Memories            Memories 2                       Art & Poetry                              Nora's Corner      

Click on any of the underlined topics to see the complete posting on this web page.  

Class of 1935-1936   -  SSS (Shweir Secondary School) 
George Moujaes and Anwar remember a trip to San Francisco
Good days to Remeber - Nabil, Riad, Habib, Walid, Poem & Volley Ball at SSS
A touching Message from Bernard Yousef Baaklini about Missing Family & Homeland  
1961 Photo of Riad Khneisser, Nabil & Elias Matar making Clean Environment  
Class of 1962 in Summer of 2001 
  and plan for 40 years re-union of summer of 2002  
SSS Grads of ____?     
1922 Shweir Group Photo of "Zahrat Al Adab" 
Emails between two Shweiries bil Mahjar: Nabil Matar & Antoine Halabi      
A Tribute to Mother, Nagibeh Sawaya
, by Rosalie Sawaya    
SSS 1950's, Those were the days my friend, Mar Elias & Mar Yohanna,
  Courtesy of Mounir Moujaes
Hello after 46 years!!! from Ramzi Germanos
SSS 1955 Commencement Day
Courtesy of Nabil Matar
Remembering Al Sitt Linda and Istaz Yousef
from emails by Anoine Halabi and Nabil Matar
Remebering Anis Tannous Touma Sawaya
  from a letter by Antoine Rachid Halabi      
Gerios Shehadeh Moujaes photos circa 1905
courtesy of Waleed Moujaes 
The Magnificent 7 in the 60's, courtesy of Mounir Moujais
Shweir, Snow & SSS discussion
by Walid Samaha, al Mukhtaar, Ghassan Zghaib and Dr. Klee
Shweir Secondary School, SSS 1955 Graduating Class         
SSS 1954 Track & Field Day
- Antoine Halabi      
Milia -  A book by Najib Matar 
Matar - Moujaes 1959-1960 
Ain El Assis 1965 courtesy of Walid & Saera
Picnic near Ain el Assis, SSS 52-53 Field Day
Past September by Hilda  
Eid Mar Takla by Hilda  
This time... Long Ago... by Hilda
Wadih Elias by Walid Moujaes

Salim Nassr Khnaisser by Webmaster
The Nafoura by George Matar
Al Saydeh Church by Walid Moujaes
SSS Field Day 1961-1962 by Nabil Matar
Stories from around the fire place by Hilda
El Ghorbeh by Roula Halabi
Al Ghorbeh by George Matar
Al Ghorbeh by Ghassan Zghaib 
SSS Graduating Class 1962 by Nabil Matar
Childhood Memories from Different Generation 
         by Victoria Ghada Salim Moujaes Mapar
Poem by Amin Beder 1942 
Remember SSS while at "Shweir on the Beach 2000" Party 



Salimeh Tabsharani circa 1960 w/ in first picture:  daughters of Nicolas (Abu Dawoud) Shaya Khnaisser, Rose Metaxas, Hazel Daher, Salma, wife of Najib Shaya and perhaps Najla Saadallah Likas


Would the person who sent these pictures via email kindly resend the names to identify the rest of the people... thanks.

Class of 1935-1936   -  SSS (Shweir Secondary School) 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Riad Khunieser"
To: "A. G. Kenicer"
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 4:55 AM

Att. is the picture of one of the classes in Shweir High School for the year 1935-36. Dr. Khalil Halaby (the third in the front row) gave me the picture, which was given to him by his classmate Saleemeh Tebshrany (the third in the back row from right to left). Dr Halaby remembered all the faces and names of his friends. 

Thank you Riad and Dr. Khalil Halaby.  That is a great picture especially that we have the name of all the persons in the picture and the date... if any of our readers have similar pictures, please scan it or ask someone to scan it, save it in JPEG format and email it to us so that it will be preserved in digital for and shared among our town's people...
Thank you...

George Moujaes remember a trip to San Francisco

----- Original Message -----
From: george moujaes
Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2003 2:14 AM

Hi Anwar,   I hope this e mail will go through.  First I would like to thank you for all your efforts along with George to keep this fantastic web site the perfect communication grounds for all the shweirieh worldwide, I know this is no easy task and it takes dedicated people like you that can keep it going, the bottom line is this, anybody who will follow the site will think that you have been in the States for a couple of years, they wouldn't know that you have been there for almost 40 years, and I have the proof. When you came in the summer of 2001,I showed you some pictures that I still have from my visit to you in San Francisco, almost 33 years ago to this month.  I went fro San Luis Obispo and you and your aunt, God bless her soul, were courteous enough to have me for the weekend,  I wanted to send you these pictures some time ago ,but as they say in your part of the world, better late than never. (those pictures were sent by you to your mother, who gave them to my mother and they're still around.  Back to the Community Center, I would like to say that it was a real pleasure preparing the study for this place ,what was even more exiting, is the help that I received from everyone in the team which made it a full comprehensive teamwork study in the real meaning of the word. On the other hand ,again, I want to thank you and George for all your efforts to make this reach all the corners of the world, and tell George that he had not failed Shweir at all , This center will be built and I can assure you it will be a unique place. We'll definitely keep in touch, best regards to your family,

Hello George, Yes, those pictures brought lots of memories... it is amazing how some of them made a full circle and here I am looking at them again so many years later...  though you did not include the picture of you riding in the red convertible on the Golden Gate bridge with your hair.
Thank you for your kind words and it is a pleasure to pool our talents and work as a team on great projects. 
With your talented designs and budget, now I have a better understanding and appreciation for your creative abilities...





This summer the SSS class of 62 celebrated their 40th year high school graduation anniversary. Members of the class came from USA, England, Kuwait, near by Shreen, Kfarselwan and Beirut to celebrate the occasion. One member from Canada Habib Sawaya and wife Afifi were not able to attend due to personnal problem. The members who attended were Riad Khuneiser (Dhour Shweir), Adel Baaklini (Dhour Shweir), Ziad Hatoom (Kfarsilwan), Bechara Merhij  (Beirut) Rafic Saliba (Shreen), Walid Samaha (England), Wajih Sawaya  (Kuwait) and Nabil Matar USA.

I really don’t know how to start describing this fantastic event and how I will end it. All I have to say that it was Fun Fun Fun and it was way above what was expected. So the picture we are going to post in this web site will say it all.

We had four wonderful gathering and I will try to summarize briefly each and every one.

 The first gathering was held August the 8th at the Jwayzi restaurant hosted by Wadad and Nabil Matar with the help of Riad Khneiser and his wife the queen of Tabbouli Loulou. This gathering was meant to be for the families of the classmates to have a chance to get to meet. The location was great, the food prepared by Loulou’s Sister, Loulou’s brother and of course Loulou was outrageous and the companion couldn’t be better than this. For me the high light of this event was having the privilege to meet Walid Samaha’s wife and children for the first time. It was really great.

 The second gathering was very special, It was held August the 10th at our old high school SSS. Rafic Saliba and his wife Pascale were the organizers to this gathering. I said it was so special because it reminded us of our high school good old days. All 8 of us with our spouses attended that branch which was prepared especially for us.

I would like to take this opportunity and thank the director of Ain Al Assis center Mrs. Najla Kassab who made us feel welcome to that great establishment.

 The third gathering which is THE PARTY. It was held August the 11th at Al Sid restaurant. Walid and Kathrine Samaha hosted this great party. Guys I must admit it were the night of all nights.  The setting was great, the food prepared by the owner of the restaurant Mr. George Samaha was some thing out of the world. The Arak couldn’t be better.  Walid Samaha presented each classmate with a special picture of our graduation in a silver frame prepared in England. It was engraved on the frame “Class of 62” and the initial of every classmate. It was so special that it hit the cord of each and every one of us. And to make things more dramatic Riad and Loulou Khuneiser prepared a cake writing on it SSS, 1962, 40 and the name of each classmate. So thank you Walid and Katharine for that memorable night and Thank you Loulou and read for that beautiful cake.

 The four and final gathering was Ziad Hatoom and family special or in other word Abou Wa Im Sultan special. It was held August the 17th and in Ziad's home in Kfarsilwan. Four of the classmates attended the gathering with their spouses. To the classmates who missed this one I have to say my friends you missed a lot. Guys I could have swore that Im Sultan and her daughters work all week lone preparing for that event. I never seen in my life so much variety of foods was made. As for entertainment Ziad's son in lows were some thing else one of them was a processional Zaj’jal  (fashar Zaghlool Al Damour) who fascinated us with his poems and the other is a singer that can play the 3oud very well. Walid, Bechara, Adel and Habib I wish you were able to be there, you really missed some thing fantastic.

 Finally to the class of 62 I will say, Guys I am lucky person to be a member of your class. We really did it this year. I pray to god to keep you and your families in a good health so we can celebrate this event every year. And for you Habib and Afify we wish you will be able to join us next year.

Long live the class of 62, you are the greatest my friends

Pictures Summer 2002 by Nabil Matar  

Good days to Remember

From: "Riad Khunieser"
To: "Walid Samaha" ; "Nabil Matar" ; "Habib Sawaya"

Sent: Monday, September 16, 2002 3:41 AM
Subject: Good days to remember (annex to the reunion)

 Walid, Nabil and Habib,

 I hope you will enjoy looking at yourselves as I did. I don't know if you  have these pictures or not. I tell you that I found it while I was looking  for a photo of the school bell to give it to Mrs. Najla Kassab. Al-Talai3,  was the name of the school journal for 1961.
 Friends, from time to time I feel that I am still in school.  Do you feel  the same?


A touching Message from Bernard Yousef Baaklini about Missing Family & Homeland

 From: Bernard Youssef Baaklini
 Location: Will immigrate to Brazil soon 

 Until when do we all have to suffer??
 Well, it's not so easy for someone to express all his feeling towards his beloved country in few lines. 
HOPE!! HOPE would be the right word l guess. We are all living in HOPE,
 HOPING that one day we could go back and settle down in Lebanon.
 l left my beloved country in 1980, HOPING that my trip wouldn't last so
 long. l took with me a treasure, yes, a treasure full of memories from the past. 
After finishing my studies in the U.K. l thought that the Gulf would be the ideal place to live and work (permanently), so that l can stay close to lebanon. l always HOPED that the situation would change and l could go back
 to live there. 

In 1998, l thought that it's the right time to make a move. l couldn't express the feeling inside me. The HOPE which remained inside me for all those years will become a reality. My heart started beating so fast when the captain of the MEA announced through the speakers, ( Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts, we are starting our descent to Beirut International Airport).
 Many things were going through my mind. My heart was happy, my hands were cold, my mouth was dry, my brain was busy surfing in the narrow roads of Shweir , stopped at (kou3 El Baaklini), looked down to see if (kneesit Mar Elias) is visible (remembering my Grand father story about the dispute which happened while building this church), walked on the concrete stairs between the old houses, stopped for a while under (shajreet el ballout) to relax.
 Finally the plane touched down. My sisters and some cousins were waiting for my arrival. Pulled my luggage out of the exit gate, started looking left and right to locate the second part of my heart in the crowded arrival lounge.  (Bernard, khaye Bernard), screamed a girl from the gathering crowd. l realized that it was the love of my heart, my youngest sister Berna. (Ya
 habibeet albi ya ekhwete) my heart screamed. We all broke into tears, none stop kisses & hugs.We will not let you leave us for one day anymore, we will all die in Lebanon, (my middle sister Berth said).
 to be continued in my next visit to Shweir Guestbook.....
----- Original Message -----
From: "Matar, George" <>
To: "Matar, George" <>
Cc: "'anwar@'" <>; "'Baaklini Suheil'" <>
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2002 5:34 AM
Subject: RE: Shweir Guestbook message

Azizi Bernard
What a nice letter, you have expressed the feelings of many of us that has  been in the same boat, the emotions, the dreams the tingling feelings you described as you were approaching the airport belong to all of us.  Now I am curious to see the next part of your letter, it looks you are heading to Brazil and possibly out of frustrations, economy isn't it?  Or is it the political situation?  Possibly both.  I guess you will be joining our ranks here in the Mahjar.
 I am going to copy and paste you message on the bulletin board because I feel many people would want to answer you, or communicate with you on this, so check it out there
But regardless of where your are or where you are going to be, we are so glad you joined us on your hometown web page and Ahlan wa sahlan to our growing family
 George Matar


1961-62 Photo of Nabil & Elias Matar and Riad Khneisser making Clean Environment

-----Original Message-----
From: Matar, Nabil []
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2002 6:28 AM
To: 'Kenicer, Anwar'; 'Matar, George'; 'Mattar, Elias D.'
Cc: 'Khunieser Riad'
Subject: Environment

Riad, Thank you my friend for this fantastic picture of you Elias Mattar and I.  Anwar and George, This picture was taking in  1961 or 1962, we established a society we call it Al Rabitah, we did many activities which include installing waste baskets all over Dhour Shweir to keep our town clean, we Invited The famous poets Mr.Saeed Akl to give a lecture at Roxy theater, we Joined the Rahbany group in the first Eid Al Mughtaribeen and many activities. This picture for Elias Matar, Riad and I pushing a diesel wheel barrel and going  to every house in Dhour to disinfect their bath rooms.  Elias, I bet you get the kick out of this picture,

Nabil E. Matar


Class of 1962 - in Summer of 2001   calss of 62_2.jpg (29489 bytes)   class of 62 _1.jpg (40070 bytes)  

Author Topic:   Why I love that Class of 62?
George Matar
posted 02-07-2002 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for George Matar     Edit/Delete Message Reply w/Quote
They never seem to take my emails for granted, they always respond to what ever I write. Yes it kind of make me feel, what I am doing is worthwhile. I don't mind saying they are on top of my favorite Shweirieh.

I sent an email announcing their 40th anniversary reunion this coming summer. They all responded, I would like to share one of their messages. Walid Samaha's email tells it all.

Dear George,
Subj. Class of ' 62.

I must thank you for you comments re the above subject.

