Daniel Pincu and Elise Pincu Delfield

Recorded April 15, 2009 Archived April 15, 2009 00:00 minutes
Audio not available

Interview ID: MBX005165


Daniel Pincu, 68, by his daughter, Elise Willa Pincu Delfield, 35 about his time in Turkey in the army. He took a picture at a wedding and 43 years later found the couple and gave them the picture.

Subject Log / Time Code

He remembers when he heard about Kennedy being killed.
He loved to drive out to the small town of Cacmakli on his weekends.
He took a picture of the bride & groom, they did not seem happy.
43 years later he returned to Turkey with his wife and they went on a search but Istanbul had grown from 1.5 million to 15 million.
He eventually found the town and took out the pictures at the chai house.
He met the couple again and learned that they were unhappy because it was a love marriage not an arranged marriage and the bride’s parents had not approved.
They ate a big meal together and gave the family the photographs.


  • Daniel Pincu
  • Elise Pincu Delfield


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00:05 My name is Elise will a pink nude delfield. I am 35 years old today is April 15th. 2009. We're Nashville right now. I live in Bryson City North Carolina and I am going to be interviewing my father.

00:26 My name is Dan Finkel. I'm 60 be will be 69 years old and this the end of this week on the 22nd its April 15th 2009. Where in Asheville North Carolina where my wife and I are retired too and I'm being interviewed by my daughter release.

00:44 And I'm going to start by asking you Dad.

00:49 You you you were in the Army when you were younger, and I'd like to start by asking you. How did you get come to be in the Army? I went to Syracuse University and that I was in ROTC and can't really tell you why I joined ROTC, but when I graduated I went into the service and I was stationed in Governors Island and outside of New York, and I was a finance officer and II.

01:23 It was it was a job. It was a nice way to start getting out of college.

01:29 So you didn't quite like Governors Island, huh? I know I was actually bored out of my mind. They had me I was in the I was a finance officer in the intelligence section. And because I had not much to do they had me burning documents at the end of the island in the middle of the winter time, and I was freezing my tail off and I said I said I have to go somewhere. So I went down to Washington and I went to Mike the Pentagon and it went to my branch and I said, please send me somewhere and they gave me a choice of going to either Korea or turkey and I knew enough about Korea at that time. This was in 1962 and it wasn't very Advanced as it is today. And so I said well, let me go to Turkey and see what that's like you thawed turkey might be more advanced than Korea. I knew it would be take me to Europe. And actually I had when I graduate from college had no idea of traveling.

02:30 I wanted to be in Governors Island because it was near New York and I lived outside of New York and New Jersey my parents live there and I really wasn't very adventurous adventurous. But when I decided that I was going to go somewhere other than New York turkey sounded very interesting so off I went. Okay. So what year was it that you were Ivan turkey. I arrived there in summer of 1963.

02:58 And actually did interesting because in 63 was when Kennedy was killed and that's very interesting because we were on a base outside of this time for us about an hour's Drive outside of Istanbul when Kennedy was killed and we were kind of panicking on the fact that what was going on with it was Anarchy and all we had was the BBC that we could barely hear with a lot of static and when we we actually heard the broadcast when Ruby killed the Oswald and we really can were concerned about it and and was interesting also the Turkish people were very upset about the fact that Kennedy was killed Kennedy get done a lot for turkey and been a very good friend of turkey and all the all the flags and Turkey were at half-staff when Kennedy was killed.

03:56 So you were stationed outside of Istanbul and 1963. What was it like there?

04:06 In those days turkey was in the August 18th century in the city that is Stein bull was was relatively developed. I think the population was about maybe one day when the half-million but the buildings were very rough when you went out into the countryside. If you got we were stationed I just say about an hour outside of Istanbul and their The Villages were very small the people mostly in the sheepherders or they had the Farms but no mechanization that use the cattle or oxen to draw the plows and the houses were pretty much since cinder block buildings, very small with straw and the people were very poor, but they were really very friendly we used to go.

05:02 I had my car because the Army was nice enough because I was an officer to ship my car over and 2222. And so I used to take my car and drive out into the countryside New York boy in the countryside of turkey in 1963. It was a truth. It was very interesting. I didn't speak much Turkish. I learned a few of the words. Hello. That's nice. Where's the bathroom important things like that? You remember any of that now I do in any case

05:36 How do you say those things? Sorry?

