Chapter 12: "The chief topic of conversation out here now is that the government has decreed NO MORE LIQUOR – ain't that something?" Crown Prince Saud pays a visit and Ken Webster and his daughters have an audience with him; Ken goes to Harvard Business School; Judy Webster graduates at top of her class from Dhahran Senior Staff School and goes to American Community School in Beirut; Susan Webster becomes ever more “horse crazy”; the Saudi government bans alcohol in the Aramco camps; the company flourishes with record-breaking births, growth and profit – and Aramco produces its billionth barrel of oil. During the first week of 1952, Dhahran District Manager Ken Webster receives official word that he will attend Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program beginning in February. The 13-week course will necessitate moving the entire Webster family to the United States for the duration, because as Ken writes, he and Mildred “both feel we like to keep the family together all the time possible.” During the second week, the Crown Prince makes an unexpected visit to Dhahran and Ken, along with 400 Aramco employees, must oversee many of the preparations for an entourage of more than 300 people and coordinate details for entertainment, tours, etc. Meanwhile, the Aramco venture continues to make headlines in America. Following is an excerpt from a feature story in Time magazine, “The Persian Gulf Strikes it Rich,” March 3, 1952 (courtesy Time’s free online archives):
Cover of Time (with portrait of actor
John Wayne), March 3, 1952. This
issue contained a major feature story
on Aramco. (Cover photo courtesy
Time Magazine’s free online archives.)
“In the whole Middle East there is only one truly U.S. company—the Arabian American Oil Co. of Saudi Arabia. Aramco is American-owned, American-operated, and entirely geared to the American way of doing business. Its bosses have deliberately tried to avoid the mistakes the British committed. The sahib manner is taboo; respect for Arab customs is required, and Americans who don't conform get a swift trip home. The first Aramco geologists in Saudi Arabia wore beards and Arab garb, to be as inconspicuous and inoffensive as possible. Today Aramco employees wear no beards, but the company forbids their keeping dogs as pets, forbids their getting married in Saudi Arabia, and makes them get out of sight to hold Christian church services, which are officially outlawed. Aramco has never forgotten that when Ibn Saud granted his concession to an American rather than a British company, he emphasized: "Americans get oil out of the ground and they stay out of politics." The company has gone to extremes to observe that precept. It never asks how the King spends his royalties, why he wants another advance; it doesn't argue against his expensive whims. It keeps out of the snarl of Arabian politics. So far, its policy has paid off. Aramco's 440,000 square miles, the world's largest concession—an area greater than Texas and California combined—sits on a pool of oil already estimated at 15 billion barrels, or half the entire U.S. reserve. In 13 years since beginning production, Aramco has quietly moved to the top, is today the largest- single oil-producing company in the world. It has marked up a forty-fold increase in output since 1944. Today more than 850,000 barrels gush daily from Aramco wells, an amount equal to one-eighth the oil used by the U.S., thirstiest of all oil consumers. And Aramco has only scratched the crust. Three Aramco fields are not even being exploited, because Aramco already produces more than it can ship or pipe. Before Aramco came, Ibn Saud's annual revenues averaged around $16 million (from pilgrims to Mecca and customs). In the past four years alone, Aramco has placed $300 million in royalties in his hands. The new 50-50 profit split (after taxes) negotiated late in 1950 has swollen his take; in 1951 it amounted to $125 million. No Mid-East oil concessionaires have done more. From dousing Riyadh with DDT to building schools, to enticing Arab workers into saving (a revolution in a land where tomorrow was always Allah's concern), Aramco has been a model outfit.
Crown Prince Saud, who paid a last-minute
visit to Dhahran in January 1952. (Photo from
Ken Slavin’s collection of Webster papers.)
