Al mashriq - The Levant

Vignettes of Lebanon

by Cynthia Soghikian Wolfe '72

Lisa Moore '72 and I both miss "Kaak," the toasty bread they made in a ring shape, covered with sesame seeds, with zaatar to put inside of it. Yummy! (Although not guaranteed to be hygienically cared for -- we have all seen the sellers tip the breadboard on the heads by accident, spilling the bread onto the street, and putting the kaak rings all back onto the board)!

Gary Misselbeck '72 remembers sifting through the sand at the beach near the American Embassy, looking for Roman coins. He used to get Mr. Corsette (Fac) to help him identify and date them, since Don Corsette had a strong interest in archaeology, too. Gary says he used to sing Beatles songs as he dug for Roman coins, and everytime he hears Beatles music now, he is reminded of his unusual and pleasant boyhood activity at the beach. Mr. Corsette had a collection of old glass bottles from Phoenician and Roman times, which he had found. One lovely old bottle was accidentally smashed by a Lebanese carpenter working in Don's house. The carpenter said: "Sorry -- but it was just an old vase anyway, right?"

Lisa Moore remembers an incident in Meg Heath's (Fac) 9th grade English class: Ms. Heath had taught the class to use index cards to organize for their reports. To show the class how perfectly organized the cards could be, Ms. Heath asked everyone to throw their cards in the air and then reassemble them in order. Lisa was standing near the window, and half of her cards went flying out!

One of the finest meals I've ever enjoyed (that is saying a lot for a San Franciscan) was a Russian dinner home-cooked by Mr. and Mrs. Rigler in 1971 (?). Mr. Rigler had taught a Russian literature class, and at the end of the course he invited the whole class to a wonderful dinner which made Russia come alive for us.

Another memory I have is of being ambushed as I came out of Anne Ratcliffe's chemistry class in 1971. The Norks (a group of friends who loved to hike and camp) threw a pillowcase over my head and kidnapped me to a birthday party (I had actually forgotten it was my birthday)!

Gary, Lisa, Tim Fuller '72 and I have all had recurrent dreams which are somewhat similar: we all dream of being on the Beirut streets while being bombed, and trying to find safety for ourselves and our siblings or children. This fact intrigues me, since none of us actually were present in Beirut during the true war years '74 and onwards. Obviously, as children in Beirut even in the 1960's we sensed tension and felt insecure. One can only imagine the recurrent nightmares all the children in Lebanon (and adults) now suffer!