Al mashriq - The Levant


by A. Douglass Brice '53

I recall more of the BD activities than the academic side of ACS. It was the first year the BD was opened. The physical part of the building was completed except for the missing elevator.

In its place was the shaft. Being resourceful, the boys made good use of that elevator shaft -- sometimes a person's mattress and pillow were tossed down there to get even with someone. Other times, a person was led to believe their things had been tossed down the shaft, and when they came to take a look, someone on the floor above proceeded to drown them with a bucket of water. Actually, we used this shaft for dropping our laundry bag each week.

The curtains for the windows hadn't arrived and nothing was said until the headmaster from the Lebanon Boys School just up the hill from us called to ask if the girls' section of the BD could cover up more! It seems several of their lads were caught each evening using their spy glasses to look down on our girls in their rooms.

As was the custom, each meal was started with a Grace being offered by a different student. Not being prepared, many of us tried our darndest to disappear so Mr. Ford, Principal and resident "housefather," wouldn't see us and call for a rendering. Throughout those two years, I can only recall one Grace that stands out in mind these 40+ years. At dinner one evening, one quiet student who never caused trouble was recognized, and she offered the following "Grace:"

  • Dear God Above Dear God of Love Please Look Down Upon This Land And Give Us Some Meat To Eat Cause This Isn't Worth A Damn.
  • Normally, the reaction of the students in the dining room was like the baseball park wave. Half the time the student mumbled Grace, and those of us at the end of the dining room only knew they were finished when they saw the chairs being pulled out from the tables, and like falling dominos, everyone started to sit down. However, on this particular evening the pattern was changed! Instead of sitting, the students stood there, like the people in the TV commercial "E.F. Hutton says," listening to the word being passed from the table in front of them. It got so bad, the head table finally announced we all had to sit down and be quit. As to what happened to the quiet young lady, she went to bed without supper that evening.

    To get us to keep in touch with our parents, the staff enforced a rule where we had to turn in a letter before they would distribute our weekly allowance. Many a time I would turn in a very short letter or just an addressed envelope just to get the allowance and go downtown to the movies. One time, in my haste, I wrote two letters, one to my parents and one to the girl I was seeing at the time, and then made the mistake of placing them in the wrong envelopes. I heard later that they (parents and girlfriend) got to meet each other that next week.

    Uncle Sam's was the local eatery. He had delicious ham sandwiches on a hard roll, and they used to be our Saturday night treat. On Saturday evenings, a lot of time was spent in the first floor room to the left of the BD entrance. 45 rpm records were popular then, and Tony Bennett music was played a great deal. I remember we used to pantomime the records, acting as if we were playing instruments. We just waved our arms around without any instruments whatsoever. You must remember this was before TV, and our minds were in control.

    We had a basketball team back then that didn't win too many games, but still drew a lot of the Beirutis. We found out later they came not for the game, but to look at the cheerleaders. ACS was the only co-ed school in the area, and they were taking advantage of it.

    We had pretty good speakers for the Assembly Period. I remember two such visitors -- Helen Keller came in on her visit to the Middle East, and Major James Jabara, the first US Air Force Ace (shot down 5 enemy planes) in the Korean war.

    Slave Day was created in this time period, and was an annual event to raise money and a delightful excuse to get your shoes shined.