RUTH:Today is October 22nd, 1988. This is Ruth Thomasian, in Stoneham, visiting with Kay Surabian and her family.
KAY:This is Kay Surabian, thank you. And let me introduce my sister Claire, my brother Richard -- Dikran, actually.
RUTH:And maybe if they would say their names so we hear their voices and know whose voice is whose.
CLAIRE:[Armenian ... Dikran Encababian]. Yes. Claire Piankian Kebohikian, [Armenian].
JACKIE:I'm just a guest. I'm not Armenian. But I'm interested.
RUTH:We still would like to have your name
DEBBIE:And Debbie Sarabian.
RUTH:Now we can talk. What I brought you to show was, um, this is what I have of the Encababian Freres's work, and it's signed.
KAY:00:01:00Oh? Oh it is?,
RUTH:See? Of Sivas.
KAY:That's my father's handwriting.
RUTH:Evidently, it was some kind of album because you see the numbers here?
RICHARD:Now, let me ask you.
KAY:That's my father's handwriting.
RICHARD:Where did you get these pictures from?
RUTH:I got these from a man in New York. His name was Alexanyan
RUTH:Edmund, Yevan. No. What's his first name? Um . . .
RICHARD:You know why. The reason I'm questioning you is that
RUTH:He was from Sivas.
KAY:Yes. Does it look anything like the signature?
CLAIRE:Yes. That's my father's writing
RUTH:And he used the word "Sivas" rather than "Sepastia."
KAY:We did. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right here too. Yeah.
RUTH:It's just missing the underlinings.
CLAIRE:Yeah, you had the original. In other words, when you copied it, that's like a Xerox?
RUTH:This is a Xerox copy. Um, it was . . . it was an old print; let's put it this way. I can't, I would say it is not an original because, I mean,
CLAIRE:If I had access to it, I could have a copy of it; a copy of it for our own personal use.
RUTH:Oh, I can provide you with 8 x 10 prints. I make 8 x 10 copy negatives. Then I can make contact prints off of them. Um, but I hesitate to say that it was the original. Often times people from a certain place will, um, reproduce the photograph en masse to give to everyone from Sivas, you know, and I suspect that perhaps that's what, um, what happened.
CLAIRE:I have seen credits given to the Encababian brothers when somebody has passed away and they've used an old photograph and I've seen it. But I don't --
RICHARD:Yeah. Sepastia. You know why I question you about where did you get these prints from? Metzor Bajakian [?] -- have you ever heard of him?
RICHARD:Well he was very involved in the AGBU and all, and, I would say maybe forty years ago, he came over to our house, because of being photographers from Sivas. And uh, he asked for pictures from Sivas. Well it seemed that my uncle and my father had taken a lot of pictures of Sivas. Different areas --
RUTH:Like this, probably. 00:02:00
RICHARD:Yeah; right. For, for Kemar. [?] Kemar requested those. [Something] Kemar. And they took a lot of -- and so, quite a few of those pictures were put in that Pan Sepastia Magazine that they make it every . . . it used to be every month now, I don't know how it is now.
RUTH:Yeah. Well, this is written in French. Did your father speak French?
CLAIRE:Yes. They went to a French school
RUTH:Jesuit school was it?
RICHARD:Jeh, Jeh, ehh , Jeh -- what do you call it? -- Jeshuit?
RUTH:With priest from France. Yeah, that's where I figured the French the knowledge of French came from
KAY:Dick, how long ago was it when you said that? Someone had traveled to uh, Sivas and they said they and the studio was still running under our name
CLAIRE:The Encababian, Yes 00:03:00
RICHARD:I never heard of that
CLAIRE:Maybe Esrog (?) maybe uncle have told us
RICHARD:The one that I remember, and that, they're not -- I don't know about Sivas, but in Istanbul, that the name Venice Studios is still there.
KAY:Maybe that's the one
CLAIRE:No, I don't know, "the Encababians" they said --
KAY:They did mention someone traveled and came back and said that it is still running under the family name.
RICHARD:That's the one that my father and my uncle ran.. They had one in Pera [Constantinople] one in Aintab [unclear]
RUTH:they call it Venice. Yeah. Why did they do why they call it that do you know?
RICHARD:I don't know.
RUTH:Had they ever been to Venice?
CLAIRE:it was a cosmopolitan city and maybe they just continued their business from... they left everything in Sivas as they left to Constantinople waiting to be able to come to the States.
RUTH:About what time was that? What years? 00:04:00
KAY:They came in '27.
