ISTANBUL - I have been living in Turkey for ten
months now and expect to remain here until June,
1963.  The Turks seem to be good people and they are
very friendly to Americans.  Not too many of them
speak English but that gives me a greater incentive to
learn their language.  The climate here is a mild one and
not too different from that of Danville.

The Turks seem to be a proud people with a strong love
of country.  We are fortunate that these people are our
friends and that this nation is a close ally of the U.S.A.
and the Free World.  Many of the shopkeepers are
fluent in three or four languages.  Most of them speak
English and seem very pleased to talk to Americans.

I have been greatly impressed with the beauty and
historical significance of Turkey. I have visited places
where the Apostle Paul preached, . . . . walked through
Hannibal's Castle, and gazed in awe at great walls and
monuments from the days of the Roman Emperor
Constantine, when Istanbul (Constantinople) was the
capital of the Roman Empire.
To see more about my tour of duty in
Turkey 1961-62 - plus our trip in 1983,
Below is a newspaper article that appeared in The Register (Danville, VA) Sunday, Nov. 18, 1962.
Written by Danny Ricketts, A2c, U. S. Air Force
My Turkish Driver's License in
1962.   It's interesting to note
that Turkey had picture driver's
licenses long before most of the
United States
In Istanbul:  The Galata Bridge, built in  1877, was a floating bridge that had shops and tea
houses just above water level, where the ferries docked.  It had 22 pontoons so it could be floated
open at night for ships to come into the Golden Horn, a water inlet off of the Marmara Sea, near
the end of the Bosphorus Strait.  This picture was taken in the early 1960's.  This floating bridge
was destroyed by fire a few years ago.
Six Cultures Evident
Influences of Greek, Roman, Christian, Arabic and the Turkish cultures are evident throughout this
area.  Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark came to rest, is located at the eastern end of this nation.  
On the western end is located Troy, famous in ancient history.  Tarsus, the birthplace of the
Apostle Paul is located here in Turkey.

I would like to share my impressions of this historic land with the citizens of Danville, since there
are other Danvillians living here in Turkey.  I subscribe to the Sunday Register and save copies for
others to see.

As a starter, I would like to describe the city of Istanbul as I have spent some time in and about
this great city (in ancient times called Byzantium and later Constantinople).

Enthroned on Seven Hills
Istanbul, so rich in historic and artistic attractions and offering such a beautiful diversity of
scenery, is the only city in the world astride two continents.  Enthroned on seven hills, below which
the dark blue, swift waters of the Bosphorus strait separate Europe and Asia, Istanbul has been
continuously a metropolis for 2600 years, longer than any other city in the world.

Byzas, the Megarian general, established the first settlement in 657 B.C.  Nearly a thousand years
later, on May 11, 330 A.D., Constantine, the last great emperor of the Romans, chose Istanbul as
the capital of his Empire.  Subjected to various sieges, Istanbul finally fell to the Crusaders in
1203.  The fighting resulted in heavy destruction of the city's ancient monuments and its
treasures were carried away.  On May 29, 1453, Sultan Fatih Mehmet, known as the Conqueror,
captured the city.  He made Istanbul the capital of his new Turkish Empire.

The moment a person sets foot in Istanbul, history confronts him with many splendid palaces and
the majestic domes and graceful minarets of 500 mosques which gives the city of Istanbul one of
the most breath-taking skylines in the world.  Although no longer modern Turkey's capital,
Istanbul, with a population of nearly 2,000,000 [in 1962], is the Mediterranean's most alluring
Three Times The Dan
The beautiful strait that separates Europe from Asia and connects the black
Sea and the Marmara Sea makes Istanbul a most picturesque city.  This strait is 19 miles in length
and appears to be about three three times the width of Dan River.  Standing on the European side
and looking across at Asia is not unlike standing on Riverside Drive, looking across the river at
South Danville.

SAINT SOPHIA MOSQUE - St. Sophia is generally recognized as one of the greatest temples
ever built.  Originally constructed by the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine in 347 A.D.,
the temple was destroyed by fire fifty-seven years later.  Rebuilt by the Emperor Theodosius, St.
Sophia was destroyed again during a rebellion in 532.  During a span of five years, 532 - 537 A.D.,
Emperor Justinian used 10,000 workers to rebuild Saint Sophia on a grand scale.

The great dome of Saint Sophia collapsed during an earthquake in 557 A. D. and was rebuilt on a
smaller scale, as we see it today.  One of the largest mosques in Istanbul, [Muslims converted the
church to a mosque with added minarets], St. Sophia's dome is 107 ft. in diameter and 180 ft.
high.  Used as a mosque until 1935, Saint Sophia was converted it into a museum during 1935.
1962 -Istanbul:  This Roman aquaduct brought water to the city
from the hills.  It was built by the Emperor Valens in 378 A.D.  The
water was received in a large cistern called The Nymphaeum
Maximum.  It was distributed from there to various parts of
Istanbul.  The last important restoration was made in 1697 by the
Sultan Mustafa II.
Grandfather of Centers
I have just returned from a shopping trip to Istanbul's famous Covered Bazaar.  This is the
grandfather of all shopping centers.  It dates back to 1461 and, as for the number of items for
sale, would make Riverside Center look like a country store.  The covered "street" is wide enough
for three cars to pass side-by-side and you cannot see the other end.  There are passageways
branching off from the main walkway, just like city streets and blocks.  Its streets and alleys are
roofed with vaults and domes and the wider streets have columned arcades.  [In 1962 we had not
conceived of the modern shopping mall!!]

The covered "shopping city" is sectioned off like a department store.  There are streets of oriental
rugs merchants, goldsmiths, jewelers, furniture dealers and craftsmen of many trades.  In the
center of the Covered Bazaar there is a vast room known as the Bedestan.  Here brass and
copper of every description, ancient swords and weapons, antique jewelry and very fine Istanbul
glass and souvenirs are sold.  This Bazaar is a shopper's paradise with just one important
drawback in American standards - no credit cards. [
This may have changed by now.]

In the next letter, I will describe my visits to Seraglio Palace, the Blue Mosque, the ancient Istanbul
Wall, The Hippodrome, the cities of Iznik and Bursa.

Yours Truly,
Danny Ricketts
December 1961, the car sat at home with my mother until I came back from Turkey in June 1963. Richard Rowland
Richard and I left on the Chevy to report for duty in Texas. When my four years in the Air Force were over, I
headed home on my '57 Chevy and kept the log of the trip home. The 1,384-mile trip took 86.9 gallons of gas for a
total cost of $33.19. Starting in Texas, the gas was under 20 cents a gallon. I spent the night in Birmingham,
Alabama with Wade Johnson's parents. Wade and I worked in the same office both at Karamursel, Turkey and at
Brooks Air Force Base in Texas. The next day my Chevy rolled into Danville, Virginia. It was great to be home.