We still hadn't heard from Vicky and she was due to arrive in 4 days, so that evening the call that we had been trying to get through for three days finally made it. Everything was fine, so we were relieved about that. She had her passport and visa and planned to leave as scheduled. I went on with my activities and tried not to think about it too much, so I wouldn't worry. It isn't every day your daughter flies half way around the world on her own.
Marge Williams and I went by Kathy Steindorfs' for coffee the next morning, then on to the pool to work on our tans some more. That afternoon all of us went to the Suqs. We decided to play bridge at my house that night, and Sandy Adams joined us. We laughed and talked as much as we played bridge, but it was enjoyable.
The next couple of days I worked around the apartment cleaning and cooking (boiled shrimp and the strawberry pie Vicky liked so much).
Oran came home from Udhailiyah on April 30th. We ate in the Dining Hall and left for the airport about 8 p.m., expecting to have a long wait ahead of us. When we got there, we had a cup of tea in the Airport Dining Room and went outside to watch for her plane, but there it was landing in front of us, right on time - 9:45.
We waited for Vicky to get through customs, and it didn't take long as the plane was not crowded. We greeted each other joyfully, then helped carry her luggage to the taxi. On the way back to Abqaiq, we pointed out different things of interest, as much as we could see in the dark, and talked about her trip over and stay in Amsterdam. She was tired, as she had stayed up practically all night before she left Dallas, then didn't sleep much on the plane. In Amsterdam, she went on the canal boat tour, walked around a bit, and then went back to the hotel to sleep. She kept thinking she should get up and see some more, but was just too sleepy with jet lag. She had made a date with an American man on the plane over to go to dinner, but when he arrived he got fresh, so she told him to get lost and went back to bed for the rest of the stay.
By the time we had heard all about that the kilometers had clicked by in a hurry and we were passing through the main gate of Abqaiq Camp. In our apartment, we got her settled in her room then went right to bed. We all slept late the next morning, especially Vicky, then ate a huge breakfast. Vicky wanted lots of bacon, which we could still get in the Pork Room part of the Commissary.
Chris DeSantis called to see if we would like to drive with him to Al-Khobar to get a Television Set, which we had not purchased yet, so we decided to go. It was the first time Oran had been back to Al-Khobar since our return, so he was able to see everything again, plus show Vicky a lot more of Saudi Arabia, the area between our camps, and our favorite shopping city on the Persian Gulf. It was nice to be able to go in a car as well, and we were able to park, buy the Television Set, and load it without any trouble.
On the way back it was sundown, so the Arabs were stopped all along the road praying. Sometimes there would be a single person, kneeling on his prayer rug, and sometimes several Arabs lined up in the sand with a leader in front, all facing toward Mecca. It was the only time ever Oran and I had seen a sight like that, so it was fascinating. We wished we had brought Vicky's movie camera, although we had been cautioned against taking pictures of this nature.
Oran and I had been invited to go to a 25 year dinner that Thursday evening at Ruth and Ken Cumings' for a man named Dalal, a Palestinian who had worked for Oran when we were here before. While we did that, Vicky went to a movie, then back to our apartment to watch the new TV.
The next morning we all slept late again, then had another big breakfast. During that time of the year, any Friday would have been incomplete without a trip to the swimming pool, and we were anxious to show it to Vicky. She was pleased with it as well, and was able to meet our friend Jeanine King and Renata Swartzmeir – one of the German wives there.
We rounded out Vicky's first weekend back in Arabia by grilling some steaks on the Morris' grill. Even though the Australian beef had a whang, or strong taste, we enjoyed it. Afterward, Vicky checked on the Women’s Softball Team.
Oran flew back to Udhailiyah the next morning, Saturday, May 3rd. Vicky and I took her passport to the office, got her identification badge, went by the Post Office, then went on to the Women’s Club Portable to take cookies out of the freezer and get things ready for the Newcomers' Coffee the next morning. I had been made Coffee and Tea Chairman, so I was responsible for all that.
That afternoon we went to play volleyball at the school gymnasium, but there weren't many people to play with, so we went back to the apartment to freshen up, then went on to the Dining Hall to eat. We thought there might be some cute, young, single guys to look over for Vicky, but there wasn't another person in there eating. The Arabs serving us all seemed impressed with her though, and were very nice to us. We just went on back home and watched TV.
I left Vicky sleeping and went to the Women’s Club Portable at 8 o'clock the next morning to prepare for, then stay for the Newcomers' Coffee and put away the silver service after.
That afternoon Vicky and I went to the pool again. Jeanine and Renata were there as well, and Scott Tanner, son of the District Manager, Larry Tanner. I introduced Vicky to him, and we all talked, sun bathed and had a very enjoyable time. Renata was very funny and entertaining, and Vicky and Scott seemed to get along well. My tan was coming along beautifully. Vicky was envious for the first time in our lives because I was tanner than she (Oran liked it too).
