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A descendant of the Paterson family

London resident Mr Washburn, aged 71 (in 2004), is the grandson of Stanley Paterson who was the last of the generation to pursue the mining business set by his forbearers. Stanley’s daughter Monica was Lorin’s mother, and in the old Paterson tradition Mr Washburn was given the nickname of ‘Puddy’ early in his life and is still referred as such by close friends. The origin of this name goes back to the time when, as a very small boy his father would tickle him calling him ‘chubby’ referring to this then rather fat appearance. This resulted in him saying ‘I want Puddy’ when with his father, and thus the name stuck. Lorin’s father, Everett ‘Wash’ (to all who knew him), died in 1938 when Lorin was 6 years old. Wash was an American and came to Europe (France) with the American army when that country entered WWI and at the end of the war, rather than return to his country he stayed on in France for a while, then went to Alexandria in Egypt, working for a shipping line there. He seems to have been a bit of a wanderer, more at home in Europe. He moved up quickly with promotions, and met his future wife when she was taking a holiday in Egypt. They married in 1928, and he was 14 years senior to his wife.

Lorin’s first education was with Miss Estelle Kramer (who later married) at the Kramer house in Bornova. Miss Estelle ran a primary school which played a great part in many of the local children’s education. All nationals who attended her school received a good early grounding thanks to her dedication and ability. Those who did not have English as a first language particularly benefited. Lorin left this school in 1944 aged 11 and spent the next two years 1944/45 at the English High School for boys in Istanbul, a move forced by war conditions making travel to England for boarding school (the original plan) all but impossible, a situation shared by many European families. Lorin was a boarder at the school, a situation shared by 10 to 20 other Europeans, some from Izmir, some from Ankara, but being one of the youngest there cannot remember their names too well. But even then young Lorin was fluent in English, French, Greek and Turkish. The French was imparted partly by his grandmother Mary and her sister Linda Keun, whose family was of Dutch origin and who had lived in Smyrna for generations. This branch of the Keun family came from Karsiyaka [Cordelio]. Grandmother’s father had been the Dutch consular or diplomatic service for that city, and being born in that city none of the family members spoke Dutch, the diplomatic (and their educational) language French having long since superseded the old language. Mr Washburn left for England for good on 17th December 1945, when travel conditions were only just returning to normal.

The Paterson house was sold by Stanley’s son Gerald allegedly for £10,000. It was probably an old Turkish house, referred to as ‘Kula’ interpreted by the Patersons to mean summerhouse, however this might refer to the name of the market-town in Anatolia where a particular type of wooden construction architecture still survives. The house was altered and added to many times over the years so much so that balconies that could no longer be accessed from the inside. This hodgepodge included a raised section later referred to as the tower, but its height would never warrant such a name. The ‘forbidden zones’ of Stanley and Mary Paterson’s bedroom is also a misnomer. They did not sleep in separate bedrooms and theirs’ had an en-suite bathroom, referred to as the pink bathroom. The privacy asked for in such rooms was not in excess of what would normally be expected in any household. There was also no ghost or haunted rooms. The house presumably had its own tensions and none of the Paterson children (Gerald, Monica and the twins) enjoyed life there and longed to get away, claiming that the house was very uncomfortable and very cold in winter. Lorin, in contrast, had an extremely happy childhood there

All the art of the house was collected by earlier generations, meaning they were acknowledged but not treasured and appreciated. Stanley’s father was Douglas (who made improvements to the mining business), and his father was John Borthwick, and it was possibly the preceding generation that had come from Scotland. Legend has it that the first Paterson in Turkey was the 7th son of a Scottish merchant who had been trained as a petrologist (rock expert) and thus was able to discover chrome in Turkey

Mr Washburn considers some of the old stories involving kidnap and ransom during the Ottoman times to be a mixture of fact and fiction no doubt a product of gossip among the Levantines in an era devoid of television and other modern distractions !!. One such involving the Patersons and probably true related to a brother of grandfather Stanley, being kidnapped by ‘brigands’ and released when his father, Douglas, paid a substantial ransom for his safe return.

Lorin recalls the Paterson house had a full library downstairs with books stacked in glass enclosed cabinets up to the ceiling. All the books in the cabinets were beautifully bound but as a child he had little interest in these. However when he went back for a 4 month stay in 1954 he got curious enough to investigate and discovered that two whole cabinets were full of law books. He therefore assumes that some one in the distant past was a ‘legal eagle’ [according to fellow contributor, Chas Hill, this legal eagle was likely to be William V. Paterson, an uncle of Stanley who like his son was a solicitor in London in the early part of the 20th century]. Other books bound in the same way were basic English literature (Dickens, some Shakespeare and plenty more that he did not discover). Also in the library but not specially bound, were semi classical novels and reasonably light reading matter of good quality, he estimates 95% was in English and 5% in French. ‘My Grand parents read quite a lot. My grandfather particularly often seemed to have a book in his hand but I think it was mainly novels. We also had at home many upmarket periodicals such as Illustrated London News, Sphere, National Geographical and others that I can’t remember as I was only interested in the ones mentioned. All these periodicals somehow ‘arrived’ in the library.’

