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Orhan Aydın Archive & Yanko Mataka

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

The story of this article begins with the photograph of war veteran Yanko Mataka, one of the famous figures of Burgazada, shared by Orhan Aydın on facebook.

Orhan Aydın's post. Burgazada 1927, standing from left to right: Maria and Vasiliki - sitting: Yanko and Elli

I write a reply to Mr. Orhan immediately, send a private message, but in vain I cannot reach him. In my research on the internet, I learn that he lives in Eskişehir because of his business life. I've been reviewing his website, his books and articles, but I can't find a channel to communicate. Finally I try to reach via factory. Even though I had a hard time overcoming the sectarians in a few tries, I finally explained my problem and Orhan Bey gave me feedback in the evening.

Pleasure in the carriage. Yanko sitting in the back

Our phone conversations with Orhan Aydın

Orhan Bey is a former Istanbulite. His mother is of Austrian and Albanian descent, and his father is Turkish. He spent his childhood in Beylerbeyi with all his relatives. He lives in Eskişehir due to his job. Most of his mother's relatives lived in Burgazada at the time. They find these photos in her grandmother's house in Beylerbeyi. Yanko Mataka and the other persons in the photograph may be relatives, neighbors, friends or acquaintances of his grandmother. We make a total of about three hours of phone calls, four times. I can't get enough of his conversation. Here, unfortunately, I will only convey the ones related to Burgazada.

A photograph taken from Burgazada Meadows. It has a family photo on the back

Let's start with the mother's side first. We're going back to the 1800s. His maternal grandmother was of Catholic and Austrian descent, the daughter of the doctor of King Otto I of Greece, the second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Her name is Elke, but she is also called Anika in the family. Elke met and married Anton Kehaya (the name meaning Housekeeper) Kuçoyanopulos of Orthodox and Albanian origin, who was a perfume manufacturer for the palace, during her visits to the palace. Anton is from Patras, Greece. This city in the Peloponnese region is famous both for its essential oil production and for its seedless raisins. According to a rumor, it was said that the British could give up all the colonies because of the raisin cakes they consumed in the famous 5 tea, but they could not give up the Patras raisin. Elke and Anton have a daughter named Vasiliki (also known as Vaso). Vaso comes to visit Istanbul alone and settles in the Samatya district. Orhan Bey's grandmother and grandfather Mehmet İskender Celasun met during this period. Mehmet İskender is a high bureaucrat who graduated from 1920 Istanbul Law. He is from an aristocratic family from Koca Mustafapaşa. His father, Muhammet Muhittin, was the sheikh of the Sümbili sect, which was one of the first sects of the Ottoman Empire until 1925 (he comes from Sümbili Sinan, the founder of the Sünbüliyye branch of the Halvetiyye sect in the time of Bayezid II). From this marriage, Orhan Aydın's mother Elli (later Emel) was born in 1916.

Vaso & Mehmet İskender & Elli (Emel)

By 1922, their marriage is coming to an end. Mehmet Iskender, a Çanakkale veteran, joins the resistance as a militant in the outpost organizations of the İttihat ve Terakki during the War of Independence in 1922. It is possible that he is a member of the Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa. On the other hand, Vasiliki came to the sheikh of Sümbili as a bride. Considering the conditions of the period, it may have been a difficult marriage to carry out. After the divorce, Vaso became a member of the family he stayed with and helped in Beylerbeyi and took the name Hidayet. It is quite normal to have such a change before the republic. Before continuing the story of Vasiliki Kuçoyanopulos, which goes from Patras to Samatya to Beylerbeyi, with her cousins ​​Olimpia and Maria from Burgazada, I would like to convey an important piece of information. According to what I learned from Orhan Bey, surnames ending with "pulos" represented families from the Peloponnese.