That evening Vicky and I went bowling. A few guys stopped to watch briefly, but for the most part we were alone. I was beginning to wonder where all the bachelors I'd been hearing about were. Later I was to discover just how abundant, attentive, and flattering those bachelors could be.
We caught the 7:30 bus the next morning, Monday, May 5, with Jeanine to go to Dhahran, then on to Al-Khobar. We shopped and took video, then caught the bus back to Dhahran, had lunch, and started back to Abqaiq on the 1:30 bus. For some reason, there were also a lot of Arab men on the bus that day. I had never seen more than one or two at a time before. Anyway, Vicky took some videos of them, sand dunes and shacks along the road, and even a train going by on the tracks that paralleled the road at that point. Then, at the halfway station, we saw a camel and just beyond, large groups of them on both sides of the road, one carrying the covered saddle that is used by the Bedouin women when they are traveling or moving. We all got so excited and kept giving Vicky instructions about what to take pictures of next. Even the Arabs on the bus got excited and started pointing out locations of the camels. Vicky hardly got to see a thing she was so busy taking movies, but I was fortunate as that was only the second group of camels I had seen since arriving, and these were so close and in such great number. All in all, it was a very unusual and interesting bus trip and a nice beginning for Vicky’s visit there.
When we got home, we showered, rested and at 6:45 went to the bowling alley where I started in a league. It was a mixed couples’ league and I had been asked to be a partner by Floyd Dolce. Vicky watched us until the movie started, then went to see that. I don't know why, but I started off bowling a 213 game. That was the first 200 game I had bowled in a couple of years. Everyone there thought I was going to be a crackerjack bowler. I was thrilled, of course, but since we were setting an average, it didn't work to my advantage on the whole.
Afterward, I waited for Vicky to get out of the movie, but she was with Scott Tanner, who wanted to take her to the snack bar, so I went on home. The next afternoon I played bridge at Edie Offields, and Vicky went bowling with Scott. We had signed up for a beginners Arabic class, so we attended that at 5:45, then went to the Dining Hall to eat again. We were beginning to get into the camp routine and take advantage of everything that was offered by the company and clubs for both of us.
The following morning, there was thunder and a little rain. We took that opportunity to write letters and get Vicky's film ready to mail. Oran flew home from Udhailiyah that evening for the start of another weekend.
We all slept late the next morning, Thursday, May 8th, had a big breakfast, then went to the pool to sun bath and swim. Later we took Vicky to the suqs. After supper, she went to softball practice as she had been asked to join the women’s team, The Roadrunners.
Oran and I had a drink with the Morris' next door, then went to the King’s and the DeSantis’ for awhile to visit. Danny DeSantis was home from school so Marge wanted us to meet them at the fellowship service held in the Theater Friday morning, so we did. After the service we all went to the DeSantis' house for brunch. Our kids, who had played together as very young children when we were first in Arabia, finally met again.
Vicky played in her first softball game in Dhahran that evening, which they won. While she did that, Oran and I went to a cocktail party at Sue and Frank Todd’s. They lived right across the alley from us, so Vicky joined us for a little while when she got back from Dhahran.
When Oran flew back to Udhailiyah the next morning. Vicky and I wrote and mailed letters, got Keith's tickets from the travel agent, then went to Arabic class again.
There was a Mother’s Day Brunch the next morning, Sunday, in the Recreation Building Lounge which was very nice. Individual tables were set up with matching cloths and napkins and centerpieces (wooden chickens) that I had helped work on. A play was presented about a person first arriving in Arabia and what happens to her –very typical and funny. Vicky wasn't able to attend this, which was a disappointment.
My first Women’s Club Board meeting was at 1 o'clock that day, so Vicky took advantage of that time to go to the Greenery (where the Garden Club Members raised plants) to buy me a plant for Mothers' Day. She got a very pretty ivy plant that grew and decorated our coffee table all the time we lived there in the mid-70's. When we left, I passed it on to Jeanine King, who returned it to me when we returned to Arabia in 1981. In September, 1985, when we left Arabia again, I donated the plant to the Abqaiq Information Office attached to the Mall, and it could possibly still be there.
Anyway, after my meeting we went to the Post Office to mail a letter to Keith telling him all about when he would leave on his trip to join us in Arabia. There was a letter from him, and I could tell he was concerned because he hadn't heard from us, so that worried me. We took his tickets to Fern McGee for her to take to the States to mail, as arranged.
At the Dining Hall, later, we enjoyed a special Mother’s Day meal of roast duck and dressing. Pat Smyth had wanted to introduce us to a friend of hers, Cheryl Thole, so on Monday we bussed to Al-Khobar to meet them. We got together at the fountain where all the buses stopped, then shopped all up and down King Khaled Street. Just before the shops closed for prayer Pat and I bought stereo sets, then paid a couple of Arab men to carry them the several blocks back to the taxi stand near the fountain. So we taxied back to Dhahran, where we ate lunch in the Dining Hall before loading our stereo sets on to the appropriate busses back to our camps. It had been a productive and enjoyable day.
