Saturday, August 29, 2015

Get it right!

Reminiscing, Marash Girl pondered aloud, "What was it they used to say at Day Jr. High?  "Wake up and die right!"

"Oh, no," replied Marash Boy. " It was 'Wake up and fly right!'"

"Not at Day Jr. High!"

The kids at Buckingham Jr. High in Springfield, Massachusetts, must have been a lot nicer than the kids at Day Jr. High in Newton, Massachusetts, way back then!

In any case, there was no kindness intended when the kids in the 1940's and 1950's corrected each other!

Friday, August 28, 2015

April 24, 1915: Photo of Zeituntsis

24 Nisan 1915 Zeytun ahalisi
24 April 1915 Zeitun folk
Photo from Özcan Gülkesen's post in Birzamanlar Maraş (Marash)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Armenian Manuscript from the 17th Century

A 17th-century Armenian manuscript by Hakob Yerekts of Tiflis  on display in the manuscript library of the San Lazzaro monastery, the artwork/drawing/colors atypical.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

See a Sea Gull at Sesuit Harbor


Okay, so you'd expect to see a seagull (sea a seegull?) on Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but  buoy, oh, buoy, to see a buoy (hanging upside down) painted in the colors of the Armenian flag?


Helene made Marash Girl promise that she (Marash Girl) would visit the Sesuit Harbor Cafe for lunch, a lunch of the biggest lobster rolls she had ever had on the Cape.  Humoring Helene, Marash Girl, with Marash Boy driving,  followed Helene's directions to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe (off of route 6A on Sesuit Neck Road in Dennis, all the way down to the bay...)  After a few wrong turns, they found the cafe  located behind the shacks on their right, the cafe literally a clam shack on the ocean, overlooking the Northside Marina and Cape Cod Bay.  The couple ordered the most generous lobster rolls they had ever seen ($20 each, no credit cards accepted, cash or check only -- ) accompanied by freshly made cole slaw and perfectly crisp (minimally greasy) french fries.  Joining lobster enthusiasts from all over the Cape (and the world), they ate outside, overlooking the harbor, under umbrellas at wooden tables while the sparrows and the seagulls gazed longingly at their meal.

Next time you’re on the Cape, do visit
Sesuit Harbor Cafe
357 Sesuit Neck Rd, Dennis, MA 02638
(508) 385-6134

(Sesuit Harbor Cafe describes itself as “a classic Cape Cod clam shack offering outdoor dining overlooking Northside Marina and Cape Cod Bay. Open for breakfast, lunch or dinner . . .”)

Photos by Marash Girl

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Gathering of the Sharks: Chatham, Massachusetts


Add caption


 The Sharks of Cape Cod gather on the front lawn of the Eldredge Public Library, Chatham, Massachusetts


         Even the youngsters join in the fun, controlling their fear of sharks with chalk drawings!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

OH, YE OF LITTLE FAITH, OR, THE LUCKY LURE, THE LUCKY FISH, THE LUCKY FISHERMAN

"Come on, Ama.  Let's go home.  The fish aren't biting today, and I'm tired."

"Why not cast out a few more times?" encouraged Marash Girl.

"Okay, I will.  I wish I had a chair to sit on.  I think I'll walk a bit into the water, and cast out."

Ama stood on the shore of the kettle pond, looking for the red and white float, now probably thirty feet out into the kettle pond.  "Oh, no," she thought.  "Where's that red and white float? We've lost a float.  I thought I had secured it well onto the fishing line.  Luckily we have another one though.   Iffar, where's the float?"  

"Ama, something's pulling on the line!"  

"Oh, no," thought Marash Girl, apparently a girl of little faith.  "Iffar's probably caught the snapping turtle that's been eating all the fish in this pond!  However will we get the turtle off the line?"

"Give the line one slight tug and slowly reel it in."

"Look, Ama, it's a fish!  A big one."

Sure enough --  a fish was on the end of the line . .  a fish about a foot long glided up to the edge of the pond . . . was it a lake trout?.  

"Wow, Iffar, you've caught your first fish!  Good for you!  Now let's see if we can get a photo of it and  release it . . . "  Marash Girl feared that the fish had swallowed the lure -- feared both for the fish AND the lucky lure!  But no . . . Iffar slowly reeled the fish into the shallows near the shore and Marash Girl's prayers were answered -- she was able to remove the hook from the fish's lip without any problem at all, and the fish swam away.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is no fish story!

Iffar's first fish -- it survived to tell the tale. . . 

They say a little boy remembers, for the rest of his life, the very first fish he ever caught. . . 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fishing in a Kettle Pond on Cape Cod

    Fisherman's faith: fishing in a kettle pond after the snapping turtles have had their fill.
Yes, the glaciers actually did pass through Cape Cod well before the Mayflower arrived!
Photo by Marash Gir
     

Friday, August 21, 2015

The sun sets on Barnstable Harbor

                               Sunset on Barnstable Harbor                        Photo by King Dude

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucky in Love

When suitors came calling at 474 Lowell Ave . . . usually young Marashtsi Armenian men . . . Marash Girl, who typically had no interest in these young men, would offer to play tavlu with them.  (If you don't know what tavlu is, check the blog post below.)  Typically, though, Marash Girl would lose the game, and one particular suitor tried to comfort Marash Girl's disappointment with the words, "Lucky in love, unlucky in games."  Marash Girl is not sure whether that was a direct translation of an old Marashtsi saying, or simply an expression known world-wide, but she couldn't help smiling to herself.  If the young man was trying to comfort Marash Girl, he had just rung the death knell for his own potential relationship with her.  He had won the game, but not the girl!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tavlu at 474 Lowell Avenue!

