Another trip to Al-Khobar was warranted Monday, so I made the usual bus connections and found another gold bracelet to buy on my one day shopping spree. I had finished a role of movie film on the way, so took that to the Post Office before visiting with Ruby and Frank Adams. On my call to Oran that evening, I related the day’s events, but I'm not sure he liked the part about the gold bracelet.
The pool was closed the next morning because of a chlorine leak, so I went to Harriet's, had coffee, and bought two sets of plaques that she painted for gifts. That afternoon I made some samboozies, a spicy meat filled, small, triangular crust snack, which is a favorite of the Arabs. Harriet and Kathi came over later, so we sat on our porch, had the samboozies, and visited.
Jack Hays would spend Thursday night of that weekend with us, so I cooked some shrimp and made a cheese ball and some lasagna by the time he arrived. We were joined by Keith Kaul and Harvey Pederson, the other bachelors of our group in camp at that time, and the Steindorfs, so we had a fun evening.
Friday morning, Jack played golf before I cooked a big breakfast, then he drove back to Hawiyah. Oran went to talk to Keith Kaul then about his new work assignment. Beginning in the next month, he would be training a class of Arabs on the Sea Water Project in Abqaiq, so would not have to return to live in ‘Udhailiyah during that time. He was very excited at that prospect, but a bit apprehensive about the teaching, as he had never done that before.
When he returned, we went to the pool for our usual tanning and swimming and saw Estela and Avonie again. That was getting to be a very frequent occurrence. To top off our weekend, we had slushes on our porch with Cissy and Bob Mitchell, then warmed up the lasagna for our dinner.
It was not quite so hard for Oran to fly back to 'Udhailiyah on Saturday. I started my day by getting a call from Jerry King, who was back in Arabia from vacation. He came over to pick up his mail that we had been saving for them, had coffee and told me about their trip. Jeanine had stayed in the States with the two boys, Jim and Jeff, until they got out of school and could come back to Arabia for the summer. They had decided to let Jim return to Arabia again after all.
Several weeks earlier I had been asked by the Abqaiq Bowling Association to be one of our bowlers in the Inter-District Bowling Tournament that would be in Ras Tanura the coming weekend. Estela Syphers would also be one of the bowlers, so on Monday she and I met at our bowling alley in the Recreation Building to practice several games, then pick up our official shirts and all the instructions. Afterward, we ate in the snack bar. She and I were beginning to become good friends.
The next day, Sunday, April 18th, 1976, was Easter; so we invited Jerry King, his daughter Jan, and Keith Kaul and his son, Randy, (Sheila was not back in Arabia then either), to have dinner with us. Oran just happened to be back in Abqaiq that night because he had some business to attend to the next day. So I fixed the Hormel Cure 81 ham we could get in our pork room, scalloped potatoes, scalloped corn, a jello salad, deviled eggs and English peas. For dessert, we had chocolate Easter candy the company had shipped in for the occasion. It was one of my best meals there. It really didn't seem like Easter, though, as there were no little kids hunting eggs. Kathi Steindorf told me later about hiding eggs and chocolate things all over her house and yard, and her kids got up at 6:30 to hunt for them. She said her little boy, Justin, who could walk then, stopped looking after he found his first chocolate bunny. He sat right down and ate the whole thing, paper and all. That story just about made up for not being in the States for that Easter Holiday.
Oran had an appointment to talk with the Vice-Counsel of the United States, who had come to Abqaiq Monday for business concerning Americans. He hadn't returned from that meeting by 12 o'clock, so I went out to a lunch, canasta, and birthday party for Patti York at Marie Quiggles. I got home about 4:30 but Oran had already caught the plane back to 'Udhailiyah.
That evening we had our first bad "schmall" of the season, and it was weird. The wind started blowing hard, and there was dust in the air so thick you could hardly see. There was thunder and lightening, which struck a utility pole, and we were without electricity for 2 hours, so there was no Aramco radio broadcast, TV, or lights anywhere in camp. Then it rained all night long. The whole thing was really eerie.
I met Estela at the pool the next morning, and we stayed for a couple of hours. But it was really cloudy all the time, so didn't do much good as far as tanning. I had been doing just great, but didn't get out much the week before, and that week had been cloudy, so my tan was fading. I had wanted it to look really good for the coming weekend in Ras Tanura. The weather was beginning to warm up, so we wouldn't have the absolutely perfect conditions for sunning for very much longer. It had already reached 102 degrees that week.