05:39 If you say hello, it's me, Ur Harbour. And yes, it did that. I really don't remember that much of it. I never really learned a lot. I'm not a linguist. But the town that was right near where our installation was was call Chuck monthly and it was a little town I would imagine a population will it wasn't more than a hundred or two and the houses were all as I said send to block houses with straw roofs. That was a mosque. That was I guess the mosque at a minaret that was probably maybe 20-30 feet tall. It was gray concrete wasn't very exciting at all. But the people were really friendly and I would go there and and they would want me around and show me their newborn lambs and they would take me to their Tea House tea is try in Turkish and they would take me to the Chili House and we would sit around and they would offer me tea which I could not pay for. I was their guests.

06:39 It cost $0.05 certainly could afford it. But I was their guests at the when we were there and we didn't say much except that is very nice and things like that do no one in town spoke to her book English to tell me how how often do you think you got into chalk machli. How often did you leave the base? Probably went there about six or seven times during the year that I was there. I was there again from June 63 to June 64 and you just take a drive and how did you find people to befriend you and take you to these two houses? They they just greeted me when they so I came and I saw it was an American I wasn't I don't think I wore my uniform when I went there because you could wear civilian clothes, but they knew that I came from the base and truck Markley. They probably didn't have very many cars. So they saw a car coming and thought there was somebody special in it. They definitely did not have many cars.

07:38 And any rate one time I went there and I went with the officer who just got into turkey and we pulled into town and we didn't see a soul. No one around and I suppose she let's find out what's going on where they are and he was headed that usually look I mean you drive into town and you'd see somebody in the field and people walking around people all over the people be people walk around. They see me and they immediately come over and greet us this time. There was no one there and we started walking and then off in the distance. I saw a house on a hill and there were a lot of people around the house and I said to him come on, let's go over and see what's going on and he was a little cautious because he had been in other countries were people weren't so friendly torch were very friendly to Americans still are so we walked over and I had my camera with me. It was a slide it was taking slides is it that

08:38 Camera that you gave me I still have that camera and I still use the tripod.

08:46 We went over and as soon as they spotted me with the camera, they wanted me to take a picture of everyone in the town. And so they lined up with the children in the front and behind them the man and the man will look like 18th Century men with jackets and no ties and they recognize you from previous times when you visited people I think they probably did but I'm not really sure again. I couldn't really converse with them. I'd recognize them and I'm sure they recognized me that they saw you and your officer friend walking over to that makes realized right away that you didn't belong there necessarily, but you were maybe an American and so they kind of started flailing their hands they and they kind of greeted you over is that what I have silver and they indicated that they wanted me to take a picture of everyone of town.

09:39 And they lined up children front. You think you're laughing were you giggly at that time? Like it was just do it and the men lined up behind the children and then behind a fence a wooden stake fence the women and of course the women all had her trips and they did they did look like it look like what you would think of is an 18th or 19th century picture and I took a picture with the house in the background with the straw roof. And then after I took the picture then they brought me up to the house and it was a wedding.

10:14 Who were the men and women separated with this old man? So we walked up through the through the opening in the fence and it was a wedding and the bride was just like an American bride in white gown very pretty gown, but she looked about 15 and the groom was wearing a jacket with no tie with a white shirt and he looked about 40 and both of them look very very unhappy and I always wondered why they look so unhappy that everybody else look happy. Yes. Yes. It is like a festive mood for a living and I took the picture and then I left take a picture of the of the bride and groom. So

11:01 Did you take it as a like somebody in the Press just taking it without asking them to pose or did they say hey, let's take a picture and post for you or did you ask him to pose? How did that actually like they came walking out of the building and I was there and I took the picture. Okay, then I left and they came out of the building. They didn't look happy. They were maybe arm-in-arm though. It was obviously a wedding the wedding was taking place inside. What was all the hoopla about and you took a picture and left.

11:42 The picture to somebody who couldn't see it when I didn't look like they were standing next to each other the groom again, they they just did not look happy and I I I I felt at the time that it was probably an arranged marriage that she was really 15. He was 40 and and and neither more happy about the whole situation never knew the truth and I never really got a chance to take those pictures back to them.

