some memories 

submitted by Colonel John E. Perez , USAF (Ret)


Folks stationed in Turkey during the 60s and 70s will certainly remember the name "Tumpane".

Tumpane -- an American company -- held what were called Base Maintenance Contracts providing many of the basic support functions at TUSLOG instalations. The contractor hired a combination of U.S. and Turkish National employees. Many of the American personnel were retired from the military and had served previously in Turkey.
In Istanbul, for example, Tumpane operated Base Supply, Civil Engineering, Motor Vehicle Maintenance, Office Equipment Maintenance and the Dining Hall. They were a highly skilled and proficient force.

Mr. John David Tumpane was the author of Scotch and Holy Water, (ISBN 0-9607382-0-7) a book about his life and escapades in Turkey. Scotch and Holy Water is no longer in print but you may be able to find a copy by writing to : St. Giles Press POB 1416 Lafayette, CA 94549. Amazon.Com offers the book $10 and says This title usually ships within 4-6 weeks. .Mr. Tumpane passed away in October 1997; but his writings are remarkably as accurate today as they were in the 1950s.

The following extracts are from Mr. Tumpane's writings...

by John Tumpane

When I arrived in Turkey in May 1958, the first thing I bought on the local market was an English-Turkish dictionary. I was a member of the advance team for our company, which had just received a contract to maintain the U.S. Air Force Bases in Turkey.

We arrived in Istanbul via Pan Am after midnight. On the way into the city, all the neon signs looked so strange to me: Tuzcuoglu, Haci Bekir Lokumlari, Koc. I thought, I'll never be able to learn this language.

Then I saw a sign reading Is Bankasi and I was sure the word "bank" was lurking somewhere in there Since I knew one word of Turkish already, I decided to stay.

I love language. (They say marriages succeed or fail, not on sex or money problems, but on language alone.) And I love foreign languages almost as much as English. In high school and college I had taken five years of Latin, three years of French, two years of German, and loved them all. Now, here I was in a new country with an exotic new language to conquer--Turkish!

Additional signs along the way such as Cinar Otel, Pera Palas, and Anadolu Sigorta, only fortified my decision to stay since I saw clearly in those neon lights the words " hotel, " " palace , " and "Anatolia. "

The next morning, before my teammates were out of bed, I left the Istanbul Hilton and hopped a "taksi" (another Turkish word I grasped easily). I ordered the driver to take me to Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) where I had seen on my tourist map in English, the "University Bookstore." I leapt out, telling the driver to "Wait!" (I knew he understood that word because I hadn't paid him), and charged into the bookstore.

"Do you speak English?" I barked at the young, beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed girl standing behind the cash register. "I want to buy an English-Turkish dictionary," I shouted, "Chabuk!" (Quickly). proud of another Turkish word I had learned the night before.

The pretty girl started shaking. "Yes, sir! Please follow me, sir!" She ran to the front of the store and grabbed the Redhouse English-Turkish Dictionary off a shelf. "Here!" she said, almost throwing it at me. I flipped through the pages and discovered that it had no phonetic pronunciation of the Turkish words.

"You wretched girl! How am I to know how to pronounce Turkish words without the phonetic spelling?"

She looked bewildered and started trembling again. "Bring me an English dictionary and l'll show you, said. "Chabuk!" She reached into the front window of the shop and pulled out a copy of Merriam-Webster's Second Collegiate Dictionary of the English Language, my favorite. "Good" I said, flipping it open at random to the first word on the page. "look, archaeology. and in parentheses ar-ke-ol-i-je. You see?"

She started to apologize for no parentheses in her Turkish dictionary. but it was getting late so I said, "Oh, never mind, I'll take it. How much?"

I got back to the Hilton at 10:15 a.m. and found our whole team sitting on their luggage outside the entrance of the hotel. We were scheduled to fly to Ankara at 11:15 a.m via THY (Turk Hava Yollari -Turkish Air Lines).

"Hurry. John!" said Nila Springer, the only female on our advance team. "We were about to leave you here." She was our Mother Hen, our Personnel Director, but I knew she wouldn't leave without me.

I ran up to my room. threw the Redhouse into my ditty bag along with my airline ticket, passport. Polaroid camera and Baby Ruth bars (l had al- ready packed my suitcase), and was down in three minutes standing beside Nila, waiting for the "otobus" to take us to the airport.