King Dude found the backgammon in the basement of the summer house. . . Can we play backgammon, Ama?

Okay, his grandmother replied.  She taught him the game, the moves, and proudly reported to her daughter that evening that she and Iffar had not only played backgammon, but that Iffar had won the game!

What?  asked her daughter.  You didn't teach him Tavla?  You didn't teach him the numbers the way Grandpa Peter and Uncle Paul shouted them out?  Shesh Besh?  Du Shesh?  How could you?

So Marash Girl had some undoing to do . . . a major linguistic teaching job lay ahead of her.  That language that belongs only to tavlu for Armenians from Marash.  Are you ready for the lesson?



1-1... Hep yek 
2-1... İki bir 
2-2... Du Bara 
3-1... Se Yek 
3-2... Sebar i Du 
3-3... Du Se 
4-1... Cehar ı Yek (Jehar i yek)
4-2... Cehar i Du  (Jehar i du)
4-3... Cehar u Se (Jehar u se)
4-4... Dort Cehar  (Dort Jehar)
5-1... Penc u Yek (Penj u Yek)
5-2... Penc i Du  (Penj u Du)
5-3... Penc u Se (Penj u Se)
5-4... Beş Dört   (Besh Dort)
5-5... Dü Beş   (Du Besh)
6-1... Şeş Yek  (Shesh Yek)
6-2... Şeş i Du  (Shesh i Du)
6-3... Şeş ü Se (Shesh u se)
6-4... Şeş Cehar (Shesh Jehar)
6-5... Şeş Beş  (Shesh Besh)   The favorite of all for the kids!
6-6... Dü Şeş  (Du Shesh)


Marash Girl remembers the day she and her sister and brother and cousins took out a pencil and paper and recorded those numbers on a piece of paper, and stuck the paper inside of one of the tavla sets so they would never forget.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

English with a Swedish Accent?

Grandpa Moses spoke English with a Swedish accent, so related his son Peter.  The reason?
When he first came to this country, he lived with a Swedish family, and taught himself English -- first from speaking with them, then he taught himself to read and write in English.  So strange to think of a recent immigrant from Armenian Marash speaking English with a Swedish accent!


Monday, August 17, 2015

GRANDPA MOSES, A CARD COUNTER!

Grandpa Moses was brilliant by all accounts.  Although he was the son of a minister, and grew up in an evangelical house where playing cards was forbidden, he played cards, and not only did he play cards, but he was a card counter.  He knew by the cards that folks discarded in any given game exactly what cards they held in their hand . . . Amazing.

AND he knew how to play backgammon and win, knew how to throw the dice so that he could get whatever combination of numbers he needed!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Grandpa Moses and The Granite Quarries of Vermont

"Windmill Open Today", read the sign which pointed the way to the Chatham Windmill (built in 1797 by Benjamin Godfrey), a still functioning windmill in Chatham, Massachusetts.  The two huge granite millstones that are presently housed in the windmill were brought there in 1885.  Marash Girl wondered aloud:  Could those two millstones be created from  the very granite that Grandpa Moses had hauled out of the granite quarries of Vermont all those many years ago?


No, said the guide; in 19th Century New England, it was too expensive to haul granite over the rough roads all the way from Vermont to Chatham, Cape Cod; before these millstones were placed in this mill, this granite was used as ballast in a ship which came over the ocean from Germany in 1885!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Marashtsi or Kumbetsi? That is the question!

"I would go to my father crying, fearing that they were soon going to beat each other up," remembered Marash Boy as he told of the "arguments" that took place summers on the top of Wilbraham Mountain.  "They were almost ready to come to fisticuffs, shouting, 'The folks from Kumbet are not Marashtsis,' as the folks from Kumbet shouted back, in defense of their allegiance to Marash, 'We are Marashtsis!'"  

"My father only laughed and said, 'Don't worry, my son!'  The folks from Kumbet are Marashtsis, although (thankfully) our family is not from Kumbet!  We are true Marashtsis!"  

Marash Girl is not sure that Marash Boy knew, at the time that he married her, that Marash Girl's family is from Kumbet!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making soap? Guard the lye!

The black iron stove -- there it stood, an imposing structure ensconced on the right of the cellar floor, visible as we descended to the bottom of the wooden stairs -- often with Grandpa Moses standing in front of it.  Whatever was he doing?  Either feeding the stove with wood, or stirring a huge aluminum pot with a long wooden spoon, or pouring steaming liquid into a giant aluminum tray.  We were to stay away.

Days later, he would be cutting lines into a tray, a pretty white surface, cutting that giant surface into small squares which we would later be using when we took our jum-jum (our baths).

But Grandpa Moses' grandchildren were very small then (not one of them over 3 feet tall), and on that day, their leader, now a famous doctor at Columbian-Presbyterian, decided to drag boxes over to the outside wall of the cellar so that he could climb up to the top wooden shelf and investigate the contents of that can that Grandpa had carefully placed out of the reach of the curious. What was it?  They opened it --  the lid was not tightly encased -- it was lovely white powdery stuff.  What fun! On their hands, on their faces, and a taste or two . . . 

Screams followed.  Up the cellar stairs they ran to the kitchen where Mummy (later known as Grandma Jennie) was peacefully preparing  lunch.  Aghast, she ran to the front door and shouted up the stairs to call Auntie Zabelle who came running down those stairs.  The memory fades now . . . all that remains is the tears, the words -- the doctor says to drink orange juice, wash their faces in orange juice, and all will be will.

