As a nod toward International Women's Day on 8th March, an exhibition of photos opened in Bodrum to give a glimpse into the lives of women in the last century and this month's Oral History meeting concentrated on only the ladies' recollections. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this meeting as much as the one in Mumcular (Click here to read) as the audience seemed more intent on following their own conversations than listening to the speakers. I couldn't work out why they were being so disrespectful until I started to watch the chatterers and realised that they were fixated on the screen behind the speakers' heads which was showing a loop of photos from the exhibition, then the penny dropped. They were seeing photos of people they hadn't seen for decades and of course couldn't help themselves but give a running commentary. Hopefully the organisers won't make this mistake next time. What I managed to hear of this week's talk did emphasise how cut off the villages around the Bodrum peninsula were in the 1950s and 60s. There was only one jeep a day into Bodrum, the menfolk would often be employed as fishermen or sponge divers and would be away from home for weeks so the woman in the villages had to be self reliant. The local teacher was a much more important part of the village than they are now and would do much more than just teach the children. One retired teacher explained that she had been the only village first-aid post, learning how to treat scorpion bites with a razor blade and ammonia, bandage up damaged limbs and on one occasion reattach an ear! One of her ex-students was in the audience and reminded her that she had also cut the children's hair. In return there would be a steady supply of fresh eggs, butter, milk and vegetables to the teacher's living quarters.
A retired bank employee who started her career in Bodrum in 1966, wistfully looked back at her days behind a desk where cash was kept in a drawer with no key and security wasn't an issue.
Another speaker only in her 60s told us that she's been engaged at 13, married at 14 and had her first child at 15, but that her husband was a good man and that she'd been blessed with a very happy life.
After the meeting I went and had a second look at the exhibition, some of the faces I recognised and wished I asked more questions when I first came to Bodrum.
The exhibition is at Trafo, by the castle, for another week.