That weekend on Thursday and Friday, November 10th and 11th, 1977, we went to a Fall Art Show in the Am Nakhl Golf Club House, and a Sorority going away party for Mary Lou and Chet Love at the home of Julie and Walter Busby.
Oran had been assigned to fly to the States for a computer training school to be held in Melbourne, Florida, for two weeks. This all came up very suddenly and we thoroughly discussed my going with him, but since Aramco didn't plan to pay my way and because I was working now, we decided I wouldn't go. I had mixed emotions about that as he would be able to be with the family during Thanksgiving, but felt we had to be practical. So, on Sunday, November 13th, he left on that trip.
I thought I would be lonesome so I made some plans with various friends to try to stay busy. Working helped and my Monday and Tuesday bowling nights were fun, as usual. Monday was a women's league, but Tuesday was a mixed couples’ league and the people on my team were different than any I had bowled with up until then. In fact, they weren't even Aramcons and the other woman, Val Oliver, was an English wife, whose husband worked for Fluor Construction. The men, Gary Price and Ray Gerdes were Americans, but worked for Fluor Construction as well, and lived in the Abqaiq West Construction Camp. So we were an odd assortment but got along very well together, and had a high standing in the league scoring. It was interesting associating with some English wives as well, and more and more of them were joining us in Arabia.
party for the Construction Camp
bosses and wives.
On Wednesday, November 16th, 1977, an in-camp gas station opened in Dhahran, and the other camps would have one in the near future. Now owners of private vehicles, even women, could have their cars serviced without leaving camp. Up until then, the husbands had to drive to one of the stations in a local suburb. We sure couldn't complain about the price anywhere over there, though. It was the most reasonable commodity of all.
That evening there was a dance at the Golf Club House, so I went with some of our group just to get out. A band called the Revivals played for that, and it was just a dance.
Kathi and Roy Steindorf gave a party on Thursday night, mainly for the Construction Camp bosses and wives, and some of the guys she and Ruth worked with, but she included me as well, bless her heart. It was really a dress up affair, which we did a lot of over there then, and I wore a red, fashionable, party jumpsuit with a deep V neckline that I liked. Everyone else seemed to as well, as I got a lot of compliments on it. Everyone else looked great too, in their long dresses.
That weekend was part of a six day, 'Id al-Adha Holiday, which signaled the end of the Hajj, the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca. The first four days of the next week were included in the holidays, and our office was closed except for emergency crews, so I had some days to fill up as well. But that wasn't too hard to do. The weather was still just perfectly beautiful, so I went to the pool every day with Sheila and Kathi. My tan had faded a lot since I had gone to work, but that period of time helped a lot to bring it back. Being in Arabia those years was the only time I ever had a good tan. It was worth the work I put into keeping it.
There were more evening activities to help keep me occupied as well, One evening there was a party and dance at Mansour Camp for the Fluor employees and friends. So the members on my Tuesday bowling league had invited me to attend. Gary and Ray picked me up in Abqaiq camp and drove me to the Mansour Recreation Hall. Val was already there with her husband. I felt a bit odd, but it was enjoyable.
Another night I had our foremen's group over to my house for some drinks and snacks.
Thursday, November 24th, 1977, was Thanksgiving Day, and I was feeling pretty blue because Oran, Keith, and Vicky were all together in the States and joining some other family members for that holiday. But one of the Sorority couples, Julie and Walter Busby had invited me to have dinner with their family. Kathi and Roy Steindorf and their children were there too, so it was pretty festive. That helped me make it through that weekend until Oran returned to Arabia late Saturday night. Regular work had started up again too, so our life over there returned to normal. That's not to say activities ceased. In fact, they picked up again.
On Tuesday, November 29th, there was going to be an Arab Dinner (Goat Grab) at Shaik Yassin Al-Qadeer Garden in the Hofuf date palm oasis, that Oran's department had been invited to. I wasn't about to miss something like that, so as soon as I got off work I rode down there with Kathi and Roy Steindorf. That was the area where Oran worked then, so we met him at his office in Mubarraz, then drove through the oasis to the gardens. It was very picturesque with paths completely covered with grape vines leading to a covered, partially enclosed pavilion with rugs and cushions on the floor, an indoor and outdoor pool, and date palm trees all around. I felt like we were in the setting of a Middle Eastern movie.
Besides Kathi and myself, there was just one other woman and 60 men, mostly Arabs in their long flowing robes and head scarf coverings, and our husbands, so I felt very privileged. We sat on the rugs to eat the usual lamb, rice, and fruit served on large, round trays. As was customary, we ate with our right hands only, and received a lot of choice pieces of lamb placed right in front of us by the attentive Arab hosts. The only bad thing was the hour long, dangerous drive all the way back to Abqaiq that night when it was over, but it was worth it.
dinner and dance.
The very next night we went to a dinner and dance at the Abqaiq West Construction Camp with Sheila and Keith Kaul, Kathi and Roy Steindorf, Sandy and Jack Adams, Julie and Walter Busby, Pat and Randy Wenger, Gail and Shelton Bettis, and Ruth and Tom Dominy. We had everyone over for drinks before driving out to the camp. The Al-Mojil Philippine band played for the dance and were very good, as usual.