What Marash Girl does not remember is how there was so much orange juice in the house in a time when her mom had only fresh oranges which she squeezed every morning for the family's breakfast.  But squeeze she must have, for the doctor never came, the screams and pain slowly disappeared, and the children learned that the need to stay away from lye was no lie (not to put too fine a point on it)!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

TIger Guards New York City

The Newton High Tiger and the Lions of Marash -- Lions and tigers have always loomed large in Marash Girl's life. (Two lions of Marash in her immediate life -- her father, Peter, and her husband, Levon)  Do you, dear reader have any tiger tails, whoops, meant tiger tales, in your life?

Tiger guards New York City                                                                                                                 Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Parrot on Lowell Avenue

Much to Grandma Jennie's dismay, the Luchardi Brothers, good friends of Grandpa Peter,  gifted the family a very rude, very loud parrot, a parrot which quickly took command of the living room on Lowell Avenue.  The parrot would squawk loudly -- HELLO -- whenever it pleased.  The kids tried to teach it other words, but only "Hello" would come out of its beak . . . Hello, that is, until one day, in the middle of a fun family gathering, it screeched out, "Hurry Up! I Need To Go To The Bathroom!"  Wonder where he ever learned that phrase!

Soon after that incident, Grandma Jennie DID get rid of that very rude, very loud parrot.  She returned the parrot, with kind regards, to the Luchardi Brothers. I wonder what they thought about the parrot's newly acquired sentence!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It's coming straight down!

Shish gibi geliyor! So Marash Boy's mother (Azniv Sanjian, born in Marash) would exclaim when she looked out the window on a summer's day and saw the rain come down the way it's coming down today.  Straight down and fast.  Just like falling shishes.  Do you know what a shish is?  It's what folks put meat on when they're preparing shish kebab.  [In English, a shish is a skewer. . . Got it?]  (Wonder why it never rained cats and dogs in Marash!)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Grandpa Moses and His Canary

Yes, tough as he was, Grandpa Moses had a canary, a canary in a cage in the living room on the second floor.  It sang so sweetly and was so pretty, but one day, while the family was trying to clean the cage, the canary escaped from its cage and enjoyed its freedom for many an hour as the family (including the cat) gave it chase.  Grandpa Moses sat quietly in his armchair and waited until all calmed down, and then quietly returned the canary to its cage.  Unfortunately, Marash Girl does not remember how he accomplished the miracle; all she knows is that he did accomplish, with calm and great finesse, the return of the canary to its cage.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grandpa Moses and His Cat, or The Cat Who Knew Where to Go

Grandpa Moses was many faceted in his interaction with the world.  He loved people, he was fearless, and he loved animals.  He had a pet canary (more on that later) and a pet black cat.  He trained his cat well.  Whenever the cat had to pee or poop, it trotted over to the bathroom, hopped onto the toilet, did whatever it had to do, ran over to Grandpa Moses, miaowed and made Grandpa Moses follow to the bathroom and flush the toilet. What a cat!  What a Grandpa!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Back Yard Farm Share

Preparing those fresh green beans yesterday (see below) reminded Marash Girl of how spoiled she had been growing up . . . feasting (in the summers) on only the freshest of vegetables.  Grandpa Moses started the tradition by setting up a garden directly behind the kitchen, but it was more than a kitchen garden -- it was a garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley,green  peppers, zucchini and, yes, beans.  Marash Girl's father Peter later took over the tradition and continued with the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, mint (avouch), zucchini (which they grew under the apple trees in order to save space in the garden) and green string beans.  Marash Girl misses those days, the fresh veggies, being able to pick apples, peaches and plums from her very own back yard trees, cucumbers, green beans . . .  She attempted to continue the tradition in Wilbraham, and she did, until the tornado took it all away. . .

Friday, August 7, 2015

Le Creuset, Tava, and Arm and Hammer

As you know, Marash Girl swears by her Le Creuset pots . . . ever since Marash Martha called her attention to them (Marash Martha has since moved on, but Marash Girl is still swearing by her Le Creuset pots!)

So there she is, down at her daughter's house, making one of her daughter's favorite meals with all the fresh vegetables that have just arrived from her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share. . . .  Let's see -- what to make with fresh onions, eggplant, peppers, zucchini (green and yellow), green beans, juicy ripe red tomatoes, onions, garlic (yes, freshly dug-up garlic) . . . Can any of you guess?  Well, if you've been reading Marash Girl for years, or if you know Marash Girl, you may know the answer!  Tava!

And so Marash Girl fried up some peeled and chopped onions in olive oil while she (with the help of Enila and Iffar) washed and chopped the other vegetables.  
After rinsing the string beans in cool water,  Enila removes the tips, while Iffar breaks the beans in half.

With the fried onion and garlic mixture in the bottom of the largest le creuset pot available, Marash Girl added all of the vegetables, (including those beautiful beans) and very slowly brought the mixture to a simmer, allowing the lava to simmer for one hour.  At the end of the hour, Marash Girl gently stirred the vegetables while adding ground  Marash Red Pepper, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The tava (a favorite meal often prepared by Marash Boy's mother who was born in Marash and Marash Girl's mother whose family was from Aintab) is always better the next day, but Marash Girl had prepared it in the morning and would serve it that evening.  She had made enough so that her daughter would have plenty stashed away in the freezer to take to work for lunch.

