National Geographic : 1951 Aug
Turkey Paves the Path of Progress they added bright touches of color to the golden threshing floors. In the high valleys were wide meadows and fine-looking cattle. Where the tawny rocks or bright cliffs come down to green valleys, poplars rise above inconspicuous houses, their flat roofs hidden under stacks of fodder or dung for fuel. At one place, two enormous half-domes towered so close to our trail that a normal lens could not picture them. When we arrived at Pinarbasi, dinner was over; but there is no time clock on Turkish hospitality. We fared well. We slept at Kayseri, in the guesthouse of the textile mills, administered by the Siimer Bank, Government boss of 30,000 more-or less skilled industrial workers. In addition to producing 13 yards of cotton cloth per capita, Turkey exported more than 55,000 tons of raw cotton in 1950. For the first time, leaf tobacco was eclipsed by raw cotton as an export. In January, 1951, cotton made up more than half of Turkish exports. The factory is almost hidden by trees. Bright flower beds are kept in beautiful con dition. There are tennis courts and a swim ming pool, with a dance floor and outdoor restaurant. The machinery is first-class, the layout efficient, and the laborers loyal. Industry Slow to Take On Women Workers Female mill operatives are relatively few, although almost no career is closed to women. Turkey has more than 12,000 female teachers, and nearly 36 percent of Turkey's students are girls. Women, enfranchised in 1934 (page 146), have served in the Grand National Assembly since 1935, when 16 out of 17 female Deputies were professional women. Others sit as judges. Young Turkish girls at the American College for Girls on the Bosporus think many of the same thoughts, see the same movies, read the same books, hum some of the same tunes as those of Mount Holyoke or Vassar (pages 159, 170, 171, 175). Florya and Florida have the same beach styles. But in remote parts of Turkey the older women still veil part of their faces, and cotton-mill hands are mostly men! The introduction of more women operatives at Kayseri might reduce expenses without deterioration of the product. But many Turks are conservative about letting women displace men in industry. The mill director, Tarik ismet Erdem, has organized a revolving fund for building sturdy houses with two bedrooms, living room, bath, kitchen, and storage room for the equivalent of 550 days' wages. Wages, houses, and buy ing power give the 35-cent Turkish lira about the same value as the American dollar. Some of the old mosque doors of Kayseri (Caesarea Mazaca) are very fine. Rising above humble markets are walls dating from Roman days, with the ski fields on 12,848-foot Erciyas Dagi far in the distance. But the new areas are well built, and the maintenance shops of the Highway Directorate, identical with others along our route, are spick-and span. Machinery borrows some features from the animals it displaces. One day, picturing modern road machinery against the mighty mass of Erciyas Dagi, I came upon a heavy studded roller. "Nothing beats a sheep's foot for treading down loose earth. That is a sheep's-foot roller. It does the same work as a flock of sheep, but does it faster." In a land of 25 million sheep and 17 mil lion ordinary and mohair goats, the road builder uses machines. But thousands of miles of trails are still kept open by the feet of animals. Back in Ankara, on August 30, I found scores of star-and-crescent banners deco rating the capital, while crowds wildly cheered the troops destined for Korea. Scarlet head lines showed this was a red-letter day, and Mustafa Kemal was pictured on page one of Turkish newspapers as he appeared during his battle of 1922, when the Turks drove their enemies to the sea. In 1921, for an earlier victory, he had been given the title of Gazi, or Conqueror. I asked a Turkish official the significance of Victory Day. "Actually, it commemorates a victory over the Greeks. But the Greeks are our friends. We honor our army and the Gazi, but we don't like to remind our former enemies of their defeat." Xenophon, Alexander, and St. Paul Passed This Way My friend Haydar Sicimoglu wanted to show me the new highway between Ankara and the Cilician Gates, where, since time began, armies, travelers, and cargo have squirmed through the Taurus (Toros Daglari). Xenophon passed this way on his Anabasis. Alexander's men went through, without a fight. The Crusaders fingered their weapons as they approached the narrow defile. I had rattled through it in 1928, when a motor trip in Anatolia was real adventure. Turkish hospitality lives up to the pro spectus, and I might still be wandering in the footsteps of St. Paul. But my time was short, and I could not again visit St. Paul's birthplace, Tarsus, which is also the place where Cleopatra's barge "burn'd on the water" toward Antony.