I know I speak for everyone when I say that the camaraderie felt, and displayed, by all members of the class of ' 62 stems from the fact that at school we
as individuals, were collectively close to one another.
Although we do not all hail from Shweir, never were the "non Shweiries" made to feel anything less than an integral part of this community. We became Shweiries in spirit, so to speak. We left with very fond memories of our time at SSS.
We were not cliquey, we all had other friends, but we felt very much at home when we were together, we laughed a lot and worked "reasonably" hard...!
We did things then that were, to say the least, not de rigueur...I recall the time when the whole class, went up to George Zghaib, the barber, and brother
of our absent friend Na3man, and asked him to "shave" our heads one and all; incidentally, when we shaved our heads, Rinaldo and David Beckham were not even born, and probably neither were their parents...!!! Early trend setting..?.. I don't think!!
When we presented ourselves 'en-mass' that Monday morning with gleeful faces and shiny scalps, I can still see the look of horror on Omar Yamak's face, the expressionless gaze of Georges Maalouf who was not 'particularly amused', Badi3 Nader wagging his forefinger routine, and Sit Linda's rendition to the tune of "what have done to yourselves ?" .. George Shakour on the other hand was smiling broadly with tacit approval in his eyes.
Of course we were not saints, we were boisterous, and did many things that incurred the wrath of Timothy Maalouf the Headmaster, and other members of the staff, even Sit Linda was known to bestowed on us, every now and again, the odd frown or two...! But, at this stage I would rather keep these in the private domain, lest one of my children happens across this!!
We always helped and encouraged one another in what we did best, there was respect, there was competitiveness but no jealousy, rather rare among fifteen to eighteen year-olds ?
It is said, that one makes his true friends at high school, that undoubtedly was our case...Now forty years later, and scattered as we are all over the globe, we always try to get together, not because it has to be done, but because we want to.
I hope my children will have the chance, in this day and this environment, to make friendships as strong and as long-lasting as I made..It was indeed a privilege.
My writing this, dear George, is not to say that we are unique, because we are not, as I am sure that there are many classes, in many schools who do the same, and as you said " if they don't then they should..", but mainly I appeal here to all our children lest they miss out on this opportunity in the future.

I must at this point acknowledge the outstanding efforts of my friend Nabil Matar, the fulcrum of these reunions. His continual pushing, cajoling, and organising the not so easy time-tables to get most of us together year after year; is a credit to him and a source of joy to all of us.
This summer will be a milestone for the ' 62s. My only hope is this time we will 'all' be there to share in this occasion.
The roll-call could be as follows :
...Adel Ba'aklini, Riad Eid, Ziad Hatoum, Nabil Matar, Bishara Mirhej, Rafic Saliba, Habib Sawaya, Wajih Touma Sawaya, and myself.
I look forward with delight to seeing Habib and Afifi Sawaya after such a long time.

In years past, we were joined by other friends, not from the ' 62 crowd, we were happy they joined us, I hope they enjoyed their evening as much as we enjoyed having them share the occasion with us, and we look forward to this opportunity again; I name you and Janice, Hafez Khairallah and his lovely wife.

On a personal note, it would make my day if my dear friend Henry Sawaya, whom I have not seen since high school, would be able to take that "short" trip
from the Philippines to be with us, I know this is a "tall" order, but I can promise him a round of golf for his efforts, and perhaps a smidgen or two of good wine...!
Henry, If you think this is a bribe, God forbid,.. it jolly well is...!

I look forward to this summer with a lot of cheer..!

Best personal regards,

This my fellow Shwierieh is as Classy as it gets



SSS Grads of ____?

Many thanks to George Mkhail Naoum Sawaya for providing us with this copy of a photo

Sorry for the poor quality image, this is a Xerox copy of a picture  

Top row-Certificate graduates 
1.  Joseph Hanna Baaklini        2.  George Mkhayel Naoum Sawaya       3.  Salah Daw (Zaroun)
4.      Khatar Toufic Kurban    5.   Soumaya Sabeh Samaha      6. Najib Elias (Abu Najm) Matar 
7.       Nuhad Jamil Yared       8.   Munira Sa'id Al-Halabi     9.  Nawal Tannous Touma Sawaya
10.   Akram Daw (Zaroun)     11.                                        12.  Nawal Anis Harik  
13.     Layla Yousef Abu-Ne"me Sawaya                             14                   

Middle row-High School graduates 

15.  Jamil As'ad Katul    16. Joseph Sulayman Khayralla   17.  Sami Yousef Abu-Ne'me Sawaya

18. Munir Said Al-Halabi   19.                                          20.  Naim Najib Khneisscr

21.                                    22.       Bert Ji@i Matar     23-       (.... ?) Jumayel (jumail) (Mmlaya) 24.   George Anis Harik     

Seated row- Teachers

1 .                                     2.                                         3.    Mr. Yousef Bu-Rizk Sawaya
4.     Mr. (..?) Daghilian     5.       Mr, ?) Worknian      6.                                               
7.       Mr. Afif Kassis        8.         Mr. Doniinco Khouri Mujae's


1922 "Zahrat Al Adab" Shweir Group Photo of  

This photo is courtesy of Studio Rim.  So far they were able to identify the following: 

So far, they were able to identify the following: 
First Row:  Boy on Right:  Yaacoub Yaacoub
2nd Row:  L to R:  2nd: Istaz Yousef Sawaya,  4th:  Istaz Sabeh Saadallah,  5th:  Istaz Taoufiq Sabeh Ataya
                             6th:  Jamil Yaacoub,  girl on far right:  Yvonne Nassar
3rd Row:  2nd from Right (w/black tie):  Fouad Mishreq,  far Right:  Jamil Toufiq Sawaya
3/4 Row: Far Right behind Jamil: (Boy with pen in pocket):  Amer Moujaes
Back Row:  L to R:  2nd: (w/fez):  Anis Ibrahim Jibrael,  3rd (w/fez):  Jeryes Baaklini, 
                   4th w/fez:  Dominco Moujaes,  2nd from Right:  Adib Houbeika  

Anyone who can identify more in the above picture, please contact 

Excerpts of Emails between two Shweiries bil Mahjar: Nabil Matar & Antoine Halabi:  

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2001 5:20 PM
Subject: Cogratulations / you deserve it and much more..

 How are you my friend? I hope you all are in the best of health and my heartiest congratulation for you [on being the co-Honoree for June 2001.  You have guided] the site to have such a dynamic tasteful spirited and a great sense of humor and genuine and easy narrator with a hold on your readers. I always enjoyed what ever you wrote and had most interest to follow your description of your friends and your adventurous soul in camping. It was great reading your pieces and I hope you keep this engine going. The crazy weather which you recently had down in the Huston area was unbelievable. What did you do with all that rain? I hope all the Matars and theirs and the Shweiryi in the area are safe .

 The party of Shweir on the beach thanks to you guys must have been a great event with all these activities and all those Shweiry assembled in one place  .. thank you all for making such events happen and specially thank  Georgefor all the efforts  with the other members who can still care to make something exciting about or relating to Shweir. 

.I am fine working and missing my family who had been visiting in the middle east for a month now. I had met Joseph Adib Touma Sawaya and for two hours had rebuilt many memorable events concerning his family and mine.. I thank him for coming down from St, Jose to visit with me.Nabile it is finally going to happen and we will see you if that proposal of having the meeting in Ca.  I hope so.. this does not mean you are not welcome till then ..any time just inform me of your coming . this for your information. I will send you a detail report when they come back,, may be then we have some pictures for you till then have fun,..
my regards to Wadad and you all and this mekharshef e-mail mish linnaher, sema9 ya abu ziad.!!!! 

Antoine Halabi, 
Monterey, California

-----Original Message-----
From: Matar, Nabil []
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2001 8:21 AM
To: ''; 'Kenicer, Anwar'
Subject: RE: Cogratulations / you deserve it and much more..

Dear Antoine,
I am so glad to hear from you my friend and thanks for the complement . To hear a complement from the Master of writing my wring must be good.
Sho budy Khabrak Ya Abou Rashid, I just came back from Chicago on a business trip to hear that Wadad's Father had passed away, he was 92 years old and died very peacefully. Any way my friend, five more weeks and we will be heading to Lebanon, I hope you could join us.

Have a nice weekend. 

Nabil Matar 
Houston, Texas



A Tribute to Mother

On the occasion of the upcoming Mother's day, I would like to acknowledge my Mother:  Nagibeh Sawaya

Each day in our life is mother's day, that lovely creature Lord gave us, who brought us to life. I remember my mother NAGIBEH SAWAYA who went away three years ago. All the moments in her life she was laughing and making all people around her  laugh too.  

My mother taught us to be honest, kind, loving. And we are grateful to examples that she and my father left us.

Her spirit continues among us, blessing all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren around the word.   

Rosalie Sawaya
Sao Paolo, Brazil
March 18, 2001

I have mentioned on the Bulletin Board about displaying items of cultural heritage and encouraging the redevelopment ofDK_w-chain.JPG (24089 bytes) craftsmanship. Attached is a scan of my great grandfather's 19th century watch chain from Lebanon, possibly even from Shweir. It belonged to Amin Abou Taameh and has been handed down, generation after generation to me. It has silver-plated metal links, and the green stones are decorated with a leaf design and channel-set into the post-and-rail links. It would have been made pre-1890. I think others would be interested to see it.  

Thank you Dr. Klee


Those were the days my friend... 
"... picture will bring warmth to your soul
 if we can just walk the walks of the old days ... at SSS"  

Courtesy of Mounir Moujaes 

MM 10.JPG (42744 bytes)  
Mounir Moujais & Georges Jamil Moujais during scouting days. 
MM 11.JPG (91292 bytes)  
1950's - - *  
MM 12.JPG (24325 bytes) 
Palm Sunday
behind Atef Kenicer 
is Milad  Moujais.
MM 14.JPG (41797 bytes) 

Mar Yohanna 

MM Mar Elias low clouds.JPG (69468 bytes) 

Mar Elais


*  Center is Shahadi Moujais to his left is Jabber Sawaya( he is now Dr. Sawaya) next to him Hiam Naser. to his right, in the front is now Dr Fouad Harik (in Vienna Austria I have visited with him there). On his left in the front is Noha Naser Married ti Fedlalla Naser. Behind her is Miss Sawaya's brother I can not remember his name. I do remember miss Sawaya very well do you all?

Hello after 46 years!!! from Ramzi Germanos

----- Original Message -----

From: R Germanos
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2001 1:28 PM
Subject: Hello, after 46 years!!

This is Ramzi Germanos
Thank you all for the great website.
Margo Touma Sawaya Khoury (sister of Emiliano Zul-batn, which was the nik-name of Emile Sawaya) told me about a photo showing Sit Linda and M3allem Youssef. (I do have a couple of stories to tell about these great characters). Nabil seems to think that I am the person just above Azizi Jurdak in the picture. He could be right, but I am not sure. Najib Mattar should know. He also thinks that the guy above "me", slightly to the left, is the guy from Zar'oon, who would be Salah Dow, but again I am not sure. The picture is not clear enough.
But I can identify a number of people in two other photos. First, the 1955 graduating class: Lowest line, to the right of Muneera Halabi is Salah Dow. Did you know that the whole Dow clan used to get up before 4:00AM every morning, and the older members would lead the younger kids through an almost 4 hour walk from Zar'oon to the school, in rain or snow? and that they would make the same journey back home at the end of the day? Who would walk that distance every day for an education these days?
Next to Salah is Mr Ibrahim Durr, our physics teacher, who became professor Durr of AUB. Next (above Muneera) is Najib Mattar. next to Najib, between Nawal Touma and Laila Sawaya is a Turkish young man, Sureyya Chelik. Above Leila is Sadek Kurban, Next to Sadek (above Sureyya) is a fellow who name I just cannot remember. Does anyone remember him?
To his right is Michel Khoury (whose favourite mutter was "fiskhak fiskhak"). To his right (between Najib and Mr Durr is Ghaleb Zu3bi, a good athlete from Syria. Next to Ghaleb is a teacher, a real character that I always think about, but I feel very frustrated that I cannot remember his name. He used to direct our plays (drama club), and to help us overcome our stage freight: he use to tell us to imaginne that the heads of the audience in front of us are "rooss batata". Directly above Najib Mattar (top row) is Ni3mat Sabbagh, and to his right, holding the High School Diploma in my right hand is me, Ramzi Germanos. Above me and Ni3mat (between us) could be Elias(?) Atiyyeh. I think I recognise his nose.
What has happened to everybody? I know Salah graduated from AUB and started working for a company in Beirut; then I lost track. Sadek worked in various schools... Leila graduated from the Nursing dept of AUB. Azizhe got her PhD in the states, then got married... Munira bacame a grandmother. Nuhad married Tony Kherrat. I worked for Shweifat school, and I am still working there, trying to run eight schools in the Arabian gulf.
In the picture entitled High and Elementary School graduates you can see Sadek Kurban Just above Hayat, then Salah Dow, then Azizeh Jurdak and Ghaleb Zu3bi. Next to Ghaleb is Nuhad Yared, Leila Sawaya, Nawal Touma, Sureyya Chelik and then our physics teacher, Mr Ibrahim Ad-Durr, who late became Proffessor Ibrahim Ad-Durr, Head of the Biochemistry dept. at AUB.
So what are we going to do about our school? who has suggestions? I told Fawzi Imad that I had crazy ideas about what we can do (and I still  do). Let me hear from you all what you have in mind before I let you know what I think.
My warmest regards to you who have created and contributed to the site, and to all those I recogize (and do not recognise) in the photos


SSS 1955 Commencement Day Courtesy of Nabil Matar

High and Elementary School graduate

 Elementary student from left to right (front row: Piere Touma Sawaya, Anwar Khoury Sawaya, Emile Bou Risk Sawaya , Ibramin Saway , Teacher . Second row: Adel Mirhej, Shafic Bou Khayer , I don’t know,  Da’ad Sawaya  and the cute girl  at the end Hayat Yared. 

