My great great grandfather was a proud private school owner in Uzbekistan that also loved farming in the 1930’s. According to my father, being a farmer in this particular geographical spot was considered a great advantage that gave out wealth. In detail, my great great grandfather lived in a city of Uzbekistan that corresponded with a portion of Central Asia known under the name of Transoxiana, which had fertile land like no one could imagine. However, apart from being wealthy my great great grandfather was also reputable via his major profession, that of a school owner, which was considered a great honor back then. I guess some things never change! My great great grandmother was also from Uzbekistan and she was a housewife. Women did not have much choice back then and the liberalism that was starting to prevail in Islam was strongly fought by the Bolsheviks that were in command and ruled the country back then. That is what kept my great great grandmother from getting at least some basic education.
Uzbekistan used to be occupied by three khanates, those of Khiva, Bukhara and Khokand and things were good for the citizens of Uzbekistan. However, during the Red Revolution of the Russians, the whole state of Uzbekistan witnessed some pretty hard moments that made many residents decide to leave the country, leave their belongings and lives behind and seek for a new land and life somewhere else. Many say that the Red Army launched their assault after the emir of Bukhara asked the Russian Bolsevik revolutionaries for military assistance to help him remain in power. No matter what the truth is, my great great grandfather was one of those that left their country. When I asked my father the reasons that forced my ancestor move, he said that my great great grandfather could not tolerate the literacy campaigns as oppressed by the Bolseviks. There was a great effort to russificate the children of Uzbekistan. Many Uzbek words were replaced by Russian words and ther was also a policy to change the way people would dress. The customs of Uzbeks were affected and my great great grandfather saw all forms of tradition fade away, which broke his heart.
What is more, they lost most of their land, so my ancestors’ income sources were severely jeopardized and that is why the head of family e decided to take the step out of the country in search of a new home.
Turkey at that time was a flourishing country, experiencing an economic growth and development in agriculture as well as industry. Moreover, it was the closest safe land for my family to move into. My great great grandfather decided to start a new life in the city of Adana and continue what my ancestor knew well: farming, in the fertile lands of Turkey. They were fortunate because the Turkish government had a policy to give free land to people like my great great grandfather, which made living easier for his family.
Within the passage of years my great great grandfather’s farm had turned into a prosperous farming business that was passed on my great grandfather, who was just 3 when he came to Turkey.
It seems that the farming business as set by my great great grandfather was very fruitful, judging by the fact that it continued to feed my great grandfather’s family, his wife and their 10 children. Nevertheless, something was troubling my great grandfather in the 1980’s, who wanted a better life and another job. I guess it was his time to move on with his life and for that reason he decided to move to America. “The land of Opportunity”, that was what my great grandfather considered the US, among thousands of other people that also decided to try their luck in the particular country. He had heard many stories about families of economic migrates that had set of for America during the 1920’s and never returned back home in Turkey because they had found a way to make a decent living in a country that had much to offer to people of all the nations and ethnicities. Women continued not to have much saying in such decisions, even though they were also affected by those decisions and would just follow their husbands wherever they would decide to go, and my great grandmother was a true loyal housewife that supported and loved her husband deeply.
When my great grandfather moved to America, he started working as a butcher. He was so eager to make his decision work for him and his family that within a few years he opened his own construction company in Brooklyn, Bensonhurst, where he lives right now. In fact, he is still working in the company he created.
As for his wife and my great grandmother, she was a perfect housewife that had mastered housekeeping. They were a very matching and happy couple that managed to pass their love for life, determination, decency and nurture on to their children, who in turns have passed it on to their children.
My grandfather was also a farmer in Turkey. He lived in Adana and married to my grandmother, who was also from Adana, at a very young age. They had 6 children and they all lived in Adana. However, my mother had made a huge breakthrough for those times and not only got educated (she was the first in the family clan that got an education, even if she reached up to high school), but also moved out of Turkey as per her husband’s and my father’s wish to go after a better life. Although, as aforementioned, women had no actual saying in their husband’s decisions it still was a great thing that my mother moved from Turkey and went over to America to live. People back then were so much afraid of the Americans’ reaction towards my family’s religion and customs. However, it seems that everything turned out just fine judging by the final outcome.
As for myself, I was born in Brooklyn and visit my grandparents in Turkey every other couple of years. Things are different now and people are more liberated, even in Islam. The economy of Turkey has relapsed from a long-time of downfall and people there have now better living standards than in the past.