MY BOUDJA MEMORIES
It was 1946, I was ten years old and we had just come back to Boudja from Athens where we had been stranded during the entirety of the War. Although we were considered as a Boudja family, I was born (24.12.1936) in Izmir at the corner of the Petrocochino Street (now 1482), not far from the Italian School of Nuns on one side and on the other side the Parallel (2.ci Kordon) Street running parallel to the seafront. But just before the Second War, my father Constantino (1906-1979) had an accident while he was hunting (his passion – his lolada1 as my mother, Rose born Exarhos (Exarque)2 (1906-1989) ), would call it and we went to consult a famous oculist in Athens (he has been shot in one eye), then partially cured, he lost his sight without loosing his eye. We were marooned for the whole war period in Athens. The sister of my father, Aunt Eugenie (Geny) Lipovatz3 (1904-1977) was living with her husband Constantin Lipovatz (1906-1979) in a very big villa in Boudja which occupied about the whole street behind the Catholic Church [views]. It had two gates, one was opposite the back door of the Catholic Church (presbytery), and the other – the garden gate opened to a street (called now 117 sokak (Ref: Erpi) ) where just opposite the gate was a charming villa of the Parkinson’s, who had a son4 younger than me, with whom I used to play. Further on the opposite side was Mrs Guiffray5’s House and on the other side, at the corner of the street and the İstasyon Caddesi (now Atadan Caddesi, ref: Erpi), was the Alparslan House. Mr Alparslan was the son of the famous Vali Rahmi Bey. Later on, although he was quite a bit older than me, we socialized and one night when we risked an accident with his Mercedes sports car, I spent the night in this house. It is mentioned by some writers that this house formerly belonged to the Rees family.
Once in Boudja we established ourselves in the Lipovatz villa which was quite big, a floor just for the guests, and kitchen premises so extensive that all the servants of the Mahalla [quarter] had their meals there. We transferred ourselves to one of the houses (there were two) in a very big garden, just close to the All Saints Protestant Church, and on the other side the Capuchin Monastery – over the gate was the letter ‘S’ in Greek. These were the old properties of the Sevastopoulos6, our close relatives. I have some information from my cousin in Italy, Gabriele, that initially there were 4 houses in this garden which had the same length that of the Anglican cemetery to which we could look-out to its tombs from the first floor of the building. The houses, although old, were quite stylish, as far as I remember, with high ceiling, spacious rooms, in the style of maisons de campagne de Provence. The address I remember well was Eski Belediye Sokağı 32 (now Erdem Caddesi, ref: Erpi), situated between the old Capuchin’s Monastery and the All Saints Church with a low wall was separating us. It is said in the family that my father, as well as his brother Emanuele (1915-1978), while still bachelors used to sometimes stay in these houses, especially when they were coming back late from hunting. One night my father, back from hunting, could not enter (forgot the keys?) this house and entered the All Saints Cemetery [views] with the intention of jumping over the wall. Walking amongst the tombs, he felt that a hand was grasping his foot, immediately he turned and shot at it with his hunting rifle. Of course there was no one, probably a plant. I owe some apologies on his name for having disturbed the night peace of the cemetery of All Saints. But I have some credit from the church, as in 1987 when the church was closed and as under the property of the municipality, served as a Nikah Dairesi [marriage registry office], I received to my Karavan Travel Agency a request from a choir, the American New Hampshire Friendship Chorus, to visit the Izmir Region and perform together with a choir of the city. I immediately thought of the All Saints Church and visiting the Mayor Mr Cemil Şeboy (who is still the Mayor) I obtained a special permission and the sounds of the beautiful organ were heard again in that church. This became a beautiful event of friendship with the local university etc. which was highly appreciated by all and also reported by the press. At the same time, thinking that something remained of the Sevastopoulos houses which we abandoned for Izmir after a little more of one year’s residence, I asked permission to visit the neighbour’s estate. There was nothing except the building of the old Monastery, now Buca Kız Yetistirme Yurdu [Girl’s orphanage - click for images]. It seemed that the houses were demolished and the area had been added to the Yurt. I do not know any more as the houses were owned and administrated by my aunt Genie (Eugenie), too much of a business woman, contrary to her younger brothers, my father Constantine and my uncle Emanuele. I have to tell that my father after having lost a so big a fortune kept “a complete silence” – a kind of Italian omerta – about the past. This is why I do not even know the name of the “Aunt” they were recounting as having been murdered by the brigands in one of these Sevastopoulos houses during the Ottoman Period. My cousin Gabriele from Italy informs me that he heard that this person could be a parent, a lady escaping the Russian Revolution of 1917. A Baltazzi? Mavrocordato? Or a Sevastopoulo? All had relatives there. It is still a mystery amongst other things and merits some serious research.
