BEDROS PASHOIAN’S STORY
Above: Bedros’ parents, Tourfanda and Giragos circa 1908.
It is assumed this picture was taken in Yeghike, Kharpert where Bedros was born. Bedros later moved to Tarsus and urged his parents to do likewise.
1878 – 1965
and Armenoughy Pashoian
1893 – 1968
Bedros, Armenoughy, Samuel b. 1912 and
Araxie 1916 – 1986
Prologue by Edward Avedis Kazanjian, grandson of Bedros Pashoian and son of Bedros’s daughter Araxie Pashoian Kazanjian prepared in February, 2010.
The following is a translation of approx. 50 handwritten pages left by Bedros Peter Pashoian my maternal grandfather who in his later years lived with the Kazanjians at 118-120 Winsor Avenue, Watertown, MA. The translation was done by Krikor Kassabian, a good friend who lives in Malden, which ironically is where the Pashoians ultimately settled on returning to the United States in 1920 (following several years in Worcester).
Bedros was born in 1878 in Kharpert and came to the United States in 1899. (Bedros died on September 23, 1965 at the Armenian Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain at the age of 87.)
In 1909, a bride (Yenova Ayvazian age 15, b. 1893) was brought to the USA by Bedros’ brother. They married and in 1910 the newly married Bedros and Armenoughy (Bedros didn’t like Yenova and had changed her name to Armenoughi) decided to return to Turkey (Historic Armenia) to visit his parents and in-laws. (Armenoughi died at home in Watertown on September 23, 1968 at the age of seventy-four exactly three years to the day after Bedros)
They remained in Turkey throughout the First World War and Genocide of 1915 until 1920. Their family upon returning to the USA in 1920 consisted of Bedros, and his wife Armenoughi, their son Samuel (b. 1912), their daughter Araxie (my mother, b. July 20, 1914), and a third child who Bedros claimed as a daughter, a young girl taken from an orphanage named Yakouhi (Queenie) (b. 1908). Queenie later married Bedros’ cousin Norman Pashoian and raised her family in Malden (three boys, Norman, Warren, and Eddie). Norman Pashoian, Jr. was well known as the doorman at the Ritz Carlton, Boston where after 63 years on the job he still works part time. Bedros established the Maplewood Market at 230 Lebanon Street in Malden, MA. Samuel (b. 1912) went on to set football records at Malden H.S. which still stand. He married and had a daughter Barbara (who became a Radio City Hall Rockette in NYC), he divorced then re-married Florence and had two children Richard and Lorraine. Araxie (a bookkeeper/accountant and later Secretary at St. James Armenian Church, Watertown for over twenty years) married in 1937 to Edward Avedis Kazanjian (b. 1910). Their wedding on November 7, 1937 was the first wedding at St. James. They had three children Sandra, Edward and Gerald.
The story below, told by Bedros only covers the period from 1909 to 1915.
Any changes, additions, or clarifications made by me below are in braces [ ] and are italicized. No attempt to correct grammar has been made.
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PERSONAL MEMOIRS 1908 1915
Note: Before I write my memoires and thoughts, I’d like to mention that if I might have some inaccuracy of names, places and dates, because all my diaries which I had kept them for many years were left in Izmir along with two crates of goods and three bundles of carpets.
In 1899 prior traveling to America, I lived in Cilicia (Darson) for eight months. [Darson is the Armenian spelling for the city of Tarsus] When I came to America, I regarded Darson my homeland, more than my actual homeland [Kharpert]. With that thought, I sent a large amount of money to my father and asked him to move to Darson, where I thought it will be my final place to live. And because Darson was not an unfamiliar place to my father, he agreed and move to Darson with my mother and sister, but they did not live there for long and returned [to Kharpert] where they were born.
In 1908, when the New Turkish Constitution was established, myself along with thousands of exited Armenians living in America, wanted to go back home and see my family again.
I was getting ready to return to my fatherland, I bought a big wooden crate for my belongings, but the salesman did not have a way to transport the crate, so I went to Charlestown, MA to see my friend Manoug D. Hovanessian to borrow his horse and cart. On the way back Manoug saw the crate, he pulled the horse aside and asked me what I was doing with that big crate. I told him I was getting ready to return home, to my country. Manoug without asking any more details pulled the crate off the cart and threw it down the cellar of his shop, and said, “I need help, I am looking for someone to work with me, especially now that my brother left me”. He took me inside his shop and made me put on a butcher’s white coat. I started thinking that maybe I should wait ‘til next year, may be end of May and then travel. It was the beginning of April when the Boston Newspapers printed the sad new about the Adana Massacres.