No one pretends that the royalties it pays have been spent as wisely and as well as, say, Charles Belgrave and Sheik Sulman spent Bahrein's. Too many fancy new palaces, swimming pools and Cadillacs have appeared in Riyadh. But except by giving an example of how money wisely spent can improve Saudi Arabia, Aramco refuses to interfere. "Why should we?" asked an Aramco executive. "We're a commercial company, operating in their country as guests and partners. Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country. It would be impertinence to tell them what to do." Today, in spite of treading the straightest path possible, Aramco has still not won immunity from the fear of the future that since Iran nags every Mid-East oil company. Autocratic, 76-year-old Ibn Saud, its best friend, is declining fast. "What happens in Saudi Arabia," ask British critics, "when Ibn Saud dies and all these emirs start fighting over the spoils? You are going to have anarchy and you'll wish you had exercised control." The disintegration of this granite-faced man, whose steely strength and craftiness unified a sprawled sand ocean of 900,000 square miles and its 6,000,000 warrior-like people, has brought uncertainty to the country. The old man now seldom rises from the wheelchair which Franklin D. Roosevelt gave him after Ibn Saud admired Roosevelt's. He sometimes embarrasses visitors by falling asleep in mid-conversation. Ibn Saud's heir apparent, 50-year-old Saud, has little of his father's old forcefulness and guile. He needs both badly, for he has enemies as far as one can see across the Arabian sand and jebel. Finance Minister Abdullah Al-Soliman, trusted confidant of the King and the most powerful man in the country outside the royal family, would rather see 46-year-old Foreign Minister Feisal, Ibn Saud's second son, succeed to the throne. So would the British. Despite the alarms, Aramco keeps hands off. Iran, it feels, demonstrated conclusively the futility and danger in the old British policy of meddling, bribing and threatening. Aramco continues to pledge its entire fortune to the theory that if the West comes to the Middle East as a friend, it will be welcome and both will profit.” Dhahran, Saudi Arabia January 4, 1952 Dear Folks: It is hard to write January and harder to write 1952 than ’51, but we are getting along into a new year and soon it will be no problem. Bill Cooper returned from Harvard on New Year’s Day and told me the assistant dean had said that I was approved for the Spring term, so we await cable confirmation from the New York Office. It is definite now, so we are making plans, but don’t know the departure date yet, but feel it should be no later than first week in February. The only real problem is where to leave Mildred and girls so that the girls can attend school with least disturbance to their studies and least effort on Mildred’s part to get them to school and return. She will need a car and we wonder what difficulty we shall have getting one. We are both in a stew as to what to do, being mainly concerned with the problem of taking Judy out of school near the end of her last year here, for four months. It doesn’t seem fair to her, but we both feel we like to keep the family together all the time possible.
Portrait of Ken Webster, taken about the time
he completed the Harvard Advanced
Management Program in 1952. (Photo courtesy
Susan Webster Slavin.)
(Editor’s note: According to a 1987 feature story in The New York Times, “Harvard's program, called the Advanced Management Program, was the nation's first mid-career education program for rising executives. Started in 1942, it was designed as a program to train middle-aged businessmen for wartime production jobs. When [World War II] ended, the program remained, spawning an industry.” According to Wikipedia, the intensive program for senior executives results in the equivalent of an MBA and confers “alumni status” on those who complete the program.) Bill says the Harvard course is six days per week until about eleven each night, with only Sundays off, as they give us a regular two years’ work in three months. Even if Mildred and the girls stay in or near Cambridge, I would normally only see them on Saturday nights and Sundays, except two periods of four days each when we are given a break in the work. He felt it was harder than any course he ever took at Yale, and the days were not long enough to do all he should. Maybe it is just harder on P.B.O.’s (Pot Bellied Oldtimers) than if we were younger and used to the schoolwork again. I cannot miss it and will go and will enjoy it and definitely will gain from it, but still there are the attendant problems. You who live a normal American life will never understand this breaking up of a home every two years or so, and being temporarily displaced during vacation, but it is fun and any other kind of life would be monotonous I am afraid, for all of us after the past years of this way of life. Everyone is fine here and the girls are preparing to return to school tomorrow after a month’s vacation. I told Susan she would not get the month of April off at home, which is our school schedule here, and she doesn’t like the idea. I wonder how the girls will get used to nine months of school and three consecutive months’ vacation after we no longer live abroad? It was quite windy all night but is less so now, and I want to spread vigoro on the lawns today. The temperature is about 72, and dry, so I can comfortably do the lawn and cut the hedge for the last time before we depart. This time of year, the lawns and hedge do not grow too fast, but the gardens do mature, although we haven’t had real success with the garden so far. Guess I lost interest when I was told I would probably go to Harvard. The local Air Force team beat Dhahran in the tournament playoff on New Year’s Day in the Waajid Bowl Game at Ras Tanura, and although we did not go, we heard it was a fine football game. Not too cold, but snappy, and we furnished buses to haul some 500 people from here and the airbase. Again, Happy New Year to all, and you will hear from us again soon. Love, Ken, et al.
Christmas Eve dinner at the Webster home
in Dhahran, December 1952. From left, Ken’s
brother, Allyn Webster, Mildred, Ken, Judy,
Susan and Allyn’s wife, Lynn. (Photo courtesy
Susan Webster Slavin.)