12:14 And 42 years later before the 42 years later, let's so so you and your buddy you just went on your way in and gave him a tour of the town. And actually yeah, we we we saw a little bit of the town and then we went back to the base and I think the picture was taken in some sometime in 1964 probably did spring of 1964 and I never really got because then I had to take the slide the film and send it off to the states to have it developed. Did you send it off or did you wait until you got back to the states by Set It Off to the states and had it developed that got the slides back. That's what I took it those days and I still have this if I taking pictures they might have gotten lost though. It's good that I had slides.

13:07 And did you used to do slideshows for your army mates for yourself?

13:18 Any case I got married after I got back and get out of the service and I always told my wife that I had such a wonderful time and turkey the food was wonderful and the people were very friendly and I said I want to go back someday and 42 years later. The opportunity came we were going on a vacation and I said but let's let's go to Turkey and she was excited about the idea. So with Mom excited about the idea because she was going to Turkey this new place or do you think she was excited because she wanted kind of step back into time to see what you saw when you were young. I had taken her to Turkish Armenian restaurants in New York, and she loved the food as I love the food and I think she also wanted to see what I have been talking about all these years about turkey and have fun.

14:18 We the people were out how beautiful it was an interesting. It was in Istanbul. And so you write I think those two reason she was excited about going also.

14:28 Seafood at Istanbul. Actually, we went through Italy first for a week and then we flew to Istanbul in the Gloria made the arrangements for Italy and we stayed in Florence near near Florence. We visited Florence and all the cities in that in Tuscany. And then I made all the arrangements to go to Istanbul in turkey and wind our plans were to go to Istanbul and spend about five about four days there and then spend two days or 3 days in Izmir and go to Ephesus which is a very historic place that I've never been to when I was in turkey and solo when we got we we we flew to Istanbul

15:13 Did you bring the photographs with you are very important to the whole story? She'd heard it for many many years and I dug out my slides and I made little for by 5 copies from the slides of the bride and groom and of pictures of the picture. I took of the entire town standing in front of the house with the wedding took place. And also I brought pictures that I have taken of people in the Chili House mainly the older man and sometimes kids and I took about five or six pictures that I had taken in the town. I took them with me and the intent was to find this couple and see them again. And did you take pictures just to find them or did you take pictures to both find them and to give maybe the pictures to the people?

16:11 Do use the pictures to find the people and I certainly left the pictures with them. I'll see you didn't bring extra copies. I didn't bring extra, So I just brought one of each you just wanted to find them in there will be they were small for X5 pictures. They weren't big pictures. Let me ask you when you made plans to go to assemble. I know you wanted to go back to Turkey because the people were wonderful and you really enjoyed the time there.

16:35 Did you initially think to go back to Turkey also to find that couple or did you want to go back to Turkey? And so you looked at all your slides after you made the arrangements and you found the slide of the couple and then decided that that's what you wanted to Chase. My main purpose was to go and find the couple. So so that memory of the wedding was really

16:58 Strong in your brain all 43 years you thought of the couple is not just assemble in your time and turkey butt and I thought of a couple and whether it was an arranged marriage and I thought of why they were so unhappy on what should have been the happiest days of the day of their lives the fleeting moment in a different country and you see a couple get married and they don't look happy and you think about it for 43 years and want to find them.

17:26 Okay, any right so we get when we get at the airport and we get to the hotel and I told the desk clerk that tomorrow in and we arrived on a Friday. So it was a Saturday and I said I wanted to have a driver who speak spoke English who could translate for me and he said why and I told him that I want to find this couple in this town quote truck machli and the desk clerk said well, where is chalk Motley and I told him that I knew where it was I had driven the road from chalkmark lead is Dunnville many times and I would have no problem finding it 43 years later 43 years later and we got a driver and I told him where we were going and he said he didn't know where the town was either and and then be so we'll find it. I said I'll tell you how to get there and I said go out drive past the airport and we drove past the airport and I didn't recognize the thing.

18:23 Because this time bill went from 1.5 million people to 15 million people expand the city expanded tremendously. And so it was a different city and all I recognized was driving past the airport and then I recognized nothing cuz all that was all new.