I did not waste any time and sent a two way prepaid telegram to Dr. Thomas Christie who was the missionary of the St. Paul College of Darson and inquired about the status of my family. Three days later I received a telegram from him stating that my family members were alive and well and under his supervision and care. Thinking about their situation, I rushed and wired 20 Turkish gold (money) to my brother. A month later I received a letter from my brother, they were in Mersin. He had received the money I have sent to him and they have decided to come to America. The ship was leaving in two days from Mersin. He is coming with his wife, two children and bringing a young girl (fiancée) for me to get married. When I saw the girl’s age, I was a little upset because she was half my age. [she was 15 years old and Bedros was now almost thirty]
It was the end of August, I received a telegram from my brother informing that they were in Liverpool [England], the name of the ship and dates, and that they were arriving to Halifax, [Nova Scotia,] Canada. I had traveling experience and knowledge of the difficulties of foreign travelers, because two years ago when my sister was coming I had to go to Liverpool and witnessed their problems. I decided to take a train and go to Halifax, Canada. As soon as I arrived to Halifax, I went to the office of the ship line company to find the arrival time of the ship. Oh what a luck! I met an old friend Melkon Janigian, who used to live in Watertown MA, who now works at this office as a translator. Melkon wanted to know what I was doing in Halifax and I explained to him the situation. Melkon advised me to go back to Boston, not to spend extra money by staying there and losing my salary a week’s pay. He said he was working for the company and can keep an eye on my brother and help them. I gave my sincere appreciation to Melkon but said that I will wait for my brother. And since the ship was going to be delayed, staying for repairs in Holland for a week, I asked Melkon to find me a room to rent for a week. He took me to the same place where he was living, introduced me to the landlady and I rented a room from her and prepaid $4.50 for the week.
It was Thursday evening when Melkon came to my room to tell me he received a telegram from Atamian in Liverpool . Atamian writes in the telegram that he is sending 58 bags of coffee for Melkon to sell and then send him his cut. This was a secret message, it meant he is sending 58 passengers, and for Melkon try to get as much money as possible from them and send Atamian his cut. I got upset and Melkon and I exchanged some words. I told Melkon that he works here and is already getting paid well by the ship company and what he was doing was wrong, robbing these poor passengers. I told him as long as I am here I will not tolerate this kind of business. As for Atamian, I knew he was a crook, because two years ago a good friend told me about his corruption.
The following Monday at about 4:00 pm the ship arrived, the passengers went through the custom and immigration. Around 9:00 pm someone came and said that the Custom Inspector wants to see you. I thought there was some kind of a problem with fees or money. I wasn’t worried because I had more than enough money with me to cover any extra expenses. I went in and saw the inspector and asked him if there was a money shortage issue for my brother? No said the inspector, your brother has more than enough money, as a matter of fact he has a money belt with 200 gold pieces. Then he turned to Melkon Janigian and said you must be tired, go rest and let this gentleman help me with the translations. The passenger who was being questioned was a hero from Adana, a teacher from the Sarkissian School, Garabed Lachinian from Evereg.
Melkon Janigian without knowing that Garabed could understand English was purposely misinforming the inspector. Garabed had complained about the translations and that’s why they asked me to come in and translate. I found out from my brother that Melkon had collected over 50 dollars from the passengers. I wasn’t worried about what he did, but very angry that he took two dollars from a National Hero. I confronted Melkon and explained to him who Garabed Lachinian was and I said, “The two dollars that you took from him, you repay him back with five dollars.”
The next evening we took the train from Halifax. When we arrived to Boston I took our National Hero to our house. Next day with his request I took him to the Hairenik newspaper. Many years went by. I used to live in Malden, MA and Lachinian in Watertown, MA. After 42 years Tro [General Dro] came and was going to make a speech, a Tashnag friend invited me to the gathering, I did not refuse and went. My friend took me to the National Hero Garabed and introduced me to him. I said to my friend that he is 42 years to late, and explained who I was and how we met 42 years ago in Halifax. Garabed Lachinian could hardly remember me, I don’t know if the reason was the empty whiskey bottle in front of him, or that he now had lots of money.
Two weeks after we arrived to Boston I got married on Sept 18th. But the marriage, having a home and family around did not hinder me the desire to go back to my country and see my parents.
