Fun Times In Turkey

Fun Times in Turkey

The Air Force transferred the family to Karamursel Turkey in April 1975. Twenty-four hours after leaving our home in Valdosta Georgia we arrived in Istanbul Turkey. From there we took a two hour ferry ride across the Black Sea to Yolava. Garry’s OIC picked us up at the port and drove another hour to Karamurel Air Force Base.

To say I had culture shock was putting it mildly. Immediately after getting off the plane I was hit with the sights, sounds, and smells of this strange backwards country. It didn’t get much better after checking in at the base’s temporary lodging. The rooms were old and furnished with the bare necessities . It did have indoor plumbing, but no bath tub. Lorrie and Larry were young and still took tub baths. The shower would have to do. After getting them undressed and in the shower, we discovered there wasn’t any wash cloths. I went to the front desk to get them, and they had no clue what wash cloths were. So they cleaned up the best they could using soap and their hands for wash cloths.

The next day we were assigned permanent houseing. It was a modern two story townhouse. It had three bedrooms and two baths. The same day part of our household goods were delivered. It was beginning to look more like home. Yeah, we finally had wash cloths.

In the beginning the reality of living in a foreign country seamed too much to bare. I didn’t think I would adjust to this place so far from home. I cried day and night for the first month . I missed the life we had left behind in Georgia. I begged Garry to send me and the kids back. After a few long painful months, I stuck it out and actually grew quite fond of this place called Turkey.

Every day I discovered things about our new home that took a lot of getting used to. First of all there was no need to have shipped the big 27 Inch color console T. V. They didn’t have a T.V. station on base, and had no reception to any of the local stations. Every night we rode our bikes to the rec center to watch T.V. flicks. The most popular T.V. show at that time was Mash. We never watched Mash back home, so each show was new to us. We saw every episodes since the start of the show. I can not remember them playing any other programs, except for the occasional football game. One time they showed the Superbowel in July. There wasn’t too much suspense on who was going to win the game. That did keep the gambling down to a minimum.

Our only means of communications with the rest of the world , other than the telephone, was through the Armed Force radio. At noon and 6 P.M. they played the news over loud speakers near the Base Exchange and dining hall. That is where I first heard the sad news of Elvis Presley dying.

The entire time we lived in Turkey we didn’t own a car. We rode our bikes everywhere, including the commissary . We bought a little pull cart and attached it to the back of our bike to haul the groceries home. All the groceries were flown in from the states. Meats, milk, and bread were shipped frozen . When you freeze milk and bread the texture and overall quality changes. That made us appreciate and miss everything we had left back home.

During our stay we keep busy doing things together as a family. Garry and I coached T-Ball for two years. We didn’t have a clue on how to coach, but neither did any of the other coaches. I think we even won a few games.

Lorrie took belly dancing and modern dance at the rec center. She was so good ,she was asked to dance in the adult performances. I went to a local village and bought the fine sheer material and gold trim to make her costum. Both the outfit and my baby girl was beautiful.

Garry took several photography classed on base. He not only learned the fundamentals of photography but also how to develop 35 mm film. He became very good at taking and processing black and white pictures. I was asked several times to model for the class. That was so much fun. Those were the days when all my body parts were where they should be.

Both children loved going to the youth center. One Halloween they attended a costume party. Lorrie went as a gypsy, and Larry and Abe dressed up as girls. They wore Lorries’ dresses, with matching hats and purses. To complete the look, they wore eye makeup and red lipstick. They sure made pretty little girls, in fact they took first place in the costume party.

The schools had a Turkish culture club. The kids and us traveled all over Turkey visiting the many historical sights. (the city of Troy, Bursa, a Turkish Coke factory to name a few)- We also took a Turkish language class. The kids picked up the language faster than us. One day I was shopping at a local market and asked for on kilo of carrots. The Turk keep telling me no not on. They were right of course. On kilos of carrots would have been over twenty pounds.

We would take the shuttle bus into town with a group of friends to try the local restraunts. As you drove down the rode we saw many outside eating places. All the food would be displayed on tables. At first I thought the food was covered with a black clothe. No, the food was covered with black flies. They would fan over the food ,so you could see what was under the layer of flies.That was one place we could never bring ourself up to try .