That evening, however, after serving the tava and emptying the pot, there in the center at the bottom of the leCreuset was a big black circle of burned vegetables.  Had Marash Girl destroyed her daughter's biggest and most expensive le Creuset pot?  Yikes.

But her daughter was clever.  Took one look at the burned heap at the bottom of the pot, added a dollop of baking soda and a good amount of water, and simmered the mixture for an hour, leaving it to sit over night.  Next morning, the pot was like new.  Thank you, Arm and Hammer, thank you, Le Creuset, Thank you,  daughter, for remembering what Marash Girl taught you all those many years ago!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Grandpa Moses: On Children

Marash Girl grew up in a two family house where she and her family lived on the first floor, her father's brother (Uncle Paul) and sister-in-law (Auntie Zabelle) lived on the second floor, and her grandparents (Moses and Yepros) lived on the third floor.  

The children would move among the floors interchangeably, one big family, living and playing in one big house.  As one might imagine, things could get pretty noisy with six kids dashing up and down the stairs, in and out of the rooms  (kids ranging in age from one to six years old, two to seven years old, three to eight years old, four to nine years old, depending on the year we're talking about -- you get the picture!)

Back to Grandpa Moses.  When the noise and activity   started to reach inordinately high levels, Marash Girl's father Peter would put his foot down and stop all of the activity with one one word and one steely look.

But his father, Grandpa Moses, gruff as he was (and he was at times gruff) would simply admonish his son (not his grandchildren) with the words in the language of the Marash Armenians, "çocuklarīn keflerī tokhunma."  (Chojuklarun kefleru tokhunma.)  Marash Girl is not quite sure of the spelling, but she is sure of the concept.

                                      Don't disturb the children's fun!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Grandpa Moses' Ahır dağı

When Marash Girl showed her daughter the  photo below, and pointed out the flat roofs, her daughter queried, "Why flat roofs?"
Marash looking to the north at Ahır dağı, probably taken about the time of Grandpa Moses' early life. (see post below).                                                                     Photo courtesy of Kahraman Marash Facebook Page

Why flat roofs?  Let's see if Marash Girl can remember some of the reasons her father told her. . .


The Armenians used to make tomato paste by spreading out the processed fresh tomatoes on trays and leaving the trays up there to dry.  They used to dry fruit up there. . When it was hot in the house, we used to sleep on the roofs.  It was cooler up there.  In fact, Paul and I always knew which of his four wives the man next door was going to sleep with . . . . that would be the woman who arranged the bedding on the roof that evening.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grandpa Moses: "He didn't know the gun was loaded." Or, from Ahir Dağı to Newtonville, Massachusetts

Grandpa Moses was a young man riding in the mountains of Marash (Ahir Dağı).  His friends rode with him. As the story goes, Grandpa Moses (then single) was sitting around a campfire in the mountains with his best friend and his best friend's wife (who they were, we do not know; some say his best friend was a Kurd.)  Grandpa Moses was inspecting a recently purchased gun (whether it was his or his friend's is unclear) when the gun went off by accident and instantly killed his best friend.  He went into hiding in the mountains, protected by his Kurdish friends.  The authorities knew that they would never be able to find him as long as his friends were hiding him in the mountains.  In his place, the authorities placed father, the minister,  in prison for the crime; his father would stay in prison until his son Moses gave himself up.  That was the only way that Moses would ever be caught.  Yes, in a Turkish prison in the late 1800's, early 1900's.  You can imagine.

So Grandpa Moses, son of the first Protestant minister in Marash, gave himself up to the Turkish authorities, was placed in prison (and who knows what else), and the case actually went up for trial.  (Death was the penalty for the crime.)  At the trial, his best friend's wife testified that the murder was an accident, that her husband and "Mose" were best of friends, and in no way would Moses ever wish harm to his best friend.  Grandpa Moses was released from prison and exonerated for the crime.

However, his father, Rev. Sarkis Bilezikjian, reminded his son that "The Turks never forget. . . Leave the country,  and leave the country fast." 

 And leave the country Moses did . . . heading for the good old U S of A. and Newtonville, Massachusetts.

That was the way Marash Girl heard the story.  She knows no more.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grandpa Moses and the Spring on Lowell Avenue

Yes, there was a spring on Lowell Avenue at the corner of Hull Street in Newtonville . . . a spring of fresh water flowing from the cliffs that were once a bird sanctuary, the cliffs bequeathed to the City of Newton by the Claflin family, the cliffs that were forever to be held sacred for birds, upon which a large brick building was built (once a public school, now a privately owned apartment building).

Marash Girl remembers Grandpa Moses walking down to that spring from her home opposite the cliffs, walking down with two jugs, one in each hand, returning home with the jugs filled with fresh, clear, cold spring water.  Later, as Marash Girl got big enough to carry a jug of water, she would walk north on Lowell Avenue, past the woods, to the corner where the short rusted metal pipe jutted from a cleft in a rock out of which poured the delicious God-given brew!

But soon, the land was sold, and developers cut down the trees and built houses  . .  .  and yes, they built a house right over the spring.  Marash Girl remembers how the cellar hole was left empty for months -- empty that is except for the water at the bottom of the cellar hole -- water from the spring that could not be stopped.  And well after the house was built over that cellar hole, that house on the corner of Lowell Avenue and Hull street, the spring kept giving, the cellar was always wet.  The question Marash Girl, at age 8, and throughout her life, always wondered:  why could that developer not have built the spring into a beautiful fountain in the front yard of that corner house?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Grandpa Moses: "Yuzune deyim!"

