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Born in U.S.A, She Won’t Abandon Beautiful Beirut

--A 79-year-old American woman who settled in Muslim West Beirut 33 years ago, when the city was still “the Paris of the Middle East,” says she is not scared by the recent kidnapings and murders of Westerners and doesn’t plan to leave Lebanon. Genevieve Maxwell says she was born on Gull Island in Long Island Sound, N.Y., but that lawless West Beirut is her permanent home. “Only when I can’t cope will I pack and go, but as long as I can cope I’m staying,” she said from the spacious terrace of her seaside penthouse. It overlooks the ruins of the former U.S. Embassy, where a bomb explosion on April 18, 1983, killed at least 49 people. Maxwell came to Beirut in 1953, to write a gossip column for Beirut’s English-language Daily Star, a job she held for 10 years. Now, she spends most of her time writing guidebooks to the Middle East. She is alone. Her husband died in an airplane crash in 1934 and a son, Charles, and three grandchildren live in the United States. “Everyone wants to know why I remain in West Beirut,” Maxwell said. “I can never find another small enclave like this one,” she said, indicating her view of the blue waters of the Mediterranean. “Where will I find that in New York or in Philadelphia?”

--An 18-year-old boy who never attended formal school has accepted a scholarship to Harvard University. Harvard was the “winner” in an academic courtship of Drew Colfax; the “losers” included other top educational institutions. The award is just another scholarly plum for a family of mother, father and four sons--two of them adopted--who live on a mountaintop ranch near Boonville, about 120 miles north of San Francisco. Drew and his brothers are home-educated at what their parents, David and Micki Colfax, call Mountain School--the ranch house of their sheep and goat operation. Drew’s brother, Grant, 21, is an honor pre-medical student at Harvard. Reed, 16, is mathematically precocious, according to his father, and Garth, 10, has a deep interest in ceramics and painting. David Colfax said that he and his wife were unhappy with the quality of public schooling and decided to teach their children at home. He said their home is registered with Mendocino County as a private school. Father and mother share the instructional duties. “I and my wife decided years ago we weren’t about to have our kids sit through a mind-numbing experience. We buy the books and point them in the right direction.”


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