Elli (Emel) holding a flower in the left photo, Maria & Olimpia. Vaso sitting in the right photo

Orhan Bey learned from bell ringer Ketti Hanım that the fathers of Maria and Olimpia were Burgazada Priest, when he came to Burgazada years ago to search for his grandmother's footsteps. In the documents of 1939-1940 in my archive, the Chief Priest of Burgazadası Ayayorgi Monastery appears as Konstatinos Baykopulos. Combining the information about being cousins ​​and the surname Pulos, there is a possibility that the fathers of Vaso's cousins ​​Maria and Olimpia are Konstantinos Paykopulos. He also learned from Ms. Ketti that the location of their house (he vaguely remembers that there was a building on the corner from Aya Yani Church towards Sait Faik's house) and unfortunately, together with the events of September 6-7, Maria and Olimpia sisters left Burgazada (We are not sure about their father).

Documents about Burgazada Ayayorgi Monastery Chief Priest Konstantinos Paykopulos

Yanko Mataka So, what was the relationship of Yanko Mataka with the family? Orhan Bey guesses that they have relatives (at the end of the article, the relationship is dissolved). In addition, while listening to the story of how Yanko, who is stated to be a Çanakkale veteran in many sources, remained lame, we come across different information. He goes to the eastern front in Enver Pasha's army and remains lame as a result of his legs succumbing to the cold.

We continue to know Yanko Mataka from the sources. In Orhan Türker's book From Antigoni to Burgaz, it is stated that Yanko Mataka's haberdashery and herbalists' shop is one of the shops that energize the island bazaar, thousands of kinds of trinkets especially attract the attention of children, and Greek newspapers and magazines are also sold. Yanko is the subject of a chapter in Bercuhi Berberyan's book Burgazada Sevgilim: Yanko Mataka, aka Lame Yanko, was a man who could not be missed. Every kid would definitely stop by Yanko several times a day. There was a makeshift palm-sized shop under the old wooden house that looked like a shambles just across from the pier. Ay... That peculiar smell of the shop came to my nose again... Yanko sells everything. He used to sell a lot of things that had nothing to do with each other. Chewing gum, even waxed mastic, all kinds of monopoly material, nuts, and a variety of beautiful toys that will sway the kids, including rubber balls, balloons, china circles, spinning tops. Haberdashery and stationery and a whole lot more unthinkable. I told you... He was an Everythingist. Where would he fit all that stuff? How would it fit? The wooden counter at the front was hinged on one side and folded upwards like a bar counter. Every now and then he had to get up from his seat and go outside, to sell the things that were swinging from right to left outside the shop. His lame leg made a squeaky "flick" metal sound as he walked. What did we know at that age that Yanko was a war veteran with even medals... He was just Lame Yanko to us. After buying a lot of things for a lira, if it increased by five cents, we would buy roasted chickpeas or sunflower seeds, if it was a hundred dollars, we would buy dry Turkish delight or black menstruation candy. Yanko's "Let me give you a dry mouth for a hundred and a half?" or "You want rakes?" His voice saying (meaning menstrual period) is still in my ears. Reglis candy was a black candy in the form of tiny pills wrapped in gelatin, bent on both sides, that softened like jelly as it melted in the mouth, and turned purple as it softened. It smelled of anise, had a pungent taste, and stained our tongues. It was called "raki candy" because of the anise scent, which was "rakes" in Yanko's language. Dry Turkish delight was a type of Turkish delight, covered in powdered sugar and flour, that sticks to our teeth while we eat, almost to the point of tearing the denture out of its place. It was always put on paper in the form of a cone. When you're walking down the street, if you happen to come across a boy with a black tongue, black lips, or all white flour, it means he's stopped by Yanko. When Yanko was taking a nap, his wife, 'Kirya' (madame) Cornelia, with the chubby tits, looked after the shop. It was necessary to know a little Greek to be able to shop with him, because either he did not know Turkish or he did not speak persistently. I'm reviewing Akillas Millas' book Antigoni to unravel its connection with the family, but I'm having trouble translating it because it's in Greek. Halim Bulutoğlu comes to my rescue and makes a great gesture and conveys to us the Yango Mataka chapter of the book, which will soon be published in an expanded Turkish edition by Adalı Publishing.