CLAIRE:We were in Istanbul at least five, six years waiting for a quota that would take all thirteen of us to the United States.
KAY:Four and a half years later we came to this country. I know because I was two weeks old when we moved to Istanbul
RICHARD:I was wondering why they didn't leave you over there
CLAIRE:Thirteen of us came, and we all made it across . . .
CLAIRE:You know, there was always fear . . .
RUTH:How old were you?
KAY:Oh, that's telling you.
CLAIRE:You [addessing Kay] were not quite five. And I must have been eight.
KAY:And he was just the Baby. Baby. Baby. You were wondering, you had heard that my father and his family, his brothers were in prison, and that they had been killed. At least that's what you mentioned, when I first spoke to you when
RUTH:Someone told me that they were originally -- first they were saved because of their profession. Maybe it's the other family that was in photography in Sivas that was, that was subsequently killed, regardless of their profession.
RICHARD:I don't think that I didn't know there was another family.
CLAIRE:And the honors [overlapping voices] are there that there was another materials
RUTH:There is another family and
RICHARD:I didn't know there was another family
RUTH:I'm not sure where it is in my files, but I think it begins with a 'V' or something. But I couldn't --
CLAIRE:Dick, Is it true.--
RUTH:But your family survived? They didn't touch your family?
CLAIRE:Oh yes, they were in prison. Both of them were in prison. I was I don't know how old I was Mother and I went to the prison. They were like, in the stable, cattle. Just no room to move
RUTH:So you you remember going? 00:05:00
RICHARD:Yeah, you know it is a funny thing. Mother used to say "I can't see how you remember." And I described to her the roads that we took; everything was so muddy, mud up to our over our ankles. And yes, there are things that I remember when I was four years old.
Claire:CLAIRE: Is it true? That mother went to the governor..
RICHARD:I went I went with my mother into the prison. My uncle was in one area. My father was another in a different section.
CLAIRE:Didn't mother go to the governor and say, "My husband is in prison"
RUTH:Oh, oh, that's my article!
JACKIE:Yes it is your article.
RUTH:And here you're telling me that I wrote it!
CLAIRE:So could we remember, mother went to the governor, and they knew her, they liked her very much. She said, "You know, my husband is in prison. What can you do to help him? He is a photographer." And at that time, since they liked her, and they did need a photographer, they decided that they would release him to be able to photograph all their officials, and their generals, and so forth --
RICHARD:They were making surveys of the lands and areas. For what purpose, I don't know.
CLAIRE:So then my father and my uncle said, "You know photography is a very complicated business and there are many branches of it, and we can't do it just the two of us alone." And there were many other people in prison, so they got maybe twelve other people released so that they could continue the business supposedly. And there were articles written about that; that they were influential in saving a number of people that way.
RICHARD:The article that was written in Paris, that's like a four page, I don't know 00:06:00what paper it was. If you could get a hold of that paper, it'd be very important. According to the article they saved a 175 or 185 Armenians: doctors, engineers and people that are very close friends or relatives. And by how they got around to it was because of Kemal [Mustafa Kemal] wanted so many things done --
RUTH:That they couldn't do it without them.
RICHARD:That's right. [pause] You know, I'm a photographer, and some of the things that I see; what they did, is unbelievable the quality of the pictures.
RUTH:Today? You mean as it compares --
RICHARD:You can't, you can't compare it with what they did before, and what it is today.
CLAIRE:Oh, the lighting! The way it's retouched; those glass plates; they're beautiful!
RUTH:Do you know where your father and uncle learned photography?
RICHARD:I guess you'd have to be in a family to learn. I don't know.
RUTH:A lot of them traveled either to Europe or to the states and picked up photography. And then returned with it if, it wasn't already in their family, but you have no
CLAIRE:My grandfather was not a photographer. My father's father was not a photographer. [pause] Where did they learn? Maybe in school? I don't know. I mean, for that era to be able to have a profession . . .
RICHARD:French school that they might have picked up.
CLAIRE:Maybe from the schools.
RICHARD:Isn't that funny? I would never ask that question, How come you people picked up photography? 00:07:00
And the funny thing was even me when I went to photoengraving, the owner, Idon't know if you know him, Sarajian? was his name, and he said
RUTH:in New Jersey?
RICHARD:No, in New York. But he was from Jersey.
RUTH:Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, Haig is his son, maybe. Or nephew. They're still in business.