I recognize some of the High school student.  from right to left: Sadek Kurban, and the two men in the back Najib Matar and Ni’amat Sobbagh   


NM 12 B4 Cedar w-horn.JPG (64930 bytes)from left to right front: Emil Shalhoub, Najib Matar, Na’eem Khoury Sawaya , a board student

Behind from left to right: ghussan I forgot , Adel Khniser ( suheil uncle), Antoine Halabi, Sami Hawi, the guy with the horn and the two behind I could not recognize and the one to the right is Emil Touma Sawaya ( the brother of Rosali from Brazil




from left to right: 
Najib Matar, Samir Kiame, Shikrallah Hawi, dawood Baroodi , George Kiami and Na’em khoury Sawaya ,. 

Second Row , far left Emil Eid , , the school principle Daghilian, I don’t know his name behind them Shahadi Moujaes and way in the back  Al Suhr Salim Moujaes



Remebering Al Sitt Linda

-----Original Message----- 
From: [
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2001 11:01 PM  
Subject: Track/What a picture ! Where from? 

Dear Nabil, Abu Ziad, thank you again my friend for these precious memories.  As you put it Mr. Track still does a daily dosage of few miles along the pine hills of Monterey and every time I am up there I walk the road of our beloved Shweir and trace every incident along those roads. You cannot do without Shweir in your system. Our natural realm is in every make up and you dig up those pictures from your lore of treasures ! How do you do that?

My friend I came across what you wrote about Sit Linda, and other teachers and I believe Sit Linda in core was an anchor to everyone of us who luckily had come in her path, I remember she was my Godmother and that meant extra dues and responsibilities I had to carry to qualify to the high standards she set for us.God rest her soul in peace now she ripples a smile from afar as we express our thanks to all what she did for us and for our SSS.My friend greetings for you and for Wadad and yours may the Lord bless you and keep you in good spirits. Extend my best for all the Matars .

P.S. I heard from Salim Bu Shibl thanks to you my friend. I am installing a new Arabic program for my computer but we are facing some technical difficulties.. soon I hope we will be able to send you some of our work in Arabic Till then.


Copy of an email sent by Nabil Matar on March 8, 2001

Dear Antoine,

You can't imagine how glad I am to connect with you after all these years and to read your massages with envy. My friend your stile of writing was and still always fascinate me. What you said about Sit Linda is the feeling of every student who pass through our SSS during its golden era. So I would like to ask you for a favor. In this massage I am sending you a picture of Sit Linda and Istaz Yousef surrounded by students. On behalf of all us the family would appreciated very much if you could attached to this picture an article in the memory of these two great Shweirieh that have a major impact of the success of many Shweirieh who as you phrase it: "were anchors to everyone of us who luckily had come in their path"

Washukran Salafun Ya uhsan Saheb.  


Front Row L > R:  Azizi Jrdak, Sit Linda, Monira Halabi, Nohad Yared 
Second Row left to right Ramzi Jirmanous, Najib Matar, Nawal Touma  
In the back  I think he is a guy from Za'aro’on  and Istaz Yousef  Sawaya




"I am a very proud man to attempt a task of such veneration to the two great educators who played a remarkable role in my education at Shweir Secondary School, SSS. How do I remember them?"  By Antoine Halabi

A Tribute to Sit Linda

Sit Linda and the poet of the green heights Mr. Yousef Sawaya. A picture at a computer screen brought it all back with a fresh perspective at the luck we had back then. Sit Linda was my godmother, teacher, embodiment of school rules and regulations and the orderly manner of what is in decorum everywhere in mobile form. It even felt like principal ship abounds in her present. For a growing up this is awesome thing to experience, but she never failed to dress that with a smile that rippled on her face to her eyes. Sit Linda was larger than herself and for sure you were made to feel it. She was the eye of your family and the conscience of your society; she was determined to lead us to live to higher standards of performance as students, and better citizens of our village.    Years passed and I came back to visit my beloved Shweir, and there she was the same, as I knew her.  But I have changed.  I yelled her name out.  Antoine!  She exclaimed but fast I took her hand, kissed it and said thanks.  A tear rolled, a smile wiped out with a hand, time stood, as she did like our cedar tree and Mount Sannine for you and for me.  You were a large provision for me and many who came your way left laden with your experiences made simple in comments made your way.  Sit Linda justice cannot be done your name to me says: Life Inspires New Dawn Ahead.  You gave it all with no dread.  We will never forget every one of us who came in your path.

 A Tribute to Istaz Yousef Sawaya

My great Arabic teacher, Al-Mu3allim Yousef Sawaya “Abu Shawqi” Sha3ir Al Qumam Al Khadraa.  “I have to admit I stand in awe in front of such a poetic gift and a charming personality of our teacher Mr. Yousef Sawaya.  We are all robbed of that great literary heritage which if my memory serves me right accidentally all his literary notebooks of poems and articles and literary criticism got burnt.. Now I know I should have kept my notebooks of high school, in which we were dictated many of his work…my vivid memories of Mr. Yousef is his delivery on the platform.  One incident for so many may have been forgotten.  We had a big Celebration of Almughtarebeen in Shweir’s famous square and dignitaries and officials of the government and ministers were there, and a very curious young man like me hangs close to the platform. There goes Mr. Yousef, stealing the hearts of those on stage and filled square. Waves of applause after waves with every verse and then suddenly it falls in silence awaiting for the following verse. I don’t remember the name of the high official who was fascinated by Abu-Shawki’s poetic skills.. He stood up and said: “ I congratulate the eloquence of the poet, and I do not think you need much help from the ministry of tourism.. You have the best voice. And the best call. ..”

I was a few feet away from all of this and still gives me the feeling of elevation now more than half a century ago. And who can say we were not provided with the best, we the fortunate ones. I thank you all and close by saying with the voice of eloquence from our poetic heights life inspires new dawn ahead, new platform from every morning torn, they both live with glowing memory in all. The Title of the poem was “ The Flag Of The Country.” 

By Antoine Halabi, 
Monterey, California  
March 16, 2001


Remembering Anis Tannous Touma  Sawaya

(Excerpt from a letter sent by Antoine Rachid Halabi to Hilda Sawaya Shurbaji )

Hi, allow me to call you by your first name Hilda, and allow me to share these points with you; when I was growing up, many many years ago, my uncle Nasib Halabi suggested a remedy to my problems with math and it was tutoring sessions with your dad rest  his soul in peace. That was it.. I , Antoine Rachid Halabi , never forgot that. It was in a tree house which he built then for his studying where I was allowed to share his clear cut ways of explaining math and in a child's mind the lions den is always something to remember and a power of anchoring value in his character.  His alerting remark always was Antoine , look at it this way and he explained and I understood. simply that easy. 

I have a great respect to your efforts of writing and involvement with the issues facing our Shweir and your special delivery of stories from our past from around the hearth. I visited ABC and uncle Edmond Halabi your grandfather for it was the  place for everyone to engage in an intelligent sober discussion on many issues.  I remembered that from what you said you were little girl who heard a lot there and I add my little piece to yours.

Keep the great work lady and we thank you for your great work and wish you the best for you and yours. Say hi to mom and the Halabis you come across.  This streak of gold, this site hopefully remains the platform of great exchange.

Recording Shweir's History and preserving its Heritage

-----Original Message----- 
From: Iliya Harik [
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2001 4:33 PM 
Subject: An Idea from Elsa Harik

Dear Mr. Matar--

My husband, Iliya Harik, and I are delighted with your success in reaching Shweiris around the world and encouraging a sense of community centered on the common interest and affection for Shweir.  I'd like to make a strong suggestion, which would take some organization and effort but could produce something of lasting value to many people.  I urge that members of the Shweiri group pool their memories and personal records to make a history of Shweir. It would be based on oral history elicited from older family members, plus letters, essays about the past, possibly some genealogical records, and whatever written history exists. The settlement at Shweir, I'm told, goes back to around the 9th or 10th century. Doubtless there aren't any records for the medieval period, but any evidence of its long life surely justifies the effort of compiling and writing a history about as much of its life as possible.

Personally, not being a Shweiri or even Lebanese myself, I don't feel that I can or should organize and carry out such an effort. But being a writer and a believer in the value of preserving social history, I would be glad to help. For instance, I have written a questionnaire  designed to help people get talking about their pasts and their memories, and would be happy to share this.  The final result, as I envisage it, would be a modestly produced book ("self-publishing" is not terribly expensive) combining history, memories, folklore and customs, family odysseys, etc. etc.

I think it could be fascinating and valuable to anyone connected with Shweir--and could set an example of local histories to be compiled by other communities in Lebanon and their sons/daughters abroad.  It could also have value for scholarly research. As we all know, Lebanon is changing all too rapidly.  With the dying out of the generation born in the first decades of the 20th century--along with the lamentable over-development of the land, which is destroying the physical traces of the past--time is of the essence.

What do you think?


Elsa Harik

PS Iliya left yesterday for Beirut. He'll be there till early July; I'll join him in Lebanon for a couple of weeks in late June, and then we'll go to Italy for three weeks or so before returning home. You can reach him at the Shwayr@cyberia address, and me at the address.


Response by George Matar on March 6, 2001

Hello Elsa

Thank you very much for your valuable input, you are exactly on target and your points are well taken. I love to hear that people are really into what we are doing and are willing to help.

We are in a way doing what you are suggesting via the town's web page, just in case Iliya did not share with you please check it at <> . It is semi organized and getting better. We have and still collecting any articles, stories, pictures, etc.. on the history of the town. We have located a book written in 1922 about the town, we also received articles from Australia (Dr. Klee) about an article written around the mid 19th century by Colonel Churchill about the town, and Many others all located in the "Did you know?" section. Another book, in Arabic, Titled Saif oo Terse that discuss the art of knighthood in the town with some information dated to the 7th century. 

I got to admit, your idea of publishing all that we have sounds very attractive.  With all the information that we have, which we are quite proud of, but we are also very biased on the coordination and quality of it. I would love for you to check it out and give us some direction on the best way we can either display it or publish it.  Please take a little of your time, view it, and give us your honest opinion, it would be very much appreciated.  I possibly will be going to Lebanon around August, so our trips will cross, I am looking forward to meet with you and Iliya one day, he has been an excellent supporter.  Have a nice trip, and trust me, I will remind you of this after you come back

George Matar

Anwar, attached please find two old photos:

 Gerios Shehadeh MoujaesWM Gerios Shehadeh Moujaes Violin.JPG (56528 bytes)

1- The first is for my late grandfather, Gerios Shehadeh Moujaes (on the violin), and another man called Khalil Rachid ( I guess from Touma Sawaya family) on the "oud" 

2- The second picture is for my greatWM Gerios & Shehadeh Moujaes.JPG (51971 bytes) grandfather, Shehadeh Moujaes ( Abou Gerios) 1861-1931, and my grandfather (1896-1972) when he was a kid; taken sometime before 1905. It shows the Lebanese lebbadeh ( hat) and traditional long "sherwal". 

Some stories about Shehadeh:  He was very tall and strong. That's why he was the first Shweiry to hold Shweir flag "albayra'". His brother, Semaan ( known as Semaan Yazbeck), was the first mayor of Shweir, and he was the one who built "Ain al Abo" as it stands now with Youssef Ghosn. 

Late Hanna Saba Halaby told my father a story of a fierce fist fight between Shehadeh and his brothers (8 in total) from one side, and another party ( not known) where they emerged victorious with many casualties on the other side. 

Shehadeh immigrated to the USA in the 1800s via Ellis Island. He visited his brothers in Santa Fe, NM. However, he was not able to stay because he refused not to wear the "sherwal". So, he went back to Shweir and got married in early 1890s. Gerios, my grandfather was born in 1896.

Waleed Moujaes

Thank you Waleed for your great photos, and sharing some valuable information and history of Shweir... Keep it up. Anwar

Magnificent 7

Attached please find a  photo taken in the early sixties in front of the Saidy church during Palm Sunday.  They are the magnificent seven and I think at least more than dozen friends will recognize them, let see if any can.  Regards, Mounir Moujais.  


Have you recognized any of us?  I am carrying Elie Aoun, Ferris Kenicer behind me & Walid Khyralla Showing off.


Topic:   Shweir, Snow & SSS by Walid Samaha

George Matar
posted 02-21-2001 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for George Matar      Reply w/Quote
I posted this message on my Corner but wanted to posted here too. This is a must read, an excellent descriptive mail of the old SSS days triggered by Habib's photo of the Saha in the snow. If the names do not sound familiar, just assign your own it will still fit.
Submitted by Walid Samaha, he was boarding at the Arzi'll get the message... And a Thousand thanks to Walid

Dear George,
I have just arrived from Switzerland two days ago, Tem. -5 C... snow everywhere...
The snow in the Saha was not what stirred my fancy... I had snow coming out of from my .....ears..!!

