Construction of new camp facilities was progressing at a rapid pace, too. Work was underway to widen and pave the road to the new townhouses, now 25th St, and the north perimeter road. As new housing areas and the additional 9 holes of the Golf Course were being completed, the camp was expanding to the west toward the highway to Dhahran. In fact, the new west perimeter fence now bordered the railroad tracks between Damman and Riyadh that ran through our area.
Ground had been broken and concrete work had started on the new Commissary Mall, which would be on the northwest corner of 25th St. and “D” St, later to be "Dahab". A new Administration Building had been built directly behind the old one. Construction on the planned new Swimming Pool for Abqaiq had been delayed due to Contractor bid problems, but things were changing.
Ramadan ended in the middle of the next week on Tuesday, September 13th, 1977, after the new moon was sighted. This started the 5 day "Id al-Fitr” Holidays, so the Arabs finished their fasts, feasted with family and friends, and greeted everyone with "Idukum Mubarak", "Blessed be your ‘Id’". A lot of Americans went on trips out of the country and we almost went to Greece, but decided to just go through there on our way home sometime. Oran had the 5 days off though; so we just relaxed, ate out a lot, visited with various friends, and went to the pool and beach. Those holidays officially ended the summer and more planned activities, such as bowling leagues, dhow trips to Juraid Island, Riyadh trips, and other A.E.A. functions would begin soon.
Best of all, our new beach facility at Qurrayah on the Persian Gulf officially opened for those holidays. During the summer it had been fenced and provided with covered picnic tables and grills, restrooms and boat racks. A regularly scheduled bus even ran between there and Abqaiq camp then and during succeeding weekends. A Yacht Club was formed for boat owners who wished to moor their boat there. Lounges and chairs were also provided along the water's edge. This provided us with a very welcome change for additional activities, especially with a little more to look forward to on the horizon when the weather started getting nicer. It was already beginning to cool off at night, which was a real relief.
The next week proved to be pretty active. I went to a Women's Club Tea on Sunday afternoon and played canasta at Estella's Monday afternoon.
On Wednesday night Estella had us over for one of her delicious Mexican dinners, always a welcome treat.
On Thursday night, September 22nd, we gave a dinner for Sheila and Keith Kaul and some Canadian friends of theirs who had just arrived in Arabia, Pat and Randy Wenger. Also for Jeanine and Jerry King and their son-in-law, Mike Swecker, who had also just arrived in Arabia, and Kathi and Roy Steindorf. We enjoyed meeting the new people, as we knew they would become a part of our life there.
On Friday we drove to Qurrayah again, but just to have lunch with our friend Jack Hays in the new Bechtel Construction Camp, located to the north of the Sea Water Plant on the road to our new beach facility. Jack and the other employees had just moved into the long, narrow, portable buildings surrounding the portable dining facilities and offices from the floating barge that had been anchored in the Persian Gulf. As usual, the food was delicious.
New family houses were not the only things being built in Abqaiq at that time. A 110-unit, two story apartment building was nearing completion at the corner of "L" Street and the north perimeter road. It was L-shaped and looked very much like a Holiday Inn Motel (in fact, that's what we called it later on). But it was divided into fully furnished apartments with a central lounge and laundry room on each floor. This had the bachelors jumping for joy and celebrating with extra "sedig" parties.
There was an open house for the Holiday Inn Thursday, October 27th,1977. Pat and Guy Smyth, our friends in Ras Tanura, were going to be moving to Dhahran permanently. Guy had been working and living there during the week for awhile already. I wanted to go to Ras Tanura to spend one last night with Pat there before the move, so I caught the necessary buses on Sunday, October 9th, 1977. It would probably be the very last time, and it was nice. Pat and I just sat around and had a nice long talk.
I went to the beach in the late afternoon. The weather was starting to get very comfortable by then, so I walked up and down the length of Nejma and waded in the beautiful water of the Persian Gulf. That evening Pat and I went to the Dining Hall for dinner.
The next morning we were back at the Dining Hall again in the Surf House Recreation Building, which I had seen built in the early 1950's.
We had breakfast before I caught the 10:30 bus to Dhahran. I knew I would still be seeing a lot of Pat and Guy, maybe even more since they were moving even closer to Abqaiq, but this trip had been special, like I was saying goodbye to the good times we had been able to have in Ras Tanura during this second time around. It was especially nice to have such a choice of buses for a trip like this.
When I got to Dhahran I was still able to visit Jeanine King in the hospital there before catching the 1:30 bus on back to Abqaiq. She had gotten sick with a persistent bug of some kind after a trip they made to Afghanistan, and they couldn't get rid of it.
One of the bosses on the Water Injection Project and his wife, Chet and Mary Lou Love, were going to be leaving Arabia for good. So a party was given for them on Wednesday, October 12th, 1977, at Norma and Ray Branches'. It was for all the people in the department and she was also a Sorority member, so Marge and Marvin Williams came up from Udhailiyah for it and spent the night with us. They also stayed over the next night for the "Wild and Wooly Western Night" on our Recreation Clubhouse Patio, co-sponsored by our Sorority and the A.E.A. It was the monthly “International Food Night” for October for the entire camp with a chicken dinner, home-made ice cream, bandits, a shoot- out, a train hold-up (the Zane Train), and a sheriff, who was Walter Busby.
The rest of the Sorority members’ husbands grilled the chickens on the large, permanent brick grill, located in the patio courtyard area between the Theater and the Teen Canteen. The women had made the other foods that completed the menu — ice cream, potato salad, baked beans, and condiments. Tables and chairs had been set up by the Recreation Department, and all of our Sorority members and husbands had dressed in western gear. It was another fun activity for our Beta Sigma Phi group.
The next day we were back to more normal activities, starting with breakfast at the Dining Hall. We ran into the Adams and spent the afternoon at an impromptu gathering on their rooftop patio with other friends. Later Kathi and Roy had us over for dinner.
That was one of the things that made our lifestyle over there so enjoyable. Even without planned events, something was always happening. I started going to the pool as often as possible again the next week as the weather was starting to get bearable for that, during the middle of October. I had also started bowling in leagues on Monday and Tuesday nights.
On Wednesday, October 19th, our group went to another show and dance at the Gymnasium. It was something different this time, a Rock and Roll group called Wayne Cochran and the C. C. Riders. Although not quite our style, we got up and tried to "boogie" (or rock and roll) right along with the younger people. It was good exercise and fun.