Two months after our wedding my brother with his family moved back to Darson, his father in law in Darson was wealthy and had a very good business and needed a trustworthy person to work with him.
On August 6th 1910 went to New York and got on a Greek ship named Thormestoclio (spelling?) which was not so clean and was a very slow ship. There wasn’t many passengers, maybe couple hundred, within them about 20 Armenians who were fooled like myself by the New Turkish Constitution and were returning to their homeland. It was 12 days later when we arrived at Gibraltar. I went to a barber shop for a hair cut, and there I bumped to one of the ship’s captains who was from Izmir. He knew Turkish and a little English, and we became friends. He invited me to join to his group [table at dinner], I accepted it and when we went up, he introduced me to the Greek Captain, the Doctor, and the telecommunicator, whom they called him Marconi [Guglielmo Marconi, was the inventor of radio telegraph], the officer was a German and knew English and so did the Greek Doctor. From that day on I spent time with this group eating and drinking and listening to Greek music, we had a wonderful time. We were just crossing the [Straits of] Gibraltar, on the right was Africa and the left was Spain, all of the sudden there was a commotion of course all in Greek. Marconi and I didn’t know what was going on, we just stare each other. After a short time I saw the white costumed captain and the Doctor completely covered in black soot, when I asked what happed they said there was a coal fire which they distinguished it and there was no danger. But they did not want the passenger to know, to avoid panic. They all went and changed to clean uniform and back to the table to drink and eat.
One quiet day the first Captain and the Doctor invited me and my wife to spend a week or two as their guests in Athens when we arrive in Greece. I thanked them and said I have to ask my wife, and when I did she said if you desire it will be a good chance to see Athens.
But when my wife was telling to our Armenian friends about our plan, they said that we left New York together to go to our Country we should all go together. Next day I told the Captain the situation, I thanked him for his offer.
The next morning at Piree [Piraeus, Athens’ port] they told us that we have to transfer to another ship to go to Bolis (Istanbul). I asked the Captain as to how much time we have before the other ship sails, he said we have ten hours and asked if we wanted to go ashore to see the town of Piree. We said yes, the Captain made some signals with two flags and sent a small boat will take us to land. The boat came with a policeman and took us to land we spent about two hours, bought some small things, then the same boat took us to the other ship, as we were sailing by, the Greek Captain was waving us good bye with his flag , we did the same with our handkerchiefs . When we arrived to the other ship we offered the policeman some money for taking care of us but he refused and just thanked us. He had also positioned another guard with our belongings while we were away on land. Before leaving they also wanted us to make sure that all our belongings were intact.
In the new ship a young man from Bolis joined us, who was transporting guns and bullets from Greece to Bolis. When I asked him his name, he said if I give you my real name no one will recognize it not even my close friends. But let me give you a name that every Armenian will recognize, “Pij Leho”. Some of my friends had Smith and Wasson six-shooter with them, but I had a double barrel hunting rifle and a 22 caliber five shooter, that’s all, my friends knew nothing else.
When we arrived in Bolis I was thinking how I was going to smuggle my other gun the ten-shooter. I wrapped the 60 bullets in my waist and the gun I gave it to my wife to hold it with two hands and covered it with folded coat.
When the inspectors came and opened my crate, and asked me if I had any guns, I told him yes and showed them my five-shooter, and said nothing else, and went through.
After spending a day in Bolis, I don’t know how my neighbor’s son, who was studying in Bolis found us and asked if we could stay for a few days so he can show us around, but again our traveling friends objected and we could not see Bolis.
The first day when we were on the ship to Samson I met two business men from Sepastia, who after finishing their business in Bolis and were returning home. One was the director of Bon Modele name Serop Efendi and the other Mugerdich Efendi Geozourian who was a very friendly and funny man. When we arrived in Samson I was able to get the guns out without any problems just like it we did earlier.
Mugerdich Efendi, even though he was rushing to get home safe, when he rented a carriage for himself, he did not forget us and rented carriage for us from his trustworthy friend Nishan Dzerigian.
Next day we start traveling and by evening we arrived in Khachoumeh [name not recognized]. This little village which is blessed for its natural hot water springs gave us the opportunity to take a bath. That evening we all went to take a bath, our hotel was very close to the bath areas. After the bath I just had arrived to the hotel when I learned about their custom. The ladies who work at the bath house would not let free from the bath house a newlywed bride until they get a tip and they were holding my wife because she was a newlywed bride. I asked the locals, as to how much to tip, because I did not want to be embarrassed. They told me that the fee for the bath was 20 Para and if I doubled it that would be more than sufficient. I went to the bath house and gave five times the fee 100 Para. They were so appreciative that they carried her on their arms to the hotel.