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia January 11, 1952 Dear Folks: Have just finished a hectic few days which I will try to describe in detail, but you will never get the picture without seeing it yourselves. The railroad celebration I wrote about [some months ago] was believed to be the final event, but when the new Budd cars arrived, another event started. . . The cars went to the capital at Riyadh to take the King and his family for a ride. The Crown Prince decided to ride the entire distance and radioed us Sunday that he was visiting us for two days. He left Riyadh with 311 people, stopping all along the way to meet Emirs of all the little and large villages. The party arrived about 4:20 P.M. Tuesday, which was a holiday in commemoration of the King’s coronation. Before the party arrived, we built a large reviewing stand near the main entrance to this camp, Dhahran, put up 27 tents around houses, which were made ready for the [Crown] Prince and his brothers and sons as well as other high officials. Ten houses were used in caring for the party and the overflow went to nearby villages and in the hotel at the airbase. We also built an enclosure at Dammam so the local main Emir could have a dinner party. It was in the palace backyard, and we constructed a wooden frame and covered it with canvas. The tables had to be built of plywood to seat 550 people. Then we had to scour the countryside for desert firewood, the only kind the party would use for making tea and coffee. Each house we assigned has a kitchen stove, but they wouldn’t use such facilities except the Crown Prince group in the executive Guest House did. At the dinner Tuesday night there were 95 whole roasted sheep and 500-600 chickens, plus many dishes of vegetables, etc. Wednesday night we gave the party a dinner in our main dining hall here. Wednesday and Thursday the party inspected various facilities, Dammam Port, etc., and received many visitors from this part of Arabia, Bahrain Island, Kuwait, Iraq, etc. I asked for an audience for Susan and Judy and his Royal Highness said OK, directly after the Wednesday night dinner. Mildred stayed in the car and I took the girls into the room where three Americans and two dozen Arabs were visiting with the Crown Prince. He got up and greeted us, asked the girls many questions through the interpreter, served Arab coffee, insisted we stay and see a film just taken of his gardens, horses, falcons, palaces, etc. Then he gave both girls a gold bracelet set with pearls and stones, similar ones sell for $125 here, and gave me a gold watch with his picture in it. Altogether we had a 50-minute visit and we were so sorry Mildred couldn’t have been there also, but no women were. The whole camp was alive with soldiers, gaily dressed Arabs, and work practically stopped for the three days as all employees wanted to see the Party. It was like circus day and required 400 of our people to handle the needs. They left this morning after almost buying out the canteen and commissary, and everyone concerned gave a sigh of relief – although it was fun and part of our business about once every two years. Last Saturday we produced the billionth barrel of oils from our fields here and are well started on the second one. Love, Ken, Mildred and Girls. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia January 18, 1952 Dear Folks: No special news except we are pointing toward leaving here February 13th and arriving the 16th. Expect now to go directly to hotel in New York and buy heavier clothes for the girls. Then we shall come to Riverside [Connecticut], probably soon after lunch, although will call as soon as we get to hotel. Will plan to return to New York each night until other arrangements are made. It is definite now that I shall spend Feb. 25th in New York office, go to Boston on the 26th, and register on 27th. There is much to be done between now and when we leave, and to date all we have done is make plans. A young couple will take our house the whole time we are away, and as a consequence, we shall pack very little. It is amazing how much one family of four can accumulate and to have to pack all we own here would be a definite chore. Francis [the cook] will work for the Clausens, and Louis [the houseboy] will stay here, so we should be protected best possible, and the chickens will be fed. If this couple should leave for any reason, Allyn and Lynn will come in and take over. We took Allyn and Lynn to the plane at nine today, for Bahrain, and they leave Bahrain for Ceylon at ten tonight. (Editor’s note: Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian ocean, off the southern coast of India.) They plan to return Feb. 2 and we shall try to meet them. All reports indicate Ceylon is a wonderful place for a vacation, and we hope to make it before we leave here for good, but don’t think too much of stopping in India. We shall spend one night in Rome and one in Paris, enroute home, and can pick up anything you people want if you’ll let us know at once. The Gazelle [one of the Aramco planes] doesn’t have berths, so we shall spend the last night in chairs, but hope to be rested anyway from the two nights in hotels. Maybe we’ll have to nap on the day we arrive, but will be ready by late afternoon to train up to Connecticut. We’ll try to phone all families soon after arrival on first day home. No firm plans yet for Mildred and the girls, as no news from Sister [Ken’s sister, Alice] about apartments or houses in Greenwich or vicinity. This is a poor time to get a place furnished for a few months, but will know soon. The trip should be fun, but we still wish it were next August. The burden falls on Judy and Susan, missing school, but they should have known better than [to have] an oilman for a father. Chilly here, but temperatures from 48 at night to 65 in daytime not too bad, and maybe we’ll be lucky at home to have a mild winter, but the forecast is just the opposite. No other news, so will write soon and will see you soon. Love, Ken, Mildred and girls. January 18, 1952 Dearest Folks: We were glad to have your letter written the 12th. Gram [Ken’s mother, who