After we boarded the THY plane to Ankara, I sat down beside Nila. She opened up her thick, loose-leaf notebook of SOPs (Standing Operating Procedures) and started revising them. I opened up my Redhouse Dictionary and learned immediately that all Turkish vowels were Latin or European: [a] as in father [e] as in bet [i] as in machine [o] as in boat [u] as in tutu Then I learned that most of the consonants were the same as the Roman alphabet, with a few exceptions: [c with a cedilla under it] is pronounced ch as in China [s with a cedilla under it] is sh as in shell [j] is soft as in the French Jacques [c] is a hard j as in jazz Suddenly I realized that Turkish was completely phonetic. Every word was pronounced exactly as spelled: Amerikan, bambu (bamboo), kanser (cancer), fotograf.

I got a hot flash thinking of my shameful behavior in the University Bookstore that morning. No wonder that pretty girl must have thought I was mad--demanding a Turkish Dictionary with the pronunciation in parentheses.

Oh, Allah, forgive me! Just then I realized how to write my name John in Turkish. The J was hard [C], the o was the sound of [a] in father, the h was silent (ridiculous and unnecessary), and the n was no problem. I got so excited, I pulled out an air- sick bag from the pouch of the seat in front of me and printed on it in capital letters : CAN

I showed it proudly to Nila. "It's in the back," she said, jerking her thumb toward the rear of the airplane.



* The first shall be first, and the last shall be guilty. If you are entering a main artery from a side street, simply step on the gas and get there first. After the accident, the police will survey your car. If the damage is anywhere behind the headlights, you are innocent.

* Always use your horn, not the brakes. Horns rarely wear out. Blow your horn with or without provocation--it wards off evil spirits.

* Always aim right at a pedestrian crossing the street. If you slow down or swerve right or left, you will ruin his timing.

* If the street is blocked use the sidewalks--pedestrians never do.

* Ignore stop signs. If you stop, you will be rammed from the rear.

* When you go through an intersection, don 't look to the right or left--otherwise you may be expected to give testimony later.

* U-turns are permitted on any street--they save time and gas.

* A one-way street simply means a narrow street. Use it in either direction. If you encounter a car coming at you, hold your ground or you will lose face. Turning off the ignition and reading a newspaper is very effective.

* Always drive down the middle of the street so that you can attempt to avoid hitting anything. Dogs and cats are dispensable, but the Turks get a little sticky about chickens and children.

* If you approach a traffic light which is red stop only if there is a policeman hanging around. If you are the second car to approach, pull in front of the first. If you are the third cat, pull in front of both. If you are the fourth car pass on the right and pull in front of all of them. If you are driving a horse cart, pass the whole damn bunch and go right through the light. The policeman will only box your ears.


* If you see a tractor approaching the highway, even a mile away, jam on your brakes and stop. He won't.
* When approaching a down-grade, push in the clutch and turn off the ignition to save gas. This is particularly effective if you have others in the car, like visitors newly arrived in Turkey.
* If you sense something is going wrong with your engine, keep going until smoke starts pouring out of the hood and the car breaks down right in the middle of the road. It is not necessary to Pull off the highway since there are no shoulders. Get out, open the hood, pull some wires, and then abandon it. Be sure to put a circle of rocks around your car to protect it.
* If you are driving a truck and have a flat tire, come to a stop on the highway and unload the cargo in either lane. Jack up the truck, remove the wheel, and hitch a ride on a bus, since you won't have a spare tire.


* When approaching an on-coming car at night, dim your lights at the last endurable moment. This is a form of "chicken" Then, seconds before you pass, flip on your high beams so that you can see the road ahead. Spotlights may also be used in conjunction with this maneuver.
* If you see an eerie green light, like a laser beam stretching across the highway, about three feet off the ground jam on your brakes! Stop dead! It's a flock of sheep coming towards you. The green light is a reflection of your headlights in their eyes.
If you have to abandon your car or truck at night (breakdown or out of gas), don't leave your parking lights on as this will only run down the battery. Don't forget, however, to put the circle of rocks around the vehicle.
* Finally, if you have an accident in Turkey, Allah forbid, you have just changed your career in life.

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