Next morning we traveled to Amasia. After we settled in our hotel, we went to the market to buy food. Went to the lamb kebab store and bought one Okha (kilo) of kebab meat. I asked for the price and was ready to pay for it. Suddenly a man next to me stopped me and asked the storekeeper why he was charging this guest more money that the regular price? Shame on you! You think the guest foreigner’s money worth less?
Next morning we traveled again, I can’t remember how long it was, but finally arrived Tokat. Here we met a Kharpertsi mother with her two teenage daughters, who they knew and were very friendly with my parents. They invited us to their place and fed us Kharpertsi pilaf and Khavourma and Tokat grapes and pears.
Next morning we were getting ready to travel, I saw another carriage being prepared for a Komisere. I asked Nishan our carriage driver to find out who he was and where he was going. He came back and said that the Komisere was going to Kharpert, and he was Haroutiun Efendi from well know Missakian family. He was in Bolis for his promotion to Komisere and now was returning home to Kharpert.
The carriages back on the road, the weather was very nice, and having good times with my friends, I asked the driver to go very slow and the men went our to a near high ledges and start testing the guns by firing them one at a time. The time came to test the ten shooter colt, I fired it only twice. We then came back to the carriages. I saw the Komisere’s carriage come from behind and he asked me in Turkish to show him the Colt. So as a wise guy I responded to him that I was not wearing a ‘Coat’ , my ‘Coat’ was in the carriage. He didn’t like my answer and ordered me to give him the ten-shooter. I gave him the ten shooter, he looked at it and said don’t you know it is forbidden to bring in this kind of guns into Osmanian country [Osmania was in the 19th century the name for greater Turkey]. And I replied to him, why is it not forbidden to bring in this gun through Bolis but, it is forbidden here in the fields of Tokat?. Then I said in Armenian, Haroutiun Efendi, you as a high Ranking official Komisere, have the right to criticize me, but as an Armenian your criticism should have been, why didn’t you smuggled in ten Colt guns. I grabbed the gun from his hand and start walking to my carriage and said, if you want this gun you have to get out of your carriage and get it from me by force. For the rest of the journey we did not cross each other.
In our traveling group there was a little girl, daughter of a Sepastatsi Doctor, she was sent to America (Worcester) for medical recovery purposes and now returning home. She was accompanied and cared for by a Tademtsi Moushegh Toumasyan (I think that was his name), who also was returning to his homeland. Mugerdich Efendi Geozourian had arrived Sepastia a day before and had spread the news of the arrival of the Doctor’s little girl who was cured. As we approached Sepastia about 8 to 10 miles to go, a group of people came and asked the carriage driver to let the horses free. To our surprise my honorable friend Mugerdich Efendi Geozourian was among the group of people who were welcoming us. After a lavish reception with a table full of food and drinks, we continued our journey and three hours later we arrived at Geozourian’s very famous house, as his guests. Two days later we went to the market bought some essentials, thanked our friend for his hospitality and promised to keep our friendship forever, and continued our journey.
We spent a night in a town called Kanial [not sure of this name], and two day later around noon we arrived a small village to rest for a few hours. When I asked for the owner of the inn, they told he wasn’t feeling good and sleeping on his bed. When I approached to his bed I found him very sick with high fever. Right away I gave him some laxative, a few hours later when the laxative worked the man opened his eyes and thanked me. I gave the man some Quinine pills for his fever.
After our rest and dinner the sick man came and informed us that he was not going to charge any fees for the inn nor the food, for our group. Next morning while preparing for departure I offered to pay to the inn keeper for his services but he absolutely refused to take money.
We continued our journey, that the afternoon we stopped at a beautiful brook to drink water and rest. Another carriage travelling the opposite way stopped for a rest. I noticed there was a Priest (Vartabed) sitting in the carriage. I pretended to get more water and walked toward the carriage and asked the driver about the priest. He said it was Archbishop Moushegh. I kissed his right hand, and when he asked who we were, I told him that we were from America and going to visit my parents. There was not much time for conversation and the carriages departed to the opposite direction.