The mining business was on the whole profitable over the generations, but great-grandfather lost a lot of money during WWI. Being ‘enemy’ nationals during the Great War, there was a benign form of house arrest where merely heavy travel restrictions were placed on male adults. The chrome finish on cars meant business picked up afterwards until WWII dealt another blow. The last flush of good business came with the Korean War, when American need for the metal surged. Grandfather did have a house near the mines in Fethiye-Gocek, and would visit it once a year, calling it ‘going up-country’. Unlike popular belief not all the mines were confiscated by the Turkish government, but only those over which they had concessions. Business continued with the limited mines which he owned outright. He could see no future for the business and once uttered the words ‘apres moi, le deluge’ [after me it all finishes]. His son Gerald was bit of a playboy, lacking ambition and not taking an interest in mining, mixing in high society where he spent much time with his bridge playing skills. Stanley would never talk about his business, but was well respected in the business circles of Smyrna and was the Llyod’s agent for the city for a long time.

The Patersons were unusual in that they were one of the last to leave Bornova during the 1922 disturbances and sailed with their yacht to one of the nearby Aegean islands only to come back soon afterwards. They were scrupulously neutral in their allegiances and clearly took precautions such as leaving the ‘kavas’ [handyman] or gardener with instructions to guard the house against looting, which it never suffered.

The house continued being amended over the years, one such amendment being the installation of the grand parents’ "pink bathroom" being added sometime in the 1930s, however post 1930s no balls were ever held there. During the war years some important visitors came to the house and in particular Lorin remembers the visits, probably annually, of the British ambassador. The ambassador’s residence was in Ankara (the capital) and seemed to last for about 5 days probably towards the end of the summer or early autumn when the weather was not too hot. Lorin recalls that the house would be a hive of activity for about three weeks prior to these visits, and during these times he would try to make himself scarce. The Patersons were local ‘big fish’ in an extremely small pool and they had the rooms to accommodate the ambassador, his family and entourage. The war years also saw visits from many military personnel and fairly senior officers of all three services visited the house at various times. Lorin recalls being told that one such officer was Brigadier Bernard Ferguson who was possibly the number two to General Orde Wingate of ‘Chindits’ (detailed link) fame. These were special forces who operated deep behind the Japanese lines in the Bumese jungle during WW2.

 Note: According to fellow contributor Wendy James, the name of this British ambassador should be Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessan, of operation cicero fame, further info in this here; probably the one preceding David Kelly. Mr Washburn definitely remembers Cicero coming to the Paterson house as butler to the ambassador, so confirming the latter’s identity.

The ball tradition would be temporarily revived by the American general who lived there on rent in late 1950s and early 60s. By this time all the family had moved out to England. The original reason was Stanley receiving a check-up in England, and the doctors were powerless to stop the spread of his advanced prostate cancer. Grandmother was to die also in England a few years later also from cancer. The family lived in a flat in the Baker street area of London, and mother lived nearby. Later Linda returned to Bornova and lived in the Balliani house.

Although a child at the time, Mr Washburn recalls the names of some of the Paterson social circle. These included the Frenchman Boudo La Mode, who gave him 2 gold Turkish sovereigns during a Christmas lunch, and he promptly lost them! There were the Dutch Dutilths, the Austrian Kramers, and other nationalities such as Germans, Armenians, and Jews (later 2 generally of higher standing). A remarkable aspect of the Bornova community was the lack of formality when addressing friends and relations, so rather than Mr & Mrs etc. even kids would refer and call persons, uncle Harry, aunt Mary etc. whether they were related or not, pointing to the tightly knit friendly community. This was a great place to grow up as a child as everybody had a reasonably sized or large garden into which one could wander, and play and not necessarily even see the occupants. Another childhood memory of Mr Washburn was accompanying his mother to the Catholic church in Bornova for Sunday mass in Latin, and one of his friends, Edward Giraud, as the choir boy there, would on seeing him swing his incense burner with more gusto, as a discreet game. Straight after the service the two boys would rush to the Bornova Anglican church, at the other end of the village and sit in the ‘Paterson’ pew for the service.

The last visit of Mr Washburn to the house was in 1949 when he slept in the same bedroom. The last visit to the region was 4 years ago (1999) when he stayed at Ilica summer resort, formerly known as Lice and popular with Levantines of the past. The area of Ilica where the Levantines had houses is still known as the ‘terrace’ by the old timers, and they are the ones who can still identify the houses formerly occupied by the Whittall, Giraud, Van der Zee and Wilkinson families. Mr Washburn stayed at an old friend’s house which he thinks was previously known as the Wilkinson house, that was later owned by the Wilkin and later by the Matheus (a name no longer locally represented) families, typical of the complex ownership history of those holiday homes.

to top of page interview date 2004