18:41 And we drove and we drove and we went to a town that I recognized not by the buildings but by the topography because there's an inlet and as we drove through the town I said hi. Okay, it's up ahead. And then we drove a little further.

18:58 And then he said it's got to be around here somewhere and Ice I don't recognize anything. He pulled into a gas station and he got out and ask one of the people in the gas station. We are chalk machli was and Taxi Driver said I'm going that way follow me. And so we drove off the main road and when I was in Turkey off, the main road was all dirt roads, there were no paved roads off of the main Highway and get we're driving on Macadam roads. They weren't well now they were brand new roads, like they are mistakes, but they were very there paved roads and I recognized nothing but the taxi driver by the translator the driver he said follow us this way and then we went probe up a ways and then the taxi driver got out and stopped and said the town is up that way you pointed up to the left and he drove off to the right.

19:58 And so we drove ahead and we drove into a town and we got into the town and they were big buildings to three story buildings for a nice buildings. We passed the mosque that was made out of marble and it had a 40 or 50 foot minaret and it was beautiful mosque. And I said this can't be it and he said well that this is that's where the taxi driver said that this is the town we saw no sign saying with the town.

20:28 But how do you find someone in a town that is changed completely from where it was and the driver said we'll talk to the sheet Thai House at the house and we found the Tea House.

20:43 And as we pulled up they were a bunch of old men with their only one tea house and check mark Lee still. I really don't know but this was probably was only one it was that small of a town filled up a small town. And so we drove up to the tea house and then a bunch of old men playing backgammon and talking and we got out the guide went over to start walking to the man and your mother and I walked over to one of the tables and I took out the four by five pictures and I started putting them down couldn't talk with them in because I didn't speak Turkish, but they buy put the pictures down and about the second or third picture. I put down with the picture of the bride and groom. And what were these people doing that they were playing playing backgammon and walking it would have come up and you put a picture in front of them and with their funny expression on her face one man sitting at the table looked at the picture and got all excited in the guide came over.

21:43 And who translated the man said that's my sister.

21:48 And I know I looked at your mother and I know what a little more and and yes, that was the brother of the bride and then the other men came over and now they're all in their 50s and 60s and do looking at pictures and they look at the picture of the whole town and they recognize themselves and their friends other men come over and they're all coming over and look at the pictures that I brought and getting excited and then the brother of the Bride sit. Would you like to meet my sister? And I said, yes, and did you explain through the translator why you had come and or did they just get excited and offer you to meet her I saw the pictures why I was there except for the brother who said would you like to meet my sister? And I said, yes, so he got in the car with us when we drove a half a mile.

22:46 Tulip farm house in Europe typically farm houses have the lower level is like the Bourne keep the animals sleep in their night when it's cold and you've got the tractor in there. And then there were two stories above it was a concrete building very nice building and the the drive the guide went over and the brother went over and the brother yelled up to the third floor and his old lady sticks her head out and he yells up to her. Whatever. He said, I don't know and she got all excited. She keep running down and she takes one look at the picture of her and her husband and burst out into tears.

23:29 And then husband came out.

23:32 And he saw the picture and he burst into tears and I I see the guide explained to me that they said that she did not had a photographer at her wedding. So she never had a picture of her wedding to show her children and her grandchildren and he was a picture of them at their wedding.

23:56 And they were all excited and the grandchildren that it's an extended family that lives there thus their son and daughter and daughter-in-law live on house also on the property and her father still lives there a father still alive and they they were just so excited that they had the picture and and and they said I had to stay for lunch and from my experience when I was two years ago and 63-64. I was really afraid of eating the food uniform house and when everyone first got to this installation the first week, they would get dysentery and then they will get over it because the water if y'all do is just now going up here if it would appear fication facility, but turned out the guy I said, I know I have to stay for a meal because it would be important to not accept your invitation.

24:49 So while the the brother and the father got in the car with us and we drove to see where my old base was, which I did not recognize the bride and her daughter-in-law and her daughter made it lunch for us.

25:06 And they didn't know we were coming. It's just amazing. They were able to prepare of fantastic lunch for us a good Turkish food any case we went we drove around I saw where the base was. The base is no longer there something else. I'm not sure what we didn't find out any case we came back to the house and we were still waiting for food to be ready for lunch and your mother sat down with their son who their grandson rather. I guess. He's about six 7, maybe 10 years old and he studying English in school.