On Yango Mataka in Akillas Millas' book Burgazada: When you enter the bazaar from the pier, right next to Grigoraki Hidiroğlu's eclectic-style twin mansion instead of Suvacoğlu's mansion, it is a classic two-storey wooden island belonging to Eleni Gaitanaki, with a wooden two-storey glass door and a bay window that almost touches the street. He had a house. Under this house was the herbalist shop of the war veteran Yango Mataka. Yango Mataka (1900-1973) was the son of soup maker Kostara Mataka, one of the oldest and few families of the island, and was an indisputable figure who was loved in Burgaz of those days.

1940 Yanko Mataka in front of the famous herd in Burgazada. Akillas Millas Antigoni p.287

Just across the pier and at the entrance of the bazaar, in this low-ceilinged shop where there is all the activity, you can find whatever comes to mind: all kinds of cigarettes, tobacco, matches, daily newspapers and magazines, various wines, beers, even chocolate, bubble gum and candies... Rock candies, mints and pressed dried Turkish delight in glass jars lined up in rows... Various dried fruits, roasted chickpeas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. There were all kinds of goods in the world in many small and large boxes and glass jars stacked on top of each other in its showcases and shelves, and in its inexhaustible drawers there were all kinds of goods in the world: simple fishing tools, fishing hooks from the thinnest to the thickest, fishing lines made of horsetails, anchors, pinwheels, lures large and small. fishing rod weights, hooks, safety pins, sewing needles, buttons, ribbons, threads, socks, lace, bath slippers, even bras you can find according to your size! “Every time Aleko Kelaiditis passed in front of the shop, she would make fun of him saying, "Are they sold full or empty?" Yango Mataka, who was always cheerful, laughed out loud. Although always optimistic and dynamic, he lost both of his legs in the war when he was a young man in his twenties, but he did not lose his enthusiasm and devotion to life. He was in the labor battalions during the war days. He was sent to break stones in Erzurum, which was 30 degrees below zero, in open-top wagons where people were crammed together in the dark. In those days when people froze to death, Yango's feet were also frozen, and the doctor had to amputate his knees. Yango did not give up, did not feel offended, returned to his island, got up and walked thanks to two rough wooden legs, married Kornilia Kehaya from Erenköy and started a beautiful family, raised his daughter, loved his grandchildren. For 45 years, Yango Mataka, without losing his joy, welcomes his customers with a smile and greets every morning in front of the glass counter of his modest shop under Gaitanakena's house, greets everyone, and their cat Pichuna and his cat, who are “little princesses” to him, lie on the counter. He shared this happy little kingdom with Chicha.

Akillas Millas' drawing of Burgazada Bazaar. No:10 is the store of Yanko Mataka. Akillas Millas Antigoni p.289

In the light of the historical information conveyed by Akillas Millas, we learn that Orhan Aydın's maternal grandfather Anton Kehaya Kuçoyanopulos, of Albanian origin, has the same family name as Kornilia Kehaya, the wife of Yanko Mataka, the beloved hero of Burgazada. Also, we learn the exact location of Yanko's shop with those magnificent drawings of Akillas Millas. Today, his store is where Adalar Market is located.

Burgazadalı bir piyano

A piano from Burgazada

I am moving on to the story of a piano produced domestically by A.Comendinger, the famous music store in Beyoğlu, Pera No: 343, owned by a Levantine family, and the "Supplier of the Sultan's Musical Materials". Orhan Aydın starts piano education at the age of 6-7. There is a tradition in the Burgazada family that the piano is passed on to the youngest generation. The piano of Olimpia and Maria sisters is transported to Beylerbeyi via Kadıköy pier, departing from Burgazada, and finds its customary place. The journey of the piano in the photograph, which continues as Pera, Burgazada and Beylerbeyi, comes to an end for now in Eskişehir. Who knows, maybe it will return to the island one day and sing the composition of this journey for us.

Orhan Aydin Books

I highly recommend you to read the books written by Orhan Bey. It has a very clear and powerful narrative. You will find traces of what I have quoted above, especially in the story of Eskiçınar Sokak, which bears the same name as the book, which is the life of his grandmother, Vasiliki Kuçoyanopulos/Hidayet Durbak, in Eskiçınar Street in the Beylerbeyi district.

I would like to thank Orhan Aydın for his kindness, who made this archive and memoirs reach us and allowed me to publish them.

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