Who but the progeny of Aramcons would take pride in calling themselves "brats"? It's one of those ineffable mysteries of the universe that reason cannot explain. With that said, we shall forever acknowledge their cheekiness with a smile and continue to post reports about their activities and interests and gatherings, this issue being no exception.
Recently, 440 Aramco brats gathered at the beautiful waterfront Hilton Marina Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate the 16th Biennial Aramco Brats Reunion. Among the attendees was Aramco Brat Fred Bobb. Today we'll let Fred Bobb, a.k.a. "Camelman"--one of the better known "brats"--speak for his fellow Aramco offspring as he shares some of the highlights of their reunion with the readers of Aramco ExPats.
Pam Branch (ABQ. 79), Fred Bobb (Dh. 72),
Jennifer Harbert (ABQ. 75)
Friday was a hot one in Fort Lauderdale! Temperatures hit 88 degrees with a heat index of what felt like 100 degrees. With sunny, cloudless skies and very high humidity, we Brats felt like we were back in Dhahran. At Friday night's welcome reception, sponsored by Aramco Brats, Inc. and the generous donations of Aramco Brats, Reunion Coordinator Hirath Ghori (Dh. '75) told us that long time Aramco Brat and employee David Owen (Dh. '73) had just passed away. The unofficial report is that he was scuba diving off the coast of Fort Lauderdale and got caught up in a current, was overwhelmed and suffered a heart attack. He was rescued but was not able to be saved. David had 35 years of service with Aramco and was planning his retirement in October. His wife and 2 children were also here at the reunion with him. I met all three today. Hirath Ghori asked for a moment of silence during the opening reception. It was all so very tearful and he and many others including myself choked up with emotion. Rest in peace David! You will be sorely missed by all your Aramco Brothers and Sisters! Our deepest sympathies to all the Owen family, David's wife and his three children.
Saturday night was our class dinner! We had about 40 combined classmates attend at a local Middle Eastern diner called The Ferdos Grill in Fort Lauderdale. Barb and I met and talked to the owner who had been in business for 16 years after immigrating from Syria. He was very friendly.
A "wajet shukran” to Aramco Brat Tor Hermannsson (ABQ. '74) who organized the entire evening. The food was delicious and plentiful. One Aramco Brat sitting next to us agreed it was one of the best class dinners that she has attended and she has been to them all. Also sitting next to us was fellow classmate Matthew Cumings (Dh. '72) and his wife Sue. I had not seen him in decades and it was like we just picked up from where we left off. He is doing great! He just retired from Aramco last December and he is looking for a house in the Sarasota, Florida area. Welcome home Matt!
Left to right: Karen Herman (RT. '73), Barbara Bleuer, Fred Bobb (Dh. '72), Matthew Cumings (Dh. '72), and Sue Cumings.
Sunday was a record high for Miami of 98 degrees with a heat index of just over 100 degrees. It was like being back in the Aramco communities with all the heat and humidity, so it was a very appropriate venue.
Sunday evening, the main banquet dinner was held in the grand ballroom of the Hilton Marina Hotel. The theme was appropriately Cuban.
I saw Aramco Brat Kim Craver (Dh. '70) at the reunion tonight and had a very nice chat with her. She was one of Aramco's best trampoline athletes that the Dhahran Schools ever had. She is doing very well in Maine. She let me know that my fellow classmate and her brother Gary Craver (Dh. '72) passed away 2 weeks ago from liver failure. He was just days short of his 60th birthday. Very sad indeed. Gary was also an excellent athlete in Dhahran and at boarding school.
Steven Spielberg's yacht
On another interesting note, docked next to our hotel is Steven Spielberg's yacht, The Seven Seas shown in the photograph to the left of another yacht. It's super impressive! Its a $200 million yacht at 282 feet in length and reportedly has the largest private theatre of any yacht in the world. That would make sense. It was built by Dutch shipbuilding company Oceanco. The Seven Seas is packed with amenities - an infinity pool, 15-foot glass movie screen, helicopter pad, gym, spa, and massage room are just a few of the luxuries that are reportedly on board. As for accommodations, there's one master suite, two VIP suites, two double-bed cabins, and one cabin with a twin bed. In total, The Seven Seas can sleep 12.
Everyone here wants to know about the yacht on the right. It has no name on it so we are guessing that it is brand new and undergoing seas trials. So I can't Google it to find out anything more about it.