The Bosphorus Turns 60

It All Began in the Attic of Anderson Hall

This article was originally prepared for the Bosphorus Chronicle in honor of the 60th anniversary of its founding newspaper, The Bosphorus.

By Nuri Çolakoğlu RA 62 and Ömer Bilgin, co-founders of The Bosphorus

Summer of 1959… It was sixty years ago, and we had just graduated from Robert Academy, which was the Orta school of Robert College. During the Orta years we had a publication named The Echo, which we were producing together. Nuri Yıldırım and I, together with of a bunch of other journalism enthusiasts (about 15 guys), were producing The Echo. Back then it was printed on a mimeograph, a rather primitive machine with a special waxy paper wrapped around its cylinder into which you first hand-feed paper and then turn the handle of the cylinder. Bingo! One page of the paper appears with whatever you had written on the special waxy paper. You have to do this six or eight times, depending on how many pages that issue is, and you do that as many times for each copy. So if that week you have an eight-page paper with 250 copies to be produced you turn the handle 2000 times. Actually one of us, Nuri Yıldırım RA 62, started turning this handle in 1954 when he was a Prep 1 student and carried on after that.

When we arrived to Lise we found out there was no Lise paper as the College was going through an evolution period, with Orta classes being dissolved and a Yüksek Okul being created.

The Orta had their paper, the Yüksek had something, but there was nothing for the new Lise. However, two of us were adamant to start a paper. So we first went and got the blessing of the Lise administration, and persuade them:

A. To give us some money to buy paper and have a masthead printed on them

B. To give us a room to work in.

They were kind enough to allocate the end of a corridor at the entrance level of Theodoros Hall which later become the girls’ dorm of Boğaziçi; a full 3m2 where we were able to fit two tables – one for the mimeograph machine and one for the typewriter. The question was where could we find a typewriter and a printer. The school gave us permission to ransack the attic of Anderson Hall where at the end of every school year all the leftovers of boarding students were stuffed away – since the beginning of the 20th century.

There we were able to find two museum pieces: A typewriter manufactured in 1905 and a very old mimeograph machine from 1911. When we were typing the whole building would hear the clatter of this old typewriter.

After a year of squashed life in that cubicle - because that was what it was - and having produced a paper every other week, the school administration took pity on us and offered a large room on the lowest floor of the building, which used to be our sandwich shop run by İbrahim Efendi and his wife.

After they moved us it took a long time to clean up the space, as the rats had their nests where they were happily nibbling İbrahim Efendi’s cheese, salami and sausages. After a safari of a week or two we were able to rid the place of the rats and started our new publishing facility (again with the same old typewriter and mimeo machine).

Meanwhile let us a rewind a little –

When we had everything we needed, we had to come up with a name for the paper. We do not remember whose bright idea it was  to call it The Bosphorus. For the masthead we went to the library and found a graphics book with different fonts. For some inexplicable reason we chose The Times newspaper’s gothic Old English font, and with a semi-transparent paper we copied the letters one by one to form The Bosphorus. When that was done, we ran downtown to Cağaloğlu where all the printers were and had the masthead printed in red ink on yellowish samankağıdı (a poor quality A4 paper). And then we were able to print the very first The Bosphorus, or as we called it among ourselves, Bosfor.

We were keen to improve our technology. So a year later, in 1961, we dropped the old technology to start printing Bosfor at a printing house in Cağaloğlu where we had to learn the typesetting machines and tying up pages (as the pros say) and with our past expertise persuade the school to foot the bill.

Good old days – hard to forget.

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