suffered a stroke-like illness in late 1951] was able to move her ankle last letter we had, but no more. I don’t remember ever hearing of anyone before with this type of thing. It was either a stroke, coronary thrombosis – or such as that. But maybe some of these cases were really this type. They call Gram’s “Slow Thrombosis.” We don’t know whether we can get a place to live in Greenwich, but decided that would be better than Cambridge, as Ken will be in school 6 days a week and all evenings, too, until 10:30 or later . . .He wanted us near but I don’t know anyone there and as he has to live at the dorm and the girls would be in school, we felt Greenwich would be the best. He can come down (3 hours) or I could go up occasionally. The children know some of the kids in Greenwich and I’d have someone to visit with, too. (Editor’s note: Ken Webster’s extended family all lived in the Greenwich/Riverside area.) It would give Ken someplace to go and be a break for him. Otherwise, I would have preferred to come to Tulsa. We will come down before we return to Arabia, anyway, but don’t know just when. I don’t want to keep the girls out of school more than [necessary]. We are enrolling Judy in Beirut just in case for next year. We can always change. But the school is very crowded so felt we should make sure. The Company pays tuition and two round trips [per year]. They go up in October, come home for Christmas. We’d bring her home for Easter on our own. Then school is out in June. We’ve decided that’s a better deal, at least for the one year – to have her near us. Things change so fast, though, you can’t plan too far ahead. We may be home. Who knows? Both girls had flu – Susan’s much lighter than Judy’s – but both fine now. Judy has gone riding with friends at Hobby Farm. Susan is off to the show soon. Love, Mimi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia January 25, 1952 Dear Folks: Today was wonderfully warm and almost windless, and we enjoyed riding around, drove to Al Khobar where Mildred ordered some wool slacks for the girls, then visited with the Charlie Johnsons, seeing their baby boy, which is a real honey. Have ordered camel’s hair coats for both the girls and will get them in two weeks. We now plan definitely to leave here the 13th arriving New York the 16th, and after cleaning up in the hotel in New York will drive out to Riverside. We were very pleased, Sister, to get the cable saying apartment and school arranged, and if I like it after seeing it, will buy a Dodge sedan from a man just transferred here from New York. It is 1950, only 18,000 miles, and he is asking $1,700. Your nice newsy letter was long and very welcome, Sister, and we shall not be receiving many more from any of you for a few months. Any that come after we leave will be forwarded. No news from here except our plans and preparations for the trip, and we shall all be in a tailspin until we get on the plane. The main heads of this company have been transferred to Arabia, and will run the company from this end. With Mr. Moore [Aramco president] retiring we are all agog at speculation as to who will be the new president. Bill Moore was always very good to me, and his last act was to send me to Harvard. We shall definitely miss him but he will stay as a member of the Board. Actual crude oil production for December was 853,821 barrels per day average, with many over 900,000-barrel days. Total shipped for the month was 26,468,446 and for the year was 277,962,605. Not many fields have done this ever and none now. If any of you have any ideas of things from Rome or Paris, write us at once, and we’ll do what we can. That’s all for now, love to all, and it won’t be long until we see you. Love, Ken et al. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia February 1, 1952 Dear Folks: The canteen is out of regular paper at the moment and shall use this [small sheet of note paper] for what I think will be our last letter until we arrive USA. I shall know tomorrow for sure, but am expecting to leave here Feb. 6th instead of 13th, and get the girls in school sooner for the Academy term, and let us have berths on the plane which the Camel has but not the Gazelle. . . Coming one week sooner will no doubt complicate the apartment business but it is better this way than later. Bill Squires’ 1950 Dodge sedan, 18,000 miles, is waiting for me, all insurance coverage, etc., so if I agree on the price of $1,700 the car deal is handled. If the price is right, I should be able to sell it with little loss in early June. Went to Khobar tonight and checked on the girls’ clothes. The slacks were ready and the coats will be on the fifth they thought, although the original promise was sixth on a tight schedule. Passports are ready, packing underway, rugs rolled up, knick-knacks placed in trunk closet, immunization shots complete except one for Judy, insurance list ready for full coverage of all our effects including jewelry, luggage, here and while traveling, at $13 per thousand, extra accident insurance arranged, office desk almost clean, and practically ready to go. Had a cookout for 20 kids for Susan’s [11th] birthday and eleven in for party and dinner last night for my birthday and farewell of close friends. No other news so will close with love from us all. Ken et al. (Editor’s note: The letters from Dhahran stop here and don’t resume until early June. However, both Ken and Mildred wrote several letters to Mildred’s father and stepmother in Tulsa while Ken was at Harvard. Excerpts follow.) Hamilton Hall B-33 Soldiers Field Boston 63, Mass. March 6, 1952 Dear Folks: Here I am back at school with 162 other PBE’s [Pot Bellied Executives], most of us gray-haired, if any hair, and without that old elasticity of footstep which we had 21 years ago. It is a great group of men, and I am sure I’ll get more out of the associations with them than I will get from the books, although the latter and class discussions are very interesting and informative. The reading is more voluminous than I thought was possible, but we had been warned about it.
Harvard Business School as it appears today.
(Photo from the Internet.)