25:41 And he would mention the Turkish word for something and Gloria would give him the English word and Gloria was writing them down and and it was a wonderful experience of communicating with someone who really didn't speak. Your language was really friendly and then I'm going to interrupt you just because I'm curious so you found a couple that you taken a picture of who seemed very unhappy when you took the picture and that stuff with you for all this time 43 years or something. So were they there still married and they seem happy we said the first I asked was really happy to see if they're both alive and it turned out that she was really. 17 or 18 when she got married. He was really only about twenty-three even though I said, he looked about 40

26:37 And I said well why were you so unhappy?

26:40 The bride was unhappy she said because her parents didn't think that he would amount to anything and so they really were against the marriage but it was a love marriage not an arranged marriage and so she was unhappy because her parents refused to go to the wedding after the wedding. They did become friendly in there. They get along very well. So I asked him why was he unhappy? And he said that he had just turned to his friend. And you said who's the stranger who comes to take my picture?

27:15 The 43 years later, he found out why I was there because he got a picture of his wedding and that's why they were so excited about it. I had no idea that that was the case, but the pretty face so we sat down the bride and the groom and the husband and the guy that we had and your mother and I we sat down for a wonderful meal with Turkish food. Like what we had the yogurt and the Turkish yogurt is probably the best yogurt I've ever had. We had the little the meatballs. I'm not sure what they're called and Turkish we had eggplant and the Turkish eggplant is is the way they cook it is really very good. It was a really wonderful meal and very friendly and interesting that the daughter and the daughter-in-law did not eat with us they served

28:07 But the bride did sit down in the hospital and we had a really wonderful meal.

28:20 Well, we just we sat at a table. It'll look like any old living room dining room. I would say yes, it looks like any any dining rooms at the not as fancy Maybe This Time American houses, but the house is very comfortable at head terrazzo floors the bad there was a bathroom in the house at least one. I'm probably more than one we were on the second floor. We didn't go up to the third floor where I guess the family's bedrooms were with this the same house. You think that you took a picture of in fact after we had our meal took his over we drove maybe quarter mile to the house and make they showed me the house where the wedding is taking place. But again, I didn't recognize anything the roof now is a tile roof.

29:08 And that was the house that they got married at and they took us to it.

29:14 Then we went back to the house and we were saying our goodbyes and and they were pounding the chest and saying it was such a wonderful experience and they told me that again through the translator that if I come back this time bull that their house is my house that I'm always welcome. And then as we were about to leave an old man came over and it turned out it was her father and he's half blind. He walks with a cane he's 90 some-odd years old.

29:50 And he has off Alzheimer's and he sat down and his daughter told him why we were there and he started crying he got excited about it. We saw the picture of you know, really like to see the picture and and then then we laughed and we went back into the stumble and you left all the pictures that you had taken the pictures I'd taken when we when we got back to the States. I had an 8 by 10 picture printed and put it in a frame of the wedding of of the bride and groom and I said it to them now. Unfortunately, the mail service in Turkey is not as good as in the United States and I was able to trace that it did get the Istanbul I have to assume it was delivered to them.

30:36 But I've never gotten acknowledgement from them and and probably is because they they just that they don't speak English. They don't write English. So they sure never got acknowledged, but I'd like to go back sometime and see them again.

30:52 Maybe in the future so many places to visit, but I had to go back to Turkey and I had to see these people. So do you think that

31:02 Throughout this that you satisfied your own curiosity or do you think deep down you wanted to do a good deed and that you knew you were doing a Good Deed by bringing these photographs?

31:14 My antenna going there was to satisfy my curiosity. It turned out today. I got such a wonderful warm feeling that I had done a really good deep but they didn't have a picture of their wedding to show the children and grandchildren and I was able to present them with that picture as the husband said who's that man who comes to take my picture and 43 years later. He found out why I was there and it did they really moved me.

31:42 I think that's a very moving story in I wanted to

31:47 Bring you two story course that you could record the story because it's my birthday coming up 69 my last 60th birthday 60 years birthday.

32:03 Very lucky to have a wonderful daughter like you. Thanks.