That evening Vicky went to softball practice while I bowled, and afterward we ate in the Snack Bar. I had been worrying more about what Keith was thinking about his trip to Saudi Arabia, so tried to put in a call to him in the States, but couldn't get through, as usual.
Our first Arab cooking class started the next morning at 9 o'clock in the Women’s Club Portable. There were two Arab women who came to teach us. With a little help from us, they fixed spinach pie, which is a mixture of spinach, pine nuts, onions, spices and oil sealed in small circles of dough and baked – much better tasting then you would imagine. Even Vicky, who hates spinach, liked it.
That afternoon Vicky talked to Ahmed Hersey, in charge of Recreation, and was hired as a lifeguard at the swimming pool. I put in another call to Keith that evening, but it didn't go through either. Vicky and I had decided that there were too many things going on, so we dropped Arabic class, even though we had been trying things out we had learned on the Arabs who worked in the Commissary, Post Office, Dining Hall, etc., and they were thrilled to death. I thought I might try again after the kids' visit when there was more time.
The next morning, just as I was leaving to play bridge at 9 o'clock, my call to Keith went through. I couldn't hear him very well, but he could hear me, so I was able to give him all the information about his trip over. He had been concerned because he had sent us a telegram, so I felt much better after the call, knowing he wasn't in suspense any longer. I was late getting to bridge, but it was worth it being able to talk to Keith.
That afternoon I prepared for our trip to Ras Tanura and Oran's coming home from Udhailiyah. Jeanine and Jerry came over that evening with a bottle of booze, so we had a couple of drinks and re-planned our trip. They would be going with us to Ras Tanura. So we all caught the 7:30 bus to Dhahran the next morning, Thursday, May 15, 1975. After breakfast in the Dining Hall there, we switched to the Ras Tanura bus. It would be the first time up there for the Kings and Vicky, since her return to Arabia, so we pointed out the different things of interest along the way. We saw a few camels and told her about the changes that had taken place in the 19 years we had been gone. We were so excited.
Pat and Guy were waiting at the bus stop in front of the school as before. I immediately took Vicky to show her our old apartment, N1E-1, and the yard she had played in so much as a young child. We walked all around, front and back, looked in all the windows and at the changes in the trees and shrubs. The Smyth’s then took us all to the Thole's apartment where we would be staying as they were on vacation. We got settled, put on our bathing suits and robes, then walked to the beach, past our old apartment and down the same road, Jasmine Lane, we had used so many times when the kids were so small.
Vicky and the Kings were impressed with the beautiful water and white sand of the Persian Gulf. The only bad things were the oil spots on the beach now, but that didn't keep us from enjoying being back there again.
Afterward we went back to Thole’s, cleaned up, then had drinks and sandwiches that Pat had sent over on the patio. Linda and Ken McElwee, who came over on the plane with the Kings and ourselves, lived in the same 7-unit apartment building, so they stopped by to visit with us. Later we dressed up, went to the Smyth’s for drinks, then on to Ann and Bob Gulovsen’s, who had invited us all to their Norwegian Dinner and Party. It was in full swing so we joined right in. We met a lot of people with foreign sounding names, including some Aramco pilots. One offered to take Vicky and I for a ride one day. We had a really delicious meal and lots of fun. The Kings took to everyone immediately, and they to them, as well. There was a lot of joking about Jerry's bald head, so Ann went to her bedroom, brought out one of her hair pieces and gave it to him. Everyone really got a big laugh out of that, but it looked good on him, so Ann gave it to him to keep.
Sleeping until 11:00 the next morning was a luxury we all enjoyed, then went to the snack bar for breakfast. Guy took Oran and Jerry to show them around the terminal, where all the big tankers came to be filled with oil. Vicky and Jeanine went to the beach while Pat and I napped. That evening, after dinner at the Smyth’s, we walked to the Recreation Building Patio where we sat and watched the gentle waves of the Persian Gulf quietly lap upon the sandy beach. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and we reminisced about all the wonderful dances, parties, and activities we had enjoyed there when we lived there before. It made us wish we could live back in Ras Tanura again.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the snack bar again, before packing up, straightening the Tholes' Apartment, and going by our old apartment, N1E-1, again to take pictures. We went on to the bus stop then, took more pictures, said our goodbyes and thank yous to the Smyths, then caught the 11 o'clock bus to Dhahran. We ate lunch there and took more pictures on the brick wall surrounding the large tree in front of the Dining Hall, then caught the 1:30 bus to Abqaiq. We were all tired, but satisfied from a very fulfilling and enjoyable weekend.