Marash Girl grew up in the little church , the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church of Watertown, Massachusetts. Uncle Vartan, her Grandfather Moses' brother, founded that church and ministered to its congregation until the 1950's. His sermons were in Turkish,   Armenian and English, the hymnals were in all three languages as well  - E. E. Elmajian's    Spiritual Hymns of Worship -    Hokevor Yerker Bashdamunki - Ruhani Ibadet Ilahileri [in English, Armenian & Armeno-Turkish].

Early in the history of the church, however, there was a movement to "Pentecostalize" the church; the man leading the movement (whose name Marash Girl never learned) happened to be the treasurer of the church, and up  and left the church, taking many of the worshipers and all the money in  the treasury with him.  

Upon learning of  the event, Grandpa Moses said of the treasurer, 
"He's nothing but a crook!" The former treasurer heard of the accusation, and   came to the house on Lowell Avenue to face Grandpa Moses.

"You called me a crook behind my back," he announced to Grandpa Moses on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the visitors who weekly visited Grandpa Moses.

"Well, let me tell you to your face:  (Yuzune deyim!)", said Grandpa Moses. "You're a liar!"


For years after that event, Marash Girl's dad would say, yüzüne deyim, when describing the straightforwardness of his father, and all of us would laugh, enjoying the reminder of Grandpa Moses' fearless honesty.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

If wishes were horses . . .

And remembering admonitions from her parents and grandparents' generation, Marash Girl often heard her father quoting her grandmother Yepros (and Marash Girl only remembers the expression in English with a rough translation into the language of Marash Armenians):

"You can't ask someone to love you."  

(Rough translation of meaning: You can't say to someone, "Gel ve bene seviyor", "Come and love me" and expect that to happen.)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Trying to hold two watermelons in one hand, are you?

Purchasing watermelon today at Whole Foods, Marash Boy remembered the caution his mother brought with her from Marash:

Bir elinde iki karpuz tutulmaz!  You can't hold two watermelons in one hand!

Of course, Marash Boy paid no attention whatsoever to the admonition, causing his mother no end of consternation.

Do you understand the meaning of the expression?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grandpa Moses and The Lone Ranger; or Grandpa Moses, The Lone Ranger

Born in 1865 in Marash, Ancient Armenia,  Eastern Anatolia, Grandpa Moses was the oldest of 5 sons born to the Reverend Sarkis Bilezikjian:  Moses, Garabed, Arakel, Alexan, and (Rev.) Vartan.  Moses, however, was a loner.  As a young man, he would ride off  on his horse to join his Kurdish friends in daily forays throughout the mountains surrounding Marash.  And because they were his friends, they would never attack the sheep that he herded up there in the mountains, nor the travelers or  caravans for which he "rode shotgun" . . .  He was a wiry, quiet man when Marash Girl knew him, hardly speaking at all, sitting in the winged arm chair on the second floor, and (later in 1947, when television first came out), watching The Lone Ranger (was he watching himself?) as he protected the innocent.  

It was then, just as the Lone Ranger was in combat with evil, that Marash Martha, at the time only 5 years old, would decide to get up and change the channel.  Grandpa Moses would complain to his son Peter (Marash Martha's father), "That girl! She always turns the channel just at the height of the action!"  (Of course, that's not exactly what he said; he was speaking in Turkish, the language of his Marash.)  Oh, and by the way.  He spoke English with a Swedish accent.  More on that later.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grandpa Moses and the Glass of Water

Grandpa Moses was sitting under the grape arbor in the back yard --  his son (Marash Girl's father) had built the arbor for him -- a beautiful wooden structure covered with grape vines under which were two benches and a table -- the family often sat there for summer dinners on Sunday -- but this was a a hot summer weekday, and Grandpa Moses was cooling off while the kids were running around playing in the back yard.  Grandpa asked little Marash Girl for a glass of water, so Marash Girl ran into the house and ran a glass of water from the tap for Grandpa Moses -- thinking she would play a joke on her grandfather, she ran the water from the hot water tap and carried the clear glass of water outside.  Before taking the glass into his hands, Grandpa Moses took one look at the water and roared with displeasure.  He knew (bubbles in the water?  Marash Girl is not sure) that the glass was full of hot -- not cool -- water!  It was the only time Marash Girl ever remembers that her grandfather spoke to her with displeasure, and, yes, obviously, she remembers the moment to this day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Grandpa Moses and Pendir Ekmek

Marash Girl wants to write more about Grandpa Moses on future blog posts, but today her memories of Grandpa Moses were triggered by her memory of the circular wooden box he built, a round box made of dark wooden slats with a round, loose-fitting cover that sat atop the box, the box approx. 2 feet in diameter and 18 inches high.  That box sat in the attic for many a year . . . when Marash Girl was very young, (she was told) it was filled with ekmek . . . round, dried, thin, flat Armenian bread (homemade, of course) made with white flour and salt and a bit of yeast, rolled out to approximately 18 to 20 inches in diameter, (or as large around as the oven would take) and baked until crisp.  The bread would be kept dry in the box that Grandpa Moses had built, and before serving, would be sprinkled with water and wrapped in a towel until the cracker bread was flexible and could be rolled up around whatever was served on that particular day: vegetables or meat or cheese (usually home made Armenian cheese that had been stored in a brine, and was sliced and served after it had been let to sit in hot water for a bit -- yes, hot, slightly melted, very salty cheese).  Pendir ekmek . . . bread and cheese!  Wet bread and wet cheese, you ask?  Yes!  Any of you out there remember eating wet bread with wet cheese?  Marash Girl does.  It was one of her favorite meals!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Button, button,who's got the button?

