So life went on. Sandy and Jack Adams had asked an Arab friend, Ahmed, to come to their condo one night to fix an Arab style dinner; so on Thursday, March 16th, 1978, Sheila, Keith, Oran and I, and a few people Sandy worked with, joined them to enjoy that. We all knew Ahmed as well, so there was a relaxed atmosphere as we all stood around or sat in the den having drinks, visiting, laughing and cutting up.

All the women tried to help Ahmed and asked him a million questions about how he was preparing everything. He probably wanted to kill us all, but seemed to be having a good time as well.

A place had been prepared to eat on the flat roof patio outside the upstairs bedrooms. First a large rug was laid with cushions all around on the outer edges of that, then a tablecloth was spread in the center of the rug. Napkins, and a fork and spoon were placed where each person would sit. The weather was still beautiful, but got down to about 66 degrees in the evening, just cool enough to wear sweaters. But the sky was clear; the stars and moon provided a lovely ceiling for our meal.

When Ahmed had everything ready, the large tray of chicken pieces on a bed of rice pilaf with pine nuts and white raisins was brought upstairs and placed in the center of the tablecloth, along with a large bowl of mixed salad. Even though the fork and spoon had been provided, most of us preferred to eat with our right hand as the Arabs did. It was a different, fun, and thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Art Spitzer returned from his vacation during the next week, so we thought things at work would really return to normal. But it had already been decided to move the Community Maintenance Building about one-half block away, closer to the Commissary, on the same side of the street. All the preparations were made, and without a big disruption in work, surprisingly, in just one day, huge cranes were brought into camp to literally lift the building from one site to the other.

Art Spitzer returned from vacation; Community Maintenance building; Colleen Wilson at her desk.

It had to be done in two sections though, and a large gap was left between the two at first, so for awhile we had to go out the front door, walk the length of both sections outside, then enter the back door of the other section to conduct business. Things never did seem quite the same after that, although we were still in the very same offices, working with the very same people. Later they could utilize the empty Commissary building when the new Mall that was being built was completed.

Representatives of various colleges utilized by Aramco employee’s children were in Dhahran at that time, talking to the kids. So on Wednesday, March 22nd, 1978, Sheila asked me to go there with her after work to take some of their son, Randy's, school papers to the representative of the school in London, England, he would attend next year.

There was going to be a dance that night in the school gymnasium with a pop and rock group from the states called, "Starbuck" playing, that we had planned to attend. But we made arrangements for Oran and Keith to go on with the rest of our group, and we would join them later after we returned to Abqaiq.

So Sheila and I caught the 4:30 bus to Dhahran and got off at the Dining Hall to meet the representative, but there were a lot more people there than we had counted on. It turned out to be more complicated, so by the time we got back to Abqaiq, the dance was just about over. Our husbands weren't too pleased about how that turned out, but it was probably the only time, ever, the husbands got to attend a dance without the wives, except when one of us were out of the country.

The daytime weather was beginning to get a bit warm, but very nice for swimming, so Oran and I were going to the pool again as much as possible on the weekend. We went the next day and had the added pleasure of enjoying the new Snack Bar that opened that day in the pool area itself. It would be so nice to have a cold Pepsi right there to help us cool off, instead of having to go to the Snack Bar in the Club House to get it.

That night Jeanine and Jerry invited us to a dinner party at their new house, located on the north end of 16th Street. Their daughter Julie had joined her husband in Abqaiq by then, so they were there, as well as Sheila and Keith Kaul. The Kings had enclosed the garage of the new house and converted it into a bar room, with a large elaborately carved teakwood bar and bar stools from Taiwan. On the wall behind Jerry had hung his very impressive array of antique guns and rifles found in that part of the world. Comfortable chairs, small tables, and other souvenirs from Arabia and the far east provided a comfortable area we enjoyed that night and others we spent in their home.

As Sunday, March 25th, 1978, would be Easter, this had been a holiday weekend with a couple of extra days off. So on Saturday, Oran and I went to the open market in Madinat to shop. We wandered among the Arabs with their merchandise spread out on the ground in the open sandy area near the water tower for awhile, then walked the first block, checking the local, permanent merchants shops. At the end of that block, a pickup was parked on the side street with colorful Arab rugs thrown all over it. One particular rug caught our eye, a large deep green one with a brown, gold and green elaborately ornamental border and center pattern, the customary design of the Middle Eastern rugs. We tried to act casually interested and started bargaining with the Arab owner, as is also customary in that part of the world.

Colleen with a large display of colorful rugs; merchandise and Abdul’s house. Colleen with rugs at the Madinat market; Arab man arranging his merchandise on the ground; Abdul Rahman Al-Yousif and his son in his home for tea and coffee.

As luck would have it, about that time the Arab who was the Supervisor of the Abqiaq Dining Hall, Abdul Rahman Al-Yousif, came by, recognized us and started helping us bargain for the rug. We agreed on an acceptable price, which I'm sure was much lower because of Abdul Rahman's help than we would have been able to get it for ourselves. He also invited us to his home in Madinat, so after loading the rug into our pickup, we drove to his home, met his son, had coffee and tea in his majlis, and enjoyed a most unusual and rewarding shopping excursion to Madinat.

views of buildings and people at the Madinat market Goat market in front of the mosque in Madinat; Arab families at the market; Colleen and Arabs by a water tower; and the Coffee and Tea House with Arab men smoking hubbly-bubbly pipes.
Scenes from around the Madinat market Arab by baby camel in truck; Colleen at the open air market with Arabs (2 pictures) Jeanine King buying items.

I was extremely pleased to have such a pretty Arab rug, my first, to take back to the States when we left for good. Oran had already told his bosses he wasn't coming back after vacation, but they asked him to wait until he returned from the vacation before making a final decision to resign. So he agreed, as it would give him a chance to look around at the job market in the States, and take care of a few business matters before "cutting the string". So here was a brief reprieve, at least, but Oran said he had made up his mind to leave for sure.

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