National Geographic : 1939 Jan
THE TRANSFORMATION OF TURKEY Those graceful airplanes I had seen stunt ing at Bluebird headquarters (page 16), were fabricated in the Kayseri plant. Thirty-two thousand spindles whirl in the Russian-built cotton plant; 1,024 looms turn the baled bolls of Adana's hot plain into almost 32 million yards of goods per year. Up from the mines of Zonguldak, on the Black Sea, from Amasya, Kiitahya, Gemerek, and Soma crawl trains of lignite and soft coal, which, mixed together, pour at the rate of 40 tons a day into hungry furnace mouths to supply power for this factory. Of the 2,500 employees, a large proportion are recruited from the local peasantry. The plant is keyed for 4,000 workers. "THE TERRIBLE TURK" GROWS HOMESICK FOR GEORGIA, U. S. A . I was shown the works by a young Izmir born Turkish textile engineer. "Where did you get your Southern accent?" I inquired. "Oh, three yeahs in No'th Ca'lina Uni versity and another three in Geo'gia Tech. They usedta call me 'the Terrible Turk' down theah. Ah'm homesick right now for some good Geo'gia cawn liquor. And, oh boy, those Atlanta gals!" Occasional devout Mohammedan workers knelt on their prayer rugs in corners of the mill rooms, seemingly unconscious of the clatter and movement about them. To be housed as guest in the visitors' quarter of the Kayseri mill was a novel and pleasant experience. Every comfort was provided. Bath water gushed steaming from a heater. The beds were without the Keil, that wedge-shaped backbone bender of extra mattress imported from central Europe, prevalent in most Turkish hotels. The company restaurant rang with cheery commercial voices of dye salesmen from England and Germany. The Balkan repre sentative of an American reckoning machine company was settling the problems of the world. My Turkish Georgia cracker swallows his nostalgia with his soup and talks shop. "The new labor board went into effect this year. It works as friendly intermediary between employer and employee, straight ening out snags. Strikes are prohibited in this man's land. We recently reduced work hours from ten to eight. What do you suppose the effect on production has been? An increase of 25 per cent!" Under a midnight full moon we strolled through the company grounds. Vibration of looms and acrid cotton-mill smell seemed fantastic anachronisms in this Cappadocian air, chilled by downdrafts from Mount Erciyas' glaciers and snow crests. Had I arrived two weeks earlier, I could have felt the effect of Jovian wrath upon the puny earth. Kayseri lies only 100 miles from the center of the earthquake of April, 1938, which took some scores of lives. That mighty tremor left a crack in the earth esti mated to be forty miles long, one yard wide, and in places a mile deep. An hour's jour ney from Kayseri entire cliffs plunged from mountainsides into valleys. A sweet soup, cucumbers stuffed with rice, tongue-pricking goulash smothered under a whitecap of yoghurt-these were just a few of the light-lunch dishes placed before us at midday. In the forenoon we had visited the school, where 1,300 boys and 100 girls were in tensively studying the three R's, Turkish (the new-old speech, chemically purified by the Language Commission), biology, his tory, nature, civics, drawing, handwork, music, gymnastics, and domestic science. We had heard "do, re, mi, fa," sung by youngsters whose ears must be trained to a new musical scale, and individual reading aloud of Western classics, a striking con trast to the mechanical babbling of Koran group intoning, which obtained in the Cali phate days. "The parents of these children-tell me of them. Are they keeping step with the youngsters?" I asked. "They have many lectures and access to the reading rooms of the People's House," replied the superintendent. "The older ones are still clinging to some of their standpat traditions. But in the main they are march ing with the times. You have seen that all wear modern dress." To my sorrow as photographer, I had observed it! "How did they take to the dress reform in inner Anatolia?" I inquired. "The fez was snatched overnight from our heads. The veil went out by gradual de grees. First the officers' and the school teachers' wives set the example; finally a zero hour was set beyond which no veil could be worn. The die-hards went into a three weeks' hiding to habituate themselves to the dreadful ordeal of showing naked faces on the street."