RICHARD:There were two brothers. Anyway. So I walked around walked around and graphics. One was Rex photoengraving the other one was Modern Art, the name of it. Anyway, walking around, looked at it I liked it, router is where you when a plate is finished. There are a lot of there's a lot of dead metal that you have to go on to the letterings and whatnot. Very good steady hand. Or I said, I want to become a proofer. You know, when a plate is finished, you get proofs and he says "You you just like the photography" and I hated photography.
RUTH:He recognized something in you?
RICHARD:I guess he did. I don't know what it was and then I turned out to be a halfway decent photographer.
RUTH:Well, photography for Armenians in the Old Country was especially convenient because if you were in trouble, I've heard the story, you could knock your camera down to the lens, take the lens with you, and create the camera somewhere else. And you're --
RICHARD:Then you got to get film. Or plates. Yeah. You know, when I think about it. You know, going back. Going way, way way back. How in the heck did they do it? Now 00:08:00like I said, in engraving we were using wet plate. Have you heard that expression before? You sensitize it and expose it
RUTH:You have to take the photograph before it dries.
RICHARD:Yeah, and uh, yeah. What we do is we have our glass, plain glass. We have to have that -- what do you call it? -- egg. The white of an egg. You beat that. What you call it- albumin. Okay. Then we used to coat the plate, dry it. The next day or the following day, we had collodion. That's the base of it. Collodion -- With the collodion. And we'd coat that collodion on the glass. And you shake it to get it nice and smooth.
RUTH:Yeah, I was gonna ask you, How did you get it even? Because that's, that's the trick.
RICHARD:Well, there's a . . . you know, it doesn't . . . It takes a while to get used to do it. You can't have it too thick or too thin. 'Cause if it's too thin, the silver nitrate'll eat the . . . So after it was all ready, we'd just take off the excess to know if it's fairly good to put in a silver bath. You put it in a silver bath, and after about five or six minutes -- of course you've got to have red lights and the door closed and all.
RUTH:what did you do before the red lights?
RICHARD:Now that's before my time, all right? [Laughter] Now of course that wet plate was not as sensitive as the film that we had the plates on. What you did was you squeegee the back of the glass to get all rid of the silver, put it in a plate holder -- and these are big cameras -- put it on the back, expose it, whatever you were supposed to do. After you exposed it, then you develop it. Now everything is by eye, with the red light. When the image comes out. How much the image should come out, and how much you should develop. After that's finished, what we did was wash it right over with water so it stops it from developing.
RUTH:Stops it. Yeah. 00:09:00
RICHARD:Then, cyanide. We used to use cyanide. Sodium cyanide. Have you heard of that? Sodium cyanide? We used to pour it on the glass to eat the excessive areas where we don't want, like, blacks and whites. Then what we did was, we used copper, copper oxide -- what we were doing now was giving it body to that plate. Then after copper, we put more silver on it, poured silver on it. Then after that we put iodine on that to make it white. Then with cyanide you can cut out the excess part you want, but you remember that
RUTH:for what kind of use was this for?
RICHARD:it for printing this? Oh, that's what I was gonna bring? Yeah, Instead of having all this here which is, this is a photograph. Now you have to remember that engraving is, we are reproducing the copy that's sent to us to the size that they want, alright?
RUTH:So you're making a negative for for screen printing.
RICHARD:Yeah, for screen. Yeah. We're putting a screen for the image to come through to get the right formation and then after silver nitrate you cut it with the solution of cyanide after it's finished to blacken it like you see it when you see the film: sodium sulfide you throw it in there. You wash it a little bit more and dry it up. Now to be able to protect that we used to have collodion, rubber collodion. Used to pour on that. So in case you touched it, you wouldn't scratch. Protect it, and then from now on you can.
RUTH:So you worked in the New York area?
RICHARD:I worked in Yes. I started the business not not mine. I worked for Sarajian. Yeah, that used to be called Rex photoengraving company.
CLAIRE:You know what I just discovered? This book belongs to Uncle P. D. And he has written the dates. The date he was born and subsequent brothers sister, and there was a set of twins that didn't survive.
RICHARD:They might be able to say how they got started in that photography. You know what I was gonna say? Yeah, now this Metzor Bajakian, he was very active in our Armenian organization, he went to went to Russia. [Ruth:] What's his last name? Bajakian. B-A-J-A-K-I-A-N. A Sepastatsi [from Sepastia/Sivas]. Yes. Mesrob. And I'm sure that he can give you a lot of information. Anyway, he went to Armenia stayed there for about this goes now let me see now
RUTH:He repatriated you mean, for a period of time? Or just visited? 00:10:00
RICHARD:Just visited there for a month. And when he came back, I asked him, I said, "Well, what do you think of it?" He says "What do you mean by 'what do I think?'" He says, "for people that haven't lived the United States an ideal place for people from Europe or tell them you know?" And he says, "I will say one thing" he says "the education that they're getting over there is excellent." Yeah. And he said, "people are very happy, they feel very secure." And, but he says, "you and I could not live there, because once you get used to this life," he says "there's no way" and when he was very honest about it, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that's true.
