Turkish Quarter - 1974

by Tamer Ozaydin


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 and Turkish.

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".


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