When I was in Charlestown, MA (America), my friend Sarkis Markarian had lost communication with his wife and son in Malatia, because he did not know how to read and write. When I became a close friend I asked him why he was not writing letters to his wife, he explained the situation and also said he did not have a trustworthy person who could read and write letters to and from his wife. I told him that I was willing to do that if he trusted me. He was very happy about my offer and he said he was going to Boston to get a check from Janjikian and that evening he came to my room and I wrote a letter and gave brotherly suggestions. His wife Hripsime Markarian knows how to read and write with his son Khachig, but I did say he was living in Massachusetts for 45 year so that I will keep our friendship, the husband died. [ Note: this is not clear, can’t understand the meaning] Don’t want to forget to say that Mrs. Hripsime’s letters were sent to her uncle (mother’s brother) Nazaret Sabanjian’s address, because Nazaret was a businessman. When I was departing from America for this journey, my friend informs Sabanjian to search and look for me in the inns. We just arrived in Malatia and settled in a room in an inn, I heard man talking to the carriage drivers and inquiring about me. Right away I yelled from my upstairs room window, “Mr. Nazaret come upstairs”. While shaking hands he asked me how did I knew who he was? I said no one but Nazaret Sabanjian would be asking for me in Malatia. Nazaret said lets not waste time and go to his sister’s house, because she was waiting for us. We went down and he said we should ride in the carriage, because Malatia was still behind times, and could not have a beautiful open faced woman with European dress and hat walk through the market streets. I signaled Nishan our carriage driver and left, within five minutes we were in the Turkish part of the town and near the market area. Suddenly a man fainted and fell in front of the carriage. Nazaret recognized the man said he was a well know crazy and possessed man, we jumped out of the carriage, Nazaret on one arm and I on the other start rubbing his wrists, within a few minutes the man revived, we put some water on his face, he stood up and walked away. We are back in the carriage and minutes later we arrived at Markarian house.
There was a large crowd in Markarian big yard, most of them were physically ill people, the word was out that a medical doctor was coming to help the sick. I told the crowd that I was not a physician, but just a traveler from America. Disappointed they left.
In the house we were being entertained by the family and neighbors. A woman whispered to Hripsime “don’t forget the pictures”. Mrs. Hripsime went and got an envelop with 5 pictures in it, and showed it to my wife and asked if she could explain the meaning of these pictures. My wife knew the story about the pictures, when Sarkis was going from America to Malatia he had taken these pictures with him, and lot of people were questioning his faithfulness saying how could Sarkis be photographed with a girl while he was married and had a son. My wife explained that they were blaming Sarkis for nothing, the girl in the picture was his brother’s daughter.
Two days later we were with my parents, and stayed with them for nine months, and I helped my father in his shop.
My oldest sister was married and had a daughter, (who now lives in Paris), this little girl had an abnormal birth, on her left hand she had an extra, 6th finger. My mother and sister were very worried and tried every (village) remedies, but no use, as the girl grew older so did the finger. One day I decided to do surgery on this finger, I prepared some medicines and bandages. Sunday morning my sister came over with her daughter, my parents went to church so I took the opportunity and sent my sister for an errand, I took the child on my lap and with my razor blade I dismembered the finger, applied medicine and wrapped it up, the child was screaming when my sister walked in, she saw what happed and she started to cry, I tried to calm her down and said its better to cry for a short time than go through life with worries. After a week you couldn’t even see the scar.
Winter arrived, and the people started getting sick. According to our Deacon, (Jangoch Yeghparyr) Assadour D. Sahagian’s testimony, by the Spring season, 62 children were dead and buried, due to sickness from measles. I started to give free medical service to ten sick children, visiting them every day and taking care of them, and I think they are all living today. Some of them lived with their parents and they can tell that I am not exaggerating. Soghomon and Altoun Poolians’ four children, who now live in Brooklyn NY; and two children of Aharon and Tamam Sahagian’s, mother and daughter now live in Marseille, France; and two Kelerian children; and two other children that I don’t remember their names. My only regret was for Aharon Babigian’s father Giragos Ammo from Ezrit (?), they called me but it was too late, I did everything I could, but it did not help.
For many years my mother had a problem, hair used to grow inside her eye lid, we used to pull it but it grew again. One day I told my mother I was going to operate on her eyes to put an end of this problem, if I was successful it would be a great pleasure for her to end the suffering, but if I was not, then there was nothing to lose. My mother said I trust you and I know you will be able to do it. I bought a small bottle of the strongest acid and some cotton from the pharmacy. My mother lay flat on her back with a pillow under her neck, I pulled the hair from her eye lid then applied a little acid, where the hair was growing, washed the eye with water and milk. This cured her problem. Many times I think about my medical procedures and their result and my heart fills with happiness.