RUTH:That they all want to come here.
RICHARD:Oh, I'm sure they do.
RUTH:You must know Zaben Kaprelian? Sepastatsi?
RICHARD:You know, I hate to tell you that
RUTH:you're not too involved in Armenian -- 00:11:00
RICHARD:I was never really involved. You know when I was when I was very young, I said to myself, "what is the difference?" Armenian Armenian everybody's, you know, as I got a little bit older, and I realized what our culture what we went, what our parents went through then I started really appreciating what do
RUTH:you subscribe to the "Mirror Spectator"?
RICHARD:Of course I was very active in church
KAY:? Oh, he used to sing in church. Beautiful voice. [?]
RICHARD:Why did I go to I'll be honest with you, I used to get a quarter every time I went to church. That quarter was a big thing for me.
KAY:From mother, no doubt. 00:12:00
RICHARD:No, from from the church. That's right.
RUTH:Yeah. Oh, that's interesting. What church was this?
RICHARD:27th Street Church
CLAIRE:that's before they had the split between the Tashnags and...
RUTH:Yeah. Yeah. And the priest's name there in those days, was I spoke to his daughter. Hermani, um um, Hermania, I think it begins with an M 00:13:00
JACKIE:He was the guy who gave you the quarter, Richard, you should remember that.
RICHARD:not the quarter, church's, Mesrob, his name was. He was in charge of, ah -- no, no, Hozrof [?] He was the one I took -- when I say "took", we used to practice the hymns and whatnot on weekdays.
RUTH:So your father and uncle both came to this country?
RICHARD:Yeah, at the same time,
CLAIRE:the whole family. The children and my father . . .
RUTH:And what did they do in this country? Were they. How old would they have been when they first came first?
CLAIRE:came? Well, they had a brother here already. And one of my cousins was here already. And this uncle, Puzant (?) was already here also. So they were kind of established. Uncle James, Puzant
RUTH:in the New York area? 00:14:00
CLAIRE:Yeah. Well, they were in Newark, and they found a job for my father and a photo establishment.
RICHARD:But why don't you tell him what they were before we go to our father. Like what uncle P. V. was a insurance agent? Yeah. So it was Uncle James was. One was with Prudential. The other one was with New York Life, Metropolitan?
RUTH:Well that gave them a good start. I mean they had employment.
RICHARD:But then they did look for a job that when my uncle was not able to work, he was sick when they left Turkey.
RUTH:and his name was?
RICHARD:Haroutuin. Yeah. And when they came, then Dad worked for
CLAIRE:American Photographic Company, you know, mass production.
RICHARD:Yeah, but there was another name, Weiland Studio. This man had started with $10,000. A friend had gave him $10,000. The Weiland Studios person. Right, 00:15:00right. And he had tried so many other things that he failed, but this $10,000. Now he had a very good idea that "why can't we get concessions"
CLAIRE:concessions in the different department stores. Dad said he sat on food boxes when they started working over to make his enlargements, you know that, when they were first starting out, so there was like closeness between him and the the owner, Mr. Weiland.
RUTH:So your father was still a working age when he came?
CLAIRE:Yes. Yeah, he was a young man.
My mother was. Well, if it says, okay, my mother was a grandmother at 36. Thatmeans she was like 34 or 35 when we came, my father must have been
CLAIRE:No! He was like nine years older, only.
JACKIE:00:16:0035 and 44. Yeah.
CLAIRE:With four kids to support. Yeah. And they really used up their life savings for the transportation to the States. They sold the studio, but unconditioned that they could go back if they didn't like it here.
RUTH:On condition with the States?
CLAIRE:No, that they could get back their studio
RICHARD:Yeah, yeah, that after a certain length of time, if they decided to go back, that they would buy it back.
CLAIRE:I can't believe they even thought of that.
RICHARD:Dad was ready to go back. If it wasn't for sis. She got engaged, got engaged and everything changed.
RUTH:He was ready to go back because...
CLAIRE:we were a rather, you know, they're well off in Turkey. They had everything 00:17:00
RICHARD:they used to go away for three months
RUTH:Kay, what did you want to say?