One of the nicer establishments in town had a sign that said modern American toilet here. Now that was a welcome change from the usual platform with two feet impressions etched in the concrete. You dropped your drawers,(after your rolled your pant legs up, so you didn’t get pee and anything else on them) then place your feet on the impressions on the concrete , aim over the hole in the floor, then continue on with your business. You alway made sure you brought your own paper because they didn’t use toilet paper. In the toilet was a small bucket of water with a dipper. You were to pour water down the hole to help flush the waste to where ever it went. Maybe we were suppose to wash your butt, I never asked. Back to that so called modern toilet. It was indeed a modern American porcelain toilet bowel, however. it wasn’t hooked up to any plumbing. They would clean it out after the end of each day. The hole in the floor was a much better option.

The restraunts usually served large parties family style. We would order everything on the menue. Out would come whole tuna fish, fried whole sardines, the best white beans and lamb, their version of pizza (it had an egg cooked on top), breads, wines, deserts, and a lot of other foods we had no idea what we were eating. It only cost each person a few dollars. Later that evening we all knew what Turkey trots were.

One of our favorite thing to do was to take a picnic lunch to the park. The usual foods were canned sardines, saltine crackers, goose liver pate, cheeses, canned hot sausages, and soda pop. We walked across the road to Amet’s a local 7-11 store and bought fresh baked bread called eckmet. The bread was wonderful when still hot from the oven, but had a bad aftertaste when it got cold. We also bought the kids Tippy Tip bubble gum. It was a lot like our Bazooka gum, except the comic strip was in Turkisk. The kids loved climbing the trees, and seeing who could get their swing the highest.

One 4th of July it looked like the majority of the base personnel was at the park near the Black Sea having a picnic and waiting for the firework show to begin. It was a bit unsettling to have the Turks walking among us carrying a machine guns. They were ready to fire if we raised the American flag. The base was a Turkish Navy Base. We were their guest, and had just announce we were moving our military out of the country. The U.S. brought a lot of money in to their economy, so they were not very happy with us. The
firework show everyone had waited for finally stated. First the sky was illuminated with a spray of radiant greens, then red filled the sky, then another green display, then red, then back to green. This went on for a good hour . The only problem was they were either green or red. It got a little boring after awhile. I’m not sure who ordered the fireworks , but I’m sure they weren’t responsible for ordering them the next year.

My best friend Terri, her boyfriend Glenn , Garry and I decided to go to the NCO club to a New Year’s Eve Party. Terri and I were dressed to the nines in long evening gowns. We are partying hardily and had more than our fair share of adult beverages. We helped bring in the new year with the customary kiss and singing that song I can’t spell. We left the club and was walking, or staggering home, when we decided to continue the parting at home. We were all sitting on the floor. I bent over to pick something up, and let out the biggest fart. I was so embarrassed. If that happened now I would just excuse myself of make some smart ass comment about that being a good one.

Every morning I would watch Garry ride his bike the short distance to work . i could see the secured compound called the elephant cage from my upstair bedroom’s window. For first few months after I arrived in Turkey, I was so homesick, just watching him leave would bring on the tears. Like clock work the Turkish Navy marched up and down the street that ran behind our house. They would march all the way down to the elephant cage, and back several times everyday. The elephant cage was where Garry worked at the data processing center. It housed all the communication units for the Air Force stationed there. All the tall towers and buildings was enclosed in a tall wire cage,, thus called the elephant cage.

During our stay in Turkey, i had the pleasure of visiting Athens Greece with the NCO Wives Club. Garry took leave to watch the kids and the kids i babysat for so i could go.

