Since I wrote this i have recovered from my amnesia 🙂 Its amazing how talking with people like Netnapit and her brother have brought back long forgotten memories… I actually remember Netnapit and I realize now how we were all pretty good friends even if we didn’t have a lot in common and didn’t do a lot of “hanging out” together outside of school. But in class, on the playground and at the field trips there was quite a lot of interaction id just totally forgotten and I’m sure there’s more great memories to come. Let’s hope this site and the others where we are coming together change that.
Also I’ve started a Facebook group that if anyone on here knows people who might be interested let them know.
Beirut Condas Essam, Ralph and all their Friends and the kids…
You never know you might know someone who worked at Condas or knew the Khashoggis or something like that.
Hi. None of you remember me if you knew me at all and the same is true for me. It saddens me that we were all about our oun friends unless our friends had older or younger brothers in other grades… it really was mostly a grade barrier and a number of other factors, sex, nationality maybe religion i dont know im not a psychologist. It saddens me because i found out that all these really wonderfull people were around me day to day but i never got to know them at the time. As we track down more and more of my friends that will all change though and in the mean time I will have made some new friends like Netnapit… Hard to believe that for 2nd grade, second half of 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th grades she was there the whole time and well i can’t say i don’t remember her because I do now… and little memories of her keep popping into my mind. My Dad was the Factory Manager for Condas in Ashrafieh sp?
My moms best freind growing up was Doris Khashoggi and they ended up being like sisters. We left in the summer of 69 end of 2nd Grade because my dad was hit by a Chevy Impala in a little Peugot station wagon crushing the car right up to the windshild, breaking his arm and cutting his head open above the eye… Honestly my dad didnt like the way things had gone in general but over the years back in the US he worked things out with Essam. Essam was like my other dad. We used to stay at his house his cook used to make us all kinds of good things to eat, they had everything and anyone who knows who Adnan Khashoggi knows they had it made. And of course Doris and Essam and Mona and Karim were like my other mother, father and brother and sister. Essam even asked to be my Godfather but my mom thought we were going to stay in California so she picked our american counterparts instead.
So Back we went jan 72 beginning of 5th Grade. I remember lots of things like Michelle Griffith yawning and streching and saying “it’s hot in here” and Simon Buzby saying “Why dont you just take off your shirt!: roflmao… i laughed so hard Bro dell i believe it was put me in the corner too with simon hahahahaha…. But after Simon and his brothers left he was replaced a year or so later yes i think Nicky got there in 7th Grade but i cant be sure. Nicky brought out the devil in me… we smoked and we’d run around town without permission and get hurt and get in trouble… ask Nicky about nearly biting his own tongue off riding a moped over in the parking lot.. what was that Shopping Center off the roundabout the biggest one i remember being 2 stories all glass… Any way i didnt think 2 people on motorbikes could have a head on collision but Nicky and this guy did and he split his lip open but Nicky went head first right into his helmet and he was lucky and unlucky because he should have died but instead his hard head made him nearly bit his whole tongue off… how many stitches was that Nicky? On the way back to the US he talked me into meeting him at a train station in ???Leeds ??? I forget but i stood him up because he insisted i ride on the back of his motorcycle… Sorry Nicky im sure youre pissed but hey….
1. How was life in Beirut different in those days and what are your most vivid memories of that time?
I dont know what life in Beirut is like now and when i was there more of my time was spent in Baabda and i dont know what its like now either. I piece a lot together from friends and here from people online and I guess the camps have been replaced by nicer looking camps but still slums and the city has been rebuilt in many places like Martys square and other places and the mainly… Well i just dont know.
My most vivid memories are of the Fighting and are too long to go into now but off the top of my head i can remember when the Isrealis bombed in the mountains just above me… Napalm… I vividly remember the next day after the attack on the building behind the school one priest went missing what a story… I remember the attempt to kill Arafat i had a birdseye view saw every detail from my perch… The Hawker Hunters attacking Palestinians on a beautiful morning… well not for the Palestinians… The day 115,000 Palestinians lost their lives (3rd and final day) I saw it all as our friends partied and tried to pretend it wasnt happening. I just thought… has there ever been a 3 day period that bad but then i remember an indonesian working for my dad telling me that before we got there Suharto killed 3 million in 3 days and that the canals were full of bodies that they just let go out to sea… and they were red with blood… whew glad i missed that one but “The Year of Living Dangerously” Is about it and I stayed in the Borabdour Hotel. Anyway I digress and were talking about Lebanon… there were too many to list here but here’s one ill never forget.
