FEBRUARY 14, 1952
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Wednesday—Yesterday morning was cold and rainy out so Miss Corr and I put on our raincoats before starting a morning of sightseeing.
First of all, we visited a modern department store, not as large as some of ours in the United States, but certainly every variety of article could be bought there. Displayed there was the best crystal and china the best linen from Ireland and France and the best perfumes and soaps from France even though some of essences that go into the perfumes are shipped from countries not too far away from here.
The French influence is very evident in that there are not many ready-made dresses available here. I was told they could be bought in a few places but everybody preferred to buy material and have their clothes made up.
Materials are high in the store we visited, but one of the men explained that this was a luxury store run for the benefit of tourists who come from all the neighboring countries and buy these goods. He said there were other stores that most of the natives patronized. Another man volunteered that he had just had a suit made for his chauffeur which cost 20 dollars, but if he were to get the material at this particular store for a suit for himself he would pay at least 60 dollars.
From there we went to what they call a handcraft shop. Nearly all the beautiful handwork on display was done by women in their own homes. The lady who is at the head of this enterprise told me that a board composed of ladies had reached enough volunteers to cover villages and even go into individual homes to teach women how to knit and embroider again. One woman has in her village weavers who do very beautiful material with gold and silver thread running through it. I should say they have been most successful in teaching their women.
The work is simply beautiful and if I had time I would have tried to buy something just to show what they are now accomplishing. They gave me an exquisite woven bag, which is a good example of the work they do, but I think perhaps the use of silver and gold thread in their embroideries is even more significant and characteristic.
After leaving there we made our way along the coast road stopping first at the pass where for centuries invaders have entered Lebanon. Many of them have carved their names into the stone or left a tablet fastened to the stone: the first one to engrave his name on the stone was Nebuchadnezzar; the last recording was the withdrawal of the British troops from Lebanon after they had long been serving occupation duty.
Lebanon has had its freedom for seven years but it isn't any wonder that there is much to be done. The wonder is that they have begun to do so much.
From there we continued looking at old bridges near the Adonis River, about which so many old legends are intertwined. Then we finally reached Biblos, where the latest excavations and reconstruction of the past is going on. It was rather easy to see that one civilization appeared to be built upon another as one went further into the earth.
Never have I felt so surrounded by history or so conscious of the youth of our own nation.