May 2011 to December 2014

My best friend Terri who is an extremely talented accomplished author, encouraged me to start blogging in May 2011. I started out writing about what it was like living in poverty during the fifties and sixties, then life as a young wife and mother, and as of the last few years my husband’s and my struggle with health issue. If you read any of my bloggs, it doesn’t take you long to know how much I love my husband, children, grandkids, the Dog Boys, the extended family, and a few good friends. At times It has been very hard to maintain a positive attitude. Some days I wished I could run and hide from all the pain and worry. The problem was if I moved the pain always followed. Garry and I has made it though heart attacks, major surgeries , and other health set backs. I found the only way I could handle all the changes I was going through was to have complete trust in God. I have peace in my heart that everything will work out as He planned. I decided to make the best of whatever is in store for me. I will not waste my life on being bitter and angry over things I can not change. It is like a line in a old Aerosmith song “I don’t want to miss a thing”. I don’t want to miss holding Garry’s hand in the car ,or hearing the grandkids singing and playing their music, or playing cards and games with the kids, or seeing the next sun rise. The list goes on and on. I will take each day God gives me, and enjoy every minute to its fullest.

For Today I am Grateful

For today I am grateful for all the blessings and healing God has given me the past four months. So much has happened since August 18th, the day I had gastric by-pass surgery. The doctors assured me that 98% of the people having this surgery leaves the hospital with their blood sugars totally under control, and off all insulin and diabetic medication

Well wouldn’t you know , I was in the 2% that it didn’t work. My blood sugar readings were from 250 to 400 until just recently. I had convinced myself this operation was going to work as the doctors had said it would. I was so disappointed that it didn’t happen as planned.

I then went into a period of deep depression , crying over anything and everything. That frame of mind was getting me nowhere fast, so I put on my big girl panties, (with the help of Garry) and turned it all over to God. Somehow I always think I can fix everything on my own. I started praying for God’s help for me to accept how ever this was going to pan out.

Almost four months has passed, and my life has changed in so many ways. Before the surgery I was taking four insulin shots a day, totaling 150 units, and two diabetic pills. Two weeks ago my fasting sugars finally got down to under 120. I am currently taking 60 units of insulin before bed.

Before the surgery I used a wheelchair if I had to walk more than a few feet. Now I walk everywhere. I can’t walk or be on my feet for long periods of time, but that too is improving each day.

I was using oxygen during most of my waking hours. I haven’t needed oxygen since I left the hospital.

The lymphedema has improved greatly. I was pumping for an hour twice a day. Now I pump maybe three times a week. The more I go to the gym and walk the less I have to pump.

I am happy to say I can now take care of my own personal self. Garry was helping me bathe, dress, and the most humiliating of all, helping with hygiene . Unless you have been there, you will never know how much you appreciate doing these things yourself. I am so blessed to have a husband who never made me feel bad for needed his assistance to do any of these things.

I can stand at the stove and cook without needing to sit on a stool. I’m doing laundry for the first time in two years. Garry said I do a terrible job , because everything in wrinkled. So I think he’s getting that job back.

Everyday I am getting stronger. It is just taking time, time that God has so graciously given me. About this time last year, the doctors at the Mayo Clinic said they thought I had maybe six month to a year left. I guess they forgot to ask the God what His plans were for me.

During the past four months, I had a few additional health issues. I had dental work and got an infection, that required two root canals. Then I decided to not to suffer in silence and had surgery. Don’t believe them when they say it’s a painless procedure. Anytime they mess with your behind, it’s going to hurt. Now I’m looking forward to another procedure to fix a tear in the colon. That’s another painless operation ,or so they say.This time I know not to believe them!!!!

Garry had a prostrate procedure done in October. Everything went well, but the healing process is slow and frustrating. Then in November he had all of his upper teeth pulled and dentures put in immediately. I’m so proud of him for doing everything he can to make this transition successful. He looks so handsome, and young with his new pearly whites. In six months they will give him permanent dentures and partials for his lower teeth. Now if he would wear his hearing aides.

Garry and I largely owe the success to our fast recovery to our fabulous daughter Laurie Ann. Laurie, Malia , and Garrison stayed with us for three months after I had my surgery.

Laurie cooked, cleaned, drove us to our sometimes twice a day doctors appointments, did the grocery shopping, took her kids back and forth to school , and to all their other activities, She made sure we’re did everything the doctors ordered us to. She made many late night trips to Walgreen’s picking up our meds or supplies we needed.

