For a while after that our life was rather anti-climatic, but we went on with our normal routines as much as possible.
Since it was Thursday and the weekend, we had breakfast in the Dining Hall, then drove to Mubarraz to call Keith. The Arab government had built a large telephone exchange building there, and we had discovered we could place our overseas calls directly with the Arab operators there and have a much better chance of them going through quickly. Sure enough, that day, after placing our call, we were talking to Keith within 30 minutes.
As that had gone so well, we placed a call to Vicky, and we were able to talk to both of them in less than an hour. What an improvement.
Before driving back to Abqaiq, we drove just outside Mubarraz to the Water Supply area and ate lunch at the Bechtel Construction Camp there. Oran was very familiar with that as that was his area of operations now, and the place he ate lunch every day during the work week. He had been telling me about the good food there, especially curry, so he wanted to show me, plus introduce me to the mostly Indian staff. I was impressed.
On Monday of the next week, July 11th, 1977, there was an International Dinner at the Ain Nakhl Golf Club House, which we all enjoyed, even though it wasn't as exciting as the Kenny Rogers performance. It featured exotic South American foods with an atmosphere from Peru, Brazil, Chile and other "south of the border" countries.
It was time for another trip to Al-Khobar, so on Wednesday morning, I met Gerry Hook in the Dining Hall for breakfast, then we caught one of the new air-conditioned buses at 7:30. What a difference that made on the drive down and back, but it was still hotter than blue blazes while we shopped.
We had lunch in the Dhahran Dining Hall and still caught the familiar 1:30 bus back to Abqaiq. But I got sick before we got there, and was sick the rest of the evening. I don't know whether it was from the heat, of something I ate. We had been invited to the Kaul’s that night, but I just couldn't go.
Marge DeSantis had a brunch and Sorority Board Meeting the next morning, and I was able to go to that.
The weather had been something else that year. Not only had the temperatures gotten to an extremely hot 112 degrees by then, but the shamals, or sand storms, were so continuous they were driving even the old timers crazy. There had been one at the end of June that lasted nearly two weeks, and everyone was about ready to climb the walls. The worst part was that you couldn't even get outside much during them, so it really cut down on activities, and there was little enough to do there. I wasn't able to go to the pool as usual, so I nearly lost my tan during that summer, and I had a beaut.
The next dance at the Golf Club House was Wednesday, July 20th. The entertainers would be Allan Ladd and his group. He was beginning to play a lot at all the camps for Aramcon's functions, including the returning students' parties and gatherings. It was nice to have someone like that available, especially to give us extra activities for the summer. Our group got together again and took advantage that night.
We were given a rare opportunity on Saturday, July 23rd, 1977. One of Oran's employee's, Wahab Al-Muhawish, invited us to his home in Mubarraz for a visit, to meet his family and have lunch. We didn't want to pass up this chance, so I rode there with Oran that morning on his regular work day.
We went to his office in the Water Supply building first, so he could check on things, then drove several blocks further on toward Hofuf before turning onto a dirt street that led to Wahab's walled house.
We went through a solid, decorated, metal gate into a dirt courtyard, then into the front room of the three story house. Wahab introduced us to his brother, father-in-law and 2 small sons. We sat on the floor, were served coffee, tea, and some sweets. During this, a number of children, both girls and boys, entered and departed the room. Some were cousins and the others Wahab's children. It was a bit difficult to keep them all separated on that first visit. There were several families living there together, but Wahab told us he was having a house built just across the street that would later be for just his family.
Eventually, I was taken into the back part of the house, introduced to Wahab's wife, Nora, his mother-in-law and other female members and children of the household. They spoke no English, and I didn't know that much Arabic, but we did the best we could, and had the common bond of being women with children.
Sitting on the floor again in the furniture-less room, leaning against sturdy cushions, I drank more coffee and tea.
When the traditional Kabsa ( a meal of rice and chicken) was brought into this room, all the women and older female children left before Wahab, Oran, and the other men appeared. I was allowed to stay and eat with them as an honored guest.
We sat around the tray on the floor and followed Wahab's instructions to eat with our right hand. The food was truly delicious, though difficult and messy to eat like that, but we enjoyed it immensely.
We didn't see the other family members again that day, but just said our ‘thank you’s and ‘goodbye’s to Wahab and the other men. We felt truly honored to have been invited into his home, and that started a close bond with he and his family that lasts to this day.
The following Tuesday, July 26th, 1977, was an important milestone day in Oran's life. It was his 50th birthday. It was my birthday as well of course, so we decided to give ourselves a party to celebrate this significant and special time in his life.
Since Tuesday was in the middle of the week, we waited until Thursday, July 28th, to actually have the party.
We had a good crowd of friends, and they brought a cake and a large copper tray for us, made in that part of the world. I had bought Oran an assortment of fun gifts to spark things up for him in the next half century. Everyone had some good laughs when he opened these. He said he planned to make that the "first day of the rest of his life, not work too hard after that, enjoy things more, or more things". I said I thought I'd join him. It was a fun evening.
The A.E.A. was doing a bang up job providing good entertainment for that summer, so another group was coming from the States the following weekend.
