Kemal Y. Kocak and Timur Kocak

Recorded October 6, 2007 Archived October 6, 2007 01:18:27 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: GCT004319


On his wedding day, Timur brings his father, Kemal to the StoryCorps booth to learn more about his father’s early life in Turkey.

Subject Log / Time Code

Timur asks Kemal to share his earliest memory.
Kemal remembers the town in which he grew up.
Kemal starts at the military academy in Ankara and is offered an opportunity to go to the United States.
Kemal resigns from the Turkish army to stay in the United States with his wife and Timur.
Timur remembers trips with his father.
Kemal’s advice to Timur about marriage.


  • Kemal Y. Kocak
  • Timur Kocak

Recording Location

Grand Central Terminal


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00:04 Hi, I'm Timber colchuck 42 years old. Today's date is October 6th 2007 station and I'm here with my father.

00:21 My name is Kim aquachek 75 years old.

00:27 Today's date is October 6th 2007 at the Grand Central Terminal Station and he's my son.

00:38 So bye-bye. Can you describe your earliest memory?

00:47 Yes.

00:50 That goes way back and Old Country.

00:54 That was living in the farm the old country. We're talking about turkey.

01:00 And that I'm barefooted.

01:08 Don't have any underwears.

01:12 Fast I'm covered with something like nightgown and Walker on the steps.

01:18 I'm watch the birds and I have a talk with me and comes along with me all the time.

01:24 That's the one I remember earlier and I remember that my mom at that time.

01:32 Making

01:35 Butter butter first from fresh milk

01:40 I wait for the butter come up so I can have breakfast.

01:48 How many kids were there in the house at that time? I was in the middle, so.

01:58 At that time I didn't have my brother. I was the youngest it than I thought.

02:06 My sister and my eldest brother of the Swedish take care of the house. That's about it.

02:15 As my father that I used to travel from Village to Village disturbance.

02:22 Medicine

02:24 Norwegian job he was Elvis's job that the farm.

02:32 And the sister-in-law and my mother takes care of the cows and Gardens and so who is in the house at that time was your mother and father of occasionally when it was my mother and my sister-in-law my brother's name. Is it suck as a feather?

03:03 And my father's name is magnets.

03:08 My sister-in-law's

03:13 Name is Chiquita. Remember that time you and of course on the weekends and when they have bugs are in the power just to get some blisters from Villages mostly in my area.

03:32 How come from mother's side that you can come so fast, I barely remember my mother's father.

03:42 I think I look like really that means I do too. So I took a dungeon wasn't born don't know what he was he was he was in the house right now to see him in a while. He was out told the name of this Village. It's cold is the son of villages Town connect to capital Ankara, and there was a huge Lake.

04:19 I mean Lake, but no water so fake.

04:26 During summer. Actually, you can walk on that leg.

04:30 And you can see some cars in horse carriages go through the lake during summer in Winter. You can have some water probably a few Ernie but it is summer don't ride up and white. So you live there until what age for my father change the job move to a town called pull up again and connect to Capital and current price of Maya.

05:09 Trump live in apa Middle School, it was finished in there then.

05:21 I'm sorry primary school. I finished the middle school and Lisa Enoch then age 12 and I finished primary school. So

05:37 I was 15 when I finished the middle school, then I move to booster. It's the first capital of the Ottoman Empire.

05:56 I went to

05:59 Military school

06:01 Military to get into Middleton military school did that happen? How did you decide to go there? If you pass have a my mother's if you get better great, so they take it they take care of me say that you you said was very good. I'm talking about Prince t-shirt, but then it doesn't have anything to do with it cleared up.

06:41 Yeah, cuz they took 64 people out of three under that I was born. So that's why is my career started high school and West Point of turkey and army here in the United States University of Michigan.

07:01 They're working.

07:03 What city are you tired?

07:17 It's that time you said we didn't have the plan that do, you know, some people are kids have right. Now. I'm going to do this. I'm going to beat that we can have that chance. We took whatever it comes, you know, like opportunities and those are the Opera album of trinities. I had like joining the high school me to tell High School taking the exams for engineering, you know, those are opportunities given to us at that time. So we just use them I use them.

07:54 Panda

07:57 I was successful. I am what's a pretty well, I don't think so. Can we go back to live in there?

08:08 Small house

08:13 The closest cold water or electricity at that I used to carry the water from outside cuz the continent is set up for the electricity. We use gas lamps and study with the kids.

