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Historical Fiction: Eric Sommers: Epilogue Part 9

After my testimony in Washington regarding the Asia Minor refugees, I had to decide where we were going to live. I checked out Boston, New York, and Chicago as potential places of residence. I had no desire of living in Rochester. After several weeks of thinking about it, we decided to make our home in Boston. It was a nice city that had a large Greek community. Some of these Greeks had come to the United States from Asia Minor well before the 1922 September catastrophe.

We found a nice two-story house with a nice garden in Cambridge, not far from Harvard University. Our young daughter had plenty of room to play freely in the backyard. I was happy to live close to this famous institution where I could use their research library to write my next book.

I had plenty of ideas running through my mind to write this book, but I had to write in a general way as not to disclose diplomatic secrets. Once completed, the manuscript had to be submitted to the State Department for their approval before going to the publisher.

I thought of various titles for the book but none of them appealed to me. I finally came up with a suitable title: My days in Turkey which divulged my personal experiences living in Asia Minor. I didn't want a title that would offend Greeks and Turks. A neutral title was the best solution as I had made friends with both groups when I was Consul-General in Smyrna. At the same time, I didn't wish to create problems for our government who was seeking to establish diplomatic relations with the new Turkish state.

My book was finally released in May 1926 to an eager reading public. The book contained seven chapters, starting with our missionary activities through the 19th century and the Greco-Turkish war which culminated in the destruction of Smyrna by Kemalist forces. Both sides accused each other of starting the fire. However, eye-witness accounts put the blame squarely on the Turks. The final chapter was devoted to the Lausanne Conference where the two former enemies signed the peace treaty on July 24, 1923. This allowed them to begin the reconstruction of their devastated economies.

I received invitations from the Greek and Turkish ambassadors to do book readings at their embassies and their communities in Washington and New York. I was honored to receive such requests which could only help our relations with Greece and Turkey. Our State Department was pleased with the feedback they received from the ambassadors and the two communities in question.

The Greek community in Boston invited me to give a talk about my book at a church hall. These venues were too small for an expected large gathering of Greeks and non-Greeks. The president of the Greek community, Sakkis Tambouzis organized that my speech would be held at Harvard University which had auditoriums that could easily seat several hundred people. I thought that was an excellent arrangement. All I can say is that my speech was warmly received by all the attendees.

This book was by far my biggest seller out of the ten books which I had written. I was very proud of myself and continued to think of writing a sequel to this book. I thought about it long and hard but decided against it. I didn’t think I could have contributed any more knowledge about the Near East.

Out of the blue, I received a letter from the State Department nominating me for the position of ambassador in Budapest, Hungary. It was a tempting offer but declined it. I served my time as a diplomat and had no interest in the affairs of Central Europe. I enjoyed my life as a private citizen away from the squabbles and shenanigans of diplomatic life.

Harvard University approached me and asked if I was interested in a teaching position with them. I had a PhD which was a prerequisite for the job. I gladly accepted their offer and joined the history faculty where I taught the classics and the modern history of the Near East. The university was honored to have a former diplomat on its faculty. I enjoyed teaching about the Near East where I had the first-hand experience having lived through the momentous events of 1908-22. The students enjoyed my classes.

In the meantime, our daughter Penelope was growing up into a fine young lady. She attended a local Catholic school where she received a good education. She learned Greek at our local Greek Orthodox church. At home, we spoke Greek which greatly assisted Penelope to ‘feel’ and be proud of her Greek heritage. Her dream was to attend Harvard University to become a lawyer. She fulfilled her dream of joining the legal fraternity.

After twelve years of teaching, it was time to gracefully retire into anonymity. I enjoyed my life as a diplomat, journalist, author, public speaker, and professor which brought me much joy and satisfaction. It was time to do some foreign traveling to Europe to see the cultural sites and to catch up with old friends.

This is where the journey ends to enjoy the fruits of my retirement.

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