In the late 1960s, I had returned to Adana to work at the newly established Academy of Economic and Commercial Sciences. Although I was hired as an assistant, as in teaching assistant, little did I know that my job definition would become much broader, and I would work with many people.
The Academy, being a government-run institution of higher education, was founded by passing a law, setting it at the same level as four others in the country. At the time, I was graduating from the one in Istanbul and had a particularly noteworthy senior year. Two professors were trying to recruit me to their department because of my performance in their classes. Also, because I managed to organize a two-day Computers in Accounting Seminar or a similarly titled affair. One of the leading accounting machine makers at the time, Burroughs Computers, brought in two or three of their machines and demonstrated them to all students and faculty.
Around the same time, they established the academy in Adana. Both of my professors called me to their offices and told me that it was my call and duty to join the Adana Academy in my hometown. In those days, when a professor told you to do something, it was akin to a military order. So, I obeyed. I met the new president who was also one of my professors, and one day we got on the bus from Istanbul for a 16-hour ride to Adana.
The Adana Chamber of Commerce was behind getting the Academy established there as the first higher education institution in the area. That brought me into a close working relationship with the Chamber. My responsibilities grew from being an assistant in the finance department to supervising the total renovation of the building which the city had given to this cause. I had to coordinate with the local trade school to repair and restore the building, convert spaces to classrooms, create offices, and open the building in the morning and close it at night! Literally!
A Set of Photographs Arrive
One day, I got a call from the secretary-general of the Chamber asking me to stop by to see a few photographs they received. They knew I was into photography, and I was naturally curious. I visited him the next day, and he pulled out a large envelope with four photographs and a brief note. The note said that the sender left Adana during the problem era for Armenians and went to the USA. He said the pictures showed Adana as he remembered it around the early 1900s (I think 1907) and he would appreciate some new photographs in return. We arranged for a new set of photographs to be mailed to him and I borrowed the photographs from the Chamber.
On my next trip to Istanbul, I brought the photographs with me. A good friend was an assistant at the State Academy of Fine Arts, and one of his specialties was photography. I asked Önder if he could copy them to film. In a studio with a camera on a copy stand, he photographed and developed the film for me. At the time, I made some prints and mounted them to create a panoramic display. It hung on the wall for many years, even after we came to the US.
Digitizing the History
I don’t remember when, but some years ago, I scanned the negatives and posted smaller versions on a site about Adana. As I recently scanned a few more negatives from Adana, much more recent photographs like the mid-1990s, I recalled this collection and decided to share them with all who may be interested. Part of the value of this collection is photographic. Note that the photographer attempted to create a panorama, and even marked the sequence using letters on the prints. The waves on the river surface are captured with reasonable clarity, indicating a decent shutter speed. Even then, the speed was not fast enough the freeze some of the people moving nearby on the bridge.
Part of their value is in the history they depict. The bridge itself, Taş Köprü (or Taşköprü) was built by the Romans, yes, those Romans! I crossed it who knows how many times. For many years, it remained the main connection between the two banks of the Seyhan River. The building visible in the left-most frame was a high school. My father went to high school there when it was High School for Boys. Later, when my sister went to high school, it had become Adana High School for Girls. So, two members of my family went to school there. Also, note the clothing on the people visible on the bridge.
The gate visible at the end of the bridge was no longer there when I was old enough to remember the surroundings. As you look to the right in the last frame, there are some old houses. Quite a few were around when we lived in Adana, and some may still be there. I have a post about the old houses of Adana, and some photographs in it were taken around that area. They were stately houses with much local character.
Beyond what is visible in the photographs on the right, a stretch of orange groves provided one of the symbols of Adana, citrus, as well as ample picnic grounds. Shopping malls have replaced them a long time ago. I doubt more than a few of those houses remain on the riverside if any at all. I have not been to Adana for many years, but during the last couple of visits, I saw a much-changed town that could be anywhere. I hope these photographs and my short reminiscences will trigger old memories for some who may still remember the good old days!
I decided to present the photographs mostly as they came out of the scan, with no cropping or cleaning, but with some tonal corrections to make them look even from frame to frame. And, in case you are wondering, I returned the originals to the Adana Chamber of Commerce. They may still have it archived somewhere safe if anyone remembers where!
And remember, nostalgia is the reward for getting old; especially if you have good memories!