Oran flew back to Udhailiyah again the next day, Tuesday, March 25, 1975, with the intention of spending the night there for the first time. I made some business calls in connection with bringing Vicky and Keith over for the summer, wrote some letters, then went to visit Jeanine awhile. I had an appointment to see another travel agent at 3 o'clock, so went to the post office to mail the letters before going around the corner to that office. It was there that I heard that King Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz, the present King of Saudi Arabia had been shot and killed. That was quite a shock, especially since we had been back in Arabia only three days. I was concerned about what might happen, as we had lived in that Kingdom, also, when King Faisal's Father, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, died on November 9, 1953. There had been some unrest at that time and we were told not to leave our camps. Arab soldiers guarded us for several weeks.
I went on to the commissary again, and it wasn't long before the place was packed. People said they thought they had better buy a supply of things as everything might shut down for a while, under any circumstances.
I saw Marge there so we went to her house after she told me that Chris had called to say he and Oran, and in fact, all the Americans working at the various oil facilities in the surrounding areas, were being brought back to Abqaiq that night. When they arrived, Chris suggested we have a drink (our first in Arabia since our return), then go to the dining hall for dinner.
That was the first time we had been in the recreation area, and I was impressed. Everything of that nature was located in one big rectangular block area. The dining hall was in the recreation building itself, along with a snack bar, a special (weekend only) eating room upstairs, a large lounge room for special events, called the East, West Lounge, the bowling alley (6 lanes, with Arab men pen setters), the library, and a pool room. Some tennis courts and several pre-fab portables were on one side of this building, and on the other, was the swimming pool, a large patio where special company events were held, a landscaped courtyard, a teen-canteen, a playground area for smaller children, and a theater.
After eating and looking around, we went by Norma and Milo Cumston's house. They were a couple we had all known before in Ras Tanura in the early 1950's.
There was a lot of talk and speculation about the King's death and what might happen. A ban had been put on Aramco TV and the radio station, but Milo managed to pick up a BBC broadcast from London on his short wave radio, which said the King had been shot by a deranged nephew during a private family audience to observe the birthday of their Prophet, Mohammed.
The consensus seemed to be that the change over from one King to the next in line, King Khalid ibn Abdul Aziz, would be a smooth one, and things should remain the same for Aramco and its employees. That was a relief to all of us, although we were sad about King Faisal's death. He had been a very wise King and had already done so much for the Kingdom.
Before we left, Milo gave us a gallon of the home-made booze that everyone made over there, to tide us over until we could get a "still". We had done this in the early 1950's, but it would take some getting used to again, plus reacquiring a taste for "white lightning".
The next morning (Oran's first not to have to work since we arrived), everything was shut down in mourning for the King. We slept late, a luxury for him, had a nice, big breakfast, then walked to Jeanine and Jerry's to discuss this latest happening. Having been in that country for just three days, as well, they had been very concerned.
Oran wanted to walk around camp then to see the different type houses, so we did that before going back to our apartment. Marge called and wanted us to come over to see their son, Danny, who we had known before we left Arabia, and who was a little younger than our daughter, Vicky. We all visited awhile, then invited Keith Kaul, who had come over on the plane with us and worked on the Water Injection Project in 'Udhailiyah with Oran & Chris, to join us at the dining hall for dinner.
That evening there was a small sand storm with a few drops of rain mixed in with it. Then during the night, we had a thunder storm (unusual for Arabia), and got a pretty good downpour, which settled the dust and cooled things off.
The next morning, Marge called again to say another friend of ours from the early 1950's, Jack Hays, was in camp, so she invited us over to see him again and have breakfast. He now worked for Bechtel Construction Company and lived in a small, portable bachelor camp in Hawiyah, south of Udhailiyah. It was good to see him again too, and we agreed to get together as often as possible.
Back at our apartment, I got some stew started, my first meal to be cooked in Arabia since returning. The DeSantis’ called again, wanting us to walk over to see another man we had known before, Burl York, and meet his new wife, Patty. It was beginning to sound like "old home week", but we enjoyed that as well, and discovered that they were leaving for vacation to the States the next Wednesday. They agreed to take Vicky's plane tickets back and mail them to her, if we could get them in time. That was the customary way of handling returning students tickets; everyone helped each other out.
Oran started trying to get in touch with some travel agents right away, but, as it was Thursday afternoon of the weekend, and also the mourning period for King Faisal's death, everything was closed. We decided that I would work on it on Saturday, the beginning of the Muslim week. I finished my stew, and we thought it was pretty good, even made with Australian beef. We read a bit then got to bed early. Oran was really enjoying all the rest.
We slept late again the next morning, then went with Jeanine and Jerry to the swimming pool. Located off the recreation patio courtyard and entered through a door in a high cement-block wall, the pool compound was impressive. The over sized pool itself had a high, metal covering over the shallow half and a low diving board at the deep end. Immediately surrounding the water was an expanse of cement patio with chairs, tables and lounges to accommodate a large number of people. About halfway down the left side was a wading pool for small children, and beyond that were the dressing rooms. Scalloped cement-block walls were on both street sides and connected back to a building on the other end for equipment and an office for employees, and the entry door. We would enjoy a lot of time there, sunning and swimming over the next 3 years, but that day it was still a bit cold for us to swim.
That evening we had the DeSantis' and Keith Kaul over for a drink. Marge and Chris went square dancing afterward, but Keith, our first dinner guest, stayed to eat leftover stew. We walked around camp again afterward, just enjoying the night. It was just so good to be back in Saudi Arabia again. We had and would continue to make new friends, but it was almost like we had just picked up where we left off nineteen years earlier.