Stories from Childhood

I got the most wonderful idea from one of my correspondent friends, Mehmet. As I have said earlier, I am interested in Turkish culture, music, and language, and so I had thought it would be a good idea to have email pals in Turkey for language practice. I wanted someone who would also like to practice their English while I practice my very rudimentary Turkish. Mehmet sent me a story from his childhood, written in both languages. Not only did I enjoy this and learn from it, but it gave me the idea to have a web page devoted to such childhood experiences. So I invite all of my friends, and anyone else who might be reading this, to send me their brief stories. I can't promise to publish everything, but I'll certainly try to give a good representation of life's events. What follows is my first entry:

The Perfume Vendor (English translation):


I want to tell you a funny story about my childhood.

When I was a child, there were street-vendors who were selling perfumes. We used to call them perfumer-man (Turkish "Kokucu Amca"). They were carrying a box which contained perfume bottles and they were selling those perfumes. Sometimes they were waiting on the street for a long time to sell their perfumes.

When I was about 7 years old, I went shopping with my father in Tire, my hometown. My father went to the nearest perfume-vendor to buy a perfume. It was the first time I saw a perfume-vendor. They talked a little and my father wanted to buy a few mini-bottles. The perfume-vendor had a lot of big bottles of perfume and a big metal syringe(needle). He poured perfume from a big bottle into a smaller bottle by using that syringe. Anyway, it was done... Suddenly I noticed that the perfume-vendor was coming near me with his syringe! He kept coming closer and closer... Oh my God! At that time I rushed out to street and started to run. I had forgotten my father there! I had run home madly.

Ten minutes later, my father came home. He said: "What happened? Why did you run away and leave me there?" I said: "The perfume-vendor wanted to inject me in my head!" My father laughed very hard and said "He didn't want to inject you. He just wanted to spray a little perfume on you so your hair would smell nice, and you thought he wanted to inject you in your head, ha!"

I admit that I really thought that. I was afraid of injections even if I got ill and needed to be injected, I worried about my head...

© Mehmet Said Akalın

Turkish original:

Çocukluğumda başımdan geçen komik bir olaydan bahsetmek istiyorum:

Bizim çocukluğumuzda seyyar kokucular vardı. Onlara "kokucu amca" derdik. Yanlarında, içinde kokular olan bir kutu taşırlar ve bu kokuları satarlardı. Bazen da caddenin belli yerlerinde dururlar ve koku satmak için orada beklerlerdi.

O zaman 7 yaşlarındaydım. Memleketim Tire'de, babamla çarşıya çıkmıştık. Babam koku almak için böyle bir kokucunun yanına yanaştı. Ben ilk defa koku satan birini görüyordum. Babamla bir şeyler konuştular ve babam birkaç koku satın almak istedi. Kokucu amcanın büyük koku şişeleri vardı. Bir de kocaman metal bir şırıngası vardı. Şırınga ile o büyük şişelerden bir miktar koku alıyor ve müşterisinin küçük şişesine dolduruyordu. Her neyse, isimiz bitti ve tam ayrılmak üzereydik ki, adamın, elindeki kocaman şırıngayı benim kafama doğru yaklaştırdığını gördüm. Yaklaştı yaklaştı ve... Aman Allahım! Aniden yerimden fırladım ve var gücümle kaçmaya başladım. Babamı orada unutmuştum. Eve varıncaya kadar nefes nefese koştum.

Az sonra babam eve geldi. "Ne oldu, niye ayrıldın yanımdan, aniden koşmaya başladın", diye sordu. Ben de "Ama adam, o kocaman şırınga ile benim kafama iğne yapacaktı" dedim. Babam çok güldü. "O adam senin kafana iğne yapmayacaktı. Şırınganın içinde kalan kokuyu, güzel kokması için saçlarına püskürtecekti. Ama sen iğne yapacağını zannedip korktun ha!", dedi.

İtiraf ediyorum o anda aynen öyle zannetmiştim. Hasta olduğumda bile iğne olmaktan delicesine korkan ben, kafama iğne vurulacağı endişesiyle nasıl da korkmuştum...

© Mehmet Said Akalın

Since I have not yet received new entries for this page, I decided to write a short one myself.

The Giant Bunny
When I was six years old my parents dressed me in my finest outfit (my friends say I look like a "von Trapp") and took me to a department store. I had no idea why we were going to this store, and especially why I had to be dressed up. When we arrived there was a already a crowd of people, and in the middle of the crowd was a giant Easter bunny. Parents were having their children photographed with the Easter bunny. I didn't like the idea of that, and when it came my turn I had to be pushed forward to the bunny. After being placed on the bunny's lap, we looked at one another. I don't remember any words being exchanged. I don't remember anything....... except that I was terrified. It doesn't look so in the photo, but this big bunny really frightened me. After that I was afraid of all large "costumed" creatures. I would not even sit on Santa's lap at Christmas time.
© J-P. Christopher Jackson

Ecstasy: This entry could just as well go on the favourite quotations page, but I decided to put it here instead. A small story goes with this poem. It is a poem remember by heart from boyhood by my dear friend, Brian Tyson, but he could not remember the source or the author. After a little digging I found it amongst a collection of Georgian Poetry 1916-1917 posted by The Poetry Bookshop in London, much to our shared delight, and I hope yours.