Thursday night Axel Green had us all over to his house for a party. Sharon had returned to the States, and I think he was feeling left out of our activities.
A change in my work schedule took place beginning the next week, Saturday, December 3rd, 1977. It was always understood that my job was temporary, but even though all the women who had been off work sick or gone for some reason up to that time were back, Art still wanted me to work some. So we agreed that I would start working just a 6 hr. day. That suited me just fine, as I could get some other things accomplished as well. I loved the job, the people, and the work atmosphere, but I had been having a hard time getting caught up with everything. This schedule would give me the best of both worlds, especially with the Christmas Holidays coming up.
I got my cards all ready and mailed by Wednesday of that week, and picked up a few decorations that arrived in the Commissary. The A.E.A. was sponsoring a decorating contest and encouraging everyone to help beautify Abqaiq for the season, but we planned to just mostly decorate inside, and enjoy others efforts on the outside.
The only social activity going on that weekend was that same night, December 7th, 1977. A group called Tony Tillman and His East Coast Brass performed and played for a dance at the Golf Club House.
At work the next week, our Superintendent, Art Spitzer, announced that our department, Community Maintenance, would be in charge of the New Year's dance on December 30th. Things really got into high gear then with Art calling meetings frequently to plan every aspect of it, from decorations to party favors, prizes, snacks, ticket sales, etc. The band, a group called, "The Sheffields", was provided by Aramco for each camp, and Abqaiq just happened to have them on the 30th, so we would celebrate New Year's Eve that night. It would be in the School Gymnasium again.
Being the "odd girl out" work wise, I became very involved with these preparations as Art gave me various assignments. One of the U.K.'s, Geoff Lewis, seemed to be a "go to" for Art, like myself, so we were in most meetings, on committees, and sent on a lot of errands together. He became my working "buddy" almost more than the other women. It was really the greatest, most fun job I could ever have.
On top of the New Year's Eve dance, Art and his wife invited all the office personnel and husbands, all the U.K.'s, and Philippine maintenance employees to their house for a party on Friday, December 23rd, 1977, so we helped prepare things for that, as well. They lived in one of the new Atriums with a cement floored patio completely enclosed in the center of the house. A hall completely enclosing that on all four sides, and the rooms of the house were off that.
The party was held mainly in the atrium and there was a punch and food. We sang Christmas carols, then, for some reason we did a conga line through and around the atrium and hall of the house. It was fun, and I think all the guys really liked it. After, we did have the guys and couples to our house after for a little Christmas cheer. I think they enjoyed that too, because the next evening Geoff brought a large plant to Oran and I from all the lads at Community Maintenance.
We were still off work, as the next day Sunday, December 25th, 1977, was Christmas Day. It really felt strange, as it was the first Christmas we had ever been apart from Keith and Vicky, and usually, a whole lot of family members, but we tried to stay busy.
We went to our good friends, Keith and Sheila Kaul’s, for the Christmas dinner along with eight bachelors who worked with one or the other of them. The food was really good, and the company very enjoyable, so we managed to achieve and maintain a festive atmosphere for the day and evening. We really missed the kids though, and all the hustle and bustle you have in the States during the Holidays. (I never thought I would say that about the hustle and bustle).
Back at work the next day we really started into the home stretch getting things ready for the New Year's Dance; we spent hours and hours on that. We gathered up everything that hadn't already been gathered and stored, then the lads carted it all over to the School Gymnasium.
Even though it was the weekend, the women and most of the lads spent all day Thursday and most of Friday decorating and getting things set up, and I must say, it did look nice. We went home to dress in our finery (I wore a long red dress), then went back to the gym to wait for the crowd and I do believe everyone in camp was there. Sheila, Tom Brown, a U.K. engineer she worked with, and I greeted each one at the entrance, presented them with a Hawaiian lei, a kiss, hats and horns. It was the best assignment I could have asked for.
Then Sheila and I joined our husbands and the rest of our group at a table, and danced the evening away until 2 o'clock. The "Sheffields" dance band turned out to be very good.
Afterwards we stayed around a bit to see that things got cleared away all right, then left it with the lads. I think a smashing good time was had by all. I knew it was for me.
The real New Year's Eve was the next night, Saturday, December 31st naturally, and we had been invited to a Hobo Party at the condo of one of our single women friends, Shirley Hurt. Everyone had to be dressed like one or they couldn't get in, so there were some really neat get ups. We just sewed some patches on our jeans and wore our shirt tails half in and half out. It was really different for New Year's Eve when everyone usually dresses to the hilt.
It was already swinging when we got there, and so crowded you could hardly move. We had some drinks and food and tried to dance, but it was more like just rubbing each other and everyone else around you, not that I'm complaining. We stayed until midnight, exchanged the customary kisses and well wishes, but then went on home. Although we knew most everybody, it was basically the singles crowd and we didn't feel quite like we belonged. Besides we were pretty beat from the dance the night before.
That ended our third year back in Saudi Arabia. It had been a big mixture of things, good and bad, happy and sad, but most of all, change; the most varied things that had taken place in our lives since our actual return. And Saudi Arabia had continued its spiraling escalation to build its commercial capabilities, including its oil and gas products, with ever increasing imports and expatriates. I was thriving on all the activities that afforded in our camp and the country itself. Hopefully it would continue into next year, as well.