There was all out civil war below us in Haddath, Hazmieh and those suburbs one night. As it got dark the fighting flared up around the Gondour Factory which we had a clear view of from the Kitchen window of our Apartment. Tracers were flying everywhere. My mom and dad said they were going in to watch TV and i should stand to the side of the window incase a stray bullet were to hit it. They caught the factory on fire and later i heard there were huge barrels of Lard for making chocolate and candy and what i saw was well… it was like someone would light a match every few seconds right infront of your eyes in the dark and i could see my shadow on the wall behind me and the kitchen would light up like it was sunrise and this went on for at least a half hour untill the factory looked like a volcano erupting the middle of the blackness only accompanied ty a few lights and the explosions and tracers that were going on all around it… Then i saw a strangely terrifying sight… it looked like 2 sparklers and they were headed up twards Baabda….I ran to the doorway and shouted down the hall way “I think somethings comming up from the Palestinian Camps” and about that time the wickedest sound ive ever heard went over the Apartment building… it was the sound of a Katushka Rocket… they start to spin end over end as they get twards the end of their trajectory and they make this whizzing whisteling sound that will chill you to the bone and then a thud…. After about 5 of these the guy who owned our building and maybe some others started exchanging gunfire with the muslims in the valley below us.Then there was a lot of yelling and i thought i could even hear Mr. Salem down the street yelling back and forth to the Christians and the Muslims and then they stopped. I dragged my mattresses out in the hallway to get away from the side of the building where the rockets continued to rain down one hitting right below our balcony in our buildings garden. These rockets were masters at killing people they exploded into tiny shrapnel.. I saw a tree it hit next to the next morning over behind the Salems and it had thousands of little holes in it. It would have been a horrible way to die. About a week before the attack the Nasarites had been in the muslim area right below our building… they had convinced the muslims that the christians were going to take them out they even had a date… it was all to get them fighting that night… One morning a week or so before the attack i woke up and was on the front balcony and i saw one guy carrying an AK47 and at least one hole with sandbags all around it… I think it had a mortar in it. That night according to the Daily Star (and the had a picture of the abandoned car. The Nasarites had attatched a Katooshka Rocket launcher to the roof of a mercedes and they were the same ones who were scaring the muslims and they tried to hit both sides that night in an attempt to start something. Something to think about when you consider the complexity of the war…. that is my most vivid memory.
As far as School the most vivid memories are again too many to put on here… but off the top of my head I remember Mr. Miller taking us to a place near AUB to watch “Great Expectations” and “:Animal Farm”. Maybe Netnapit or some of the older kids or the italians will remember playing marbles and the marble arcade that developed over by the big barn at the end of the soccer field… whew thats an old memory and i had to dig for it. Going to see “Father Son and Sister Moon” and the people who ran the cinema saying theyd never seen the whole crowd sit though the credits before., an easter egg hunt… sledding…My freind Marc getting hit in the head with a chunck of cement, a play we had in the halway at night, the play ground, the store, the front steps waiting to get picked up and trying not to get caught smoking by father Lahey who all he had to do was show up… hahahaha he wouldnt even tell us we knew and the cigarettes would magicly disssapear…hmmmm so many, I especially remember Father Lahey franticly turning away cars from infront of the building… recess, Lunch, Mr. and Mrs. Miller… class… I guess that memory of Simon and Michelle is one of the most vivid or me beating the tar out of James but lets not make me tell that story again.