KAY:think we had a lovely, lovely life there, even though it was still hard work to survive, and much to contend with. The comparison with that what we had there, and living in New York City, on the Lower East Side, was quite a contrast. And therefore, it it was not a very happy existence for a while. Safer, but at the same time I can recall mother and dad saying "there was nothing... there was no comparison in the freedom of life here." And they did appreciate what they had. They had a home and my sister became engaged in that did it.
RUTH:So that's the sister who's not with us today?
KAY:She passed away about two years ago.
CLAIRE:They had the studio in Constantinople, three, and a home there, and one in the country. So
RICHARD:How 'bout the place in that . we stayed in, Yakajic [?] it for three months,
CLAIRE:Well that's a home in the country So then they come to the city here and dad's working in a little cubby hole. And that little cubby hole
KAY:turned out to be the largest company in the country. It expanded Can you imagine? He stayed with them until he retired and they thew a big bash for him, very big party and gave him a wonderful, wonderful gift.
RICHARD:Let's not forget another thing. Go ahead continue. Let us come back
KAY:All right, go ahead. Because that's all, that's all I can remember..
RICHARD:He had an accident when he was living on East Side. He was reaching for a bulb to change in a hallway and he fell down he broke his arm, the wrist Yeah. So they found out about it enough naturally couldn't work with his wrist the way it was,
RUTH:they found out about it, meaning he was ...
RICHARD:the company that he was working for. So after a week or so he went back and says, "You know, I can't work," he says "don't worry about it. You take your time until you're ready to come back. That you will we will make sure that you get for every week that you are out of work", you know at that time
RUTH:Unheard of in the late 20s
CLAIRE:The depression. That's when we're talking; the depression. [?]
RUTH:In the thirties -- late twenties? Oh, you came here in the late twenties.
RICHARD:and the 30s Right. Now, as dad was working in that company, it got bigger and bigger. So the they they wanted to make dad in charge because of the the language barrier. He could only speak Armenian and French. So they anyway as the company got bigger. There are five people that started with the company. And it was said nobody can touch these five except the owners the one I know there was a lot of security, but at that time, what would the wages was $16 $20 a week. Alright and 60 hours a week. And and when it came time at Christmastime, December my dad used to work 16-20 hours
CLAIRE:and didn't get paid extra. But I found at slip one of his payroll slips in with the papers. And they were deducting, like $2 for health. And it was a $40 salary. I didn't know it went that high
RICHARD:They were getting overtime, Claire. Yes, they were. But you know, to put in so many hours a day, three, four weeks is a... Anyway, he was well treated, I will say one thing the man became a millionaire multi millionaire. Now what he did,
RUTH:00:18:00but not your father?
RICHARD:You don't mind if I smoke a cigarette, do you? I won't blow on you.
RUTH:It's . . . it's not my house.
RICHARD:I don't have to ask my sister
KAY:She doesn't appreciate it
RICHARD:You know, we didn't say anything about Sivas. You know, we had maids over there. We had Choban. What is Choban. You know what choban is?
RUTH:I've heard chobana [?], but I don't know what choban is.
RICHARD:Shepherds. We had horses and we had a lot of live stock a lot of
CLAIRE:livestock livestock. And I remember the little baby chickens. They left all that without selling it. You couldn't sell it to move into Constantinople, the property. But just had to leave. It's not like you know,
RICHARD:You couldn't sell it. They left everything they just walked away from because
RUTH:they didn't sell anything. They just left it
CLAIRE:left everything. Their farm, their studio, their cattle, everything.
KAY:In the dead of winter. I was just two weeks old, when they moved from Sivas. And I recall her telling me how she used to bathe me in the snow.
RUTH:No wonder you like that winter, right? 00:19:00
KAY:I'll take a little of it.
CLAIRE:I have a book here that belonged to Uncle P. D. he has recorded some things that you probably never even saw. He gives his father's name, which is the same as yours, Dikran Encababian. He's the one who wrote made out that map and it says here he was born in 1857. October eighth at nighttime at 10 o'clock. Would you believe this? Schooling 1865 about March 8 to 1875 November. Schooling ended higher education at Trakman Charz Tabrooz Varzaran [?] of Sivas, Turkey. He was the conductor for the Government position for construction. That's why he made that map. That's it. Yeah. So
RICHARD:Did you hear that Kay?
CLAIRE:Roads and bridges engineer, salary, 400 urush [?] gold, Lira pounds, whatever that is. He worked five days, five months and 20 days. Monthly full construction. I can't read it too well.
