents were out of country within 24 hours. Service members didn't get that.There was plenty of swinging and other adventures going on in the community. Particularly among those who extended their tours to the five year limit then.Did you ever hear of the call girl ring made up of students at the American high school there?

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I lived in Izmir in the early 70's too, from 1971-1974.  It was an awesome experience!  My dad was Club Officer, and ran the Kordon.  I was in high school at the time, pretty devoted to sports, so spent a lot of time at Bayrakli.  Konak was da bomb.  Our apartment building was right across the street from a side entrance to the grounds of the Efes Hotel, near the pool, so spent a lot of time there.  We were required to study Turkish in school, but all I really remember are a few choice insults -- I learned those from folks on the street!  I was often mistaken for being

 

For American kids, living in Izmir during that time is an experience -- or collection of experiences -- that had profound effects on us that I'm sure we all carry with us to this very day.  I would love to go back and visit sometime, especially to re-visit Ephesus.  There's a lot more of that unearthed than there was back then.  My current impression, though, is that it's not all that safe for Americans to be there right now!  True or false?  I'd like to visit the shrine at Ararat too.  And, just see what Izmir looks like with 10 times the population, highways, I think a rebuilt bayfront, etc.

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It's safe here for almost everybody these days bokagee, as long as you respect the place and culture. Only when one acts disrepectfully do things start becoming "difficult".

 

Welcome to Turkey Central.

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I was looking to see if there was any informaiton about Disco Hit when I stumbled into this site.

I served in Izmir with the Air Force at all three locations around 1973.  I don't doubt some of us crossed paths back then. 

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I don't know if Disco Hit is still there these days. There was a major downsizing back around 2003-2004, and I haven't even heard of Disco Hit since then. So I suspect it doesn't exist any more.

 

I was stationed in Izmir from 1997 through 2001. Retired now, still living in Turkey! Turkey.gif

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I was looking to see if there was any informaiton about Disco Hit when I stumbled into this site.

I served in Izmir with the Air Force at all three locations around 1973.  I don't doubt some of us crossed paths back then. 

We undoubtedly crossed paths.  I was there June 1972 to June 1974.  If you worked all 3 sites you were probably JSSG support group.  I was Army and worked all 3 sites in the telephone central offices.  Spent most of time in Disko Hit.  Spent a lot of time and money at the NATO Rod and Gun Club.  Spec 5 Nelson.  If you heard about the Turkish chief NCO of security at Disko playfully pulling a gun looking for beer one night at the refrigerator our low life section chief kept in the office, my shift partner and I were the ones he pulled it on.  Our scumbag section chief sold sodas out of it.  Him and I had some conflicts.  I refused to lug that refrigerator and those sodas all the way down that tunnel like he made his Air Force troops do.  We had to sell and collect the money.  He kept it all and wouldn't even give us a break on the price.  That incident ended that.  I will beat him to death to this day if I see him again.   

 

I am not on here much.  I do my internet on my cellphone.  If you recognize me you can email me at dmgggg@hotmail.com

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Ken, Disko Hit was THE main show back then. Was the air combat control center for SE Europe. Was designed to take a direct nuclear hit and still function. Similar to Cheyenne Mountain from what I heard.

Had a lunatic gung ho Army colonel that wanted to seal us up inside during a big exercise we had. That meant pouring concrete over the entrance. He was overruled by the general. Found out there was another very tight entrance to the surface that was used for guard posting at the top. Long twisting narrow steps from the main tunnel going up. And dark. Walked up it once at night.

Did a lot of double deck pinochle playing there with the crypto guys. Read a million books. Mid shifts were brutal there. Couldn't wait for the canteen to open in the morning for breakfast and hit the daylight going home.

Was a very self sufficient operation. Was designed to be cut off from the rest of the world and still be able to destroy part of it.

It was pretty much an American operation. There was a sizeable Greek presence, along with just a few from other NATO countries. Damned Greeks kept the PX stripped of popular items they flew back to Athens to sell. They had some Turk clerks alerting them when those items were being put out. Blackmarketing was big there. I think the per capita income for Turks then was something like $300 a year. Official rate was 14 lira to a dollar, black market was 16. Everyone did black market currency exchange. The Class 6 store made a lot of people rich. I seem to remember the American and NATO rations were something like 6 fifths a month. I hardly used mine. The money was the only thing blackmarket I really did.

Sent the family home after the earthquake about 3 months early. Was too nervewracking worrying about them buried in that mountain working. My blackmarket connection and part time sex partner then tried to get me to defower her 13 yr old daughter. I knew better than that. Had to be careful who you dealt with and how there. My security training and developed cautiousness served me well.

Can't remember the exact location, but the post office, BX, commissary, Class 6 store, magazine shop, and whatever else was clustered, with the theater and NCO club within a few blocks down the road. Parked near the APO and walked around a corner or traffic circle to them.

Funny thing after leaving there. Took me a while to break my jaywalking habit I picked up there.

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With so many people involved as expats for so many years, I think a multi-year journey with multiple collaborators would an excellent idea.  I have so many stories from my 2 years stationed there..WEHICAN...so many similarities between the 70s & the mid 2000s when I was there (2007-2009).  And now as a "there & back" resident...my stories continue to grow. 

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