I could go on forever about my memories of Beirut… Hamra, abc toys, Wendys burgers, Condas just down and across from it and later the fantastic showroom down by the British Bank. AUB, Pigeon Rock, St George, the sports club, the stadium… you name it i saw it; I really got around for a kid. I went everywhere around lebanon but we never actually went to the other cities like Sidon and Tyre and another big one i cant remember.. ill post pics eventually. Heres a vivid memory some lebanese guys doing flying kicks in the lobby of the movie theater next to that shwarma joiint that was allways cooking… having just seen “the big Boss” lol.. The really swank theater on the other side of hamra with the piano player who would come out of the floor… The Phoenecia… where i saw Nadya Jamal ??sp??.St Michelle Beach like a million times… the waves the tar lol the little island. Doris and Essams apt next to the Carlton Hotel and we lived just up the hill in 68-69. The School bus just for that year.About the only thing on TV that year was ?? Rupert the Bear?? i think.. much better second time around with Green Acers in Arabic lol… Its funny but during the war the actually went on the aie a lot more. I guess with everyone having to stay inside most of the time. Camp Fares… all the ruins especially Baalbek but that was best the time i hiked there with Jason Guinn and our whole tent all the way over Faraya and down into the valley.. quite a hike for a bunc of rug rats… And we didnt just hike we took the ancient broken Roman Road through the wilderness of the Metn… starting from camp at Rasl Metn.
Less than an hour to Faraya… hmmmm more like 2. It was a half hour just to Baabda…unless a jeep full of men in fatigues and black ski masks was behind you one bouncing up an down straped to a .50 cal…then you could do it in about 25 minutes lol… I dont know mayber on the Damascus highway with no traffic you could do it.
Anyone remember the games i brought to school in the 5th grade?? Shark where one person was in the middle and had to catch the people running across then as more and more people got caught there would just be a few or even one with the whole school trying to stop him/here from making it to the other side… Four Square?? it didnt really catch on but you hit a ball with the side of your hand like hand ball with a big pink rubber ball and it was like tennis without a net. And finally my favorite and with the most unpolitically correct name every “smear the queer” a simple game where every one went after the one with the ball and when theyd catch them they clobber em lol and dog pile them till the relinquished the ball…hahhahah what fun. Only minor injuries lol. You know Netmapit i taught you that flip off the monkey bars… i really do remember you now and thats where from. In fifth grade in San Jose California I figured out how to do a 360 ie go all the way around and come back up sitting on the bar and then i managed to turn it into a dismound where you did a flip just before comming down on your feet… well i was all the rage on the monkey bars in Beirut when i came back lol and i remember showing a lot of people how and lots of people managing to do it. Do you remember us jumping off higher and higher things untill the coup was to jump off the little building with the bathrooms in it??… lol talk about the bottom of your feet hurting.
Wow Enid Blyton theres a name i remember even though i dont know from what. Sorry im reading Netnapits 3 minute as im filling this one out… Does anyone remember the Millers comming back from summer in Greece in the Agean and a archological dig??? the story about the beautiful chamber you could only get to under water and then teaching us about some great battle in the Agean and some amazing trick one commander did to defeat the other fleet… the story of the Pursians attacking too i think. By the way Netnapit have you seen our 5th grade pic?