Spring came and I decided to return to America, I wrote a letter and inform my decision to my friend Sarkis Markarian in Chelsea, MA, where he had a Barber shop, and now his son Khachig is continuing the business for 42 years. When Sarkis received the letter he immediately responded asking me to bring his wife Hripsime and his son with me to America, he also send a similar letter to his wife in Malatia and a big sum of money. Then I received a letter from Mrs. Hripsime, asking me to go to Malatia, to make travel arrangements.
In a few days I arrived Malatia, Mr. Nazaret and I were busy with the travel arrangements, he mentioned that he has a trial case in the court with his neighbor, and he will tell me the outcome of the decision. While I was seating in Sabanjian’s shop I saw Policeman Khosrov Efendi Yazejian walking by, in Turkish I called him and offered to sit on a chair, while Nazaret offered him some coffee. I told the policeman the purpose of my coming to Malatia, and the Markarian’s trial and our traveling delays. Khosrov Efendi asked to see the Court papers. Mr. Misak went home and brought the papers. Khosrov said he will bring back the papers in couple of days. And sure enough in two days Khosrov came back with the court papers and give them to Nazaret, and the court decision in favor of the Markarians.
I returned home and start getting ready for my journey. I was planning to go back to Malatia pick up Markarians and head to Samson. Later I heard that the area was contaminated with Malaria, and everywhere was quarantined and road were closed. I thought we will have many difficulties, so I changed the plans to go via Aleppo. I sent a telegram to Malatia and informed the change of plans. Three days later, Mrs. Markarian, her son and Mr. Misak came to my house. When our guests arrived we took them to town, to the Missionary College, the German school, orphanage, hospital, and to the market for shopping. The following Sunday we gathered with friends at the village gardens and had a big party with food and music ‘til late evening. Our guests really enjoyed the day.
Monday morning started our journey with five carriages, some of the people who were travelling with us were: Mr. Chakerian now lives in New Jersey, his cousin Vera who now lives in Somerville MA, Mrs. Y. Payigian, Krikor Deranian, from Husenik now lives in Worcester MA, and his sister Aghavni who died a few years ago (A. Arslanian), Mayr Shamirian (dies in Providence), Zakar Deranian from Kesirig, a young woman from Derchinge (?) , and our carriage with four people.
We arrived Aleppo the end of June, it was days before the Vartavar feast. Sunday we went to church, our friends did not forget our country traditions and got wet. Monday started our journey to Iskenderoun to get on the ship. We were busy to get on our way, when another carriage arrived, a thin tall man with grayish beard and European garment and a young woman came out. The young woman heard us talking Armenian and asked if we were going to America and when we said yes, she also mentioned that they were going to America, but they did not identify themselves. I assumed that the bearded man was a missionary and was taking a young Armenian woman with him to America.
I should mention here that many years later when we moved to Watertown MA, there was not much for me to do, but go to A.D.L. Club [Armenian Democratic League at Winsor Avenue and Mt. Auburn Street] and spend my time there usefully. On those days the Armenian communities did not have a special place, but this club where they taught Armenian language classes for the young boys and girls five days a week. The director of this program was Mrs. A. Nazar and her helper Mrs. M. Nahabedian. I used to see Mrs. A. Nazer quiet often and sometimes when she used to come a little early I used to have conversation with her. I don’t know why I always wondered about this woman’s identity So one day I said “Mrs. Nazar, I have been seeing you for two years, and something is bothering me in my mind, do you mind if I ask you a question or two?” Of course I will be happy, please, she replied. I asked her when she was coming to America in June, 1911, during Vartatar feast, if she remembered meeting a young man in Iskenderoun with his wife from America, who was returning back. She said, “Oh yes!” and I said that young man was me now this old man.
The following day we arrived Alexandrette bought the tickets for all our passengers with the help of Hotel owner Sarkis Agha. With the Markarians we enter the ship for Mersin.
A few hours later we were in Darson [Tarsus]. My brother had come to meet us and took us to their house. I was surprised when I saw this big house like a palace was empty. Then I found out that the people (five families) who lived there were all at a summer vacation place in Lampron, and luckily my brother was in town for business and was able to get my telegram and meet us.
