When flying was faster than phoning

It was 1965. I was a teaching assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul.

My teacher, Prof. Utarit İzgi, was in charge of designing at Kızılay in Ankara, Turkey's first big department store, and I was working with him on the project. It was a very big and very important project. But there was one big problem. We were in Istanbul, and the job was in Ankara. Not only that but it was a job that had to be checked on every single week. So the really big problem was how to go back and forth so frequently. Going by train was possible, but it was painfully slow.

Keeping track of things by telephone was a problem too because of the poor connections. In the 1960's inter-city calls in Turkey could only be made over the central exchange. And it was never clear when you would get to talk because there was always a long wait.

To communicate with the contractor in Ankara, for example, you had to give in the number you wanted to call to the telephone exchange in the morning, and sometimes, on the busy days of the week, the call would only go through towards evening.

It may sound strange today, but at the time it was usually quicker to solve the problem through Turkish Airlines. Consequently, for almost two years starting from 1965 I had a 'weekly subscription' on Turkish Airlines' propeller planes. You would hop on the Turkish Airlines airport shuttle that left from Şişhane in Istanbul and immediately find yourself in a highly civilized environment. And the minute you got to the airport you were a real part of the modern world.

What's more there was a good chance that you'd be in Ankara before the telephone exchange would be able to connect you!

Another problem was that inter-city bank transactions were so slow. Bank books had to be filled out for this purpose, and the payments took days. Some strange situations could arise. The bank clerk, for example, would put together a neat package of bills. Then, so as not to attract attention, he would wrap them in newspaper and tie them with a string. Once you had them in hand, all you had to was board the plane with confidence.

And when you boarded the Turkish Airlines' plane and the propellers started to turn, it meant the job was done and everything was fine. When the hostess filled our glass with lemonade from a pitcher, we would be happy thinking how far ahead of the times we were.

When you look at it, amidst the hardships of the 1960's, Turkish Airlines was a great civilization all on its own, a representative of an amazing technology. We were comfortable, we had our money in hand, and we were home again before our phone call went through.

Thank you, Turkish Airlines!