08:38 We had good teachers. It's a new.

08:44 Independent country and

08:48 What the hell, you know, Kemal Ataturk, so our teachers were all dedicated and schools are very good. And I have a good education primary education in there.

09:04 Now the the Roman alphabet the standardized spelling. This is all new 1928 E55 correct attitude introduced.

09:22 Roman alphabet and from then on everybody used even the old-timers who grew up with Dave guard how to use with men and I can read and write Arabic alphabet.

09:47 But that's talking with new generation they grew up with.

09:55 This what you weren't the first generation to get that training in school though. Where you

10:04 Maybe I was so I started 1937 or 39.

10:18 When you're living in Palatka, what was what was grandpa doing for working for the government to one doctor Hospital have the health care of sick people.

10:34 Until I graduate at 12 tomorrow, it'll School.

10:40 We've been having a high school diploma, but I had to go to high school.

10:46 For that they bought a house in the uncut. That's the only place I've been capital of Turkey. They have high schools and universities.

10:56 So I went I stayed in that house for one year at On My Own by myself when school start high school if I'm sorry. That's just the way it was at that time. So did you have to did you have to work as well at the same time Middle School? I work for construction for six months. They were building a new.

11:40 What do you call an assembly House of Representatives?

11:50 If I work for a veteran from six months to itself

11:56 When when she going to the military academy or 116 Route 51 alright to have during their High School. Where is it located in?

12:23 That's a couple of years. I became an officer and I was in school as an officer for 2 years, and I'm done when I when I finished I start working in the field.

12:37 I work in the field for a couple of years then another offer since he came up. They said while I was going to have some.

12:46 People

12:48 They passed except we're going to send them to the United States and become an engineer.

12:54 How was a good opportunity so I took the exam?

13:00 I bought 350 people and they were they were going to take on the 20.

13:09 I got that right. So when you say working in the field, what do they have a captain in Turkish Army do

13:17 Well, I'm through with peacetime but

13:22 I was the virus first lieutenant.

13:28 I was talking to class so

13:33 And I'm moving the field.

13:36 Remove under some Captain. I didn't have any Captain in my group. So I became a captain not you know, as I start to his job basic training signal Corps, and we trained them in Morse alphabet other than Communications high-speed to cook when Communications in about 10. Send them out to to do the other section armies.

14:22 Every 4 months to repeat, you know.

14:27 As well as Technical Training, we give them some basic military training and how to hold a gun and how to shoot it God.

14:37 Because of course you had you did he would have conscripts all the time because turkey has at that time as it does now has national service compulsory for every man. Every man has to come fall afresh and they changed a lot of rules and regulations on that thought. You still have to go through that no matter what to do to get the out of your system.

15:07 Jump Ahead, nothing you do you pass the exam to study Engineering in the United States. How did you how did they choose the inverse of Michigan? I mean, how did you end up at University Michigan First Sight test exam and they said they're going to send this to Robert College. They call I never heard. It's a college in this time of night in the Americans feels bad College.

15:39 And all the subjects are studying English in that school and they told us that they're going to send us there for one year to learn how to speak English.

15:53 So that's what we did. I went to Robert College. It's called phosphorus University right now for 1 year was study technician there and they said well, we don't have any money to send you out to the United States. So they had to quit engineering colleges that I'm starting here. So I took the first freshman courses in there, too.

16:24 Has two dads

16:26 We have two 1960 Revolution when they move and they said that I've got the money we're going to send you out to the United States just send him a letter and try to get to acceptance acceptance from University of Illinois.

17:01 One more, I don't remember right now. I picked University of Michigan because one of my teachers at the Academy was a graduate of University universities.

17:19 So you start writing down to each other and so we got tickets.

17:31 59th in October 26th

17:37 And we were late for the first semester. They said why don't you take some English courses in here with y'all feel quite a bit different. If you study in here and study there is a lot of difference in here. So they had an intensive course for three months or for my three months. So we took that have a good education correctly without having any problems. So in 1963 in June

18:23 Obituary in June Taurus

18:33 But they were expecting to to the master degree to high in my diffuser how many greater little bit so I guess for University of Michigan and I will count to do in Washington University in st. Louis.

18:49 Imma guys within here with your Champion guys with schooling that I said. Come on over.

19:03 And you and a half. I finished that then I came back and got married to your mother. Where did she appear in the story? You tell the story of how you met your mother?

