New Year's Eve had been different, and so was New Year's Day. Since the lack of daytime TV prevents the usual ritual of watching parades and bowl football games for hours on end in Saudi Arabia, it was necessary to find alternate entertainment.
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.
I didn't realize it then, but that was to be my last week of freedom for a while. Jeanine King was still in the hospital so she requested I help out at Community Maintenance until she could return. Her boss, Art Spitzer, called to make the offer on Saturday, October 22nd, and when I asked when he would need me he said, "yesterday".
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.
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 next day, Monday, it was back to normal. Estella and I went to breakfast in the Dining Hall and met a new wife, Jerry Hook, then went to the pool and stayed all morning. That Wednesday evening, Oran and I went to the Kaul’s before going with them to a performance by "Archie Bell and The LaDrells".
The beach facilities at Qurrayah that were being constructed by the company for Abqaiq and Udhailiyah residents were not completed yet, but a site had been established north of the Seawater Plant. Our friend, Jack Hayes, who lived on the Construction Barge there, said he had been working on the site by bulldozing huge amounts of sand onto the beach itself and into the water.
Shortly after my arrival in Saudi Arabia in 1978, I was assigned to a Gas Oil Separation Plant (GOSP) construction site, Ain Dar GOSP-4, which was a one-hour drive from my new home in Abqaiq.
We ate breakfast with Sandy and Jack at the Dining Hall Friday morning, then went to the library for awhile before going home to pick up some film to take to the Kaul’s to see on their projector. Sandy and Jack had gone there as well, so we had coffee while watching the film. Oran wanted to rest and read that afternoon, so I went to the bowling alley to check on qualifying for the Tri-Area Tournament coming up. I put on a roast to cook when I got home before we drove to the Adams'.
Oran started driving back to Mubarraz on his new job Monday morning, but, at least, this would be a short work week for him. Things were beginning to change for our group as a whole, both men and women. Sheila went to work at Community Maintenance, and Marge and Marvin Williams were going to move to Udhailiyah.
Oran found out on Wednesday that he was being sent to London for a week, starting February 13th, 1977, to recruit men for the Water Injection Operations in Udhailiyah. That was a pleasant surprise for him. I wasn't being sent on this trip with him, but really didn't want to go anyway, as it was still very cold there.
Tim Barger’s new collection of stories, Christmas in Khobar, will be released soon. There are more tales of childhood adventures in the Dhahran of the fifties and sixties, as well as stories told to him and accounts of hapless situations he encountered in Riyadh and Jeddah as a 20 something adult.
January isn't the best time of the year to travel through Europe, but we didn't have much choice, so we started our third return back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the 16th, 1977 from Dallas, Texas. By the time the plane arrived in New York, it was snowing so much we had to circle over the airport for an hour again before landing.
I met the girls at the Dining Hall at 9 o'clock for our "breakfast club". Sheila had received her film of our rug laying party at the Steindorfs, so we went to her house to watch that. It was really funny with everyone acting crazy, dancing, etc., but we wouldn't have wanted that film to fall into the wrong hands. It would either have been misinterpreted, or everyone would want to join our group.
Saturday, October 16th, 1976, Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah for the start of another work week. Our lives were just settling back into a normal routine, and we were taking things one day at a time. Things came up at work every now and then that could have had an effect on what we did about staying, but so far Oran just remained calm, and didn't give an answer or reaction until he had thought about it for awhile.
Oran was able to take his resignation retraction letter by his boss’s office before he caught the morning plane back to 'Udhailiyah on Wednesday, September 22nd, 1976. With a new lease on life, I had a spring to my step as I went to the Post Office to mail Vicky's birthday card...
The day before had been invigorating and uplifting, so we went to our breakfast in the Dining Hall with the other regulars in a much better mood, but the rest of the day was just routine. Back at the apartment, we discussed the pros and cons of Oran's resignation and different possibilities.
There would be another cocktail party, dinner, and performance by the "Creative Source Group" in 'Udhailiyah Tuesday night, so that afternoon I went in a taxi to the airstrip with Trish Miller and Sharon Green, waiting there 45 minutes for the late plane to arrive.
My worst fears came true the next day, July 28th, as Oran turned in his letter of resignation to be effective between September 23rd and October 23rd. He said he had decided that trying to re-adjust to living and working in 'Udhailiyah again just wasn't worth ruining his mental and physical health.
All good things must come to an end, so after nearly six weeks of living and working in Abqaiq, Oran had to fly back to 'Udhailiyah to continue his work there on Tuesday June 15th, 1976. For a couple of days, I felt rather lost and just tried to adjust to the old routine of being in camp alone again.