I remember when at SSS, (a long long time ago...!!), round about Jan or Feb.. I used to wake up in Arzeh.. look towards the tennis court
and see that it had snowed heavily the night before....amassing a 15-25 cm thick very welcomed white powder..!
The road would be completely covered.... Carslow Hall would be dressed in forbidding white... I say "forbidding" and "welcomed".. to prove a point...
I would then turn around to Henry Sawaya and Ziad Hatoum ( we were sharing a room with Shakeeb Shaaya)..and with a big smirk on my face...
I would shout ecstatically... "Well.. it's full of snow lads... let's do some Arithmetic..!!"
You see, at moments like this, our mathematical prowess knew no bounds.....
So... immediately we would commence an elimination procedure that was only known to us.. .. with hope in our souls...
The tally generally went something like this.....
No Physics today....... Torossian.. won't be able to make it from Beirut.... ( Small car... Bald tyres )
No Math today............ Imad Naser... won't make it from Koura... ( Regretfully.. will get stuck above Bikfaya )
No Chemistry today......Zablit... won't make it from Zgharta.......(------ Ditto Above------)
No English today..........George Maalouf... won't come from 3abadieh, Aley,...( He likes his comfort,... won't risk it.. )
If is was a Monday........No Arabic....... Omar Yamak... won't make it from Tripoli... ( Hopefully... won't find a lift..)
We hoped against hope that it snowed so much up in Dhour, that Timothy won't be able to make it either...
Badi3 Nader.. Bless him .... always there... to give the same consistent paternal advice..."Go do some work..".
Sit Linda.... Bless her soul.... she was always wonderful.. with her snow boots.. edging slowly towards Carlow...
So... Great joy..........all is well... no work today...?
Until..... one of the guys, probably Henry, he was always the smart one, would remind us to pray that the snow is not too deep in Shweir...
.....Ergo : Sit Zalfa won't be able to make it...and.. we will all end up without lunch....!!!
So you see George.... Photographs are like smells.... they remind different people of different things....
To me.." Dhour @ 8.00 this morning".... means... NO LUNCH....and Dinner... if snow gets too heavy..
So please don't go romantic on me..... It won't work...I like to go into memory lane, like the next man..... but on a full stomach...!
Be well,

IP: Logged

Nabil E. Matar
posted 02-21-2001 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nabil E. Matar      Reply w/Quote
I wish I knew you were hungry I could have brought you from home 3AROOS DIBS KHURROOB BIKHIBZ MURCOOK .You will be holding it like a saxophone, and dropping Dibs all over the place.
Ya Abou Ziad Jr. in my respond to Habib I was trying to remember the good things. If I wanted to be pessimistic I could remember that rubber boot SHIGHL BIRJ HUMMOOD which has no FRAMAT, every morning I slip hundred times before I get to school. I wish you could have seen the sucks inside. They were soaked with snow and KIL FRDEH SHIKL. My friend I have been all over the continent and I a have to tell you one thing. I WOULD NEVER TRADE THE OLD HAPPY SHWEIR SECONDARY SCHOOL DAYS AND MY WONDERFUL CLASSMATES WITH NOTHING.

Abou Ziad Sr.
IP: Logged

posted 02-21-2001 05:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Klee      Reply w/Quote
This is a great memory! I can imagine how funny and clever the boys must have been. I thought it was so good that I read it to my husband so he could enjoy it too. Thanks for sharing it.

IP: Logged

posted 02-27-2001 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mona      Reply w/Quote
Arzi (w Sanneen). That reminds me of the Field Day at the end of each school year where the entire Dayaah attended the festivities. I remember the marathon run where all the athletes were split into two teams the Arzi Team and the Saneen team. Started the run in Dhour and ended up in SSS panting for breath and some almost fainting. I remember all the preparations, Rafic used to be a big part of it athletically, and we the ladies, then in our pre-teen years, were the folk dancing group. Miss Rayyah will teach us Dabkeh, and our mothers made our pink tafetah costumes. The one thing that bugged me most is that we had to stay inside Sanneen building and I could not see all what was going on, but when it was our time to perform, it was worth it.

I also remember the races they used to have for the elementery kids (myself included) the sac race, and the batatah race where you had to bite onto a spoon and place an egg on it, and run to the finish line without dropping it. I wonder if this tradition is gone?

Anyway, The memory came to my mind when I read Waleed's description of the snow and the Arz Building.

I loved the snow because it meant no school, it also meant my mother was going to cook us "HarrouK Isbaaouh" which is a combination of toasted Markook bread, crumbiled in a pan with Samneh Hamawey, and Dibs, heated, then given to us to eat hot and burn our fingers. It also meant Dips Btalj.

Well Waleed, I am sorry you had to stay hungery all day while we were having a feast.
IP: Logged

posted 02-28-2001 12:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GhassanZghaib      Reply w/Quote
I don't have memories of SSS but I sure have some of winter in Shweir:
1. Kooh harf-Mrad: Every night I would pray so the kooh freezes and the bus doesn't make it to Dhour. Soeur Yvonne would have to call a day off. Unfortunatly, sometimes a few of us, who live next to the school would end up in the classroom PRAYING for the whole day. You can imagine the smile on the faces of those who lived in Dhour.

2. The first day of snow was the day when my friends and I would feel BRAVE: Walk on the snow to dhour and prepare 'manakish' at Rachid's bakery. I have a confession to do here: I used to put olive oil in the phone handset and laugh to death every time the phone rang. You should have seen the look on 'Amm Rachid's face. Forgive me Amm Rachid wherever you are.

3. Winter snow was the occasion for us to dig traps to our 'ennemies'. Unfortunatly most of the times our parents would end up in the traps. WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN DIGGING THE TRAPS NEXT TO OUR 'ENNEMIES' HOME.

One thing I know now is how HOT winter in Shweir was compared to winter here in Montreal. I mean, in Shweir, in winter, you can still take the bus and sit down. We don't have this luxury here in Montreal, THE DAMN PANTS WON'T BEND.
In Shweir, the first snow would give birth to the first Snowman. He would live for a couple of days and then fade away. IN MONTREAL, YOU'LL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE CREEPY CREATURE FOR THE WHOLE WINTER SEASON (4 to 5 months).

IP: Logged

posted 02-28-2001 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Klee      Reply w/Quote
What great fun! What great memories of childhood in Shweir you have! Thanks for sharing them.


Shweir Secondary School, SSS 1955 Graduating Class

Nabil could only name the girls from left to right (Monira Halabi, Nawal Touma, Azizy Jirdak, Nohad Yared and behind Nohad, Leila Saway .  Courtesy of Nabil Matar.  Can someone identify the male side of the picture? 

Shweir Secondary School, (SSS) 1954 track & field day
 (The guy to the right with long sleeve sweet shirt, none other than Mr. Track and field Antoine Halabi) 
Al Mukhtaar asks: Is that Najib standing next to Antoine

Thank you Nabil Matar for sending this photo



Najib Matar's book "Milia" .  

Chapter One:  December.  

It has to be the coldest month of the year, especially in the mountains of Lebanon.  So for a child of seven that lives in the mountains of Lebanon the only happy expectation is looking forward to Christmas.  But for me there was to be so much more.

 I was seven years old when my mother asked me to live with my grandmother Milia.  At first I did not like the idea because I did not want to be away from home, but somehow I sensed my grandmother was to be much more entertaining than my mother, so I went.

 My grandmother lived in a large one-room house.  Attached to the house was a small Kitchen through which the door was found to the outside bathroom and toilet.

 The house itself was constructed with hand-cut limestone walls and reinforced concrete roof.  Dhour Shweir, the town I was born and raised at, one can immediately notice that most houses were built with limestone rocks, mainly due to the fact that limestone is a natural resource in the area, and mining the stone is a primary source of revenue.  The Shweirians are widely known in the area of building these beautiful houses which are made to endure for centuries.

 Dhour Shweir is located in the heart of Lebanon at an altitude of 1250 meters above sea-level.  The old town is found in a central valley surrounded by horse-shoe like hills on the East, South and West.  These hills are densely covered with pines, oaks, and where water can be found, willows, cypress and poplar trees.  These hills always look lush and green, summer and winter.  In total contrast are the mountains of Lebanon, where the heavy cultivation of the forests led to extensive soil erosion.  Eventually a large portion of the mountains were left sadly barren, leaving behind only those layers of limestone rock.  As  a result the late 1800’s found the Shweirians turning to the arts of masonry.

 Dhour Shweir is located about 27 km East of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.  In that relatively short distance, you emerge from tropical surrounding at the shores of the Mediterranean into a sub-tropical climate in the mountains, where in the winter one can expect as much as a meter of snow to cover the entire area.

 It was this bitter winter climate that caused my mother’s concern for her own mother, and one of the reasons she had for asking me to stay with my grandmother.

 In my grandmother’s house the furnishings were sparse.  They consisted of two beds, a central fireplace, one wooden table with few chairs for eating and a smaller table with a lone kerosene lamp.  The concrete floor was covered only between the beds with a thick woolen carpet.

 There were three other additions to this house.  First of all, on the stove, there was at all time, a full pot of water for my grandmother’s tea.  The Second Essential thing was a bottle of Cognac kept near her bed.  According to her the most effective remedy for her arthritis pain was two teaspoons of cognac in a cup of tea.  The third and most important item was “The Book”.  Grandmother knew it by heart and each night she would recite part of the Old and New Testament.  As far as my memory allows, she fasted lent, forty days before Easter every year.  That book was her refuge, her best friend, and indeed, for her at least, held all the answers.

 As I said before, there were two beds in the room, but one was neatly kept in the event my uncle would drop by.  I never used it because I always shared grandmother’s bed.  This is not difficult to understand if you could even begin to realize how cold the weather in winter could get.  During World War II, the Nazis used Slavs and Jews in experiments to discover ways to protect their pilots the freezing cold.  The result from these experiments were conclusive.  The most effective means of warming those near death from sever cold was the warmth of another human body.

 At that young age, when I used to crawl into bed with my grandmother, I did it out of love, to warm her.  She always kept her cold feet away from me, but I would catch them and warm them on my behind, and my body warmth would slowly spread through her.  What a feeling of love.

 I can still recall those cold nights in winter, when darkness descend early.  My studies were ended, a thunderstorm was raging, grandmother lit the lamp as usual and we sat on cushions near the cast iron stove.  That stove was very nice for our faces and hands, but no good at all for the rest of our bodies.  At any rate……..

 “Sitto (grandma) Melia, how come you can read and write so well when my mom can’t”, I asked.

 “I was much more fortunate than your mother.  Her father died in the war when she was three and she missed the advantage of formal education because of the war, because we were poor.  Then after the war, she had to work in a tobacco factory, wrapping cigarettes.  Oh if only she could have the childhood I did”.

 Sitto Milia was not a portrait of beauty, yet she was beautiful to me.  She was so painfully thin, I can still see the blue veins on her hands.  She had long gray hair which she always wrapped in a roll at the back of her head.  Her face and hands were wrinkled and her chin protruded a trifle too much.  She had though one inescapable feature: with her piercing black eyes, she could look directly into your soul.  I was never able to get even the most insignificant lie past those eyes.  She expected certain things from me; to be extremely good in school, to attend church every Sunday and to pray each night.  Above all, she wanted me to write as she did, with my right hand.  I wish she did not do the latter because I was naturally left-handed.  She wanted my handwriting to match hers. And so I tried because her script was beautiful indeed.  The result had the opposite effect.  I still write with my right hand, and it always looks pathetic.

 To this day I don’t know why I always tried so hard to please my grandmother.  I always knew I loved my mother, but my feelings to my grandmother was on a different plain---  It came close to adoration.  Sitto Milia was among the few literate women in the village.  She wrote both classical and colloquial poetry.  It should be noted that the Arabic classical is almost completely different from the spoken language.  She was a superb seamstress, so proficient that her guesses were the only measurements necessary.

 Each day no matter how long or difficult her day may have been, she prayed sweetly and softly.  Always thank god even for the pain and misery, the bad days as well the good, and the stormy weather along with the sunshine.  In the year 1958 when a devastating earthquake hit Lebanon, she even thanked God for that.  She never questioned his judgment, and thus she never panicked, always relying on her immense faith.  She filled all who knew her with a sense of strength and perseverance.  Sitto Milia was a SURVIVOR!

 Just as I tried to imitate my grandmother, I desired also to be like her son, my uncle.  As I reflect upon it, I think she installed this attitude in me.  My uncle was a most talented artist and she tried earnestly to influence me in that direction.  I was different, though, and I knew it.  In school I was good in math and sciences, and yet was very poor in the arts and languages, especially the French. Oh, how I hated to memorize my lessons.

 At that time there were few radios, and none at all in Dhour Shweir.  As a result the only entertainment the people of the village had was to play cards or “go visiting”.  I never wanted to do anything like that, but I was mostly interested in the stories and tales historical and otherwise that Milia furnished.  It seems like I had a craving to know all about the village; primarily the history connected to the Great War.  


Chapter two

 Milia Jibrael Moujaes was born in 1886 in a small village in Lebanon named Dhour Shweir. Her father Fans Jibrael, was one of the most successful masons in the area. He, along with his brother Salim, formed a type of company for mining lime stones for the use of constructing houses. They must have constructed so many beautifully well built houses in the area that they became famous in that field. Amir Basheer, the ruler of Lebanon then, when he wanted to built himself a palace and a seat for his government in Beit—el— Deen he could not find better than Fans and Salim to mine and cut the limestone's for that purpose. This palace is now the summer residence of the President of Lebanon, as well as a favorite attraction for tourists. The Amir ~as so pleased with their work that he rewarded with money and many valuable gifts, of these , the latter, I remember seeing an old rusty gold watch, an Ivory pipe, and worry beads strand made of genuine stones. Amir Basheer is known in history with the peace treaty he signed with Napoleon Bonaparte, when the French troops were surrounding Acre ( a harbor town north of Palestine).

Most men in Dhour Shweir traveled out of town seeking their masonry profession, they work in most parts of Lebanon, some even ventured as far as Syria. It wasn’t unusual, then, for them to be absent from home for as long as nine months running. The rest of their time was spent tending to their families problems. There’s a saying they had to come home occasionally to insure that they would have children.  Milia’s father Fares had six boys and three girls. His wife, Sabardej, was wed to him at the age of eleven, yet remained with her parents until she was able to bear him children. She was the daughter of the village herb doctor and Jeweler. Sabardej grew up to be a very quiet woman, yet her beauty and intelligence were ever obvious.  She both loved and respected her husband, something rare in an arranged marriage.

Fans, unlike Sabardej, was anything but quiet. Beside being a successful mason, he was anything but quiet. He seemed to be involved in everything. He was heading up town meetings, and he was appointed by the villagers to solve disputes concerning property and family affairs. His opinion was respected and his fairness was cherished by all concerned.  Dhour Shweir was then and now dominated by two main families, the Moujaes (Greek Orthodox) and the Sawayas (Greek Catholic). There has always been a struggle between these two factions as to who would rule the affairs of the village. These matters and others were more often than not settled in Fans living room. These meetings could had  been held outside in the open or under a tree for shade. In Lebanon, and generally East of the Mediterranean sea the climate is always predictable. The rainy and cold season begins late September and continues through April. Summers rains are rare, that invites festivities to be held outdoors.

