Al mashriq - The Levant

Life in the BD -- circa 1960

by Jon Stacey '61

The Senior Lounge in the BD was a sanctum sanctorum which was entered without permission by underclassmen at the risk of life and limb. Underclassmen couldn't wait to become "Big Seniors" with exclusive access to this Hallowed Den. Everyone in the BD had access to the "Rumpus Room," however. The Rumpus Room was located below the main floor of the BD on the north side of the ell, and was the scene of both formal and informal activities. On the way to the rumpus room was a small annex of sorts with tables for playing cards. Bridge was a popular game during this time period, and the real fanatics would rush to the annex the minute school was out to "nail down" a table for a bridge game, followed by calls of "we need a fourth!" Informal dancing in the Rumpus Room was aided by one stroke of luck -- Chris Ross '60 possessed a reel- to-reel tape recorder, and recorded the "Top 40" from Radio Cyprus on Wednesday nights, for later playback at dances. This was greatly appreciated, as it was difficult to get current hit songs in Lebanon on a timely basis.

Life in the BD also had its lighter moments, complete with pranks. The Potrezebie cannonball rolled down the tiled floors of the BD hallways more than once, creating a tremendous racket late at night. Pranks played on each other in the boys' dormitory included toothpaste or peanut butter under the drawer pulls of the desks and bureaus; the age-old trick where a can of water was balanced on top of a door; and powdered sugar on someone else's sheets, which would result in the sheet clinging to his body by the time he woke up. Inspired by news of the collegiate prank of stuffing phone booths with students, an attempt was made one night in 1960 to see how many boys could fit into one bathroom stall on the second floor (thirteen).

There were a few "dangerous" activities which occurred, most of which should remain classified forever. However, one was discovered, so the truth can now be told: Several enterprising boys, chafing at the restrictions on their mobility, decided to make a rope ladder. Rope was purchased downtown, and the creative process began. Rungs for the ladder were "liberated" from furniture in the lounges. The ends of the ladder were tied to the wrought iron frames of the doors on the balcony, and the first brave adventurers sneaked down to the girls' floor. A few days later, someone got the idea to "go all the way" -- beyond the girls' floor and up into Ras Beirut. This adrenaline-producing activity continued for several months until our chief custodian, Fawzi Beshara, discovered the ladder in a closet, the door to which the owner had unfortunately forgotten to close. Boys' mobility was severely limited for several weeks thereafter!