My family arrived from Kars, Turkiye to
Newark, NJ in mid-Spring 1974. It was a strange town at first, but
then Newark became a town that would stand as my critical land of
understanding. I mean this in a metaphysical way.
Newark had just experience the race riots and we couldn't understand
how people lived so separate, in a dense town. My parents allowed
us to have "decent" friends, regardless of their race
or color. My best friends were black, Italian, Puerto Rican, Portuguese
The Turkish Quarter was located, as I recall from the edge of
the North Ward near Mt. Prospect to St. Lucy's on 7th Ave. There
were 4 Turkish Social Clubs (Gazanfers, Young Turks, Spor Club..)
and two folkore (Both Azeri/Kars Region) groups. The Turks were
not all from the Turkish Republic. It was made of Azeris that fled
the Soviet Army and deserted to the Allied and Nazi armies to save
their lives from Communism. This group was made of males that were
in their 20s, when they fled during World War II. They all married,
Italians, Russians, Poles, and Turks. All had a sad horror tale
about leaving their parents, wives, and children. There were also
Kirim (Crimean) Tatars, Cypriot Turks, and Turkestanian. The Turks
from Turkiye were mainly from Kars and clicked well with the Azeris.
I grew up on Cutler and Garside St. First attended Franklin School,
McKinley, then Ridge Street School. I will never forget Newark.
I hated it in terms of security, appearance and opportunities, but
I met people and had experiences that have taught me that there
are "good people everywhere".