That afternoon I did all the necessary things to get ready to go to Ras Tanura for the bowling tournament the next day. We had made plans to stay with our friends, the Smyths, so I called Pat to tell her we would be seeing her the next morning. It was a surprise to find out that one of her twin girls, Melanie, had an emergency appendectomy the night before. But she was doing just fine, so Pat wanted us to follow through with our plans to stay at their house anyway.
Oran came home from 'Udhailiyah, and we finished all the necessary packing, but then received more bad news from the States. One of Oran's sisters was in the hospital in Tyler, Texas with a brain hemorrhage; she was unconscious and critical. He debated going to the States, but decided there was absolutely nothing he could do for her, and the rush trip would have been very hard on him, as he probably couldn't have stayed but a few days. So we caught a taxi about 7 o'clock the next morning, Thursday, April 22nd, 1976, for our trip to Ras Tanura.
On the way up, I was beginning to get nervous about the tournament. I had bowled many times on those lanes before, in fact, had started my bowling "career" there when they built the Surf House Lanes in the early 1950's, but since our return to Arabia I had just bowled in Abqaiq. We arrived about 9 a.m. and went to the Smyths, where I changed into my bowling clothes before going to the Surf House Dining Hall for breakfast. We started bowling at 10 a.m. against the Dhahran team, and sure enough, I was so nervous and excited I didn't do too well, at first. But I settled down after two games and bowled pretty steady in the 140's after that. Our team of Estela Syphers, Etta Sutton, Lou Little and myself won two games that morning. We went to the beach for awhile, rested, then bowled the Ras Tanura team at 3:30, winning all three games from them. I bowled a 180 game during that set.
Pat had gone to Dhahran to be with Melanie in the hospital for the day, but was home later, so we visited then went to a dinner party for all bowlers at a home on the beach row. We had a Kabsa (an Arab style meal of chicken and rice), on the lawn overlooking the Persian Gulf. It was delicious and in a beautiful setting with perfect weather. Win, lose, or draw, that made the trip worthwhile.
Friday morning we were back at the bowling alley by 10 a.m. for our games with Ras Tanura again and won two of those. We ate sandwiches and snacks at the bowling alley that had been brought by their bowling association members before bowling the Dhahran team at 1 o'clock. We won only 1 game from them, but that almost assured us of winning the tournament. It would depend on what all the others did.
We went back to the Smyths after taking pictures of our team on the Surf House Patio, got our things together and rode back to Abqaiq with Opal and Curly Ball. Later, we called Guy and found out that we had indeed won the tournament, so then we wished we had stayed to get my picture taken when the prize, an individual silver serving tray, was presented to the other members of my team. It had been a really great weekend, anyway.
Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah Saturday morning. I was really tired and sore from the bowling all weekend, but went to the pool anyway for an hour or so. Later Etta Sutton came over to the apartment to bring the tray that I'd won in the tournament.
Oran was home again that evening, so we called Kathi and Sandy to come over for the usual cheese and crackers. They called their husbands in 'Udhailiyah, then stayed for enchiladas and salad with us. We walked the girls to their houses when they were ready to leave.
Sunday evening I went to Marge DeSantis' house for the Sorority dinner and Ritual of Jewels Ceremony. It was the formal induction for the new members, a dress-up affair, very nice. We received our pins and had our pictures taken by Ken Casparis, the husband of one of our sisters, Carolyn. Chris and Axel Green, husbands of sisters, Marge and Sharon, joined us for coffee and dessert.
I went to Al-Khobar again Monday morning, but the bus was 40 minutes late leaving, so we missed our connecting bus in Dhahran. We reported it to Transportation, so a taxi was sent to take us there. I had planned to meet Pat Smyth and another friend of hers, Joanne Simmons, but they had given up on me. So I shopped in the Indian Store and the Drugstore across the street in the first block from the fountain entrance to King Khalid Street. In Baluchi's Grocery in the next block, I ran into them, so we made arrangements to meet for lunch, then separated again to finish our shopping. I made it to the small coffee shop across from the vegetable market just before they locked the doors for Prayer Time. Pat and Joanne were already there, so we ate our lunch, which was just okay, then caught the bus back to Dhahran. Pat's daughter was still in the hospital there, so we visited with her before I caught the bus back to Abqaiq.