She also got me interested in her daily Soap’s and new T.V. shows . (Garry won’t admit it but he too got caught up in the stories)

We discovered Laurie was the son Garry never had during the World Series. Those two certainly had a great time cheering on our Boys in Blue. Their shouts of joy and at times frustration keep the our Dog Boys in the back bedroom shaking in the skin. (They are not the bravest dogs around)

People ask why would Laurie do this for her mother-in law. She said because I’m her Mom. I know what she means because Laurie is my daughter, and I love her with all my heart.o

Now you know why I’m a very thankful blessed woman. God is good and continues to watch over me , picking me up and carrying me when I stumble and fall.



It’s two in the morning, and I’m about to begin the second day into our 45 years of marriage. God has certainly blessed me with the most perfect husband . After all these years he still makes my heart skip a beat when he enters the room. The years has flown by so fast it’s hard to believe it’s been 45 years since that cold night in November when we took our vows at the Reverend Thomas Dyer’s house in Odessa. Both sides of our families were there to witness the happy event. The wedding ceremony lasted only a few minutes. We didn’t repeat the customary vows, just simply said I do. The highlight of the evening for our guest was when Garry let out some choice cuss words when he couldn’t get the ring on my finger, and as I put my arms around his neck for the official kiss, my very short , short, dress hiked up above my panties. My sister-in law Darlene said it took longer to get her two kids in the car than it took Reverend Dyer to marry us. It might have been an abbreviated ceremony, but one that started an amazing journey between two people in love.
We started our married life in Missouri. After two years Garry enlisted in the Air Force where we lived in Texas, Georgia, Turkey, back to Texas, Colorado, Guam and our last move back home to Missouri in 1993. Those were some busy years raising our family with very little money , but we had an abundance of love.
The kids married and blessed us with eight grandchildren. Now that’s when we received our rewards for all the years of struggles during the early times of our marriage.
Now it’s just the two of us , however we are not really alone, our two dog-boys, Dogger and Max lives with us too. Our house is too quite at times. We miss the sound of the TV blasting away while the kids are laughing, fighting, and playing in the background.
Our kids have good solid careers , and are busy raising our beautiful grandkids. I am so proud of all the grandchildren. They each have their very own talents, but most of all they love and respect their families.z
I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my one and only true love. The past forty five years have been amazing. I wonder what’s in store for us in the future.


A New Beginning

It has been quit some time since I’ve blogged. In fact it has been a long time since I have felt like writing. I’m not even sure I’m ready now. The past months or maybe it’s been several years if I were to be honest, have been a living nightmare. It feels like I’m on a roller coaster ride from hell that has no ending.

This place I have been living is a sad lonely existence. Endless nights and days filled with a body racked in pain, gasping for air, always in search of a comfortable place to sit, lay, or walk. Every night I try sleeping in my bed with the C-PAP machine. I wake up after about an hour. My body has stiffened up so much I can hardly get out of bed. Then I walk into the kitchen. The most comfortable place seems to be perched on the end of a chair, sitting straight up. Then as total exhaustion consumes me, I find myself falling asleep. I jerk awake catching myself from falling out of the chair. One day I might not be so lucky. The extra padding I’m carrying around might not prevent me from getting hurt. That’s something I don’t need another thing added to the ever growing list of health issues. Then the cycle begins. I go back to bed for a few minutes until I wake up in pain and can’t breeth, then back to the kitchen or recliner in the living room. Every night it’s the same routine. Kind of like the movie Groundhog Day. The same scene keeps repeating itself.

My personality is changing right along with my health. For over forty-four years Garry and I have been blessed with a good loving marriage . Now I find myself being mean and hateful to him for no reason. I try not to act this way, but more times than not, this ugly side of me wins over. In turn Garry has taken on some my negative attitudes. We find ourselves bickering over things that don’t mean a hill of beans. I never dreamed one day we would be the old cranky couple that made people uncomfortable to be around us because of our contestant bickering.