We take six courses, three Monday through Wednesday, and three Thursday through Saturday. . . I have bought 18 books so far, plus an eleven-inch high stack of mimeographed material. I have only read one paper and part of Time magazine, and doubt will do more except maybe Sundays. . . Bill Kavanagh is my roommate, he is just my age but has worked 31 years for the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co., and is now Western Sales Mgr. He and I have separate bedrooms, opening onto a small living room with two desks and arm chairs, two red leather easy chairs, a large bookcase, and opens into the hall to the other rooms and stairs. We also use the same shower and washing facilities that six others do. Average age of the class is 45 years and three months, 145 businessmen, 16 servicemen, 2 government employees from 120 companies of which 36 are represented for the first time. Twenty-one came from foreign locations and are mainly actually foreigners. . . Love to all, Schoolboy Ken Greenwich, Connecticut March 7, 1952 Dear Folks: It was grand having your two letters today. No, I didn’t faint, Pop, but I surely was agreeably surprised! We came to the apartment this past Wed. and have been getting along fine. . . it is close enough for the girls to walk [to school] and I can walk to everything, too. The apartment isn’t big enough to swing a cat in, but quite attractive, good location and very expensive. It was the only one Alice could get for such a short period. They all want 18 month or 3-year leases. The old sister who rents it is quite a character – she is sharp as a tack and very interesting to talk with. . . I went out and “sat” with Gram and Aunt Ella last night. Judy was out with Dick and his gang. (Editor’s note: Judy and Susan’s cousin Dick Jenner, son of Ken’s sister, Alice.) They just left with them again. Dick’s bowling team is playing a match at Wee Burn Country Club. Tonight they go to dancing class at the [Greenwich] Academy. It’s a great life but I doubt if we could swing it, financially, as a steady diet. We are happy for them to have this experience for a while, anyway. It is a lovely group of kids but definitely “Country Club Set.” Most boys past 16 have their own cars, etc. Ted [Alice’s husband] plans to get one for Dick [Ken’s nephew, Ted and Alice’s son] now that he is 16. They all have boats, too! Suzy Swayze, one of Judy’s group of girls, is John Cameron Swayze’s daughter – T.V. and radio commentator. (Editor’s note: Swayze was famous for his Timex watch TV ads: “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” He also moderated NBC-TV’s first presidential convention coverage in 1948.) They are all so sweet and cute and not stuck up – nor dress too elaborately. All the boys in the group go to Brunswick with Dick and most of the girls to the [public] high school in Greenwich as Judy would if we lived here. Swinging two at the [Greenwich] Academy is quite expensive in spite of wonderful set up. I’d love to have both finish high school there. All their teachers, sports and activities directresses are top-notch and they take care of everything, classes, gym, swimming…posture and muscular development, riding, art, singing, forums, etc. – plus a wonderful school spirit and active in all outside activities, too. But it would cost at least $1,000 each for the year plus beautiful wool uniforms, coats, jackets, etc. But we don’t believe in establishing a precedent they can’t live up to later – and we have two to consider. . .
A view of Greenwich Academy in
Greenwich, Connecticut, a private
school for girls Judy and Susan
Webster were enrolled during Ken
Webster’s four-month management
program at Harvard.
Ken is coming home this afternoon, but will have to return tomorrow afternoon. At the end of this month he gets 4 days off. He is delighted with everything. He called last night and Dean Bishop had asked him and four others to give a talk Monday afternoon to the group. Not bad, when you consider most of them are Vice Pres. level! Gram seems to progress, but very slowly – and sometimes I wonder. Her spirits are remarkable. . . she has therapy 3 times a week and can walk a little with the brace and much support. . . but now her speech has relapsed to the same condition as in the beginning. She simply can’t get the words out right. There seems to be a block between her thoughts and speech. She knows what she wants to say but it comes out a jumble. Then suddenly it will be clear as a bell for a few sentences then slips back…the doctor says it is to be expected and will clear up. . . Love, Mimi Hamilton Hall B-33 Soldiers Field Boston, 63, Mass. March 16, 1952 Dear Folks: Happy St. Pat’s Day tomorrow to you all. This is really an Irish town, and there will probably be a parade and much excitement. The snow is all gone, but it was chilly this morning when walked up town to Cambridge Harvard Square for breakfast at eight. . . Did I tell you the definition of an administrator? An executive who goes around with a worried look – on his assistant’s face. While discussing the Federal Budget, some names of Washington’s Finest were mentioned, which caused the Prof to ask if we knew what the ultimate in being an S.O.B. was called. He told us, “A spherical SOB, one who is an SOB from any angle.” Have agreed to speak at MBA dinner on “Oil in the Middle East” next Thursday or Friday, so must study that day all afternoon. The MBA’s are graduate students taking a two-year course, that we take in 13 weeks. . . Love, Ken Boston 63, Mass. April 6, 1952 Dear Folks: In a few days we shall cross the mid-point of this course and all too soon the end will be here. It is more interesting all the time and we are beginning to see some light and getting new meanings to what the Profs are trying to teach us. I think the main gain to date is a reappraisal of ourselves, and the feeling that we are not the only ones who ever did anything, as there are so many here who are in