I had been invited by the Williams to go to Udhailiyah on Wednesday, August 3rd, 1977, to see the group "The Clean Sweep" with them, and enjoy the other activities connected with it. So I caught the plane to Udhailiyah that morning at 6:20 a.m. with Estella and Bill Syphers.
We all had breakfast in the Dining Hall, walked around camp, first to the pool, though it wasn't open yet, then on up the hill to see the first, new, freestanding houses being built there on 14th St. The new Recreation Hall, which was just a portable building, was on the other side of the rowhouses on 14th St., across from the new portable School. There was always going to be something new to see in Udhailiyah every time I visited now.
After lunch we rested until the evening's activities. That started with a party and dinner at John Cochran's house, with the Clean Sweep Group and all others in camp, before going to the pool for the performance. They were very entertaining, the best group we had had so far.
Everybody went back to Cochran's house afterward and partied until about midnight.
We had breakfast in the Dining Hall the next morning with Marvin before Marge and I went to the pool. Estella and her niece joined us there, and we spent a good part of that day sunning, swimming and just relaxing.
The Clean Sweep entertainers flew back to Abqaiq on the 4 o'clock plane with us that afternoon as they would be performing there that night. A bus was waiting to take them into Abqaiq, but Oran met me in his pickup.
At the house, Jack Adams and Kathi Steindorf stopped by and had a drink with us before we went to Fran and Bob Jeffress', then on to the Golf Club House.
Roy and LuJean Yates and a bachelor, named Scottie, rounded out our group that night for the dance and performance. The entertainment was very good again, but I was too tired to really enjoy it after the night before in Udhailiyah. Guess I was trying to burn too many candles at both ends.
On Thursday, August 11th, 1977, we had been invited to an awards dinner and dance at the Dining Hall in the Abqaiq West Construction Camp. That's where Kathi and Ruth worked, and they had been asked to bring extra couples to the affair. So, we went to the Steindorf’s at 5:30 before driving out there.
There were only 13 women in the entire place, so you can imagine how we got stared at. The men were a mixture of the Americans, U.K.'s, and Philippines who live there, and our husbands. It was a very different and interesting evening.
Kathi and Ruth's jobs there were beginning to create some new social activities.
Ramadan started the following week on August 15th. That is the religious month of fasting and prayer for the Arabs, so everything slowed down, especially since it fell in August. That is the hottest month of the year in Arabia, and it had already reached 116 degrees. The eating recreational facilities, and bus schedules would be altered or shortened. To make matters worse, the swimming pool and bowling alleys had been shut down that week for major repair work and cleaning.
We continued our socializing by going to dinner Wednesday evening at Ruth and Tommy Dominy’s with the Steindorfs, and a bachelor Kathi and Ruth worked with, George Stein. He brought one of the single girls as his date. It was an enjoyable evening.
The next day, Thursday, August 18th, 1977, was a momentous occasion for our daughter, Vicky. She graduated from Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. We felt so bad that we couldn't be there. I had thought about flying home for it, but decided it would be a bit much. Our son, Keith, would graduate from North Texas State University in December and I knew I couldn't fly home for both events. We were really proud of both of them, though.
We did drive to Hofuf to call Vicky to congratulate her that day. It took us an hour to drive down and an hour to drive back, but it was Thursday, and also Ramadan, so there was not a lot of traffic. It just took 30 minutes for the call to go through, so was worth it to be able to talk to her on that day.
I was back in Abqaiq in time to go to a jewelry party at Jeanine Kings. That was a new business some enterprising bachelorette had started to make extra money. The jewelry came from Bangkok, Thailand. I looked for an opal for Vicky, her birthstone, but didn't find one I liked that day.
That evening we went to a Sorority card party at the DeSantis', so it had been a very full, but enjoyable day.
We had been offered another house or two, but so far, for one reason or another had decided to just stay in the apartment.
The next week I had workmen in repairing the AC, and some water leaks. It was nerve wracking, but when they finished, the apartment was in pretty good shape.
I did get out and go to the Newcomers' Welcome Tea on Sunday, August 21st. There were still a lot on new employees arriving.
There was another dance at the Golf Club House our group went to on Thursday, August 25th. Some Philippines, who lived in the Abqaiq West Construction Camp had formed a band called Al-Mojil, and had started playing for a lot of the dances. It seemed all those men were very musically inclined and could play a lot of different instruments. They had a good beat and we enjoyed their dances very much. That night was no exception.
The Sorority had a fun Mexican Progressive Dinner on Thursday, September 1st, 1977. We started out with appetizers at the Steindorfs, then went to the Adams for the main enchilada course, and to Mathey’s for dessert and coffee. That was also the King's Anniversary, so an extra reason to party.
Activities continued to be low-key during Ramadan, but the A.E.A. did bring over another entertainer to perform on Wednesday, September 7th. Freddie Hart and the Heartbeats were another country music group, popular in the States for "Easy Loving", "From a Jack to a King", and "Misty Blue", but not as well known as Kenny Rogers. It was held in the gymnasium, though, for an expected larger crowd, which we were a part of. This time I didn't try to see them in Udhailiyah as well though.