19:20 Adidas Michigan she was a student to her since she was in what was that? She was a sister in there Hyundai one day yet, their PR invited some foreign students as a guest for the theater and came over talk me eyes.

19:47 Public relations I call the PR but it's just a friend for dinner. Would you like to go or I said sure?

20:02 We went to dinner and

20:06 Unless it was sitting next to me.

20:09 No sticking trust in me, and it was a late growth and next to me talkin all the time and have two didn't she save me she took me away.

20:23 And

20:25 Play live with piano.

20:29 And then decide the dates for the highest growth is X son.

20:37 But my condition situation was not clear at that time. As I said, I went to Washington University. She came to see me a few times in there then after I graduate. Came back to divorce, Michigan to Michigan and

20:57 Which side to get my answer right? And I didn't take too long to come out. What was the Turkish Army who sent you two to Three Rivers Michigan to study. They didn't expect you to come back at night. Then I decided that I said that I didn't like the working environment in there. I want to talk to learn a little bit more because I had a good job in here, but she and you learn a lot.

21:40 And

21:43 And I decide to resign in 1966 by the time I work during a half my work with t e a half then I kept going on with T. I had a good bossy. It's at my job until I get back right and you were born at that time.

22:16 As a field engineer in the Detroit office General Electric. What kind of things would you be doing? What would you what would you be doing? Well at our job was

22:33 Even though some of the missionaries are bought from outside the United States like Europe. I think the government policy or the United States policy to get the

22:47 Electrical controllers from within this country and she was one of them.

22:55 And it's mostly a heavy industry like steel paper and what their controls that they built and we put them in the service with to Carib troubleshooting.

23:12 So that was my tough and I talked with you side eye works on design works and that the one of the factors we had.

23:22 And I was very challenging and teaching job, which my Nature's like spit a lot. And I remember when I was growing up on that when I traveled with you to a job, they Muskegon or someplace. It was always it always seem to be two paper plant. We're always has some paper making place at that time the Paper Factory controls in missionaries in table out of their bought a lot of equipment. And of course that goes with the year electrical equipment.

24:07 So I was available at that time and I became a special 2 and paper industry control.

24:16 And then I lost about 10-12 years. Maybe after that stealing us. We start growing up like Ford and big project it there. I was speeding tuner.

24:32 And the

24:34 This way it was they are getting our job. That doesn't matters, you know, which one is such a beautiful and you become an expert on it. That's it for your entire time at at General Electric. You were field engineer. You saw your applications changing from paper to steal and but it was always heavy industry ride all the way to the end when you retired some Automotive.

25:09 Some other parts of the industrial everything that they use in Industry we were involved.

25:20 I think I even work. I've dated Rockets to a small part of it.

25:27 I know you're you and my mom are married and it's 9065 Timber comes along. What was your life? Like? Where did you live?

25:41 Well, we lived in Detroit for a while.

25:46 I bought a house in there.

25:54 You know, we stayed there until we got divorced.

26:03 Then

26:06 I then I ain't moved to an apartment Royal Oak Field. I can remember it's close to.

26:18 Northeast part of the shirt

26:30 Okay, so and I would come to visit you on weekends and we travel sometimes I was I remember with you we were going someplace in a single-engine plane with double-ended planet was raining like hell out there lightning in the West 9th and Division II pilot super hard luck holding the plane United States and I was holding like this and you were looking at me and laughing.

27:08 Yeah, you were holding two sides of the same. I remember we were on our way to from Chicago Midway Airport to we're going to some place in northern Wisconsin Dells. Remember? Well, I don't remember cuz I remember we were watching the Olympics in the hotel room. That was 76 wasn't it? 76. I'm at them. How about that trip? We took down to

27:48 Virginia Beach, do you remember that? I still have the video clip so that wasn't air-conditioned but it had window bed and we slept windows we could open up in the ocean was right. All right. All right. I was at the hotel. So the breeze would come in at 9. Wonderful.

28:20 If you were what do you call rafting?

28:27 Show me the prettiest go to Turkey together.

28:35 Frequent flyer mile program any way that didn't help us.

28:50 So now you then you got married again. Tell me how how did you find your next wife next because it's in a series.