As a little girl, Milia would sneak away from the women’s quarters and squeeze in beside her daddy, when these meetings were held, and she would listen to these endless discussions, women were never allowed in these meetings, their main contribution was to serve coffee cookies. This separation quarters for men and women was not only dedicated to the houses, but it extended to the churches, where there were a fenced section for the women.

Milia was more fortunate than most. Her father not only loved her, he recognized her intelligence as well. Most women at that time were not educated, only a selected few were that lucky. Fans would not allow Milia to attend school, but at the insistence of his wife, he engaged a private tutor for her. Thanks to him, she learned reading, writing and the basics of mathematics. This was so out of the ordinary because a woman’s function at that time was to bear children, perform the heavy duty of housekeeper and occasionally memorize part of the Bible.

There is a great deal of irony in this attitude towards women if you bore into history. A Phoenician princess, few thousands years ago, named Alissar was forced by her brother Bigmalion, to leave the city of the kingdom of Tyre in the south of Lebanon. She with her followers and few ships sailed and settled in Carthage . This Phoenician colony became so powerful that at one time her grandson, Hannibal, almost conquered Rome in one of the most famous battle of ancient history.

Milia kept trying to persuade her father that a tutor was not enough, that she would like to compete with the boys in public school for a public education. Fans remained adamant and that subject was secisively closed.

Doing well in his trade, Fans was able to afford his family more luxuries than some of his peers. He also had more imagination and foresight, Due to this, he thought that with better insulation he might build a home on the hillside above the village. The village was situated in the valley for the reason that it is warmer down there and less windy. Though the winters were much more bitter, something about the beauty of facing the gorgeous mount Sunneen to the East, and the sea to the south drew him. It was the first house built then. Now most of the Shweirrieh followed suit, and most of them built houses at that vicinity. The house was designed and build different that all the houses built then, The exterior of the house was formed with formed with hand cut stones from the outside, and insulated from the inside with a special clay, which made its walls insulated against the cold and the heat. The roof was made with heavy oak wood and covered from the outside with red bricks giving it the shape of rectangular red pyramid. There was one large area (Dar) encircled by six bed rooms, a large kitchen, and one toilet with a cesspool. The entrance had a large door and a covered patio with three artches two rounded column, all beautifully hand cut. The only problem I sow with the design of the house was the fact that the ceiling, five meters in height, made the home difficult to heat.

Milia found her home lonely at times, especially in winter. She rarely ventured into the vast forest that surrounded the house as it was teeming with wolves and hyenas. The winters were long, and when the men traveled for work, they were frightening as well. Food was never scarce, for the food was prepared and preserved in advance. Water was not that easily had. Bathing and cleaning water was collected as the rains drained from the roof to an underground well. Drinking water was obtained from a spring located about two kilometers from Milia’s house. It was usually the women job to fetch the water. The waters were carried in large clay jars on the backs of donkeys. Many a times fights would erupt among the women over who was first at the fountain.

Milia was third child in her family. Khalil, her brother was the eldest by ten years. Rejina, her sister, was six years older, Milia was next followed by Ibrahini, then Nazha, her younger sister. Next in line came two more brothers, Habeeb, and the youngest child, Aziz.

Not all of these survived into my generation. Milia of course did, Khalil lived and prospered until 1944. Rejina who immigrated to the United States with her husband, I never met. She died in 1946 and was survived by five sons and two daughters. Habeeb follows his sister to the U.S. and died in the fifties alone in his car. He worked painting signs for shopkeepers, he was somehow artistic. He left Milia and Nazha some money.  Ibrahim, a mason run from home and settled in south Lebanon, married and begot one daughter and died in the Thirties, Aziz the youngest never had a chance, according to my grandmother, during the First World War, he was in his early teens, his brother Khalil run him out of the Big House. He left and never came back, and most probably he died from hunger and disease.  That left Milia and Nazha whom I knew very well.  Nazha did not remain in Shweir. Although she was illiterate, she was an extremely good cook and house keeper. Nazha was short and had a good deal of physical strength, even though she was not as smart as her two sisters, she believed that she was the pritiest.   

As I look at it now, Nazha was the kindest and the most joyful,but she was the most unfortunate. She hated and never forgave her eldest brother Khalil till the day she died. She believed that, even though he controlled all his father’s property and fortune he never left a finger to help her and her family that she lost in the war. Nazha lost her two daughters due to hunger and decease, and her husband, like all other men was forced to work for the Ottomans as slave labor, and lost his life due to their well known cruelty. After that Nazha never cared much for children and men, She never married again, and above all, as she said it, no one could take the place of her beloved husband, Alexander. So from age twenty three she lived by herself and seemed to adapt to the loneliness. Perhaps by design, she developed a very short memory. She ate well, drank liquor, and smoked heavily. It’s amazing that she and Milia were so different, yet maintained a close relationship. Some differences were major, some merely a matter of taste. Milia was fervently religious, whereas Nasha scoffed at religion. Nazha loved merriment, drinking and smoking, things totally foreign to her sister. Sundays would find Milia in church while Nazha home cooking and entertaining her friends. I loved them both.

Milias’ education continued to flourish. She devoured her books and memorized each and every one. She loved to read and write. Writing in Arabic is difficult and is an art with many different styles to be learned. This is not to mention the fact that the Arabic is written from write to left. When Milia was very young she discovered she had a talent for poetry. She would not share it with her father, because she was afraid he might prevent her, but since she so badly wanted to share it with someone, she showed it to her brother Khalil.  Khalil was slowly taking charge of his fathers affairs and gaining respect as the son of the villagers’ master mason. Khalil was tall with large brown eyes and an imposing moustache. He was possessed of great physical strength, but what really caught your attention was the fierce look about him. Imagine Milias’ fright when she went to this man with her poetry. She did not know if he would thrash her himself for having the audacity to approach him, or if he would instead tell her father. Of the two, she would have the latter.  Khalil read the poem and was silent a long time. Finally, “Why did you write this?’. I don’t understand why I write. I only know that writing gives me a feeling of happiness I derive from nothing else.” Khalil looked at her, expressionless, yet somehow softened, What’s wrong with cooking and cleaning house to help your mother! and don’t you enjoy those jaunts to the fresh- water spring with your sisters?” Milia didn’t intend to respond, but it came out anyway. I love helping my mother, but I would rather write poetry too”.  Khalil never responded to this because in reality he did not care what Milia did. Yet, in little ways, Milia knew that, he always her feel special. Perhaps because he recognized her intelligence and talent. Khalil. being second in line of authority to his father, at times made him listen. But Milias’ poem went unnoticed. It was simple, pretty, and rhymes. It was descriptive of her surrounding area. It told of the beauty of nature, how the willow trees extend their branches to sip the clean, sweet water from the village spring. She described in glowing details the colors of the many birds around the spring. That poem, for I myself have rear it , was composed of short stanzas in rhyme. When you read it you felt not that you were reading but that you were singing.

Around the year 1895, many villagers followed Milias’ father, and stared to build homes on the hill. This was good for Milia as she finally got some neighbors. All of this was happening due to the fact that the town was flourishing. Not only from the very successful masons that were bringing money to the town, but from the three factories that hired laborers from the town and from the surrounding villages. One factory for was used for the processing tobacco,and one for processing silk, and the third for manufacturing swords. The one venture that this town still proud of is the fact that the first automated printer in the Arabic language was done at St. John Catholic Monastery of Shweir.

The silk factory was the most prosperous, and the villagers used to make a yearly fair to display there products. The homes were involved with the silk production. They used to add to the house an extra large room, filled with layers of trays to feed the silk worms. And after collect the silk cocoons and send it to the factory for processing. Those who decided to pressing the cocoons by hand, kept a room with a manually operated textile machine to weave clothes. Most of the weaving was done by women. Children would cut and store the mulberry leaves, ~he main food for the silkworm.  The Jirails, Milias’ family, never cared to work with silk or tobacco. They seemed to have enough money, so there was no need to subsidize their income with these trades.


Chapter Three

Sabardaj, Milias’ mother, was at the village spring one day when she noticed a young girl waiting her turn in line. She was blond, with rosy cheeked, and judging from appearance, very poor. After filling her water jugs the girl lifted them with no apparent strain, one on each side of the donkey. Sabardaj approached the girl and asked her name. She answered Mary Abou Saleh”. She was from the village, but belonged to the other faction. Sabardej talked to her at great length, and the more they talked, the more Sabardej liked the girl, She was extremely beautiful, very kind, and intelligent. Sabardaj made her mind, and she hoped her plan will have success.  That night she called her son Khalil to her side. My son you are twenty years old. Now the time to consider a wife. I am rapidly growing old. You know you must take charge if something must happen to your father”. Khalil realized from this conversation that his mother had found the right girl for him. who is she mother?”. Sabardaj answered him straight forwardly, Mary Bou Saleh”. Khalil knew the girl very well. Khalil being of good family, came from a good god loving and well to do family, not mentioning the fact that he was very handsome, was sought by most of the girls in that small town. He thought his mother choice was an excellent one, because he knew that Mary, inspite being very poor, was one of the loveliest and prittiest girl around.

“Well, mcther, you know what to do. Why Don’t you discuss it with father and visit her family. I will abide by your judgment”.

The necessary arrangement were made and a meeting of the two families did indeed take place. Of course Khalil was not present with all these arrangements, the reason for that was to save face in case these arrangements did not work. In the first visit Mary served the Turkish coffee, and during the visit every thing was discussed EXCEPT Mary and Khalil. Still, the primary reason for the social call was understood by all. At the next visit Khalil came with his parents. At just the right moment, Mary again served the coffee. She was so shy and obviously very nervous, she almost panicked and dropped the tray. Everybody put on their best dresses. At almost six foot, extremely handsome and meticulously well-groomed, Khalil presented quite an impressive figure. Mary was delicately pretty, around five foot four inches and had a stunning figure. They never spoke a word to each other during the call. After that day though, Mary was never again seen going to the spring to fetch drinking water. Khalil had decided that she was the girl for him and no man would see her face again.

It was early spring when Khalil and Mary were married. There was a magnificent feast, replete with food

and drinks. Mary was brought from her house to the church on a white horse. She was covered from head to toe in a lacy white cloth. Every body thought that was strange that Mary should be covered as such, that no body could not see the bride. The wedding ceremony was done at St. Mary Church for the Greek orthodox. After the ceremony, Mary was taken to the big house where Khalil lived with the rest of the family. From that day, and for many years after, the only people who ever saw Mary were members of family.

Milia, Nazha, and Sabardaj quickly became acquainted with Mary and soon became life—long friends. To Milias’ delight, she discovered Mary to be sensitive, loving, gentle woman. Mary also had a most important skill in those times. Her mother had taught her the practice of mid-wifery. Mary kept delivering babies in Shweir until she was in her sixties. In 1943 she helped my mother deliver my brother Nabil, and in the year 1947 my brother Habeeb. I remember how graceful she was. She was , even in her sixties, very beautiful, and always so helpful. She could say something about her life that very few people can     she never had an enemy. She bare only one child, a boy, whom was named Saleem.  As soon as Khalil married, he let every one know that he was taking over responsibility for the family. This made his parents very proud of him as his father was aging and was in need of help.

Those times were very dear to Milia. She was happy, she was reading and writing, having friends, and many of her fathers’ acquaintanses encourage her in what she was doing.

In the early 1900’s when many houses were built on the hill side, it was decided that the main spring that supplied these houses with drinking water was not large enough to provide ample drinking water. The leaders of the village gathered at Khalils house. They debated the project from all angles and reached the conclusion that they needed the assistance of he municipality to enlarge and extend the length of the tunnel of the spring. The municipality approved the project , but the proposal was rejected by the county director. Mr. Milad Ruzkallah. The Director was usually Lebanese appointed by the Turkish rulers who occupied Lebanon at that time. Lebanon and all the Arab countries were occupied by the Turks almost four hundred years, until the end of the First World War.  At any rate , the villagers tried to convince Rizkallah to change his mind, but it was all in vain. At one of the meeting Khalil suggested. My sister Milia as you well know is a poet. Let’s ask her to compose a poem that we can teach all the children in the village, who would recite loudly in a demonstration. And hoping that maybe if the director or his superiors , he will change his mind.”

Khalil was met with blank stares. Surely he must be joking. He was not, and it seemed there were no other options left. He did not give them time to question or criticize, but he called Milia directly to the meeting. Everyone knew Milia from the days when she would slip into the meetings and snuggle close to her father, and listened quietly to the discussions. Now she was a young lady of fourteen. Khalil didn’t need to explain the situation to Milia as everyone in the village was aware of it. He merely asked her to write a simple rhyme, easy to memorize, poem about what Milad Ruzkallah, the director did to the village. Milia sat down with the men, very confident of her­self, and asked each person in the room to tell her what they knew about the director; what of his childhood, his habits, where he came from and what he did before he became the director. The men were surprised at how well informed Milia was, and the concise manner with which she took notes. Then she asked for one week to compose the poem. What Milia accomplished at that meeting was envied by all the other women, who always stayed in the kitchen, or other section of the house, the only time that they would enter the room is to serve Turkich coffee, or fruits and cookies. Listening to my grandmother describing the conditions then of how the men treated the other sex gave me the impression that the men did not think much of the ability of women to handle serious problems, and perhaps they thought that God did not provide them with the same mental capacity of men. Milia hated that observed attitude of men at that time, because men honestly believed that women are inferior and should be treated as such. Even now in Lebanon one could hear from very few ignorant men the proverb God created the women with half brain.”