My brother was trying to convince me to join him and spend a few days in Lampron and meet his wife’s family. I talked with my wife and agreed to leave my wife and guests at the house. Next morning my brother with two other friends and I got on horses and start riding towards Lampron, at night we stayed at an inn and next morning start riding again, I could see the Lampron Fort , and in a few hours we arrived at the vineyard at Chardakh where all our family and relatives were spending the summer.
My relatives tried to convince me to stay with them as a family. They tried to prove that it would be more advantage, financially and health wise for me to live here. So I decided to stay for a while, after all America wasn’t going away, or getting lost. I could always go back. After spending eight days with them, I rented a horse and went back to Darson, to rearrange plans and get my wife and return to Lampron. But I was worried about certain things, like Mrs Hripsime and her son whom I had promised them to take them to America and I could not let them down. When I explain the situation to them they understood. There was a ship leaving next day from Mersin, I took mother and son to Mersin to make arrangements and put them on the ship, returned to Darson and two days later took my wife to Lampron to spend the summer there. Since I am writing a separate memoires about Lampron, I will not elaborate here.
Days and weeks went by and we had the most wonderful time in Lampron, food, drinks sightseeing, just a great time. During this time my relatives and friends did not forget about my occupation as to what I was going to do. They knew that I was not familiar with the local businesses, so we decided for me to be a partner with Roupen Nahabedian who was known to them and he was renting space from them. Roupen was originally from Arapkir but lived in Etesia, he was educated in St. Boghos (Paul) American college and was married to Mariam Istambulian.
Roupen was a good work partner, and had the ability to teach me about the business. But my personality and upbringing did not match his character. And after a little while we were separated. But through the years we stayed friends and good neighbors. He never took advantage or cheated on me. But he was a shrewd man and some times took advantages and overcharged his customers and the profit of this wrong dealing would deposit in our partner account. I told Roupen that this was wrong and I couldn’t enjoy these profits, and we got separated.
I started my own trade business, mainly doing business in the Turkish villages, in the month of May used to take my family to Lampron for summer vacation. During the week after finishing my trades I used to go to Lampron myself to spend time with the family. The two weeks of the Holy Cross feast all the men used to go to town, and on that Tuesday used to be the first day that the square used to be filled with cotton salesmen, the business was booming.
1912 the Balkan war started, I was thinking to leave this country, but my wife was pregnant, so we postponed the move. They started drafting the Armenians in the army, and those who couldn’t afford to pay special exemption tax were drafted in the army. It was Saturday around noon I heard two gun shots on our street, I got on my balcony to see what was happening, the same time my brother came out of his room, we saw two policemen chasing a man, who was confused and ran to the Musserian’s yard behind our house and started climbing up the wooden stair which lead to the roof. My brother recognized the man and said its Sempad. Then I saw a policeman trying to climb the stairs with a bayonet in his hand, the name Sempad, Armenian name, even thou I didn’t know him personally, boiled my blood in my head, and I jumped out of the balcony which was about seven feet high, and got the bayonet from that Turk policemen and I tried to bend it. My brother who also jumped took the bayonet from my hand. There was a huge crowd in the Musserian’s yard and on the street. The other Jandarma (policeman) confused and a six shouter in his hand, was waiting for his partner, I rushed and grabbed the gun from his hand, my cousin Nazaret came to intervene and tried to take the gun from me. At that moment the police chief came in the yard, I approached him gave him the gun and said that these policemen were like wild animals. The chief didn’t say two words took the other policemen and went away, there was no investigation and the Sempad issue was closed. My courageous act amazed the crowd including myself.
It was Spring 1914, there was a large rumor that all the high ranking Turk officials and the town and village mayors, had received a special secretive letters, which will not to be opened until they received a new orders. But the uneducated small village mayors opened the letter, and we all knew the content of the letter, which states that an international war was about to start and the outcome was very bad for them.
As usual for the well to do people of Darson, every May get ready to go to Lampron for summer vacation. A few families got together and started the journey. The Chakhmakh Road was the most difficult climb and as we reached the highest point, we saw two policemen on horses passing us in a hurry, we asked them in Turkish what was happening, they didn’t suspect us being Armenian. They said that they are taking orders to the villages to open the official letters. Finally we arrived to our destination, but it wasn’t the same, the happiness like previous years was missing, we knew we were going to face some bad days, we didn’t want to worry because we never had a bad words or fights with the Turks, we went along fine, but there was something in the air, we felt something in our soul, sadness was everywhere, and getting worse every day.