RUTH:Who was writing this? Your uncle?
CLAIRE:My uncle about his his father and his life
RUTH:and your uncle is a photographer?
CLAIRE:He also was a photographer. Now he would be now almost 100 years old. So uncle 00:20:00P. D.? Yeah, he was dad's first cousin. Alright. Hi, sweetheart.
RUTH:Oh, my mother, Debbie. We can turn these things
RICHARD:These things are bygones. I mean, who thinks about grandfather grandfather. My late uncle was down how his father what he did how they started.
RUTH:I know information is so fast lost. I mean, before you know it, nobody remembers anything?
RICHARD:Well, that's it. Another 100 years, I think. Unless they keep records of what she's done.
CLAIRE:Would you believe he even wrote down the time that he was born?
RUTH:Yeah, I have a hard time remembering. I mean, I have to keep asking my mother mother, "When did you say I was born?"
Yeah, but were there any family Bibles or anything that had or you must havecome with? Were you able to come with suitcases? You must have if your father brought these glass negatives, you must have come with packing crates. 00:21:00
CLAIRE:We did have a family Bible, where you know, the births, they didn't have birth certificates at that time?, so everything was recorded in the Bible.
RICHARD:Yeah. But I remember when my uncle passed away. You know, he was all by himself and he passed away naturally. I had to get rid of all the things that he had. Okay. And I'm sure I got rid of so many things. At that time. I was what? 17 18 years old and I go to
RUTH:that old and you had to deal with his
RICHARD:Right. Had to arrange the funeral and this and that. You know, if you have your own home, say, "Well, let me put everything in there." One day I could go look at it, see what they are, and -- You know, it's a shame that going way way back when our parents told us the stories that they went through -- what they went through and how they got out of and what they did . . . like today, you've got everything recorded on tape, on --
RUTH:videotape if you want, right? Yeah.
KAY:Do you videotape?
RICHARD:But you know I say to myself --
RUTH:I don't because I find video ...too much. Too much equipment is intimidating, people sort of get themselves all prepared. And that's not the point. You know, it's
CLAIRE:very true. It is.
RICHARD:No, I always say to myself, the life that they had over there, of course, they always had that fear that it could happen to them. You know, they didn't have that position. I think that they like I said, when I went to jail, saw my father, my uncle is my God. I said, "how do they get out of this?" \ But my mother was a very, very active woman.
CLAIRE:She was well liked.
RUTH:00:22:00It says something about the role of women in the Armenian community and the Turkish community at large. I mean,
RICHARD:well, she knew
RUTH:knew how to assert herself.
CLAIRE:She would have amounted to something really big if she were born here!
RICHARD:Oh, yeah, there's nothing that would hold her back, she was a very aggressive woman. And very, like you said, she played a big part for them to be saved, besides being photographers. And look, they took advantage of everybody that they can get something out of. Yes. Right.
RUTH:Right. And where she also born in Sivas? and was her family..
RICHARD:No, she was born in. Gurin? Dirinsi. [?] Dirinsi. No, Guruntsi , not Tokat?? Gurutsi (?). In fact, she was she was in an orphanage.
CLAIRE:Yes, she was a half orphan, orphan.
KAY:Nice little story, we have to tell about that.
CLAIRE:How dad went to the orphanage and he looked over the girls that were there
KAY:Before dad went, his brother went to see if he could find a bride for his brother. This much I recall. He went and he selected a nice young woman. My father went to see and give his own approval. And he saw my mother --
RICHARD:He saw, that's right.
KAY:and he said "No way. This is the woman I want for myself." And the school objected. They said "no, no, she's just too young." And every excuse that they could think of because they, uh . . . she was only sixteen --
RUTH:Which, actually, for Armenians was already getting old. Right?
KAY:Right, but they didn't want to part with her. She was teaching there and they had taken a fondness to her and they didn't want not want to part with her so soon.
RUTH:And what kind of orphanage was it? Do you know? Who ran it?
KAY:I don't know.
RUTH:00:23:00This was in Gurin, still?
RICHARD:No. Or was it? It might have been. It might have been. Yes, I think it was in Gurin.
RUTH:Gurin isn't that far from Sivas? So why would they travel to
RUTH:I don't think it's on the map
DEBBIE:Why was she in the orphanage?
KAY:Because her father was not alive
CLAIRE:And she only had a mother, and the mother could not really take care of her and a brother and they were not and they wanted to get some schooling?
JACKIE:And the brother was in the orphanage as well?