It took Milia less than a week to compose the poem, it was composed with the colloquial language, easy to remember and very simple almost childish but very effective, and it went almost like that:

Oh, Milad, I hope you would be happy in your Post We would like to remind you 
that we will not die from thirst - We are strong hardy and honest 
You are the director and we know your past - You came from Irbanieh(his home town) 
When young you stole the village factory 
so your family sent you to the monastery 
You failed to become a priest because you stole the monastery funds 
Now you are the director -
And I hope this poem will reach the ears of Your Masters

All the children learned this and sang it loudly in the streets. Soon the whole county was reciting this poem at every gathering.

Milad Rizkallah was transferred to another region. The newly appointed director allotted enough for the enlargement of the spring tunnel. They not only enlarged the tunnel, they also build a pooi attached to the spring and planted various trees at the site.

  The spring was named “Nibe el—Boustan”, which means the spring of the orchard. The spring still exist till this date, and it is never used, because they build over it a road and it’s water is polluted. People and cars pass by it and does not know what it is, how sadAfter that Milias’ life has changed, she seemed to enjoy her status, even her brother at one time tried to show her how to use a pistol, but she declined. She stayed close to her books and poetry and many a time she was invited to recite her poems, and many a time she was asked by her neighbours and fellow villagers to recite a poem in a special occasions like a wedding or a funeral or any special occasion. She never refused. I should add that Milia was never loud. Her voice is very soft and low, so the listener had to concentrate to hear her poem. I never understood why she always recite her poem sitting down and her face is facing the ground. Another thing I noticed is that she did not move at all while she recite the poem, as if she forces who ever listening to her poem to concentrate on the poem and not her       

Thank you Hilda for facilitating electronic transfer of this nostalgic and loving tribute

-- to be continued -- ...  



Matar - Moujaes 1959-1960 

Anwar, here's a contest picture taken around 1959, or 1960. I know that you were working about 50 yards away during that time.  The picture was taken the on NouNou (Nohad) Moujaes wedding day. In the picture, Elias and Victoria Matar and Salim and Nora Moujaes. The kids are Soulima Moujaes, and her little uncle, yours truly, George Matar when he had hair. Anwar you probably remember me at that age.  

Ain El Assis 1965 courtesy of Walid & Saera Moujaes Khayrallah 


3.  SSS Entrance from ain al-kassis after a good snow storm- 
followed by a nice photo of the group on the Carslow stairs.  

Anwar, Here are some rare pictures from Saera's old albums.  
1- Examination time in Carslow building 1965. Read From left to right first row to second, etc..  Al-Mukhtar, Micheal Touma, Micheal Riyachi, Philip Khneiser, ????, Fares Kneiser, ????, Saera Moujaes, Nicholas Mirshed, Ghassan Khneiser, ????, ?????,????, Bassam Khoury, Soumaya Nasr, etc..  we'd like everyone to try and guesss the rest.  
2- Examination time- 2  We'll provide no names for this one, but some familiar addtional faces are there.  
I'll send another one with three photos.  

I SSS 65 Exam Carslow Bldg 2.JPG (71394 bytes) II SSS 65 Exam Carslow Bldg.JPG (69387 bytes) III SSS 65 Group Photo.JPG (81741 bytes) IV Sahat al Dhour 1940s.JPG (92761 bytes)

Here are three more photos.  
3- SSS Entrance from ain al-kassis after a good snow storm- followed by a nice photo of the group on the Carslow stairs.  
4- Group photo: 1965 Guess who's who. If any recognize themselves or others let us know.  
5- Sahat Al-Dhour 1940's ??  

Thank you for sending these fantastic pictures.  We hope to identify as many who are in them.  

Follow up email message form al Mukhtaar:  

I talked to Elie Bou Kheir, here's who we can Identify. I don't think we need to publish this 

Photo I. Examination   Left Column front to Back Labibi Semaha, May Khoury, Alfred Moujaes, the rest???????   2nd set left to right and abck George Matar, Michel Touma Sawaya; Philip Touma, George (?); Saera Moujaes, Nichoola Moujaes; Bassam Khoury Mouojaes( God Bless his Soul), Sumaia Nasr.     In the back standing and facing the Camera is Istaz Domingo (God Bless his Soul).

Phot II Examination:  Istaz Riachi talking to Michel Touma.  Column behind Riachi Farris Khounaiser, I think an Iraqi student; behind Faris is his borther Ghassan, the other persons that I recognize are Inaam Khoury Moujaes, next to the door, and Mansour Bou Nader Moujaesright Above Ghassan's head.  Going back to eh left Column, behind Bassam is Milhem Abd al Noor (top left  of the picture)  

Photo III The Gathering, (Current Address) if known The Girls: From the left, Hind from Ain Sindianieh, Hanan Bou Nader Moujaes, Saera Moujaes Kheirallah (Canada), Samia Bou rizk Chedid (Texas USA).  2nd row to the left is Inaam Khoury Moujaes, (?), Ibtihaj Bou Nader Moujaes.  The Boys Front row left to right: (?); Elie Bou Kheir (Texas); Milhem Sawaya (Canada); George Matar (Texas); Simon Rihbani (Ain Sindianeh); Alfred Moujaes (Texas) Habib Mojaes (Shweir) ; Iraqi (?)  Behind Habib and Iraqi is Mansour Bou Nader Moujaes (Dhour) and to his right Issam Moujaes and Rimon Halabi; Behind Alfred and Habib is Samir Khoury Moujaes; Behind George and Elie is Michael (Makhoula) Khenisser, and behind him to his right is Kamal Touma Sawaya and Faris Kheneisser. Two people to Faris's right is Elie Aoun, then Iskandar Rihbani, then Melhim Abd Nour.   Behind George and Simon is Bassam.   I will attempt to Identify the back Row, the young ones from the left.  Rimon, mounir abd Lahad, (?), (?) Naimeh Rihbani, (?), Rashid Halabi, (?)    And standing by himself is Ghassan Kheneisser.  

A bit of an update:  ID's dictated over the phone:   
To Ghassan's right is George Hawi (in dark shirt & dark hair) next to him in short sleeve is Rashid ibn Khaleel Rashid, next to him is Mounir abou Nader Moujaes and next to him is Neameh Rihbani (Simone's brother).  next is Fares Semaha?? next ____? then Mounir abdel Ahed, and could it be Raymond Khnaisser?  

Picnic near Ain el Assis, SSS 52-53 Field Day courtesy of Mounir Moujaes

Thanks Mounir Moujaes for sending this treasure of a picture... it has Webmaster's parents and some aunts and uncles in it and as Mounir put it in his email... 

"Well I am glad you were able to recognize your parents, my sister haifa and salimi are in the picture and also some relatives, I have another one under the same tree I will send that to you too, the location is on the property of Georges Jamil Moujais near & below the Ain.  Your mother will tell you about all the people in the picture.  My sister haifa visited you in the eighties and she had a picture with you mother she have it in the living room.  Mounir" 

We hope by next update to identify most if not all who are in the picture.  Webmaster  

Oh, wait a minute... where is the Arkeeleh?


Per Antoinette Khnaisser, this was a picnic to show some visitors from Damascus Shweir's beauty.  From Left and back:  Elias Heshmeh, Prof photographer, and his wife Nadia, the couple in back: George & Yvonne Zaatari and their son Gabi, ladies in hats, on left: Haifa Moujaes Habib, w/ coffee pot: Adma Jamil Yaaoub Moujaes, to her next to Adma is daughter of Jiryes Moujaes and sister of Haifa and wife of Haleeem Khoury, next is Affifi Mirhej Halabi (Antoinette's aunt), young girl ???, Mary Hishmeh Laham (Antoinette's Sister), George and Antointte Khnaisser (Webmaster's parents).  Front Left: Kousar and her mom Mary Moujaes, William and Adma's sister, Violette Hishmeh Ekkeh, (Antoinette's sister), Sameera Hishmeh,  Jameeleh, wife of William Moujaes and her kids around her (Gloria & Victoria Moujaes ?).   

50 years later... the Moujaes and Khnaissers (Kenicer) got together again half the way around the World in San Francisco, See Alfred Moujaes maiden voyage to San Francisco in the Shweirieh bil Mahjar web page

MM Antoinette & Affifi +.JPG (21128 bytes) MM Mounir at Carslow Bldg.JPG (11519 bytes) MM Mounir Moujaes & Rock.JPG (12431 bytes) MM Field Day 52-53 Awards.JPG (21366 bytes) MM Field Day 52-53.JPG (19308 bytes)

Mounir's follow up email:
Dear Friend  
I am sending these picture I hope they are not too big.  one is your mother and aunt I assume with other friends and my two sister next to Affifi if you remember her.  two picture of the field days during 1952-53   Dakilyan was the director before our time.  
One Carslow hall, and the other is the rock on the way to Mtell or the St. Elias Monastery.
See if you can work with them and if you want to put them in the .com 

Thank you for sending these great pictures.  
We hope to identify as many who are in them.

Past Septembers...!!!

Posted by Hilda on September 17, 2000 at 11:19:11:

Today is kind of cool here in Upper East TN. Fall has finally set in. Did the fall make it to Texas yet?

Long time ago and while in Nursing school there was this theory that we talked about. It states that as the weather cools off we, as humans, have the tendency to eat more in order to store more fat to survive the lesser amounts of availablre food in winter and also to have an additional layer of fatty insulation from the cold.  So, I woke up today full of all that energy to cook stews,hummous, home made pizza... of course non of the things that we'd be eating at mom's at this time of the year.

September was the month of harvest and consequently "mooneh". My mom would drive me crazy with all the bulgar that has to be dried, all the okra to be "peeled" washed, dried or frozen, the Mulukhieh that had to be washed and washed, chopped and dried.

Not to mention the kishek, the Za'atar, the purchase of onions, garlic, potaoes, lentiles( to be washed and manually cleaned) etc. A lot of work and much to spoil the fun of the Sept. weather: Shop for the mouneh, set it out to dry in the sun; get that in at the end of the day and take back out the next was all so tedious, yet predictable...

....Until we get to the jams.  Then mom will make fig jams and Jam of "sfargil". Here I would feast. Every morning, snack time and after dinner, I would have my share of either one. I would do that guilt free. If I add weight then its the only normal thing to do...ain't I supposed to get my body ready for winter- remember the theory at the top of the page. Eating those jellies as well as the fresh dark figs were the highlight of those times. So as not to scare any body I will refrain from telling you the exact number of calories in a single fig (and of course the bigger the beter...)  I did all that guilt free... we would spend mornings picking figs and eating them off of the trees from uncle Fouad Halabi's tree garden...It was fun ..It was delicious...

I do miss all those Septembers now ... how about you?

"Eid Mar Takla"

Posted by Hilda on September 17, 2000 at 17:28:46:

A September feature was the yearly "pilgrimage" we ought to make to the Bois de Bologne's Mar Takla church. It used to bewilder me. The church would be sitting there year long, yet we would pass by it on the way from Dhour to Aintourah without stopping by or stepping in...until of course Eid Mar Takla. (if I recall correctly it falls on Sept.15.) Then EVERYBODY has to visit the church. We probably attended the mass of the eid once, yet every year, we would visit, make a donation, pray, light candles ( my favorite thing to do) get the holy water and oil ...We would do that with all the massess that would pour on to the church. And to make things more interesting and hecticly nightmarish were all the toy and sweets vendors that line up the roundabout in front of the church... But we were there for the religious experience: no toys, no sweets... Of course "those were the cheap ones that would break the next day"... if they were to survive our squabbly car ride.

Needless to say, celebrating this eid is imprinted in my memory. First, my dad would get worked up by the traffic jam, then by the fact that we cannot park the car anywhere close to the church, so we end up parking far away and we will walk to the church. Did I forget to mention that we were three nagging kids at that time?!

The weather will be unpredictable. It can be hot or cold and we would invariably be not dressed right for the weather. We will be told that we should have listened to mom while dressing...we did not, hence the misery.

One time we returned to a dented car. That did not sit well with my dad...He was really upset...

Basically we had to get to that church on the set day, put up with all or else....probably the wrath of Mar Takla will settle on us...

By the way, the same used to happen for eid Mar Elias and eid Al-Saydeh minus of course the vendors, but never without the fire works. It used to be arduous to make the pilgrimage with everybody on that small winding road to DEIR mar Elias and be stuck trying to turn the car around without accidents. My prayer would always include a wish to have us turn the car around safely without falling in the ditch off of the cliff. Yet we did it every year! There was this strong belief that that is what we need to do and that is exactly what we did.

If I were to go back now, I will just as well pray as hard as I did in each church any time I can make it (and avoid the full pilgrimage experience), to spare what seemed to end up being a nerve wrecking family experience...

However, having lived through each and every eid while in Lebanon, I'd say:"kull eid wo intom wa al-jamie' bekhier" and "akbal kull senneh...."

This time...long ago...

Posted by Hilda on September 09, 2000 at 14:43:54 on Shweir Bulletin Board

It is around 3:00 my time and I came down-to my basement office- to check my e-mail. Nothing impressive this afternoon... so the next thing to do is to check the shweir web-site and then I thought I'd write....  

Summers ago, my mom and dad would decide they'd need a break from me, so I would spend a week or so at my grandparents place.

I would wake up early in the morning to my grandfather's rooster call. I'd definitely spring out of bed! By that time, "jeddi" would have already been up and gotten fresh eggs from their chicken coop, probably gotten some "manakeesh" made and depending on the route of a farmer from Aintourah we will have "goat cheese". There will definitely be grapes to go with the manakeesh. Watermelon to go with the cheese and freshly baked bread from the bakery... all those were treats for me. For while at Brummana, all those things were not attainable. And definitely not at 6:00 in the morning.

Jeddi would be busy getting ready to open the store, so it was up to me to negotiate waking my aunts up to get MY day started...

Assuming I was successful at plucking either Amal or Rowayda out of bed, I 'd be done eating breakfast in no time and ready to go down to the store.

The morning breeze would be crisp,weather oh, so nice, little traffic that early, except for people using the seha to go to Beirut.

Morning walkers were the "intellectual" types and jeddi's friends.. Efficient homemakers would do their grocery shopping at around 10:00 and then the notable Mustafeen: moms and their children would come shopping.

