Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead


This is the fifth in a series of articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey


By Charles N. Stevens

We sleep the sleep of the dead. Our first look outside reveals a flotilla of gray clouds. The air is still quite cold, and with clouds blocking the sun our outdoor tour of the ruins of Ephesus will be bone-chilling.

At breakfast I have two slices of somewhat sweet bread speckled with bits of dried fruits. I fill up a glass of ersatz orange juice then select a small slab of feta cheese and another type of white cheese I do not know. A slice of luncheon meat, a few Greek olives, and a cup of herb tea round out the meal.

Back up in our hotel room we dress for the day. Since our bags have not arrived, we have difficulty dressing for an icy day. We especially miss our thermal underwear, our “long Johns”, packed neatly in our luggage, now somewhere between Kusadasi and Chicago. Dolores has the brilliant idea of our wearing the rather shapeless pajamas that the airline had given us under our clothes for an extra layer of warmth. We laugh as we slip them on because they are “one size fits all” garments, strictly utilitarian and devoid of any style.

Once underway on the cold bus, we pass scenes we are beginning to know. We roll by orchards of naked fruit trees, roadside pottery shops and men riding donkeys, their heads wrapped in scarves and rags against the bitter cold. We pass orange and tangerine groves, the limbs of the trees sagging under the weight of the fruit. Fluffs of cotton cling to reddish brown stubble, the cotton already picked. In the distance, tucked against a hillside lies the ancient theater of Ephesus while in the foreground a man struggles with a cart of firewood. Clouds gather now into a gray, rugged mass. In the city of Selcuk, heavily wrapped people wait for a bus.    .

We drive down a mountain to the remains of the once-great Greek then Roman city of Ephesus. A bitterly cold wind rips down the old stone, colonnaded street, a few small snowflakes spiraling erratically down. We begin at the East Gate of the city near a crumbling gymnasium with its accompanying baths where, 2000 years ago, people returning to Ephesus from other parts of Asia Minor would have refreshed themselves. Far up on one of the hills a small section of the old aqueduct that once supplied the baths and other parts of the city, still stands. Closer to our feet lie the same reddish terra cotta pipes that once gushed water into the baths. We stroll by the ruins of a grand fountain, an agora and law courts. We pass an odeum with its small semicircle of stone seats that might have served not only for dramatic productions but also the proceedings of the council house. It had been built by the Romans in 27 BC.

Walking along the stone remains of a town hall, we see temples, another fountain, and more shops. The scattered cold stones, the icy wind and the lowering clouds press the coldness into our bones. Rainwater caught in the hollows of old column sections is frozen as hard as stone. We shiver by the Gate of Heracles as we walk to the old residential quarters where wealthy Romans once lived. Each house had been serviced with running water. The beauty of their mosaic floors still stands out against the dreary day. In a place as cold and forbidding as these ruins, it is difficult for our imaginations to supply the warmth and life and softness that once existed here. It is still harder to sense the shuffling of their feet and the sounds of their voices or even the light in a young woman’s eye. I need the full power of my imagination to put life back into the cold stones.

Nearly rigid with the cold, we stumble by the magnificent Temple of Hadrian with its delicate Corinthian columns and its baths behind. We walk among the remains of the Baths of Scholastica, lavishly rebuilt in the 4th century A.D. We examine the rooms where the bathers disrobed and where dutiful slaves watched their clothes while they were away. The bathers first dipped into a pool of cold water then advanced to another of warm water, kept constantly heated by wood fires beneath the floor of the pool. The remains of this hypocaust, the brick pillars still somewhat intact, lie in front of us. Rainwater trapped in a nearby pool is today covered with ice. Wandering into the ancient public latrine, we note the holes of the toilet seats carved into a huge stone slab. It appears that people used the toilets together, all sitting in a row, but some believe there were wooden partitions between each position. Only the ancient Greeks and Romans know. We are told that slaves sometimes sat on the cold stone toilet “seats” to warm them up for their masters.

We continue along the marble way, at last reaching the most imposing structure of all, the Library of Celsus. Built in 110 A.D. by Gaius Julius Aquila as a monument to his father, a Roman senator, it once held 12,000 “books” or scrolls in its niches. Partially restored, it is the most complete building among the ruins. It towers several stories and is faced with columns and statues. Across the street from it is the jumbled stones of an old brothel as well as the shops that surrounded it.

Lastly, we pass by the 24,000-seat theater built into a hillside and still largely intact. It had begun as a Greek theater, but the Romans who produced greater spectacles had added more seats to it. Gladiators once fought each other and wild animals here. Christians had also been tortured here by placing them in the pits with the lions. It was also the focal point for the midsummer festival celebrating the birth of Artemis.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 49 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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