In the Eski Belediye Sokak (now Erdem Caddesi, ref: Erpi), opposite the Sevastopoulos was the Blackler House [views] and on the same side as the Sevastopoulos House going to left (when facing the house) a short distance away, there was the two storied big house of the Balladur7’s [view]. Mlle Balladur gave me Turkish lessons there and I remember I could not pronounce Turkish well. Guy Icard was my classmate at St Joseph, and we are of the same age. I used to often play with him at his beautiful relatively newly built villa situated on the Square, at the head of the Avenue, by the De Jongh House (now a clinic - images) which then housed a social club we used to frequent. The Avenue is now called Menderes Caddesi (ref: Erpi) (previously called Izmir Caddesi). The Icard’s are a Levantine French family, Mr Marcel Icard, the father of Guy and Lorraine was the General Director of one of the textile factories of the Giraud’s. Guy married, I think, a German girl and currently lives in Germany. Lorraine married the son of Eric Lochner8 – Axel, later divorced and now lives in Alsancak, Izmir.
I also remember Remo Cassar9 living with his mother Tita in a house near the Catholic Church. He used to work at the factory of my uncle Lipovatz. Miss Farkouh10, called Beba was the secretary at the Greek Consulate of Izmir for many years. Both Remo and Beba I think remained bachelors forever.
I also remember the Evliyazades, they had a big house with stables and horses at the station, opposite the Rees11 mansion. Mesude Hanım, was a very close friend of my aunt Geny and I saw a picture of the Lipovatz’s (they had by that time acquired Turkish nationality), with the Evliyazade’s and Adnan Menderes [former Prime Minister of Turkey], a relative of the Evliyazade’s. Later I was also on friendly terms with a young Evliyazade, Osman. The Lipovatz’s also had as a friend a very cultivated person, a Jew, Mr Golbert, who lived not far from the Icard’s and later emigrated for Israel.
We did not stay more than a year and half in Boudja, but my contacts with the place continued after my transfer to Izmir. In the late 50’s, early 60’s, I was a young bachelor (married in 1965), I had many friends and we went to parties at Livio Missir House, then to Franco Sponza’s12, at his parents new villa (built in 1954) on the Avenue of the Club (now Menderes Caddesi, 33), further on the left, where the Roels13 (Belgian family) who lived in a Flemish style villa. It looks like that the new villas were built at that time in this area. On the opposite, the same side of the Club, there was also the Paul Micaleff14 house. The late Mr Micaleff, was an intellectual and I liked to speak with him and socialize with his niece Joyce (now living in Rome) who also lived there. I played tennis at the Boudja Club and in a tournament won the 3rd prize. Families such as the Corsini15 were also in Boudja. Bruno Corsini who died very young, was an accomplished sportsman and as my double partner at the Kültürpark Tennis Club, we won many matches and cups. The family Dologh (Hungarian origin) was also at Boudja. A descendant, Geza Dologh is now living in Izmir and is the Chairman of the Maritime Chamber of Izmir, and I closely cooperate with him for the growing of cruises and sea tourism in Turkey. His brother Bence Dologh, was married to Jocelyne Micaleff, unfortunately we lost him at a very young age. The Missirs (there are several families with this name) and the Russo’s also lived in Boudja.
Now, on our days, as far as I know, Mme Caporal stays sometimes in her house, opposite the Catholic Church, and she welcomed us with a lot of “Tsirimonia”16 during the Levantine Tour of 2004. The Franco Sponza family still lives in the already mentioned villa, and the brother Mario Sponza and family in a recently restored old house. Mrs Lotte Filipucci Romano lives close to the ex Micaleff villa. I am also informed that Toto Karakulak as well as Giulia Corsini, have houses in Boudja.
Terminating, I wish to add some free verses translated and freely adopted by me from Prokopiu’s “Ena Seriani Stin Palia Smirni” about the train which was a big event in the past and still in our days with the “Railways Enthusiasts” particularly for the magnificent old locomotives (there is a new little museum of Locomotives at Çamlık close to Ephesus). Many years before, when there were still English-made locomotives operating on the Alsancak – Buca line, I accompanied an English fan (we were organising tours for them) at the Alsancak Station and we were waiting to see the train coming from Boudja. Just before it came, my friend put a tape recorder on the rails (I was a little embarrassed as everybody was looking at us) to register the whistling and the shuft-shuft sounds of the beautiful golden locomotive while “she” was arriving at the station. Of course I could not count how many pictures he took of “her” too. I think that no girlfriend has ever had such a warm welcome!