Lunch break was a must. My grandfather closed shop between 12:30 and 2:00pm. I never napped. And was always glad to be the one to wake jeddi up.

The early afternoons belonged to walking vendors coming through the seha. Depending on the season, they may have green almonds, pistachio nuts, persian rugs etc.

It used to amaze me what they hauled on their backs..

At 5:00pm or so, the Seha would be the place for the young to loiter and walk around, some will drive up and down the seha. I should not be out-in front of the store! Smells of pasteries would reak from Candy. Smells of Tammrieh from Ramez and Pop corn from al Hawi, peanuts from a Sudanese vendor by the church and later french fries from Pom Frite would all be so enticing.  It will be my snack time. Jeddi or my aunts will give me money to get something or the other.

The evenings: loud music from al Hawi and Nasser will blare and used to be heard all the way to shweir. I used to wonder how does anybody in either establishement hear what they are supposed to hear not somebody elses...It probably was loud enough inside.

Jeddi would still be open at 10:30 or 11:00, Seasonal visitors would walk out of the cafes'and wander in to the store to shop for something or the other, like china, make up, perfume, hunting gear etc.

I would be exhausted, but I'd still believe that I am not sleepy. I did not want to miss the action. The crowds-mainly well to do couples with shawled women-will leave the seha by midnight and that is when I believed it was my bedtime. Never mind that I was less than 10 years old....

I think this was in the mid-sixties!!!!   

To top of page  

Hilda's Subliminal Message

Posted by George Matar on September 13, 2000 at 08:57:05:

Your Story of a long time ago, was very well written, I got it all even your subliminal message was very well received. What message? Oh, well after reading your story and the breakfast with your grandfather, and the MANKEESH.....I just could not stop tasting Zaatar all day long. I went to Abdullah for lunch and found myself buying a bag of Zaatar wo simsom. I don't know why I bought it! I already have a bag at the house. Anyway, needless to say the car smelled like zaatar all the way to the house. mmmmmm, got home, Janice has already fixed a pan of kafta wo batata, real delicious. I dished me a plate then unconciously, sprinkled some zaatar on top of it. Well that was not enough, got up early the next morning but not enough time to to fix a dough, and no "Hungry Jack" Jumbo biscuits to use as dough. So I mixed the zaatar with olive oil and spread them on sliced bread, threw them in the oven, and when they were done, pulled them and used them for provolne cheese and smoked turkey sandwiches. Michael, coming down the stair...."What smells so good?". Anyway they were FANTASTIC.
No more craving for Zaatar for a while. Hilda, next time you need to put a "warning labels" on your articles.
I left the house with a sense of accomplishment, got to the office, decided to check the, noticed a new message from "Zeer", and decided to read it and find out why visitor#660 is retiring....BIG BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!! Where in Gods Name I am going to find BIRYOSH TAAZA in HOUSTON, TEXAS. HEEEEEELLLLLPPPPP  

Warning label: My favorite things...

Posted by Hilda on September 14, 2000 at 21:05:50:

Well I hate to have caused George so much trouble for my mentioning the manakeesh. But his article brought to my mind the tastes of many favorites from the dhour days that my grandparents and aunts allowed me to enjoy. The Ka'ak with thyme, the brioch... To this day,I dream of Hawi's pistachio nut ice-cream and their chocolate ice-cream. It was the chocolatist and creamiest of them all.

This is not to say that I do not miss Candy's strawberry ice-cream and their strawberry cream pies (or tarts)when the strawberry season was full blast. Of course there are always the eclaires and cream puffs to fall back onto after the strawberry season is done with. Now as for dinner sandwiches, I loved the Basterma sandwiches ( I don't remember the vendor) and Samir Khoury's Falafel. It was DELICIOUS!

Now having written all that I do not want to be near George at all. There is no way in the world that any of those things will be experienced again...Now they dwell in our memories and dreams...But then: who knows, things may change TO THE BETTER AGAIN....

Re: Warning label: My favorite things...

Posted by Mona on September 16, 2000 at 18:53:57:

In Reply to: Warning label: My favorite things... posted by Hilda on September 14, 2000 at 21:05:50:

We should not forget Abou Bahbouhah and the smell of his roasting nuts either by Cinema Florida or by the Catholic church. Also Tamrieh Sukhneh piled up on a Sidir on Ramez alJurhi's head. Or mornings in mid spring when we used to buy toot collected in paint buckets (clean ones of course). I used to love them in the morining with some sugar. Alos, early spring when laban miizi used to be sold door to door in durf trasported on the back of a donckey. I guess I better quit while I'm ahead. Mouna  

Excerpts of an email from Al Mukhtaar bil Mahjar to Webmaster:  
"Man, this is REALLY, REALLY GOOD......definitely one of Nora's best poems (attached). She wrote it after she came to the States when Lebanon was still in war.... I wish we can type it Arabic. The Name of it is "Haneen".   You still can read Arabic, right? ..."    
Click on the Title below to go to our new web page "Nora's Corner" below or top corner of this web page...
Another Touching Poem by Nora Matar Moujaes

Copies of postings on Shweir Bulletin Board

Wadih Elias

Posted by Waleed Moujaes on August 15, 2000 at 05:47:14:

I am sure most of you have heard about Wadih Elias. He, God bless his soul, was for sure the strongest man Shweir has ever seen. His nerves were unbelievable to the extent that he could throw a lemon from near the Saydeh in Shweir to SSS in Ain Al Assis.

Late Philip Touma Sawaya, God bless his soul, told me one time a story. They were kids and playing one time at the "ghweb". A sheperd from Dair Mar Youhanna was passing by. You know that the sheperds are very strong in throwing stones. As youngsters, they tried to see if they can throw stones farther than the sheperd. Jeddo Philip ( my grandmother-from my mothers side is Touma Sawaya) was the only one who's beaten that sheperd. Everybody in Shweir knew this story, including Wadih Elias. Few days later, the same group was playing near the "Baydar"- a small hill at the edge of SSS over "Ain al Hanout". Wadih Elias passed by. He congratulated Philip and asked him to chose a stone. So Philip did. Wadih Elias told him that he'll throw this stone back to him from "Ain al Hanout", and he did!!!

Remember, Philip Touma has told me this story by himself.

"riz allah 3ala hakel iyyam".

Thanks for your nice messages. What I know are bits and pieces from several old people. I will try to share all what I know or remember.

A suggestion for the Web Master... 2 good sources for detailed historic stories, Dr. Salim Khalil Moujaes "bil mahjar", and Engineer Jamil Elias Abi Kheir in Shweir. I don't know how can we get in touch with Dr. Salim, but I will contact Jamil when I go to Shweir end of August. If somebody is going to Shweir during this period, let me know. We'll see you there.  

To top of page

Posted by Web Master on September 06, 2000 at 02:06:47:

In Reply to: Wadih Elias posted by Waleed Moujaes on August 15, 2000 at 05:47:14:

Thank you Waleed for this great story about Wadih Elias.

Photo_pg_19.JPG (91675 bytes)It reminds me of another story told in Jamil Eid Khonaisser's book about Salim Nassr Khnaisser who lived 1861-1888. There is a picture (Click on the thumbnail on the left or see Saif oo Terse web page) in the book of him after he was forbidden from using the Saif.  I asked Jamil why Salim died at such an early age (27). Jamil said that Salim went to Chicago, USA to demonstrate the extra ordinary strength he had at some world faire or show. He was poisoned most likely by other competitors or rivals.  

With regards to your suggestion about Salim Khaleel Moujaes and Jamil Elias Abi Kheir, we certaily would love to hear from them. If any body knows how to get in touch with Salim Khalil Moujaes in USA, please let us know or ask him to contact us. Good luck on meeting with Jamil Elias Abi Kheir.  Enjoy yourself in Shweir and we look forward for more updates when you get a chance.

It is very possible that the Saying that "Shweir Bithizz Aamoode Al Falak" originated as a tribute to the apparent strength of the many Shweirieh like Wadih Elias and Salim Nassr Khnaisser.

Web Master          

To top of page

Posted by George Matar on August 15, 2000 at 08:13:13:

In Reply to: Wadih Elias posted by Waleed Moujaes on August 15, 2000 at 05:47:14:


What a lovely story, I can even imagine it happeneing. I'll make this short, I love what you are doing to this page, Keep it up.
I sure hope you move to Dallas like your cousin Sami told me.

George Matar

The Nafoura

Posted by George Matar on September 01, 2000 at 08:06:14:

I can't help but compliment Souheil Khonaysser and Elie Baaklini for the new photos they sent us as featured on the "Photos" web page. One presented us with the history of Deir Mar Youhanna and it's great history, love to see those dates on the pictures, I already added this Deir to the list of places I will revisit when I go back to Shweir (possibly next year).
Elie's pictures were done very tastefully (good Eye Elie). They actually are very upbeat, from what I saw, there was a good harmony between nature and the Architecture as shown by the Villa on the Mtull picture, by the way that is Adel Merhej's villa.
The Nafoura and the flowers brought life to the old Saha, I LOVE IT.
I did not like the place where the Taxi's were parked in the middle of the street!!!! tsh..tsh.. tsh..
The Dhour Shweir Hotel looks vey elegent, I noticed there is a parking lot on the south side of it, that is good. However, I did not see the Mahleessi tree of Emil Farah (num num , it was goooooood) I hope it is still there hidden behind the hotel.
The angle of one picture got me confused until I recognized beit Beder. Then I realized that Elie was on top of the same building where he took the picture of Adel's Villa but turned towards the Saha.

I read the Articles that were attached to the Saydeh pictures (thanks to Nijad Chalhoub) and one paticular story brought a lot of memories. The year was 1905 when the Bell cracked. My grandmother Melia (sister of Khalil G. F. Moujaes Featured in Saif oo Terse) used to tell me the story about my grand father Ayoub Yacoub working on bringing the bell down to be sent to Beit Shabab to be recasted. Wow, I never expected to read something about it.
My Grandfather Ayoub Yacoub was a crafty man that was taken by the Turks, "Safar Barlak" when my mother Victoria was an infant, and either before or right after my late uncle Souliman was born, sometimes around 1915.
When I was Child and I would do something good my grandmother used to call me Ayoub Yacoub, she said I reminded her a lot of him..... he must have been a good looking man.
This is exactly what this web page was intended to do, I have so much fun with it. I hope you all are having the same satisfaction.
Thank you all for these precious moments
Your Mukhtar bil Mahjar
George Matar  

To top of page

Al Saydeh Church

Posted by Waleed Moujaes on August 13, 2000 at 11:08:48:

I'd like to point out that there is something wrong in the statement you launched today about the Saydeh church. A statement written on the entrance of the church says that it was "RENOVATED" in 1799. So, Nijad, appreciate to explain your tip.

Now I'll tell you what I know about the Saydeh and Mar Boutros, although I hate to talk about sects...

One time, the Catholics led by Sawaya family decided to build a church near the Orthodox church "be sahet al-day3a". So, they built Mar Boutros ( the existing one), which appeared to become bigger that the old Saydeh ( if you look closely on the Saydeh's walls, you can see the original size of the old church). Definitely, the Moujaeses, the biggest family in Shweir, didn't accept this, and decided to expand their church. They did and finished building it in 1799.


To top of page

The following photos are courtesy of Nabil Matar:  

SSS Field Day Ain Al Assis, 1961-1962

Are these precious or what? They sure bring back beautiful memories.  Thank you Nabil

Nabil Matar throwing the javelin (Al Jereedeh)


To top of page

The following are excerpts from the Shweir Bulletin Board:  

Stories from around the fireplace

Posted by Hilda on August 07, 2000 at 22:46:28:

As I look over these pages, I see how Shweir and its people have shaped me. I realize that my sense of adventure is something that is deeply rooted in the people of Shweir. They are everywhere and when they got back they visited and talked about their adventures. I remember people relating stories about the smuggling of diamonds from Africa by ingesting them, only to retrieve them on arrival. I recall people relating interesting stories and jokes about their travels as truckers in the desert of Arabia.
The sense of courage and bravery is also built into the community character as evidenced by the history of sword fights and the importance of those for survival initially; only to become a game to show off one's talents as times changed.
My mom's aunt "Zehreh" born around 1870s-was always proud of the Shweirie men for defending Shweir by going down the dhour-before the time dhour was inhabited- when nearby villages were against something that Shweir wanted. I think this is at least 110+ year old story... I wish I payed more attention. She was always proud of the fact that Shweir was the place to shop for silks and bridewear...those were the days when people used to court while filling water jugs from the Ayn in Shweir.
Aunt Zehreh, was a well traveled lady, she had been to Brazil, by ship, gotten married and divorced before she came back and settled in her home in Shweir. Her dad was the first to have a built in bathroom in the house and the first kitchen sink in the dhay'ah....
Just as she 'd talk about the rivalries amongst the Shweirieh and their neighbours , she would also cite the rivalries amongst the families in Shweir. Afterall we have the saying- and excuse my translation- "my brother and I unite against our cousin but with my cousin we're united against a stranger."
Those rivalries seemed to be expressed as feuds between families over land, property and marriages that were arranged yet had a rough start. Fights between the bride and the groom would erupt and result in both extended families feuding against each other until the bride and the groom settle "into the routines of married life" and start a family of their own...and then it will be somebody else's turn to fight and feud!

All this would go on while people made their living planting their own "Kroom"in the summers, preparing the Dihin, Bulgar, kishik and jellies and jams for long winters; harvesting the silk, batching it to weave, store and sell in spring. Life was so much centered around the necesary activities of daily living and in the main market place and around the Ayn...and of course people took to the seas in search of better fortunes, hence the Shweirie community in Brazil - maybe the community in Brazil will fill in the gaps and provide dates and names...

