To the Editors of MainGate
the Milk Bar
I read with great interest the article on the Milk Bar in the Spring
2003 issue of MainGate. As far as I and my contemporaries—students
who attended AUB in the 1940s and 1950s—are concerned, the
Milk Bar was originally in West Hall in a room near the side entrance
of West Hall facing Ada Dodge Hall. It was a popular haunt where
students could have a sandwich, a coffee, or refreshment served
by the popular Edward, a pleasant gentleman who later opened his
own “Milk Bar” on Jeanne D’Arc Street. I think
the Milk Bar must have moved to Ada Dodge Hall in the 1960s or 1970s.
This is just to complete the story of the Milk Bar, which is fondly
remembered by many of us.
Jacob Thaddeus (MD ‘50)
The Spring 2003 issue Susanne Lane
gave a comprehensive explanation of what a milk bar was, or still
is, in England in her article “Remembering the Milk Bar.”
Thank you for the explanation. But the question is: What was the
Milk Bar at AUB?
The Americans who founded AUB brought with them, not only education
in the fields of the humanities and sciences, but also some American
customs, such as the Soda Fountain.
Now at AUB, the soft drinks served at the Milk Bar were not the
present day Pepsi, 7-Up, Fanta, or what have you, but a measure
of syrup in your favorite flavor served in a tall glass filled with
carbonated soda water—thus the name soda fountain. In the
September 1992 AUB Bulletin I wrote an article, “What’s
in a Name?” describing what the soda fountain was and how
the name disappeared.
As an undergraduate at AUB during World War II, I used to meet with
my friends at the Soda Fountain in West Hall. It was either in 1943
or in 1944 that the British YMCA asked AUB to allow them the use
of certain parts of campus during summer break as a recreational
area for British forces. So while putting up signs on locations,
they placed a sign reading “Milk Bar” over the entrance
of the Soda Fountain. In the late 1950s when the remodeling of West
Hall and Ada Dodge Hall took place, the Milk Bar, as it was then
known, was moved over to a space adjoining the cafeteria and was
named the Coffee Shoppe. It seems no one cared about the change
of name, in spite of the fact that a brass plate bearing the name
Coffee Shoppe was placed on the railing at the top of the steps
leading to the entrance. However, when the leaves on the trees grew
dense and the sign became more covered—it was good-bye Coffee
So now, the story of what’s in a name continues. When College
Hall was bombed in 1991 there was no better place than Ada Dodge
Hall to move some offices to. So the transition of names went as
follow: Soda Fountain to Milk Bar to Coffee Shoppe to Comptroller’s
End of Mystery. Frankly, we preferred the name Soda Fountain.
Nabeel G. Ashkar (BBA ‘45)
I very much enjoyed reading the last issue of MainGate. Excellence
at AUB has clearly been extended to the publication of an excellent
journal, which includes AUB and alumni news and interesting articles,
such as “Remembering the Milk Bar.” I hope future issues
will highlight the research conducted at AUB. Keep up the good work.
Abdur-Rahman Saghir, PhD (BS ‘57,
Former Faculty 1964–1987
I received the Spring 2003 issue of MainGate and was very pleased
with the great news that was reported. I was particularly impressed
with AUB’s efforts to improve research in various fields.
Congratulations on a job very well done!
Bilal R. Kaafarani, PhD (BS ‘97)
The “New” West Hall
It was with great chagrin that I read your article on West Hall
in MainGate, vol. 1 no. 3. I am the son of the late Professor Arkadie
Kouguell who founded the Institute of Music housed in West Hall,
where I practically lived. The Institute gained an international
reputation and my father was instrumental in bringing world famous
artists, such as Arthur Rubinstein. I have in my possession the
Institute’s archives and I am sure you have documents in your
archives as well. I was amused to read about the grand piano, which
was a gift from my father and made by the Pleyel factory.
Having given 25 years of his life to AUB and having given numerous
scholarships to Lebanese students, I am not ready to dismiss your
article as an oversight of his contribution to Middle Eastern culture.
A good deal has been written about him in the well-known books by
Stephen B. L. Penrose, Jr. and Bayard Dodge. AUB, I trust you will
find a need to rectify that omission.
Exeter, New Hampshire
Arkadie Kouguell was indeed one of the great “builders”
of West Hall, making it the cultural focal point of the campus during
the first half of the nineteenth century. The University is honored
to have been fortunate enough to have become the beneficiary of
his talent, commitment, and generosity. We regret not having had
space in the article to mention Professor Kouguell and all the former
faculty and staff who made West Hall the heart of AUB.
MainGate is a lively, colorful magazine, with many interesting articles.
My only complaint is that the Classnotes section is so thin. Only
two people from the 1960s?! One from the 1970s?! My high school
alumni magazine has more than that from each year. I rarely see
anything about the many people I knew in the late 1960s. Do you
have an agent for each class, responsible for finding classmates
and procuring their news?
Richard Bevis (Faculty 1965–70)
No, we don’t have agents. Are you volunteering?
The Cat’s Meow
I am writing to congratulate you on MainGate. It embodies excellence
through and through, from conception to design. It effectively meets
its objective: bringing AUB to its community, and vice versa, every
season. It gives me yet another reason to be proud of being an AUB
I am also writing to congratulate you for having the conscientiousness
and courage to feature in the Spring 2003 issue the news story,
“The Cat’s Meow.” By choosing to investigate and
cover the developments regarding the campus cat community, MainGate
has chosen to raise awareness on an issue very much related to human
welfare and animal rights. In this regard, the AUB administration
has demonstrated the highest understanding and support. After all,
that’s what real education is all about.
Friend of the AUB Alumni Welfare Club and editor
of Cedar Wings magazine of Middle East Airlines
A Greater Understanding
A cursory glance at MainGate elicited an encouraging sigh of relief
here at Oxford University where Arabic studies have yet to mature
as a discipline demanding serious respect. I was impressed reading
about AUB’s efforts to develop and imbibe the culture of tolerance
in these times of turmoil and oppositional politics.
I cannot but be deeply impressed with the scale of scholarship offered
by AUB Professor Tarif Khalidi, most recently with the publication
of his enthralling book, The Muslim Jesus, which I believe should
receive an award of the highest recognition, as it stands clearly
as the font and fruit of Arab erudition in our times. Please convey
my message to Dr. Khalidi, who I understand has taken the decision
to return to AUB. His return to Beirut evokes, in unmistakable fashion,
the profound, critical, and deeply insightful nature of Arabic erudition
and learning, Christian and Muslim. By focusing on the traditional
Islamic concepts of the “other” one begins to close
the gap between “us” and “them”. The Western
intellectual tradition gets a peek into a fascinating world of mutual
toleration and love.
spring 2003 issue of MainGate, we regrettably left out some
important information in the profile of AANA Ottawa Chapter
President Bassam Zarkout (“On Communications, Migrations,
and the Importance of AUB,” p. 38). Bassam is happily
married to Mona Zarkout and they have two children, 12-year
old Omar and Marya who is 10.