KAY:Well, I don't know where the brother was. But I know that before my mother was
RICHARD:The brother was I think much older.
KAY:I think my mother finally agreed to marry dad. It was only on condition that he help her brother out. help is needed. Only under those conditions. So she was
RUTH:fending for herself. Is a very young age, really for her family. Yeah.
DEBBIE:So she stayed in touch with her brother and her mother, even though she wasn't in the orphanage?
CLAIRE:Oh, they were together after 00:24:00
RUTH:well, in those days, if one parent had died, you were considered an orphan. Fathers couldn't take care of the kids and mothers didn't have enough to support them so different than today. When she was 16, he would be nine years older? Did you say?
RUTH:Which isn't that much of an age
CLAIRE:There was always a 10 year gap, at that time that was considred normal.
RUTH:Often 20 or 30.
KAY:Yeah. They really barely knew each other when they were married. And I've heard of stories like that existing too.
RUTH:But it sounds like they lived happily.
KAY:They lived together all through the years. There was no discontent. They both lived for each other. Raised your family together.
RUTH:And her brother what happened to her brother?
KAY:Many, many years later, he chose to move to Russia. He lived there with
CLAIRE:He lived in Beirut and Syria for quite awhile with his wife and son.
KAY:There was a lot of encouragement from Russia for Armenians to come and live there
RUTH:after World War II?
KAY:No, or was it? There were many who did go I don't think
RUTH:In the forties there was a great --
KAY:it might have been then
RUTH:immigration to go... lived in Yerevan? 00:25:00
CLAIRE:Yes. They are no longer, neither he nor his wife are alive. But their son, I got a card from a few months back.
RICHARD:He was adopted, wasn't he? Adopted son?
RUTH:And your mother's maiden name was
KAY:Mandelian. And she had only one living relative here, who was a cousin. Yes, first cousin, lived in Camden, New Jersey, had his wife and son, rug business. And, yes,
RUTH:they're no longer living.
RICHARD:You know, I want to see those negatives. And if there might be some things in 00:26:00there that would show the church and all that and Sivas in that area.
RUTH:Do you remember seeing your father go out with his camera and take photographs in Sivas? And I mean, I get this picture, you see the views of Sivas, and you figure well, they had to take the camera out on a tripod and, how did they get all the equipment? Did they have donkeys or mules?
CLAIRE:or horses? They rode horses beautifully. But I don't remember them going up with a camera. But I've seen many scenes that they have photographed so they must have gotten
RICHARD:I don't ever remember that they walked around with cameras
CLAIRE:I have shots of the family in in Sivas in the snow.
RUTH:Do you have them here?
CLAIRE:I have a few here. And you could see the snow in the background and really the old clothes. But a lot of the photographs are studio photographs. Yes, studies of all of us like most people would not have
RUTH:Excuse me. Why don't we just introduce our two additions here to the tape?
RICHARD:Yes, mention your name, say who you are.
JEANETTE:I am the granddaughter Jeanette Surabian. My friend Bob Mason [or Nason]
RUTH:(Overlapping voices). Good. Okay. Yes, welcome.
KAY:That's daughter number two. Daughter number three is in Florida. Boca Raton, Florida, with her husband Mel.
JEANETTE:And Baby Michael.
CLAIRE:That is the baths..
RICHARD:Yeah. Had the springs hot springs. I remember that too. We used to go with the whole family there. And
CLAIRE:that was like a vacation.
RICHARD:No for the day. We sort of had the horse and carriage
RUTH:How far would that be from home?
CLAIRE:They were beautiful. I remember sitting on my mother's lap
RICHARD:Maybe a couple of hours. What I remember. A couple hours? Yeah.
RUTH:By how would you go by with transportation?
RICHARD:Wagon. Horse and carriage. Yeah. No, I always say to myself, I remember the life that they had over there. If I was in my father's situation, position, my mother. But I had given up that life to come over and struggle trying to make a living. But I realized they did that just for
CLAIRE:Know, whenever I, whenever I heard drums. I used to be petrified because that signified that they're coming to get somebody from the family. I hate drums to this day, because it was frightening. Can you imagine what they must have felt? Having gone through what they did? Losing so many members of their family. My mother's mother was on the forced march and she died and her sister. And when they had the opportunity to get away from there, they didn't care that they were leaving everything. They were going to security. You know, they just want their children to be subjected. They don't want this son to go into the Turkish army and get killed.
RUTH:Is that how your mother became an orphan? Yeah.
CLAIRE:I don't know how her father died. It wasn't 00:27:00
RUTH:your mother's father.