Hilda Touma Sawaya, Tennessee, USA

Thank you Hilda  

To top of page

Posted by Roula Halabi on August 03, 2000 at 13:39:57:

Dhour el Shweir is my home town. I was born and raised in Shweir, studied in it's SSS ( in Ain el Assis). I left Lebanon year 1993, after my marriage to Bassam son of Izzat Halabi (god bless his soul)

Me and my husband put in mind that seven to ten years at the max. we will go back to Lebanon settle down and raise our kids the way we were raised and live a Lebanese life. But where are we now? It is the year 2000 and even though a couple more years from now won't make a difference and we will still be living in the USA because simply going back is hard and believe me we gave it a shot.

Many reasons have caused us Shweirieh or no Shweirieh , Lebanese from all over Lebanon to leave and settle in a different country. I know all of you would say people have left their countries and home towns through many years and lived abroad and never came back. It is an old story.  But if you pause a little bit and think about it seriously do you want to grow old in "El Ghourbeh" I hate to even think about it.

But when I am faced with the difficulties in living in Lebanon I better put the feelings and heart ache on the side and think about the life that you can better living abroad provide for your children and the better future you can build for them.

Do you think I am mistaken thinking this way or are we all faced with the same obstacles. What convinces me more are the stories that I hear. Every Lebanese person you meet you ask him the same question "Do you ever think about going back?" and they tell you the same story. I think to put it in simple words , it is difficult to go back.

More and more I still hear about people leaving and traveling to a different country looking for a better future and they may come back and they may not. In every household in Lebanon there is at least someone living far away .  There is only one wish for me , I wish we all someday can go back.  

Roula Halabi, San Jose, California, USA  

To top of page 

Posted by George Matar on August 03, 2000 at 14:58:23:  
In Reply to: Alghourbah posted by Roula Halabi on August 03, 2000 at 13:39:57:

Marhaba ya Roula

Your Synopsis reflects what's inside our thoughts like a mirror. Deep inside our souls we long for the life in Shweir because of its simplicity, being surrounded by friends and family, and every thing we needed was within walking distances. It was a beautiful life , it was a hard life, it was both. For the Generation that lived through the war it was a sad & ugly life. But what ever life it was it is our roots and we unconciously love it.

Let me describe for you a futurisic dream or fantacy that is quite possible. We all can see where computers are heading, It already started, you can get your College degrees over the internet. You can do your professional work from home, that is anywhere in the world.....So why not in Shweir. Now if you could have got all these oppurtunities in Shweir would you have left?
Maybe it's too late for this generation but the next one or the one after they will live this dream.
I can't promise myself that I will return to Shweir for good, but my wife and I are planning to spend 3-4 months in Shweir, Lebanon every year when we retire. June, July, August, September surrounded by people like us rediscovering Shweir and Lebanon. Now honest Roula, can any place in the world compete with this. We are already fixing our home for the occasion. Your family will have to come and visit and have coffee. We insist, sharfoona.

George Matar, Houston, Texas, USA  

To top of page

Posted by Ghassan Zghaib on August 04, 2000 at 12:31:15:  
In Reply to: Re: Alghourbah posted by Roula Halabi and George Matar 

Marhaba ya schweirieh,

You might not know me, but I think the last time we met was one evening in front of the Mkhalles church, when Bassam spending his vacations in Lebanon. I think he might remember me (I hope). We went to the same school in schweir and he knows Camille Corban (my cousin and brother in law).

We all had the same thoughts before we left Lebanon. I left Lebanon in 1993 and gave myself 5 years to return. Where am I now? In Montreal, the same place I settled in in 1993.
Why didn't I return to Lebanon yet? for the same reasons you and Bassam did not.
What I'm able to do and offer to my family is far more than I ever expected to do for them in Lebanon.  I miss my parents and friends and village and everything good in Lebanon.
Unfortunatly, when I left the country in the beginning of 1993, things were far more better than what they're now (still at that time in 1993 things were so bad I had to leave everything behind in search of a better future for me and my family).
We can spend hours and hours talking about how we love to go back and how we miss everything.

One thing I know is:
1. I'm better off building a good future for my family hear in Montreal than watch them die of hunger in Lebanon, just because the system is a corrupted one.
2. Most of the people who can afford to have a nice life in Lebanon are those who left and came back after years of ghourbeh. We will sure be one of these peoples one day.
3. Everything has an end, and one day (soon I hope) Lebanon will recover. The next day we will all meet there.
4. Remember, we all tried our best in Lebanon before we left it. At some point I think I was lucky I was able to leave. What drives me now is the well being of my family. I did my part and I don't want my daughters to go over it again.
5. I share Georges's idea of spending 3 or 4 months in Lebanon whenever I will be able to afford it (if not soon, maybe when I'm retired).

Give my regards to Bassam and I hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks Georges for being a good example people can follow.

Ghassan Zghaib, Montreal, Canada

Thank you to Roula Halabi, George Matar and Ghassan Zghaib for this exchange. 

Photo & Captions courtesy of Nabil Matar, submitted by George Matar

Shweir Secondary School (SSS) Graduating Class of 1962     Then...

Who's who:   Sitting Down Istaz Badee Nader.  Standing up from the left: Adel Sabaa Baaklini, Riad Najib Eid, Nabil Elias Matar, Bechara Jamil Merhej, Wajih Nickoula Touma Sawaya, Habib Sawaya, Ziad Hatoum, Walid Samaha and Rafik Saliba.  The young person in the picture is (I believe is Nadim Samaha ).  And the young man standing at the far left of the picture next to the Piano is none other than Mr. Volleyball Boutros Sawaya.

 So where are they now?   As you read the following, keep in mind that this is second hand information and am missing a lot of information.   If you feel some important information is missing, think of it as an encouragement for you to edit, comment or correct any of it.  It would be very nice to hear from this special group. 

·        Adel is a concrete contractor living in Shweir

·        Riad married to Lulu (bint Fareed & Loudee Bou Samra), he is the manager of AUB’s Yaphet Library.

·        Wajih married to Lamia Moujaes.  He is a professor at the AUB

·        Nabil married to Wadad Jarjoura.  He has retired from Chevron Refinery and currently is a consultant for Rotating Equipment 

·        Bechara is a member of the Lebanese Parliament, and former Minister of Interior.

·        Habib is married to Afifi Yared and living somewhere in Canada

·        Walid is living in London

·        Rafik retired from Aramco where he was working as an Agriculture Engineer.  He is enjoying his retirement Bil Matn Shemali, in Shreen.

·        Ziad, is believed to be living in Kfer Silwan.

·        Boutros Sawaya is believed to be in the Emirates.  Boutros’ sister Siham was a classmate of mine.

 Thank you Nabil and George Matar for your efforts.  This is indeed a treasure to cherish. 

Do you have similar valuable picture(s) tucked away in a basement begging to see the lime light?  Now is your chance... 

To top of page

By Victoria Ghada Salim Moujaes Mapar, California, USA  

Childhood Memories from a different generation of Shweirieh,

1974 Eid El Moghtarebeen:

Look at the 2 pictures taken at Eid El Moghtarebeen August 17th, 1974.  

   Dancing girl 74 Fest V Matar.JPG (57926 bytes)                       Dancg 2  74 Fest  V Matar.JPG (73533 bytes)

Who are these kids?  It is Fayez Jabri and Ghada Salim Moujaes dancing to the Russian Kazatchok music (right after Kanou Ya Habibi, Talj ou Saheel ou Khail from Loulou-Fairouz).

My Mom, Nora Matar Moujaes trained us daily for a month with lots of loving encouragements from all of our neighbors on Tallet Dahdouh..  We were so excited when we danced and we did 2 encores at the request of the Sehat filled with the crowds.  Afterwards, My Mom took us to Ahwet Al Salwa and bought us gateaux from Candy.

Eid El Moghtarebeen August 17th, 1974 –  A Special moment of fame that I will always cherish.

Who would have thought that I would be a Moghtarebeh, 17 years later!   

Thank you Victoria, we would love to hear more from the younger Generation 

The following photo appeared above a  poem by Amin Beder dated Nov. 24, 1942     (provided by the Kenicer family)

We long for you, Oh Mother Schweir we long
and love to kiss your brow and hear your song;
We never can forget your loving care, 
You are our only friend when all goes wrong.

We miss your sparkling springs, your clear blue sky,
Your flowers, your fruit, and your pines that sigh; 
If we can gaze at your genial face 
Then life will be complete when you are nigh.

The scented air of your mountains fill 
Our hearts with joy, --- our souls a - thrill; 
No matter where your sons and daughters dwell 
They still believe in you and love you still. 

Her churches and her schools we must maintain 
So she can keep her pride in her domain; 
Only a little from each will help a lot, 
Be sure to do your part . . . do not refrain.

Poem by Amin Beder  Nov. 24, 1942

We would like to know more about this fine poet.  His words still ring true today.  Any one with more info on Amin Beder or Bader, please let us know. Within 24 hours of posting the above request, we got the information we were looking for. 

Within 24 hours of posting the above request, we got the information we were looking for.  thanks Souheil Baaklini for your efforts and to George Matar for putting the word out and sending emails to key people and thanks to Rose Beder Dacey for taking the time to write us with the information we were looking for.    

Intro & Bio by  Rose Beder Dacey - Simpsonville South Carolina  
My uncle Amin Beder is my father Najib's brother. He emigrated from Shweir in the early 1900's. He wrote a book of poems which I had a copy of at one time. Maybe I can find out who has it. He lived in Florida for many years, where he had a business "Amin Beder & Co. for woman's designer clothes. He died in the 1950's.  He was married to Sadie Ray from Bangor, Maine. They never had any children. 
I remember him as a small loving elderly man, who always was smiling.  He also brought my cousin Raif Beder to live with him and his wife, when Uncle Amin died, Raif inherited the business. Raif is a widower and lives In St. Petersburg, FL. Amin had 5 brothers and 2 sisters.  If there is anything else you need, please let me know. I would like a copy of my uncle's poem, if it's available. 

To top of page

When people get together after a long absence they usually talk and recollect fond memories they had in common.  We Shweirieh are no exception.  this was especially the case when we attended "Shweir on the Beach 2000in Texas, USA 

Ain El Assis, Shweir Secondary School (SSS)  
After the big event on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, the Boukheir family and I went back that day to help our hosts, the Matar and Moujaes families, put away things from the party.

Our hosts said lets sit down and enjoy your company first. We sat on the deck which overlooks miles of beach and sea along the Gulf of Mexico. After some refreshments and a boatload of tropical fruit salad, we moved to the picnic tables in the shade under the deck.

Mouna Khoury, who was staying with the Moujaes family, joined George Matar (El Mukhtaar), Alfred Moujaes, Elie Boukheir and I, Anwar George Kenicer. We went on a nostalgia trip down memory lane. 

Among other things, we fondly remembered our Shweir Secondary School (SSS) in Ain El Assis. In sports, SSS (what a great acronym) had one of the best volleyball players in the region. Alfred wondered what happened to all the trophies SSS won? Does anybody know what became of them? What about the school yearbooks? It would be great to reassemble as much info, photos and worthwhile memory objects so that we can feature it on our new web site so it can be accessible to all Shweirieh. Music: the first rock band was formed by no other than George, Elie and Alfred due to inspiration by the Beatles.  They are still at it as evidenced by the performances they gave at Shweir on the Beach 2000.  They outlasted the Beatles, CCR, (for you young ones, it stands for Credence Clearwater Revival who had many popular songs like Suzie Q) and dozens of other popular bands.

remember Field Day Celebrations? The preparations, performances, athletic competition and dances performed to an audience of teachers, parents and guests. We tried to remember as many classmates and teachers… Who could forget "Elsit Linda" and former director Timothy Maalouf. One thing our group could not agree on…. That is whether Mr. Maalouf was more remembered for his strict administrative, disciplinary actions and bend downs or for his beautiful daughters. We all concurred, well at least the four guys, that the daughters and the attractive Miss Rayya prompted many a young student’s heart to race in overdrive and exercise the creative part of his mind… albeit in private… well until a few decades later on that Memorial Day Monday where we shared openly without the risk of reprisal from "Al Moodeer" and end up on receiving end of a bend down … and you too felt that way? … Nushkur Allah I was not the only one.  Mouna, you are a good sport for putting up with us guys.

Koooae El Baaklini
Remember Koooae El Baaklini? (Koooae is a tight and narrow hair pin curve). Driving from Dhour to Shweir there were two major Koooaes, one near Baaklini property and the other near Boukheir’s home. Well, among us kids then, Koooe El Baaklini was known as lazy kids way to pick luscious Bing Cherries without the risk of trespassing. The cherry trees were well fenced in an orchard that is situated on the inner portion of the koooae. One method we used was to sit in the bus (bousta) towards the back with the windows open and when the bousta got to that curve, it would edge up very close to those branches and cherries. We especially preferred the larger bus that could not make the turn on the first try and had to go back and forth giving us more time to grab extra cherries. Yum… taibeen.

Talk about trespassing, Elie had many great stories about raiding select fruit orchards. He preferred derrak, teen and karaz joowee mish barri. … the times when he was discovered and chased, he would end up climbing a tree and hiding until it was safe to go back home. One time the owner could not climb the tree to reach Elie, so he waited and would not leave and wanted to know the name of Elie’s parents. Finally Elie negotiated with the owner. He made the owner move all the way to end of the orchard so that Elie could escape. In exchange, Elie gave him the name… the name of the parents of his rival in school. 

Emeel El Harrook  
Remember Emeel El Harrook?  You could almost set your clock by when he left Shweir in the morning and came back at night.  It is amazing on how he managed to keep his truck going.  Even when he ran out of gas, he would somehow keep it going … on fumes perhaps?…. We had our share of picking fruits from the back of his truck.  He is one of these rare free spirits who was way ahead of his time.  

well we hope these few memories will inspire many of you to write and share your experiences. 

Please also see Nora's Arabic Poetry and

We hope that the above poems and  memories will inspire you to write and submit yours. 

To submit your stories and memories, please visit Shweir Bulletin Board at 

Editors of will select those exceptional stories and memories on the Bulletin Board and feature them with a topic and connect them via URL from this page.  We look forward to your submissions.

To top of page