Any of you remember that game? (A simple game played in a simpler time. . .)

Have you ever threaded a needle?  

Tightened a button on your favorite blouse?

Searched your button bottle (do any of you even know what that is) for a button that matches, or nearly matches the one you lost on your favorite pair of slacks?

All of these memories flooded Marash Girl's mind when her daughter called to find out if Marash Girl had any iron-on tape. . . her daughter's friend loves vintage clothing, and recently bought a blouse she "could not live without" . . .  but the blouse was unwearable because the button half-way down on the front of the blouse was missing and a tear was there in its place.  What to do?

Get some iron-on tape to iron-on over the tear on the reverse side of the blouse.  Find some matching thread (preferably cotton if the blouse is cotton) in your sewing basket -- wicker or plastic basket, either will do -- (does anyone have a sewing basket  containing needles and spools of thread anymore?) . . .  have fun going through the button bottle to find a matching button . . . have fun trying to thread that needle (if you're clever, you'll have one of those wire needle threaders from the 1940's).

I can just hear Marash Martha now, as she reads this post . . . she'll be screaming all the way from Palm Desert, California . . . screaming, "Why don't you just take the darn thing to your local seamstress?  She'll take care of it all in a jiffy!"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We miss you, Shirley Tashjian!

Shirley Tashjian welcomes a young man from Uganda to her 4th of July Parade party!


                                     Our lives and our 4th of July's will never be the same without you, Shirley!

The calling hours are on Thursday morning, July 30, at St. Gregory's Armenian Apostolic Church, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts,  between 9:30 - 11:00 AM.  Service will be at 11 A.M. Shirley will be buried at Hillcrest cemetery. After the cemetery a memorial luncheon will take place at  St. Gregory's Armenian Apostolic Church Hall.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ticks and Talks on Cape Cod

 As most of you know by now, Massachusetts' beloved Cape Cod and the Islands (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket) their beaches and roadsides, paths through the woods and back yard havens, are now overrun by ticks carrying lyme disease.  Go shopping to the local market, and in the parking lot,  you'll overhear folks comparing notes on their neighbor's (or their own) bout with the tick born lyme disease.  Originally thought to nest in the fur of deer, the ticks now make their home on animals as small as mice, and certainly live in the fur of pet cats and dogs who have been allowed to go outside and enjoy the fresh salty air.  Enjoying the leaves of plants as small as two inches high, or living among the greens of the lofty oak, these tiny ticks have ensured misery for the many.

Recently, Marash Girl engaged in one of her favorite pastimes — a visit to a yard sale on Cape Cod.  Yard sales on Cape Cod are not simply for stocking up on gadgets that you  don't need but can't resist just because the price is so cheap --  rather they're a time to enjoy the sun and fresh air and catch up with your "neighbor" the way folks used to do in the old days.  Yesterday, the "neighbor" on Captain Blount Road sold Marash Girl all kinds of treasures at 50 cents apiece.  While Marash Girl paid the total sum of $10 (how many treasures was that? -- get your pencils out!)  -- yes. Marash Girl had gone to the bank the day before to make sure she had cash -- no credit cards or checks accepted at yard sales -- the proprietress began talking about her bout with lyme disease. (Marash Girl can't remember how the topic came up!)  At any rate, this young woman told of her year long fight to regain her health and went on to say that Harwich was known to be the hot spot for lyme disease -- which was the reason she moved from Harwich to Yarmouth!  As she obviously still gardened around her house, Marash Girl asked the young woman how she prevented getting reinfected by the pesky ticks.  

Her solution?  A lint roller.  

She advised the following:  every time you return from working in your garden or from a walk along the beach or  a walk in the woods -- whether or not the path is cement, tar, sand or dirt -- keep a lint roller handy, and roll that roller over every inch of your exposed skin and your clothing -- have someone do the back of your clothes as well -- throw your clothing into the washing machine using hot water  (after you've removed the clothing from your self, of course) and while the clothes are washing, take a shower; when the wash is done, throw the clothing in the dryer.  The heat from the dryer will destroy any ticks that may have survived the wash.

If you do find a tick on your body, call 911 -- no, just kidding -- call your doctor and the doctor will usually prescribe a prophylactic dose of doxycyclin (usually one day's worth).  

Marash Girl can tell you from experience -- contracting lyme disease is no joke!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Raccoon Comes A-VIsiting

Sending notices out for your yard sale?  Make sure that your local raccoons can't read!

Recently Marash Girl attended a yard sale, granted she was a late bird rather than an early bird, and while standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the front door, chatting with the proprietress of the yard sale, she looked up to see, yes, she saw, yes, it really was, a raccoon entering the open door of the grand Victorian home.  In shock, Marash Girl screamed, the raccoon turned tail (literally) and fled, and the proprietress was completely confused.  What just happened?  Oh, no!  Let's call animal control.  A half hour later, animal control arrived (giving the raccoon plenty of time to take cover) and announced that she could not take down an animal that was not rabid or sick.  Well, if the raccoon was not rabid or sick, what was it doing rummaging around in broad daylight at a local yard sale?

Apparently, Newton is now known not only for its million dollar homes, but for its protected wild life!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dishwasher Blues

Tired of eating off those dirty dishes that you thought  were clean (already run through the dishwasher)? Tired of emptying a dishwasher full of rinsed but unclean dishes and putting them away before you realize that they have not yet been washed?