CLAIRE:I don't know how he died.
RUTH:Then her mother died what
CLAIRE:On the forced marches; yeah.
RICHARD:I say to myself, it is super
CLAIRE:People saw her you know, complete exhaustion, fall and die in the road.
RICHARD:Still going on even now in the South American country [overlapping conversation]
CLAIRE:They witnessed such horrors. They used to tell us how the pits were dug and children were thrown in and kerosene. Kerosene poured on them and burned -alive. They really lived through horrors. The men who were apprehended. One day, the following day, they were all lined up and hung. And my father used to see this from the prison that he was in. People being hung and they never knew from one day to the next when their turn was going to be.
RUTH:I've often wondered how they survived psychologically. And then they came to this country and started new families many of them who would you lost families and
CLAIRE:You really have to give them a lot of credit, they didn't come apart, they raised their family.
RICHARD:Yeah, and the you know, there was 12 or 13? 13 of us that lived [in one house]. 00:28:00Imagine how they how they got along and lived? Of course I'm sure that there was some arguments or disagreements
DEBBIE:Who lived in the house?
CLAIRE:All of us did!
RUTH:But tell us the relationships
RICHARD:Well, my uncle my aunt,
CLAIRE:My father's brother.
RICHARD:my cousins; I had two . . . four of them. Ah, Zabelle, Vartoosh, Veregh[?], and Zabach[?].
RUTH:What is the relation?
RICHARD:They're my cousins
RUTH:Father's brother's children? this photographer? The other brother who was the photographer?
CLAIRE:So that's five there, and we were --
RICHARD:Plus- wait a minute, Antranig Encababian and a half
CLAIRE:half brother right. And
RICHARD:I will say one thing my grandfather was quite a man. He was married four times
RUTH:Your father's father?
Richard:RICHARD: Right. And the fourth one or the fifth one buried him.
CLAIRE:He had children by all of them
RUTH:And you have a lot of cousins?
RICHARD:Not that many, no, no.
KAY:We do have two in Pennsylvania, Uncle Jimmy's -- and uh . .
CLAIRE:That's a family who was here before we were. I think dad and his brother must have sent them as soon as they could to the states to get them out of Turkey. Yeah,
RUTH:And how about I see the name Encababian spelled various ways. Like with a U-N kebabian
RICHARD:We spell it E-N
RUTH:And therefore these others are not related or maybe
RICHARD:They may be they may be
CLAIRE:We had one relative who spelled it with a K, and they were related. I think there were only
KAY:Oh, that's understandable. I haven't seen
CLAIRE:with a 'U'? They have to be related because they were only
RUTH:Is that a particular name from Sepastia? Yeah, I mean, would it
RICHARD:you know what I was told what Encababian means. My grandfather was well off and it seemed that he wanted
RUTH:Is this the one that had four or five wives?
RICHARD:Right. Right. Right. Sure, four anyway, Encababian means I think being a godfather. And I understand he had a lot ,.. he helped these orphanages supporting them and financially and all that and that's that's how we got our name. That's what I was told
KAY:I don't know if you told her why grandfather had four, four wives?
CLAIRE:Well they died!
RICHARD:They died. So he decided that, yeah.
RUTH:Well I didn't think he got divorced.
RICHARD:No. There was no such thing as getting a divorce. No, no. No.
RUTH:Probably several of the wives died in childbirth, perhaps? Or disease?
RICHARD:It's possible. I understand my grandfather would probably would have lived much longer except that he was blowing on, something about? What is that thing from a lamb? Intestine was
CLAIRE:He had a hemorrhage from blowing into, I don't know what he was doing? Why are you holding that up?
KAY:She wants a record record.
RICHARD:You have a lot of things written down. You have them?
CLAIRE:This was just from Uncle P.D.
JACKIE:Didn't you take notes? You said you had taken notes that your father had given you? I didn't bring it.
RUTH:And did you bring photographs? Why don't you bring them in, we can talk about them and I'm sure other stories
RICHARD:is this interesting for you too.
RUTH:Yeah, yeah. So it must be 15 minutes on each side
CLAIRE:was a half an hour. I'm just wondering
JACKIE:Well we were talking for more than half an hour
RUTH:whether it's voice activated. 00:29:00
CLAIRE:Oh, yeah. Oh, you know, I turned mine on before you did
RUTH:Yeah you did Yeah. Why don't I get the spelling of all.
Transcribed by Marta Fodor00:30:00 00:31:00 00:32:00 00:33:00 00:34:00