Usually the men every day went to the market, to pass time to see other people and do shopping. It was the last days of July, when we went to the market there was an unusual large amount of people it reminded me big town bazaar. They have come from small villages with their Daoul and Zurna and start parading, in this small village market going around and making announcement that the war has started, and they are allies with the Germans, against France and Britain and the Capitalism.
I was seating in Bedros Hannee Piltani’s shop talking about today’s events, when a Turk Hoja (Muslim priest) came in and expressed his outrage about the gathering and events of the day. He said he was very well educated, and has very good knowledge of Arabic language, and I have a seven hundred years old written script from prophets, that said this war will last for years and different nations will fight against each other, and the end result will be very bad for us. I interrupted him and said Hoja maybe you are unaware of the German power and courage to fight. Hoja replied, maybe Germans and Osmans together will be very strong power, but the words of the prophet is stronger than the power of the land.
The military draft started with strong words like we need to defeat France and England. Also men started to find ways and means to avoid the draft. Whoever had money could pay Bedel (draft exemption tax), the unmarried men started to find brides from far away villages, because a newlywed groom was exempt, (had to provide for the new wife), and those who didn’t have any way to escape the draft, of course the prophet could help, there were Dervishes (wise men, or magicians) who could write a Nusia (a kind a spell) for five Para, that would protect soldiers if a gun was fire at them. Of course there were many fools who believed these methods. We were told that one young man was skeptical about the Nusia that he got and wanted to test it, along with another fool they go out of town and shot a bullet to his leg, shattering the bones then carrying him back in town, the good part, he did not get drafted.
The entire summer we live in fear and worries. It was a tradition that two weeks after Holy Cross day (Khachverats) to go in town, but none of us enjoyed it.
It is February 1915, we live in fear, the new and rumor of deportation is everywhere. The Armenians of Darson gathered in American College of St. Paul to think about our future. We decided to send Mr. Thomas Christi to Bolis to meet with Talaat Pasha and to talk in favor of the Armenians in Darson, that we were peaceful and trustworthy citizens. Next morning this very gentle and peaceful American man started his journey via Konia, then with a train to Bolis (steamships had stopped travelling). Not too long Mr. Christi has returned. A huge Armenian crowd was gathered in the hall. Mr. Christi appeared on the stage with a smile on his face. A good news comes with a smile, who is going to be against that thought? Especially from an old, bearded preacher, and a military man.
Mr. Christi talked in Turkish, said “friends and brothers I went and I am back and if need be I can go back ten times. With the help of the American Consulate I met with Talaat Pasha and conveyed your messages and your trustworthiness. Talaat said he is deporting the Armenians in the inner parts of the country for their own safety, if the war gets to deep we don’t want our Armenian citizens be harmed by the French and English rocket guns.” Mr. Christi added that this was a good news.
A voice from the crowd asked the preacher, Why Talaat Pasha …
Note: Bedros’ memoir stops abruptly mid sentence.
Epilogue by Edward Avedis Kazanjian:
There are several more pages with small paragraphs or notes numbered 1 to 50. According to Krikor Kassabian they do not continue the story, they do not follow any chronology, and they appear to be random facts or statements unrelated to Bedros’ life story…a translation of those sentences will follow.
In June 2009, Edward and Mary Ann Kazanjian travelled for the first time to Historic Armenia visiting Istanbul, Goreme (Cappadocia); Kayseri (Caesaria); Yozgat; Sivas (Sepastia); Shabin Karahisar; Govdun: Erzincan; Erzerum; Sarikamish; Kars,; Ani; Mt. Ararat; Avantz; Van; Tatvan; Engil; Aghtamar Island; Moush; Changli; Bingol; Bitlis, Lice; Kighe; Palu; Nekri; Kharpert; Hussenig; Mezire; Khokh; Kesarig; Dikranagerd; Chunkush; Malatya.
Just recently (February 2010), before this translation was made, Edward and Mary Ann Kazanjian had completed arrangements to return to Historic Armenia for the second time in May 2010.
On that upcoming journey’s itinerary are: Sepastia (Sivas); Amasia, , Marzvan, Samson, Shabin Karahisar, Erzincan, Dersim, Elazig (Kharpert and Husenig), Malatya, Marash, Aintab, Musa Dagh, Antioch, Iskenderum, Alexandrette, Sis, Tarsus, Lampron, and Adana.