29:11 I didn't find them somebody else did I didn't have time to look for a few know. I have very short time for vacation. I spend it with my family and turkey but I didn't have time to look for him. And some other people were looking for me. I said, well, here's one available you want it? I'll send them then send her over last save to go to work. So it doesn't work so long then next comes.

29:45 And that's the way it's it's worth its with me and accept your mother cuz I Met Your Mother had we had dates and just like in the United States anybody else.

30:00 So there was no courtship with me except the last one I have little time is race forward tell you tell holiday with your third games are not but

30:31 With her that you had a daughter my sister.

30:37 With this here New York now though. She's not immediately. Here. She is.

30:43 We're all together for the I can save for the occasion of my wedding, which is this evening. So happily he's on some everyone's in town and we're all together but turned out very well very well. That's wonderful woman jumping ahead.

31:03 Your current wife

31:05 How did that happen? How did you meet friends introduced living in Florida? And it didn't are they are we met and started dating at the time? We liked each other and we dated about a year.

31:29 Then what she was married at that time. What time?

31:41 10

31:44 Who are interested in our mind that has seen the working Safeway? And I said well, let's go and get paid.

31:53 After a year in October for a couple of days ago, we got married.

32:01 Now I have to say my sister and I are both thrilled with Shania. We think you two are great together you travel a lot. You you go places and she's been all over the world for friends place. If you're going to go in in Italy as she'll give you the information like everybody's been to Florence has been there quite a few times anyway.

32:33 Are views in in the about the world about the people about the kids about the families?

32:44 Matt Sowell

32:49 So we enjoy life being together. You're in New York that is it for my wedding?

33:05 How does it feel to be here?

33:09 You've been here. You've been a few times before to visit.

33:13 Well did the newest was kind of surprised first.

33:21 After you came to see us in Turkey. We were thinking about probably and get married nice to see you and Amanda.

33:37 Hand, but even then knowing you

33:42 It was kind of surprised by the free bridge lighted.

33:46 To hear that's going to happen and we're very very happy to be here. Are you okay weather today? What do you want to do in New York when you're here? I mean obviously you're not here for very long if you got a day or more time to do it, but I had to go I have to go back for my follow-up, but that doesn't mean that we're not going to come back. We're going to come back here. We both enjoy it New York. It's alright enjoying this city streets.

34:31 I know sometimes you like to see people on the street then in in Florida. We miss that you don't see that.

34:45 Being from another country and all those people. I used to see each other a lot to get used to a New York Jets and plus you guys now here and it's nice to see you.

35:07 In person at that time to who stays in your place and it was beautiful and it was different for us. We liked very much into every time I go back to New York and that's what you assholes.

35:24 Wow, so what the what plans do you enchant I have for you know for the future and now you've you've you've got your place you spend half the year in Turkey Edna Place cooked or Bob which is a little town very close to Bodrum.

35:44 And you've got your MBA got a house there.

35:48 What do you think this isn't this is that going to continue with that and we were thinking about how we have six and six six months another word for not staying there for 8 months and 6 to 4 months in here, but we may be changing at 2.

36:14 We like to place in Bodrum, but it's very crowded right now in that it it it it's not that enjoyable anymore. Well a lot of hogs film to the people in there the traffic gets start heavy and then that the atmosphere atmosphere became my Bluetooth from the cars.

36:43 Panda

36:44 These are not too bad that you can still go on for a minute.

36:53 But

36:55 Can't find what we were expecting to find any more of your peace of mind. I don't know. Why what you going to do either keep that place or sell and move someplace else. We haven't decided yet. Maybe it's settling in here completely. I don't know. It's a beautiful country right now.

37:24 We have some relatives in there with a month is enough to go. See you.

37:30 Then come back here. So we may be doing that. Maybe change our house in here at the house.

37:42 So we could have more room if you guys could come and stay with the kids.

37:55 Wonderful

37:57 Well, it's some it's been terrific cuz I'm glad we can make I'm glad we're both in town at the same time and we can get this lot here at

38:07 I know we can go on for hours.

38:11 Have you read the?

38:13 Stuff I sent you.

38:20 See your son get married, like you've seen him grow up and been with him. How does it feel to him take that step? And do you have any advice or hopes or dreams you want to share with him? Well after certain age, I listen to my kids.

38:41 Forgive me at 5 so I don't think you need any advice face is a grown up then and he knows what to do and I'm wishing that he'll be happy as I am right now.

38:57 She's a wonderful girl.

39:02 I hope everything works out.

39:05 Great.