Levantine Heritage
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Rose Marie Caporal | Alessandro Pannuti | Ft Joe Buttigieg | Mary Lemma | Antoine ‘Toto’ Karakulak | Willie Buttigieg | Erika Lochner Hess | Maria Innes Filipuci | Catherine Filipuci | Harry Charnaud | Alfred A. Simes | Padre Stefano Negro | Giuseppe Herve Arcas | Filipu Faruggia | Mete Göktuğ | Graham Lee | Valerie Neild | Yolande Whittall | Robert Wilson | Osman Streater | Edward de Jongh | Daphne Manussis | Cynthia Hill | Chris Seaton | Andrew Mango | Robert C. Baker | Duncan Wallace QC | Dr Redvers ‘Red’ Cecil Warren | Nikolaos Karavias | Marianne Barker | Ümit Eser | Helen Lawrence | Alison Tubini Miner | Katherine Creon | Giovanni Scognamillo | Hakkı Sabancalı | Joyce Cully | Jeffrey Tucker | Yusuf Osman | Willem Daniels | Wendy Hilda James | Charles Blyth Holton | Andrew Malleson | Alex Baltazzi | Lorin Washburn | Tom Rees | Charlie Sarell | Müsemma Sabancıoğlu | Marie Anne Marandet | Hümeyra Birol Akkurt | Alain Giraud | Rev. Francis ‘Patrick’ Ashe | Fabio Tito | Pelin Böke | Antonio Cambi | Enrico Giustiniani | Chas Hill | Arthur ‘Mike’ Waring Roberts III | Angela Fry | Nadia Giraud | Roland Richichi | Joseph Murat | George Poulimenos | Bayne MacDougall | Mercia Mason-Fudim née Arcas | Eda Kaçar Özmutaf | Quentin Compton-Bishop | Elizabeth Knight | Charles F. Wilkinson | Antony Wynn | Anna Laysa Di Lernia | Pierino & Iolanda Braggiotti | Philip Mansel | Bernard d’Andria | Achilleas Chatziconstantinou | Enrichetta Micaleff | Enrico Aliotti Snr. | Patrick Grigsby | Anna Maria and Rinaldo Russo | Mehmet Yüce | Wallis Kidd | Jean-Pierre Giraud | Osman Öndeş | Jean François d’Andria | Betty McKernan | Frederick de Cramer | Emilio Levante | Jeanne Glennon LeComte | Jane Spooner | Richard Seivers | Frances Clegg
Buca resident, retired painter and decorator, born 1930

Despite the Turkish surname, Antoine’s grandfathers were also Catholic and he has spent all his life in Buca. He went to the old ‘Çakabey’ school in the 9 Çesme quarter. He knew Eduard Balladur (born 1929) as a boy, and who was to become the president of France (1993-95). Eduard goes to France when 16-17 to do his military service and does not return. The father Dermond dies in Buca and his daughter Fermond and son Reymond emigrate to Austria and France respectively. The house is sold to a Turkish family from Afyon to the then currency value of 125.000TL. This family living in this house for a few years also ran a ground floor shop here by the name of ‘Bursa pazarı’ and later leased it. The house next door on the corner was owned by the ‘Hacılar’ who were immigrants from the Drama region of Greece, and lived here till the 1930s. The other vacant houses on the same street are on the other side of the Balladur house, Ali bey’s house from the Yalaz family, next to it again presently vacant the inheritance of the children of Hüsamettin Balkanlı, across the street from there the former residence of the English Mr Petter and on the same side across the church, a house once lived by Turks, used as a cafe in the 1990s, owned by a lawyer but gutted in a fire 2 years ago (1999). Many vacant Buca houses are exposed to fire, for example suspicious fires wrecked the Balladur house again 2 years ago and its neighbour the Hacılar house a year ago.

The house of Hüsamettin Balkanlı (next to the orphaned girls’ school) was used as the local council house in 1920-25. For this reason the old name of the street was Eski Belediye caddesi (old Council Street). The council house was moved to Atadan (Uğur Mumcu) street from where it was relocated 2 years ago.

The mother of Antoine, Helena Sanson was of Anglo Levantine background and she is buried in the Pasaköprü cemetery. The grand-father and father of Antoine both named Anthony (Sanson) were watchmen for the British church. In their time both his father and Antoine himself operated the bellows for the church organ played by the secretary of the church, Miss Routh.

The neighbour to their house was in the past occupied by the English Blackler family. Following the sale in 1950, the Italian George Falbo, his wife Jacqueline [in reality Germaine, corrected in 2006 by grand-daughter Germaine Ruddell] and their daughter Lena began to live there. In 1980, Lena sells the house to the Turk named Nejdet bey, who still lives there.

Antoine remembers from his childhood days, the 3-4 monks still running the monastery across their house that is currently an orphaned girls’ school. The grapes obtained from the vines of the monastery were carried by camel to the Bornova Catholic church where it was converted to wine and then shared to include the priests there. This seminary was closed around 1935. He also remembers the chapel just inside the main building that no longer exists. This building in turns becomes for short periods a family residence, a government building and a military base.

