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


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


By Charles N. Stevens

Finally, we come to the magnificent Trajanium, a Corinthian temple built for Emperor Trajan in

125 A.D. Its delicate white Corinthian columns stand out against the graying sky. We walk down snowy steps through the rocks to the temple itself. Next to it stands a large, headless stone statue of Emperor Trajan. The temple cat, still sticking with us, perches on a cold stone. From this vantage point we look down on the theater, its steeply banked seats covered with snow into white arcs. Numbed with cold, we return slowly to the bus, admiring as we go the carved remnants of the ancient city. Having seen the reconstruction of Pergamum’s Temple of Zeus in the museum in East Berlin, we had always wanted to see the spot where it had once stood. We also wish that we could have tarried longer among the stones, but the aching cold drives us away.

Back in the city of Bergama, we have lunch in a pleasant cafe along a wide street. First the waiters serve us a thick white soup to which we add juice from a wedge of lemon. We crowd around steam tables displaying a variety of dishes. I select dolmas, cauliflower, zucchini in oil, cigar-shaped morsels of ground lamb and cumin, a yogurt sauce with mint, football-shaped meatballs of meat, rice, potatoes, and cumin, as well as macaroni and pilaf. Dessert is two cookie-like morsels soaked in honey or syrup along with yogurt.

After lunch, Dolores and I walk down the sidewalk to explore the area,but the icy wind prevents us from investigating more than about a block. We look at a small store where tapered loaves of bread stand on end in the window, the method of display used by all of the stores. We walk by restaurants, stores and shops. Huge thick “pancakes” of pasta that appear like shredded wheat rest among other types of pasta in one window. We duck into a souvenir shop, mainly to get in out of the wind.

We are soon on our way to the Asclepium, a vital part of Pergamum built on the flatlands far below the acropolis on the hill. Just beyond a large military reservation, we come upon the remains of the ancient hospital and healing center among gentle, undulating hills. We walk down the stone paving of its colonnaded way, scrunched against the bitter wind that sweeps across the low hills. In Roman times shops sold goods all along this way, but only their scattered stones remain. On a road just above the site modern Turkish men carry their rifles on the way to the fields for winter hunting.

A large stone with a relief of twin snakes, symbol of Asclepian healing and still used as a symbol by the medical profession today, marks the site of the former temple. Nearby, the ruins of an old theater and several other temples remain identifiable.

We shuffle down the stairs that lead into the healing tunnels. Just as it did in ancient times, water trickles down a groove in the side of the stairs then continues in a gutter the length of the tunnel. The sound of the running water echoes in the tunnels, a pleasant sound that would suggest coolness in hot weather and would contribute by its music to the healing process. Patients would sleep in the tunnels, responding to its cool air currents and the lovely sound of the water. At intervals along the tunnel, small holes in the ceiling open to the outside, served as places where men skilled in psychology talked down to the patients, suggesting by what they said and how they said it that the patients were improving. “You are feeling better now” or “You are feeling better and better”. Much of the underground vaulted ceiling of the hospital still exists.

Emerging from underground, we see a shepherd nearby with his flock. A scowl clouds his weathered face, either because of the difficulty of his work or because he does not like tourists. He wears a huge sheepskin, or several sheepskins sewn together both front and back with his head through a hole in the center. He resembles a man carrying fuzzy signs, both front and back.

We walk around the base of what was once a round temple then make our way back toward the bus. We walk back into the icy teeth of the wind as it whips over the ancient stones. Back in the bus, the warmth is luxurious.

We pass through Selcuk again where the morning snow has all melted into puddles and mud. It is dark by the time we reach Kusadasi. It sits like a collection of lighted jewels by the bay while floodlight beams shine mysteriously on the old walls of the Crusader fort just off shore.

Dinner at seven is a delicious lentil soup followed by a flat meat pie, chewy but tasty. The main course is lamb shanks.

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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