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To the Editors of MainGate

Remembering 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)
Beirut, LebanonIn

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 Shoppe.

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 Office.

End of Mystery. Frankly, we preferred the name Soda Fountain.

Nabeel G. Ashkar (BBA ‘45)
Beirut, Lebanon


On MainGate

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, MS ‘61)
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)
Atlanta, Georgia

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.

Maurice Kouguell
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.

More Classnotes!

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)
Vancouver, Canada

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 alumni.
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.

Hania Jurdak
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.

Nadeem Ahmed
Oxford, England


alumni profile


In the 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.