I saw a frieze on whitest marble drawn
Of boys who sought for shells along the shore,
Their white feet shedding pallor in the sea,
The shallow sea, the spring-time sea of green
That faintly creamed against he cold, smooth pebbles.

The air was thin, their limbs were delicate,
The wind had graven their small eager hands
To feel the forests and the dark nights of Asia
Behind the purple bloom of the horizon,
Where sails would float and slowly melt away.

Their naked, pure, and grave, unbroken silence
Filled the soft air as gleaming, limpid water
Fills a spring sky those days when rain is lying
In shattered bright pools on the wind-dried roads,
And their sweet bodies were wind-purified.

One held a shell unto his shell-like ear
And there was music carven in his face,
His eyes half-closed, his lips just breaking open
To catch the lulling, mazy, coralline roar
Of numberless caverns filled with singing seas.

And all of them were hearkening as to singing
Of far-off voices thin and delicate,
Voices too fine for any mortal wind
To blow into the whorls of mortal ears --
And yet those sounds flowed from their grave, sweet faces.

And as I looked I heard that delicate music,
And I became as grave, as calm, as still
As those carved boys. I stood upon that shore,
I felt the cool sea dream around my feet,
My eyes were staring at the far horizon:

And the wind came and purified my limbs,
And the stars came and set within my eyes,
And snowy clouds rested upon my shoulders,
And the blue sky shimmered deep within me,
And I sang like a carven pipe of music.

W. J. Turner (1916-1917)

This lovely story from a music listening friend, Barbara Wolfsong, on the Jamendo Creative Commons site. She also maintains a blog of her musical adventures at: My Blog

I loved Kindergarten and remember it as if it happened yesterday. I think those were my favorite days because I was blissfully naive.

Usually we were left to run about the neighborhood like wild colts, large herds of sunburned children, with no one to stymie our inquisitiveness and creative joy. We rarely caused any trouble. We would just gravitate to the nearest source of outrageous childish entertainment and adventure which was often occurring in the large park behind the grade school. I remember those days in primary colors of blue and green and bright yellow sunlight; in sounds of musical laughter, or the shouts of a baseball game in progress; in flavors of pink bubblegum and wild berries; in sensations of skinned knees and hot metal slides, oh how I miss those days. Good memories.

I looked forward to Kindergarten because I liked learning new things. Always have and always will. But - there they confined us like pet rabbits. We actually had a huge chain-link fence around the Kindergarten playground. Totally separated from the rest of the world. I remember hanging on to that fence, talking to my older friends on the outside in the big kids playground. We had stuff to play with in our little prison: a swing set, tricycles, toys, balls and other little kid items including an empty sandbox. Ah - that empty sandbox!

I think I liked the safe feel of confinement. That fence was strong and our teacher, Mrs. Blankenship, was firm but kindly. There were so many of us as we were the baby-boom generation. I think she had thirty-two children to teach and control.

One part of our daily routines was nap time. First we had our little snack, which consisted of a cracker and a tiny paper cup of juice. Then we tidied up and got out our little sleeping mats and put them down on the floor. We laid down and Mrs. Blankenship would turn off the lights and tell us, "Close your eyes and maybe the Sandman will come." I would dutifully close my eyes in great anticipation.

After nap time we would go outside and play. I would always race to the sandbox, only to discover that it was still empty. I remember, one day, standing there, by its side, looking down with another child commenting on its barrenness. "Why didn't the Sandman come? I closed my eyes" The other child sadly said that he did also, and we walked away.

I believe that I never actually had a restful nap in Mrs. Blankenship's class. I would squeeze my eyes shut as hard as I could and listen with sharp ears for the sound of the Sandman.
Barbara (orangeupurple)©

A belated Christmas greeting with a twist from my friends Larry and Virginia Vance in Tucson, Arizona:

'Tis la noche before Christmas and all through the casa
Not a creature is stirring ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?
Los calcetines are hanging con mucho cuidado
In hopes that St. Nicholas will feel obligado
To leave a few cosas aquí y allí

Por chico y chica (y something for me)
Los niños are snuggled all safe in sus camas
(Some in vestidos y some in pijamas)
Sus little cabezas are full of good things
They're all esperando que Santa will bring
But Santa está at the corner saloon
Muy feliz since midafternoon
Mamá is sitting beside la ventana
Shining her rolling pin para mañana
Cuando Santa returns to his home zigzagueando
Muy feliz y contento, cantando
Y mamá will send him to bed con a right
Feliz Navidad a todos y a todos good night!

Feliz Christmas by Frank Soler (with modifications by Carol Deters) ©