2. How do you think that the years of school in Beirut have influenced your later life?
Id have to say i never would have become and activist for the Palestinian Cause if I handnt seen what i saw in beirut… I am part of a network of online communities that does all kinds of things. When you hear about an american girl being run down and crushed to death by an isreali bulldozer or an english? guy taking a bullet in the head in gaza those people meet and get interested through a web site. Many have more intimiate connection to the Palestinians. I have many friends on all sides of the conflict of course and many i have dumped because they didnt have the sense to be adult about it.I remember in Hunter College my best friend Asad the Syrian Ambassador to the UN pitching a fit in the basement where we all hung out standing behind David another friend pointing at him and mouthing hes a jew hes a jew… that was it for Asad…I just cant tollerate the hate that fuels the killing and who ends up doing all the dieing??? yup the same people who are filled with hate. The war never ended. Its just a truce and unless the muslims find a way to accept the christians i dont see a future for christians in lebanon…More and more of them send their children overseas and eventually move away from Lebanon. As an american i almost feel guilty for my country making them feel like theyd get our support from time to time only to find out that we never had the will in the first place. I would have stayed there and fought the next year… you wouldnt have had a choice the few who stayed who didnt join up were beaten or exercized and condemned… and feared for their lives from their christian lebanese friends. I was allready running around before i left with Ricky and Rummy Numaan and i would have joined one of their militias at 13? 14? What a childhood that would have been… defenders of the Ceders or who knows??? Tonys Tigers or the Phalangists? wow i dont think my parents would have let that happen even if for some strange reason wed stayed. I was an expert shot already and my friends the salem had trained me in Kiu Koo Shin Chi basicly Tae Kwan Do… I could load my pelet rifle and hit a target without using the sights at 30 feet or so…so i was training and i didnt even know it.So now im a gun nut and a survivalists..no not like that but i remember shortly after beirut being very interested in a book all about surviving nuclear wars etc… how you could cover your tub with tin foil and make a foil top so when the blast went off you wouldnt get irradiated…. how to make a suit to go outside, how to find safe water… lol i think id rather just die in the blast… I can remember those air raid sirens that would allways go off at school and how amazed the teachers were at how quickly we would all get under our desks… and i can remember the same drills in the US for Nuclear attacks and we would say the whole thing but we changed the end to “put your head between your legs and kiss your ass good bye” lol kids have a morbid sense of humor. Anyone remember any of the jokes we used to tell??? Did we have Elephant Jokes??? I guess all in all i would say Beirut made me paranoid. Its been centeral to my pursuit to find out and cure what it is in people that leads to situations like this and i have to say the main cause is poverty and dispair.
3. Whom did you stay in touch with over the years?
I have to tell you i suspect all of the americans over there at that time were contacted by people in the security aparatus and i think all the american parents kind of dreamed of being like that spy kids movie that i never watched… sorry Malcomb… Our friends that Doris and Essam brought over there in 71 just before us were the Jan and Sherry Jones and Marc their son was in your class Netnapit in 4th and most of 5th… maybe 3rd. I just got off the phone with him this morning and he said hed call me back but hes at work…. you know i take that back he was there in 2nd grade too because he was over at my house constantly. He is american and he was a crazy kid… nothing but trouble and he couldnt stop saying “ya know… ya know…” He ended up in Kuwait a auto loading hand grenade gunner on a boat that would patrol up the rivers into Iraq. He did a lot of training for being behind enemy lines but i dont think he ever put it into use. Hes a typical ignorant american and i dont even bother talking to him about stuff because it just goes in one ear and out the other but fate has it hes my oldest friend from Beirut. I even lived with him for a long time. Poor guy he never really fit in but his parents did the best they could. He was allways short… but he managed to become a winner in the Golden Gloves Club (boxing when he was in the Navy) so he did all right.. he got completely screwed over by a Philipino girl who just used him to get her and her whole family citizenship and I told him to go get him another one and this time dont let her have citizenship till shes pregnant… well He and Nuna have been married for 15 years or so now and have a handsome young son Named Christopher who is completely normal despite his dad… lol just kidding Marc.Last i heard Nicky and Tanya were both in England Marc knows where Tanya is ill ask him and thats it as far as Salesian is concerned i guess.. most of the people im sure i know where they are are friends of the family. Many of which like the Salems i picked up just running around. You know how kid are they mingle lol wow i miss that. I still do it too… i get out and run around and meet people on the streets of my community. If Berit is the kid who loved TRex i used to go over to his house… you know Netnapit you really need to track these people down and get them on here and on the facebook sight… theyd probably have pics and certainly memories that would help a lot.
6. Are you interested in taking part in future reunions of ex-students?
Id love to anyone got $3500 they can lend me for a round trip ticket and expenses ahhahahahha… naw my countries a mess and going throught the greatest change throwing off the ones who throw the yoke of imperialism Netnapit can tell you about her home country if she dares… i doubt it though she hopes to go back to Thailand to retire.
7. What do you think of this website and how can we improve it?
Its really great being able to remember all kinds of things… i think reviving an old memory or getting a new one that comes from someone who remembers is like a drug… it stimultes the old synapses and releases endo morphins… it just makes you feel good. I have no idea if im a member of the anglo american section site or not or how to post this. I think i saw something about it in a post about emailing Francois or something and hed get you set up??? all things in their oun time…