EN | GR
CENTRE OF ASIA MINOR STUDIES TESTIMONY
C.A.M.S. researcher: Erm. Andreadis
Italics: researcher’s commentary
Nicolas Tsakalos was born in 1888 in Old Phocaea. His parents were natives of Old Phocaea. He attended school for two years. One day the teacher beat him up and the boy never went back. He was a shepherd in the mountains. When he grew up he found work on the ships transporting salt. In 1914, with the first persecution, he fled to Thessaloniki. He stayed there for six years. In the beginning he worked as a clerk for the Macedonian General Accounts Office. Then he joined the English. In 1919 he returned to Phocaea. Worked as a porter in the saltworks. He owned some vineyards. In 1922, with the second persecution, “he took his soul” and left for Mytilene. Stayed there for 4 years. Worked as a worker on the tobacco fields. Then in an olive oil factory. In 1926 he came to Anavyssos. He was summoned here by some of his relatives. He was never happy here. He would go with his wife (who’s also Phocaean) up the mountains to burn wood, make coal. Then he planted some vines. Now he cultivates fava beans and chickpeas. He owns a kiosk. He has two children, both married. Nicolas Tsakalos is a benign, honest man, willing to talk; a good informant. He remembers his homeland with great affection. I met him today on 25 February 1960. His address: Fokaia, Anavyssos, Attiki.
We spoke Greek. Those of us who worked in the saltworks also spoke Turkish because we worked together with Turks. They knew how to speak Greek too. All those who worked in the coffee shops also spoke Turkish. Our women knew not a word of Turkish. Neither the villagers.
We didn’t emigrate. There was always work to be found, what with the salt and stuff. We had regular work. We were paid every evening. We had some vineyards to our name too. Some of us would go to Smyrna and work for the Ragel Foundry. Other worked in helva-making shops. People from Mytilene would move to Phocace, get married there, stay, they liked the place. Bulgarian rayas would also come, meaning Greeks from Keşan, from Uzunköprü, and from Malkara. There was about 15 of them. Same here (in Anavyssos). Shepherds and servants come down from Ioannina, the people are sad, what are they to do? Any type of work you wanted, you could find it in Turkey. You couldn’t starve. Not like here; here we have to beg, there’s no work… Growing vineyards was also good work. We had loads of vineyards in Bağaraşı, they’d produce dark and blond raisins. We’d ship it to Smyrna. We fished too. Loads of fish in our waters. Especially at the Gediz estuary, very tasty fish. Old Phocaea had many shops: grocery stores, textile stores, ironmongers. All the villagers came down from the mountains on Sundays to shop. We also had to pharmacies and doctors. And a shipyard (tershane), Greek. they build kayıks there and barges.
Old Phocaea today (collected on 25/2/1960)
One of our Phocaean girls, who now lives in Athens, went back to Phocaea twice. [He doesn’t know what her name is]. She went to find her sister. They had turned her into a Turk by force, she didn’t manage to escape. In the end, she didn’t find her. The churches, they demolished them. The bell towers, brought them down. The houses were in disarray. She says that it’s easy to go back to Phocaea. You go to the island of Chios by boat and then take a petrol boat to Çeşme. Then the bus to Izmir. And then the bus to Phocaea (Foça).