Save yourself the trouble of ever going through that again, and use Marash Girl's signal!

After emptying her dishwasher, Marash Girl immediately fills the soap dispenser with dishwasher soap and firmly closes the dispenser.  That's the signal.

From then on, any dishes in the dishwasher are known to be dirty.  How? Just check the dispenser!  If it's closed, the dishes are dirty.

And likewise, if the soap dispenser is open and empty, that's your signal that the soap has been used, that all of the dishes in the dishwasher are clean and ready to be used.

Got it?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why would anyone ever want a dishwasher?

With apologies to Mummie!

Marash Girl's father was co-owner of Newtonville Electrical Company, Inc.  As such, he and his brother always supplied the family with the latest in electrical appliances.  Thus, Marash Girl's mom was one of the first folks in the neighborhood to have a dishwasher.  But what did fresh young Marash Girl say to her mother when her mother was excited about getting a new dishwasher?  "Why would anyone ever want a dishwasher?" Yes, she really asked that question.

Years later, Marash Girl understands and sends her apologies back in time to her wonderful mother, Jennie.

Today, Marash Girl has a friend who still washes dishes by hand.  Her friend doesn't realize that the dishwasher SAVES WATER and, in fact, gets dishes cleaner than any hand washing could ever do.

But what about the social aspects? Do any of you remember the chatter  enjoyed wiping  dishes and putting them away while the "chosen" lady for the day washed the dishes?  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chinese Dancers on Newton Center Green

Beautiful and graceful, young Chinese-American dancers in authentic Chinese costume performed traditional Chinese dances on the Newton Center Green. Sponsored by Newton Community Pride                                                       Photo by Marash Girl

This past Sunday evening, (no not in the cool of the evening, but rather in 90 degree weather with high humidity), on the Newton Center Green, young Chinese American girls from the American Chinese Art Society performed traditional Chinese dances wearing traditional Chinese costume (shipped directly from China).   The dancers posed for Marash Girl before the program began.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marash Dondurmasī

Growing up, Marash Girl often heard her father  talk about "Marash Dondurmasī" (the ice cream  for which Marash is famous throughout the Near East!)

Visiting Istanbul in the 1960's, Marash Girl was regaled with stories about the famous ice cream of Marash.  She wanted to travel to Marash to taste the real thing, but that year, in the mountains of Marash, there had been a murder of a honeymooning German couple.  Thus her Turkish friend, Memet Fuat Bengu, did not feel it was safe for her, a very young American Armenian woman, to journey to Marash alone.  

And so it was that Marash Girl never tasted the famous ice cream of Marash.  

To this day, Marash is famous for its ice-cream, and Marash Girl once again read reference to the ice-cream on the Facebook page of K. Marash. 

Apparently, snow brought down from the Ahir mountain is stored year round; a "molasses" (which is actually cooked down grape juice or fruit juice) is added to the snow for year round ice cream.  

If any of you in Marash are reading this, please tell Marash Girl if the ice cream makers of Marash add cream or milk to the mix before making the ice cream!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Redcoats are coming!

Barley Jim writes, "While approaching the July 4th esplanade festivities in Boston, I made my way through not only a large number of police and firemen but an even larger number of soldiers wearing SF (security force) armbands and tactically holstered side arms.
I have now confirmed that this is the first time that armed soldiers have patrolled Boston's streets since Governor Coolidge activated the State Guards during the 1919 Boston Police strike.

I do not welcome the Redcoats back in my city especially on a day that celebrates our Freedoms, not the least of which isour emancipation from the then oppressive Redcoat quarantine of Boston!! So maybe you should stay in NYC?????"

Marash Girl answers, "Only blue coats in NYC!"

(See below!)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New York's Finest!

                                           Broad Street, Financial District, New York City
                                         Dylan Marie joins the ranks of New York's Finest!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lucia Michaelian of Marash, a Bible Woman?

Recently, Phil Hanna wrote to Marash Girl:  A woman historian who has been researching and inventoring archival materials in Lebanon and studying some of the activities of the Protestant missionaries and their churches,  posed this question to me:
I wanted to ask you a question about your mother. I was talking to a
colleague about Armenian women and their important role in maintaining
the community especially after WWI and we were unsure if there was a
history of Armenian women serving as nuns or evangelical workers
outside of war time? I believe that there were Armenian female
monasteries and that Armenian women continue to play an important role
in the community but on a unofficial level. Do you know if there was a
movement among Armenian Evangelical women to become Biblewomen (like
there was with the women in Syrian and Lebanon during the late 19th
and early 20th century)? Or am I completely wrong with this
understanding?  
I did not have a sense of an answer.  I had not heard the term Biblewomen before.  What do you think?

Marash Girl's Response to Phil Hanna:
She was a tall woman, with very white hair that was cut just below her ears and somewhat curly. Miss Michaelian used to come to our house when I was a little girl.  She spoke English precisely.  She didn't look Armenian; she looked more like my Yankee school teachers!
[My Uncle, Rev. Vartan Bilezikian (author of Apraham Hodja of Aintab which is online) and the son of Rev. Sarkis Bilezikian (the first protestant minister of Marash), lived in Newtonville where I grew up and I have the sense worked closely with Lucia Michaelian.] Miss Michaelian, I’m sure, was a Biblewoman, though certainly not called that in English.  She was a religious woman who visited homes, and must have come to visit my blind grandmother who lived upstairs, but I distinctly remember her standing in the doorway to our living room and talking with my father.  What they talked about, I could not say.  Probably around 1944 or 1945.