The last resident priest of the still open St. John Catholic church, Per Michel, dies in Italy around 1990. After this date services are conducted by visiting priests. Over the years the numbers of the Buca Catholic community has seriously declined. Today the total number is around 20, derived from 5-6 families. For example the last representative of the Missir family in Buca, Antoinette passed away 6 years ago and the son of Dr. Raymond Aliberti, Maurice (last of the line) dies in 1986. The large house of Antoinette Missir is on Erdem street before the 9 Çesme (Org. Cumhur Asparut) square with green shutters and Dr. Aliberti’s house is also in the same area, next to the building that is currently the architecture school.

 Note: I later learned that Antoinette Missir (buried in the Karabağlar cemetery) was the mother of Livio Missir, now resident in Belgium who for many years has researched the genealogy of his family and has donated a copy of his book, ‘The genealogy of the Missirs’ to the British Museum in London.

One of the last English persons to live in Buca, Mrs (Rosa) Rees leaves her mansion that currently serves as the educational faculty, in the 1950s. For a brief period in the 1940s the Whittall family lived in the Forbes mansion. The Barker house situated near the Barff house was at the time purchased by the Rivens’s but since partial payment was made to the go-between, sister of the Barker wife, Mrs Barff, it reverted to the state at the time of the Erbakan government (July 96-Nov 97), as having no deed holders. He remembers some of the family relationships of the old British community. For example from the Rees family, Mrs Rosa’s younger sister was married to Mr Guiffray and another sister named Freida was married to the elder brother of Mr Barker.

 Note: There is clear confusion here as the ‘Whittall’ family tree show that Mrs Haydee Rees had no surviving sisters.

The offices of the Rees shipping line still remain next to the [former] coffee house across the old French customs house, Pasaport in Alsancak.

 Note: The coffee house is only remembered by the local old folk and locally nobody remembers the offices. However the 3 storied, marble facade, neo-classical building in the right spot (no:152 Körfez işhanı) has the letter ‘R’ both on the wrought iron doors and in the centre of the coat-of-arms type wall stuccos in plaster in all walls of the entrance hall.

Young Barker did not live in his own house but as a custodian in a house across the Barff residence. The elder Barker lived in a mansion across the Forbes house in the lower ground, amongst grape vines. This single story, large fine house gets pulled down following the death of the elder Barker in the 1940s and the Turkish custodian from Buca breaks up the plot and sells them.

 Note: Oswald Barker, church warden for Buca, dies 1950/51 (1f-p.126a). It isn’t clear if he was the elder or the younger.

The two Barker brothers, Mr Petter (one armed) and Mr Parkinson enjoyed drinking in the former tennis club whose rough position is today marked with the row of poplars growing along the Buca-Sirinyer road. In the 1950s with the departure of the English, the Frenchman Marcel Icard begins to look after the tennis club and with his death around 1975, the new custodian pulls the shack like building to run a lumber shop for a while and later erects the block of flats that still exist today. The American, Mr Parkinson was the manager of the Gary tobacco company. All the Buca English could speak Greek fluently and would speak with the father of Antoine in this language to give him painting and decorating jobs. The house of the Parkinson’s was the green shuttered next to Çakabey school and opposite the ironsmith. Following the death of Mr Parkinson, his wife sells the house to Mr Missir and settles temporarily in England. Later following her return she buys the former Mikaleff house and lives there for 25-30 years until her death. Her son living in America (now Canada) returns for her burial in Paşaköprü cemetery.

 Note: From the London burial registers we see Mr Harold Parkinson of Buca died aged 55 in 1951.

Motor cars never made an entry to Buca during Antoine’s youth and the Levantines all had horse carts available for their trips.

 Note: This is not quite true as from the summer 1951 edition of ‘Candlesticks’ we are informed, ‘we are grateful to Mr Petter for saving the church expense by lending his car and chauffeur to convey the chaplain for Bornova for services, and to bring Mdme Van der Rovaart and Mr and Mrs Barker to church at the same time.’

Currently and for the past 66 years Antoine has been living in the house whose custodianship he is performing. Despite paying the property tax for the past 50 years and with time effectively reconstructing the house, since the title deed holders are considered as missing, he pays rent equivalent to his pension to the national property office (milli emlak) since 1996. Their status in their property is still not clear and in 2006 the house will revert to state ownership. Antoine moved to this house in 1935 and even if one of the 4 their children, the Catholic Rikiki (in correct Maltese spelling Richichi) family, is alive today in Italy to where they emigrated, he should be 80-90 years of age. He knows of 5-10 other people in Buca in the same predicament and their protestations to date have fallen on deaf ears.

 Note: Unfortunately Mr Karakulak died peacefully in the spring of 2007.

to top of page interview date 2001