big business. . . I feel now that I know almost all of the 163 [classmates]. . . Today I went with four others to Plymouth, saw the rock and had dinner in Scituate, all the lobsters and steam clams I could eat, with corn on the cob from Florida and honeydew melon. . . Last night a few of us ate at The Meadows, twenty miles out on [the] highway toward New York, in Framingham. One night last week had an excellent steak at Gusties, in Cambridge. I sure am getting all the steaks I can hold, but so far haven’t gained a pound. Will be ready and anxious to get back to work in June, but know it will be a big let down after the three months here with no pressure and this kind of a life. Love, Ken Greenwich, Connecticut April 16, 1952 Dear Folks: All last week was very busy getting all the girls’ clothes ready for Easter – plus mine to go to Boston. They had Friday off so I moved them out to Alice’s for the weekend and I left Friday morning for Boston and came back Sunday evening. It’s a four-hour trip – and sort of tiresome – but I’m a pretty patient sitter! I had a wonderful time. Ken met me at 4 and we went to the hotel. Cambridge is sort of small townish and mostly school – Harvard and Radcliff plus Harvard Business School, etc. We dumped my things and walked around a bit – met 3 of the fellows, one Aramco – one Mr. Heard and one Ken’s roommate. We had dinner at the Palmer House – the five of us – and went to see the stage play, “State of Affairs.” It was very good. Saturday I visited school – not classes, but the dorm, lounge, classroom, campus, etc. Met Dean Bishop and lots of Ken’s class – then we went to the cocktail hour at the Men’s lounge in the dorm. Met all the rest. There were 4 wives of us visiting, so the 4 couples plus a couple of extra men went to the Statler for dinner and dancing – lots of fun. Easter we went to church. I wore my new bonnet and my corsage of 2 green orchids Ken had ordered. Had dinner with 2 of the couples and caught the train at 4 – home at 8. . . The girls keep busy and love the school and all its activities. I seem to keep busy, too. A friend living in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. who used to live in Dhahran visited me today with her two-year-old daughter. We had a good day talking like mad. Gram seems better – but far from well. . . We will probably have to leave the second or so of June. I sure dread the summer out there. [Arabia.} If it wasn’t for Judy graduating there in July, I’d be tempted to stay until September. . . Bye now. Love, Mimi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia June 10, 1952 Dear Folks: We are back in Arabia again, after four months and four days, the longest time from work we ever had since we started seriously working.
Ken Webster’s sister-in-law, Lynn Webster,
on the occasion of her first camel ride in Saudi
Arabia, 1949. (Photo courtesy Pam McFerrin.)
We left New York airport twice before we left for good, once to New Haven and once to Bridgeport, but after six and one half hours we finally left for the Azores. We had a gasket leak in the hydraulic system for the flaps, but it was finally fixed and we left at seven thirty for the Azores. Arrived Santa Maria after twelve hours and after one hour for breakfast, left for Rome. Circled Gibraltar twice and arrived Rome ten and one half hours later. Shopped next day and had late lunch at Alfredo’s and Mildred used gold spoon and fork given by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in 1927 to Alfredo as “King of Noodles.” (Editor’s note: This is a reference to the original Alfredo’s of Rome, where the world-famous signature dish ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’ was created in 1914.) Stopped at Beirut at midnight and arrived Dhahran ten thirty local time. Cleared customs without difficulty and after brief breakfast Mildred and I lay down for a few hours. Slept okay first night, but Mildred didn’t sleep second night, not one wink. Last night we all slept. Maybe we are not back on Dhahran time, stomach and head, and hop so. The last week in States was a busy one. Bought last-minute items, filled out inventory sheets until one-thirty the last night, forgot many last plans, but arrived here okay for another fifteen months and glad to get unpacked and settled. They were clipping the hedge when we arrived, but the place looks fine and with the air conditioning good, we can’t complain. Went to a cocktail party last night, and met most of our close friends. All seemed to be glad we were back, and the Arabs have been saying so since day of arrival. The girls start school tomorrow and have six weeks to complete the term. No real news from here except to let you all know we arrived okay and shall write you the news each week. Give us all the dope from home. Love, Ken et al. (Hi – As Ken told you, we had a very uneventful trip after we took off. That is the reason we like to fly on the Co. plane. They do not take chances. I had never been to the Azores so didn’t mind the change in the route. We had some friends aboard so had a pleasant trip. The Boys had the house shining and Grey Boy was here to greet us, too. He is tremendous now, and just as beautiful. Everyone seems glad to have us back – makes one feel nice. The girls have been running around like whirling dervishes – trying to see and do everything at once. But they will go back to school tomorrow. Vic Stapleton had a heart attack and is in the hospital – but doing fine. He will be there for three more weeks. . . Love, Mimi.) Dhahran, Saudi Arabia June 8, 1952 Dear Folks: No mail from anyone for quite some time – trust that no news is good news. I know the Connecticut branch has been moving – at least that was the time schedule when we left. (Editor’s note: Ken’s sister, Alice, and her family, moved from Riverside to a new house on Hillside Road in Greenwich.) You should be about settled by now. Don’t envy you the job. The girls have gone to Sunday School. Ken