ARTICLE: Dr. R. SERTAC KAYSERILIOGLU, Historian and Writer
The toy planes of my childhood were something else...
Whenever I turn my head up to the blue sky and remember my boyhood years, it's as if I see those toy 'airplanes' that slipped out from behind vast clouds of time to land in my past... And without 'permission to land' either...
Yes, among my childhood memories from the '50s, when Istanbul's best years were just about to end, being taken to Beyoğlu, where I knew there to be a whole row of toy stores.
Setting out from Suadiye on the Anatolian side, we took the tram to Kadıköy, the ferry to the Galata Bridge and, after casting astonished childish glances at the shop window of 'Long Ömer's under the bridge with its longer than long shoes, and following a journey on the 'Tünel' underground amidst a smell of soot wafted by an invisible vapor, we would arrive at 'Bey Oğlu' (Son of a Gentleman), as it was genteelly known in those years. And before long we would be in front of the toymaker's shop over which hung a large wooden sign inscribed 'Japon Mağazası', The Japan Store.
Good lord! What fabulous toys! Oh, how irresistible they were! Was it possible to fall in love with a toy store? Well, I did... Not only that, but wouldn't my eyes alight on a large, metal, two-propeller airplane in the shop window that I just had to have, and which I indeed got my mother to buy me after umpteen pleas? When we got home, I ran to my room with it and sent it sailing over the table, supposedly, into the air. When I saw it crash to the floor and realized that it couldn't fly, a strange new mystery invaded that small brain of mine. How was it that those enormous planes, the real thing, could fly through the air without crashing? Did I imagine there was something like 'Sky-ity' before I'd even heard of gravity?
Although my nose was no longer in the air, my eyes were always on the sky in those remaining days of my fifth and sixth years. While I was playing on the emerald green vacant lots in Istanbul's Kadıköy district, first a sound came, straight out of some unknown place, and then the thing itself appeared, very low in the sky, with its gigantic body. That was when I first made my acquaintance with that big metal bird, the first time I was caught up in the sky and the magic of flying. And in the sense of awe that pervaded that childish being of mine, a word about the future silently escaped my lips for the first time, “I'm going to be a pilot when I grow up.”
Days and years passed, and I grew up. And I abandoned those childhood fantasies of becoming a pilot to another existence, opting instead to 'give myself airs of boarding a plane' rather than becoming an 'airman'. And while I joined the ranks of the airborne, I had to submit to the unbearable pain of gazing down from above on a war-torn world. Sharing the same air with the injustice all around us, I resigned myself to being helpless and was satisfied with my fate.
Did I do right, I wonder?