On the 18th of August I will be having the gastric bypass surgery. All my doctors agree this is the one thing that will help restore my health. They say I have a 98% chance the diabetes will go into remission. I should be off all diabetic medications and insulin. The lymphedema should greatly improve, as with all the other health issues. Due to my health the operation is high risk, however if I choose not to have the operation chances are my life expectancy is less than a year. For that reason alone, I’m proceeding on with the surgery. I have the best surgeon in the Kansas City area. I’m confident he’s going to do everything in his power to make this operation a success.

My grandson Garrison recently wrote me a letter saying, it will be six months before I see you. In that time you will be getting skinny. Then you will be able to walk and play with us again. We will be going to the beach, and we will boogie board together. His words gave me the motivation to make it happen. I may never be back to where I was before, but I will be walking, playing, and boogie boarding with those grand babies. I have so much to look forward to. The future looks brighter each day. I better pull out the old swimming suite and get ready for the beach. The Gulf Shores and Hawaii here I come.

Everything thing you really didn’t want to know about sleep disorders.

During the past few years I have increased my medical knowledge through the wonders of internet Googling. I have been told by more than one doctor to put the IPad down and leave the doctoring to someone who has a real doctors’ licenses. They do not think me surfing the internet qualifies me as an internet certified doctor. What do they know? I have found more possible answered to my health issues than they ever came up with. Does it really matter that most, or all of my diagnosis were not even close to what was wrong with me. The way I look at it surfing the net keeps me busy on those long lonely nights I’m awake while the rest of the world is sleeping. However I have found a few of my friends on Facebook must have some sleeping issues too because they can be seen playing games in the wee hours of the morning. Somehow that’s comforting knowing I’m not the only one up. Also the more slots they play, the more free points I get. It’s a win win situation.

After one of the Mayo Clinic visits I was diagnosed with sever sleep apnea. I already knew that since it was previously found way back in 1996. The problem was I did not use the CPAP machine for the majority of the years following the original diagnosed. As a result , I have paid the price for my stupidity. It is a fact that untreated sleep apnea can result in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many other health issues. I know this played a major role in my current health situation. Now I’m pro-active in trying to adjust to using the CPAP machine, exercising, and living a healthier life style. I wish I hadn’t waited until it almost killed me before I decided to do what I should have done in the first place.

The road the better health is going to take time. The progress is extremely slow. Sometimes it’s hard to see any progress at all, and sometimes I take two steps backwards and get a baby step forward in return. But I will keep on trying, since the alternative is not very appealing .

Remember to take whatever diagnoses the doctor gives you seriously. The health issues doesn’t magically go away, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. I will trust in God to give me the strength I need to get me through this. All things is possible through Him.

We are Family

What does family mean to me? My being a part of a family began sixty years ago when my Momma gave birth to me in an old iron bed on a farm south of Napoleon Missouri. The act of her giving birth didn’t automatically make me a part of that family. It was the unconditional love of my mother that started my legacy in the family. From the beginning I was blessed with both parents, a sister, a brother, and three years later, a bonus , a baby sister.

There was never a time I questioned their love for me. My Daddy was closer to the two older sibling, while Momma had me and Bettie clinging tightly to her apron strings. I have to admit I was a Momma’s girl. She always made me feel special. But she was equally proud of her three daughters.

At sixteen I married the love of my life, and became a Barker woman. I suddenly had a mother-in-law, eight brother and sister-in laws, and a host of other Barkers in my life. Did I automatically become a Barker? No , they welcomed me with open arms, but I had a protective wall between me and the family. It has only been in the the past few years that I allowed myself to become a member of this amazing family.

My family grew with the birth of a daughter and son. They in turn blessed us with the best gift of all Grandchildren. Now I had a loving loyal husband, two fabulous kids, kid in-laws, and grand babies. Then almost twenty years ago my family once again grew with the addition of Rick. I thank God each day for the love this young man has brought into my life. Rick, Melissa, and the grandkids completes what I consider the best family ever.

I pray I will never take my family for granted. I will always love , honor , and respect them for allowing me to be a part of their lives. I am a blessed family woman.

Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 140 other followers