The Train, translated and freely adopted from Prokopiu’s “Ena Seriani Stin Palia Smirni17”, Alex Baltazzi
This is the train, which whistles and goes
Near to the road, too close to the road18
From Punta it is six miles
With the train is half an hour
An English train, ornamental and noble
Uncertain it looks to be when it descends
And a newly married man sings a tale
I put my mother-in-law at Boudja on the train
And misfortune I find her alive in front of me
Every day Monsieur Purser, Chief of the Company
Although he is now old, with a rich white beard,
Covers on foot all this distance19
And the lazy ones are saying “look at this English Lolada”
Alex Baltazzi, 2007
1 Lolada: From the Greek Trelada, madness but in a more light-hearted humoristic way, a Smyrniot idiom.
2 Exarhos (Exarque): My researches on my mother’s family are continuing. I hope to complete this soon.
3 Lipovatz: A Bulgarian family established in Izmir and Boudja in the soap, oil industry. ‘Osmanlı Sanayi, 1913-1915 Yılları İstatistikleri, S. Bilgiler, Fakültesi Yayınları. Sabun İmalatı: Lipovatz A. N. Veresesi – Darağaç, İzmir. Tahin Fabrikası: Lipovatz, İzmir’. My uncle Costantine Lipovatz had a pirina-soap-oil factory at Mersinli. I remember the green soap with the mark K.A.L. (Kostantin Alexander Lipovatz) (Alexander was his father, in the same business and possibly also the owner of a tahin factory). After having sold the Boudja villa around 1955, they transferred to Izmir (no children) to an apartment, opposite the tennis courts of Alliance (Küçük Kulüp) where I used to play too. Getting old, they sold the factory to Mr Barki who afterwards sold to Egeliler. I do not think that this factory exists any more.
4 Parkinson: As from Mr De Jongh recollections, could be Charles?
5 Guiffray: According to the information from Livio Missir, Mrs Guiffray living in Boudja was born a Werry, of the dynasty, L. Missir writes, of traders and diplomats of the Levant Company, Ombre Vivante of Elisabeth the Great, Mrs Guiffray died in February 1970. [from Tom Rees’s book Merchant Adventurers in the Levant book, we can confirm that Mrs Guiffray was indeed from the Werry family with the first name of Agnes].
There is a lot written about the industrialist Elie Guiffray (tramways, Societe des Quais de Smyrne) – president of the Sporting Club of Smyrna (professions annuary 1898-1899) with reference to Melih Gürsoy’s book, page 284, ‘Şark Sanayi’, on the history of this textile factory. I knew Mr Guiffray’s partner’s son Maurice Verbeke who was the Consul of Belgium, and his retired other partner still living in Izmir. The aristocratic and great traveller the Belgian Mr Nef de Sainval, Consul of Luxemburg, confirms to me the partnership – Guiffray – Verbeke as mentioned by Gürsoy and that the wife of Maurice Verbeke was also a Guiffray, Eliane Guiffray.
Further information on ‘Şark Sanayi’ in Melih Gürsoy’s book:
The building of this firm back in 1892 was a flour mill under the name “Couzinery-Pittaco” and in 1893 was converted to a cotton-thread factory. In 1895 under the partnership of Elie Guiffray and Charles Verbeke, this factory became a textile manufacturer with the new name of “Compagnie Industrielle du Levant”, headquartered in Brussels. By 1919 the son of Charles, Maurice Verbeke was brought in as the managing director. Maurice Verbeke in 1924 brought the operational centre of the company to Izmir and altered its name to “Şark Sanayi Kumpanyasi” [Eastern Industrial Limited]. One of the oldest industrial concerns of the Aegean region, it was successful to the 1950s however lack of technological investments hampered its development from then onwards. With the death of Maurice Verbeke in October 1976, the firm lost its MD and the board decided the best course of action would be to wind up the concern, which was then sold off for its machinery.
The French actress and singer Magali Noël (image) is also from the Guiffray family of Izmir.
6 Sevastopoulos: From a Noble Byzantine family the Sevastos installed in Chios as from 1583 (Libro D’Oro) and a branch in Izmir in the XVII Century in the sea trade (see: Chians). Pantaleon (Pandely) Sevastopoulo was the greatest benefactor of the Greek community of Izmir. He was the founder of the Evangeliki School which he placed under the protection of Great Britain of which he also had the nationality. Founder and benefactor of the Greek Hospital of Izmir. His big Han at Fasoula and other estate revenues were donated for these bonnes oeuvres [good deeds]. My great-grandfather Demostene Baltazzi (1835-1896) married Maria Sevastopoulo (1841-1869) in 1859 certainly at Boudja where they lived. The Sevastopoulos and the Voutsinas (a family from the Aegean isle of Syra, Fokion Voutsinas, trader and writer/poet, owner of a beautiful house at the entrance to Boudja from the Paradiso Road) had the greatest mausoleum at the Orthodox cemetery of Ayo Yani of Boudja. I wonder due to the vicinity to All Saints and the British connections, if any Sevastopoulo were concerned with the acquisition of the land for All Saints?