There was a very special event for me the evening, Tuesday, April 27th, 1976. I had been invited to my first real Arab dinner at an Arab's home, and I wasn't going to let anything keep me from attending. Opal and Curly Ball had been invited too, so they picked me up at 6 and we drove to the home of Dhage, a senior staff Arab, who was supervisor of the Abqaiq Dining Hall at that time. He lived inside our camp, and I think every Arab who held a top position in Abqaiq was there, plus several Americans, including Estela and Avonie.
The dinner party was held in the yard, and a large canvas had been put up over poles to form a tent effect. Under that, we sat on rugs and leaned or sat on the big Arab cushions. After visiting over drinks and eating boiled shrimp, raw carrots, celery, and olives for a while, several huge, round trays were brought out and set on the rugs. Everyone sat in a circle around one of the trays, which were piled high with huge mounds of spicy rice, full of pine nuts and white raisins, with huge pieces of lamb on top of that.
There was no silverware or napkins, so we dug in with our right hands, in the Arab tradition, trying to wad the rice into balls and pushing it into our mouths with our thumb, as our Arab hosts had told us and shown us how to do. But we were getting more on the rugs and ourselves than we were in our mouths. The Arabs in each circle were very helpful by wading some rice properly, then giving it to us to eat, and tearing off choice pieces of the lamb and putting it right in front of us. There was a lot of laughing and joking about our clumsy efforts, but it was fun, and the food was absolutely delicious.
After that food was cleared away, baskets of apples and oranges were brought out, then the Arab cardamom flavored coffee was served from the brass Arab coffee pots. Arab music was playing so our hosts got up and started dancing and clapping their hands to the rhythm of the music. They encouraged us, so we soon joined in. I can truthfully say that evening was one of the truly big highlights of being in Saudi Arabia, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Needless to say, I was very tired the next day, but had to get everything ready for a dessert-bridge I was having at my house. All the women arrived by 12:30, so we ate cake and played bridge all afternoon.
When Oran got home from 'Udhailiyah, we went to a party at Ruby and Frank Adams for awhile before joining Syphers at a Calapso performance and dance at the Golf Club House. Syphers had been invited to the Adams party as well, so when the dance was over we went back there, along with three English bachelors who had joined us. By that time, the party was in full swing, so we all continued dancing on Adams patio until the wee hours.
We didn't feel too well the next morning from all the activities, and to make matters worse, we received a telegram before we even got up saying that Oran's sister had died the day before. Even though it was expected it was very sad and made us regret that we hadn't seen her when we were in the States on vacation. We were rather in a state of shock after this, and talked about going home for sure in October, after the 18 month tax requirement was up.
Jerry King and Keith Kaul came over to visit Friday morning. Keith, who worked on the Sea Water Project too, talked to Oran about his new job in connection with that coming the next month. After the six weeks, he had been told he might be involved with helping to write a training manual, so that would help him considerably. The bad food in the bachelor camp of 'Udhailiyah and being so isolated was just about to get to him. When Jerry and Keith left, we went to the pool for awhile, but went right back home after that. We just felt like being alone.
The next week was rather routine, although it was Oran's last one in 'Udhailiyah before starting his new assignment in Abqaiq.
On Wednesday I packed for our weekend trip to Ras Tanura. We had been invited up there again by the Smyths because a friend was back in Arabia for a visit, and there would be several parties, plus the annual Beau Arts Ball on the Clubhouse patio overlooking the Persian Gulf. We taxied up there on Thursday, and the evening activities began with cocktails at the home of Rose and Jack Mowbray. After about an hour and a half, we all went to the Clubhouse for the Ball.
The Fluor Band played for the dancing and a big meal was served about 10:30. It was beautiful there on the patio, with the moon shining on the Persian Gulf, and the weather was so perfect, but it was a bit sad to think how often we had done that same thing so many years ago. Now most of the people we had done it with were gone hither and yon, and the people there that night were mostly strangers.
We went to the beach the next morning when we first got up, and walked up and down in front of the housing area. The waves were too big to enjoy being in the water, and we just seemed to be in a down mood, so didn't even enjoy what as we usually did while in Ras Tanura. We went back to Smyths, got dressed, packed, then caught the bus back to Abqaiq. We appreciated Smyths efforts to include us in the activities there, but that time our hearts just didn't seem to be in it.