is out shuffing the area. The Boys [Francis, the cook, and Louis, the houseboy] have just come from Mass and are getting their work done. They will go pretty soon for the day. I have Oscar Levant on the record player – and am enjoying myself -by myself- on the porch. Of course, Grey Boy is always in evidence and trying to ‘help’ me write! The weather has been bad all week – sand storms and a lot of humidity. It has been a busy one for us, too. I’ll be a glad when these “ginks” go home. Fun is fun, but it gets a little wearisome after a while – and always with the same people. Last night Les Snyder and his wife gave a huge dinner party. Must have been 50 people or more. Wonderful food and a good crowd, but they [social obligations] come too close together. Next week is as bad – guess I’d feel badly if we didn’t go, though. (Editor’s note: This is a reference to the sometimes non-stop social schedule expected of Aramco executives and their wives. As much as Mildred loved entertaining, it sometimes got her down.) All the boys and girls are home from school and the ones from the 9th grade are here working – as casuals. So Judy has a job, too. At first we didn’t want her to do it, but they all are and she really is better off inside doing something in the A/C than running around camp in the heat looking for something to do. They can only work 40 hours a week and get 50 cents an hour. She is in Automotive Supply doing ledgers – and loves it. She goes off with Ken at 7:20 each morning, gets off at 12:15, back at 1:30 and off at 4:45 five days a week. It curtails the social life, some, but they still go plenty. Our new “Camel,” the DC-6, made its first trip this week and is certainly a honey. Ken took Lynn and me down to go through it the day it came in. Allyn is still working down at Dammam which is several miles away, so he leaves early and gets in late. We don’t see much of him anymore. He looks very well, though, is working outside and is very brown and thinner. Lynn stays the same, but looks fine. She keeps buys and has a group for sewing every Saturday morning – some wives who are anxious to learn. Vic Stapleton is progressing but still confined to a very strict schedule. They are going home the 8th of September by boat – and I am sure it will be months before he can return to work. He has a coronary occlusion and is still under treatment – has been two months now. Bye now. Write us soon. Love to all, Mimi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia June 10, 1952 Dear Folks: This is a little quickie as we are going to Ras Tanura this afternoon and won’t be back until tomorrow night. I am just afraid we might slip on writing after that so will get off a note now. I haven’t been to RT in over a year – and it is only 45 miles, too, but just never seem to find the right time to go. We will stay with the [Don] Wassons – old friends of Ken’s from Port Arthur days. I met them in Tulsa in ’37. We should have a nice weekend. They have three children. One boy a year older than Judy who goes to Beirut to school – a girl about Susan’s age and a smaller boy. The Renfers are coming up with their two girls tomorrow and so they should all have old home week. We are having the porch made into a room – with three big windows facing the patio – will use it as a den. It wasn’t useable for more than two or three months of the year as a porch – and as we are going to put the record player out there and have shelves for books it will make a very nice place. Especially for the children and their guests. I’ve been very busy this past week. Scout Committee stuff again and Youth Recreational Program. I always say I won’t get myself involved, but do like to do things for the children as we have two who benefit. Graduation is the 20th – in the theater and should be very nice. Judy is busy on her speech, but not very perturbed about it – not as much as I am! (Editor’s note: Judy Webster was valedictorian of the 1952 graduating class at Dhahran Senior Staff School and was working on her speech for that honor.) The Prom is the 17th and is formal – school is out the 23rd. One other 9th grader is going to Beirut – I mean girl – there are only 6 girls in the class – and I guess she and Judy will room together. . . I had forgotten to tell you, Pop, that Alice had the kite there and we brought it back with us. We will give it a trial run soon – not the season now, with too much wind. Susan is so thrilled with it and wants to go right out with it, but we are afraid it would be ruined. . . They have a kite contest in the spring and that is when we will show them all up! We are all fine but seem to be still doing too much rushing around. No doubt will settle down before long – I hope. This moving of top management group to the field makes for a lot of social stuff – then just getting back people are still asking us to dinner. We have a new addition to the family – a pair of young canaries from Jerusalem. A friend ‘kindly’ brought them as a gift for Susan! They are sweet, though, and are beginning to warble and trill a good bit. So far we have managed to keep Grey Boy from bothering them. He lies under the cage on the floor and gazes at them for time on end. He knows he can’t bother, but I don’t know what would happen if they were left alone in the same room. We are getting a larger cage tomorrow and will hang if from the ceiling on the porch. Love, Mimi June 20, 1952 Dear Folks: Another week rolls by and I still don’t have the rugs down in the living room. I do have practically everything else done, though. It takes four men and six boys, almost, to do the job and so we are waiting until Allyn can come down and help us – maybe today. I have kept pretty busy. Had to get out all the summer clothes for all of us and so have spent hours fixing things – seems they all had something that had to be changed. I haven’t gone out in the daytime much. It isn’t nearly as hot as I expected – they’ve had an