Some more info on Lucia Michaelian from her grand niece Berta Bilezikjian who lives in California:
Lucia Michaelian was sister to Berta’s grandmother Kohar Michaelian Vahanian, born in Marash around 1900, the youngest of her family.  Excellent English, tall and slim, she used to preach when the preachers were away. She got her college degree in social welfare — would help Armenian immigrants.  Left Marash in the early 1920’s. She was working with the missionaries there.
We think she was a member of the Eastern Star.  She had a high pitched voice, sang hymns. died in 1956. she was  as good a preacher as anybody; she would preach when the preachers were out of town. she went to college in boston and returned to marash to teach in girls college. Her mother was housemother in the college. They stayed at the college for 14 years. Her older step-sister who had recently married and had a baby was killed in the genocide in 1920.  Missionary Mrs. Lyman told her mother  that the family could stay with the missionaries. The missionaries raised my mother (Zabel Vahanian), and taught her piano on their grand piano.  Mrs Lyman visited Berta in Aleppo and Boston. Berta's mother Zabelle and Mrs. Lyman played piano together during that visit. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Entrance to Subway - The Subway Entrance

New York City:  The Entrance to Subway  - The Subway Entrance - Your Choice      Photo by Marash Girl

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dropped a cigarette at the doorstep of Tiffany's? No worries!

With their backs to the Trump Building on Wall Street, a smartly-dressed woman stood with her gentleman, both gazing at the front door of Tiffany's.  The woman took out a cigarette, and while holding it up to her mouth to light it, dropped the cigarette onto Wall Street. Retrieving the cigarette, she placed it between her carefully painted lips, lit the cigarette with a match,  and took the first of many puffs.

When Marash Girl related the above tale to Sistah Sarah, Sistah Sarah replied with her own elegance, "Surely the five-second rule must apply."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Remember the Bastille!

Above image from the internet; Marash Girl was not present at the storming of the Bastille.
"Remember French Bastille Day? They stormed the prisons to release those wrongfully held for political power. History repeats because the passions of man never change. Hand someone power and it far too often consumes them."  

Deron asks, "Why is the French Revolution more romanticized around the world than the American Revolution? 13 years after the beginning of the French Revolution , Napoleon was consolidating power.  13 years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States was a representative democracy with a constitution." (Please comment below if you have thoughts on this question.)


Both Independence Day and Bastille Day evoke memories for Marash Girl and Marash Boy. Every summer in Wilbraham, the family celebrated Independence Day by going to watch the annual East Longmeadow 4th of July Parade.  In the early years, the family watched the parade from the driveway of the Gralia Construction parking lot.  In later years, the family watched from the front lawn of Armen & Shirley Tashjian 's house.  After the parade, the family returned to the mountain for an Independence Day feast, Armenian-American style: hot dogs and shish kebab; strawberries and homemade paklava. After dark, from the mountain top, the family watched the fireworks of the cities and towns in the Pioneer Valley. 

On Bastille Day, Marash Boy would serve French wine and freshly baked French Bread and French Brie (there was a circular wooden box from real French Brie that for years decorated the top of the kitchen door frame, until the tornado took the box, the door frame and all), while the kids built a "bastille" of branches that had fallen from the century old oak that graced the front of the cabin. (Untouched by the tornado, the oak is still there, though the cabin is gone.)
After the kids had captured their Uncle George (Dr. George Charkoudian) and marched him into the "bastille", all of them at once would "storm" the bastille with shouts and laughter, and tearing down the "bastille", rescuing Uncle George and marching him to the marble topped picnic table where all would imbibe in a French feast!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cost Analysis in a New York City Elevator

Marash Girl in an elevator on Wall Street in New York's Financial District, noticed the cup of coffee being held by the only other occupant of the elevator:  I hear Starbuck's is raising its price for a cup of coffee.

Man on elevator carrying a paper cup of Starbuck's coffee (which he had purchased across the street:  Well, after all, they have to pay for increased rent, increased wages, increased cost of coffee, increased cost of cups, increased . . . .

By then Marash Girl had reached the 8th floor, and bid farewell to the cost analyst who was going on up to the 20th floor, most probably continuing his analysis, even though he had lost his audience.

After all, he was on Wall Street.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Art For Whose Sake?


Photo by Marash Girl
Sporting red shorts, a red purse with red shopping bag in hand, woman poses under the Neguchi Red Cube, Helmsley Plaza, Financial District, New York City, while the cube is being photographed by three photographers at the same moment.                                                                                                                                                         

Friday, July 10, 2015

Service Entrance at the Rear

During the South End Garden Tour (see yesterday's blog post below), an "interpreter" at the South End Community Garden glanced behind him at the elegance lining the streets, and pointed out the kitchens that were attached to the back of the 4 story brick houses, where the servants (in this case, usually, the Irish maids) lived and worked (in the back with the kitchens, NOT in the elegant houses).  

"If workers or servants attempted to enter the house through the front door," he commented, "they were told to go to the service entrance at the rear of the house." 


That little piece of South End history sounded so familiar. Marash Girl remembers her father telling of such treatment.

At his customer's front door  in Newton, Massachusetts, ready to repair a refrigerator/furnace/dishwasher/Bendix, Peter was told to go the back door -- to the service entrance at the rear of the house.  His reply?  "I enter from the same door you enter, Madam, or you get no service!"