7 Balladur: Numerous writers have given as origin Persian – Catholic of a very high French culture. Active in trade, automotive, banking, Herman Balladur was cotton expert, Robert Balladur was a vice consul of the French Consulate. The 1898-99 annuary also lists family members as teachers, doctors. Kararas in his Cordelio book he wrote with the cooperation of Livio Missir mentions that Edouard Balladur a former French Prime Minister was born at Cordelio on July 1929 and that his father Pierre Balladur was with the Ottoman Bank.
8 Lochner: Axel Lochner is the son of my tennis partner Eric Lochner (see my article on Cordelio) and Ada Sapunzoğlu, the Lochners probably have a German origin. In the Izmir Commercial Guide of 1876, we see in Izmir a E. Lochner as the representative of the German Embassy. And as bankers Lochner, Marcopoulos and associates in the Rue Franque. They are probably from a different family the de Lochner, from whom Adrienne de Lochner (1860-1944), daughter of Gustave de Lochner (a French lieutenant colonel) Chief Commander of Mount-Valerien (near Paris) in 1870 who married Baron Enrico Aliotti widow from her sister Sophie de Lochner who died young from tuberculosis. - family photo.’
9 Cassar: Probably a family of Maltese origin, certainly Catholics. A relative may have been S.L. Cassar, a professional photographer based in Malta who took a series of photos of the events of Izmir in 1922.
10 Farkouh A great Syrian-Orthodox family, Haci Davut Farkouh, grand father of Stephanie (Beba)- ref. Erpi – ship-owner of a passenger line is also mentioned in the “Tanzimattan Cumhuriyete İzmir’de Belediye [Municipality of Smyrna from Tanzimat to the Republic] (1869-1945) of Erkan Serçe – as a member of the municipality commission of 1909 and mentioned as a one time president of the city Chamber of Commerce.
According to Kararas, Stephanie (Beba)’s mother was a Tenekidi, a Greek Orthodox merchant from nearby Vourla (Urla).
11 Rees: When in 1969, I wanted to open in Izmir in a central location my Karavan Tourism Office I made a request to the Fonde de Pouvoir (forgot the name) of Rees to rent the ground floor of the Rees Building (behind the Parallel Façade and entrance) which was at the İkinci Kordon and which needed restoration. The Fonde de Pouvoir told met that such a permission could only be given by the Rees living in Athens. I went to meet him at Piraeus (forgot the name, Boves?) and he told me that “A Rees can not refuse anything to a Baltazzi”. We restored it nicely, having a Levantine line (pity I can not find a picture) fitting to the Karavan (sign) and stayed there until 1980. Then sold it and it was then reconstructed by a bank. The sea front Façade still exists, the “R” on the Gate, the marbled steps and I remember the mahogany interior decorations on the counters (not existing anymore) - click here for views of this building and here for the relict internal decorations.
12 Sponza: An Italian Levantine family, in the jewellery business since many years.
13 Roels: A Belgian family. Their daughter, Claude Roels, married a Besimzade and are now in Izmir.
14 Micaleff: A numerous Levantine family originated from Malta, connected to various Levantine families such as Filipucci, Solari, Reggio, Sponza etc. Actually my friend Noel Micaleff, Head of the Kristal Oil Factory and Chairman of Meryem Ana [Virgin Mary] Association and on the Board of Artigiana who restored the former Manoli Hotel, now operating as an Old People’s Home.
15 Corsini: Also a numerous Italian origin family, in the printing industry, stationary and other enterprises. Besides my friend late Bruno, well-known is Marica Corsini, a very active and popular person in bienfaisance [good deeds].
16 Tsirimonia: A Smyrniot Greek idiom, origin French Ceremonie, means “very well received”.
17 Seriani: means literally “promenade” but could be translated also as walk. Promenade or Walk in Old Smyrna.
18 In Wikipedia, the free on-line Encyclopaedia, it is mentioned as: “a persisting rumour attributes the unusual curve traced in Buca by the Izmir – Aydın Railway completed in 1866 and crossing right in front of mansions to the influence of the Forbes family, who would have wanted it closer to their residence for easier rides. But that accomplishment is disputed by the Rees and Baltazzi families who also legated magnificent residences to Buca and who claim the curve to be their own making.
19 Probably Mr Edward Purser, the very conscientious Manager, who often controlled the state of the rails etc.
Click here for more views of old Boudja
Click here for a segment of Nikos Kararas’s book on old Boudja: “Boutzas: the flower village of Smyrni”.
Click here for Mr Baltazzi’s follow on article on the heritage of Boudja.
Click here for Mr Baltazzi’s follow on article on the heritage of neighbouring Paradiso /Şirinyer.
Alex Baltazzi 2007