unusually cool spring – but even so, it is warmer than it was in the States and I am taking it easy. I’ve had lots of callers and that takes up lots of time. Ken had to officiate at a farewell dinner this last week and present the gift – one of his men is retiring. He does a very good job of it. The school had open house one night, too, and we went to a big cocktail party. Judy had the “gang” in Wednesday night and they had fun – danced on the patio. I went to a coffee one morning – played Canasta one afternoon. Tomorrow we start plans for the Teenage Tea Dance we are giving (Recreational Committee) on the 4th [Fourth of July]. The party last night at the Executive House was for two more Vice Presidents who have come to live in the field – with their families. One was Les Snyder and his new wife. We had loads of fun. It was a buffet cocktail party on the big patio at the Ex House. Bob Keys is full of fun and foolishness (the new Aramco President) – at a party, anyway, and one of our new wives who lives across the street from us plays the piano simply out of this world – classical – I mean in a professional class. And her dance music isn’t bad. After most of the gang left a few of us stayed on and listened to Edwa play. They had a lovely string quartet during the evening, which was nice. There are all sorts of parties coming up now for all the new ‘brass’ residents. You know Aramco is moving all of its top management to the field to live. There are several houses started for them, too. Judy has been tearing around like mad trying to see and do everything at once. She felt a little ‘removed’ for a little bit, but now you would never know she had been away. The house is overflowing with kids. Susan seems happy as a lark. She has two very good friends who practically live here and much to my surprise she even spent the night with one last weekend – without any trouble – I mean trouble in the sense she would not spend the night away from home for the last two years . . . Vic Stapleton is doing very well, but still will have to be in the hospital for two more weeks. He is beginning to get restless but he really did have a heart attack, even though not too severe, and they can’t take chances. Guess I have covered all the current news. Bye now. Love, Mildred, Ken et al. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia June 27, 1952 Dear Folks: Just a year ago today we went on vacation and arrived in Rome at midnight their time. Had a beer and sandwiches and then took the trip we talked or wrote about. After arriving back here on the tenth, we have had one visitor after another, and as it was Rhamadhan, our Arab friends could not eat or drink during the daylight hours for one month. Then last Monday, at three forth-five A.M., the King’s agent saw the new moon, and the month of fasting was ended. Then there was feasting and we braintrusters were invited to the Emir’s for breakfast. Some 28 of us had mutton and rice with the local Emir, after several cups of coffee and tea, and the breakfast table was set for eight to a table on which was one sheep and much rice flavored with many unfamiliar herb. This was at seven-thirty and then we went to Sheik Abdullah’s place for fruit juice and coffee. We were full of coffee and tea, but paid our respects to the governmental heads, who expect these visits annually. Since then, we have been involved in many activities including cocktail parties and find ourselves much at home with all the goings on that are a part of our life here. Much as we would like to live in the USA we have lots to be thankful for and find it not too bad here and in many respects a very good place to be. This isn’t a very newsy letter, but all we have now to tell you. Love to all, Ken et al. June 27, 1952 Dear Folks:
Fred Davies, chairman of the
board of Aramco, 1950s.
(Photo from the Internet.)
Monday night we went to [Fred] Davies’ for buffet dinner. He is Chairman of the Board and it was for all the new arrivals. It is lovely out there at the SRO House and we always enjoy it. I went out Wednesday morning to a coffee, too. Last night we went to a cocktail party and then on to a dinner. This afternoon we have two wedding receptions – one at the American Consulate for Susan’s teacher who is marrying one of the vice consults – next [week] is already as bad. In between we have had a lot of callers. Guess the camp will settle down to a normal pace before too long. Even that is rushing enough. The 4th comes on Friday this year and we are invited up to RT for the weekend but can’t go as it is the Tea Dance for the junior high and returning bunch from Beirut and of course, Judy will go and I am on the committee to take care of it. Should be nice. . . The cat and the two canaries plus the two turtles are all thriving – also my plants. Love from us all, Mildred. June 27, 1952 Dear Folks: Monday night we went to [Fred] Davies’ for buffet dinner. He is Chairman of the Board and it was for all the new arrivals. It is lovely out there at the SRO House and we always enjoy it. I went out Wednesday morning to a coffee, too. Last night we went to a cocktail party and then on to a dinner. This afternoon we have two wedding receptions – one at the American Consulate for Susan’s teacher who is marrying one of the vice consults – next [week] is already as bad. In between we have had a lot of callers. Guess the camp will settle down to a normal pace before too long. Even that is rushing enough. The 4th comes on Friday this year and we are invited up to RT for the weekend but can’t go as it is the Tea Dance for the junior high and returning bunch from Beirut and of course, Judy will go and I am on the committee to take care of it. Should be nice. . . The cat and the two canaries plus the two turtles are all thriving – also my plants. Love from us all, Mildred. July 4, 1952 Dear Folks: The good old Fourth of July has rolled around again. But it is no longer a Company holiday. It just so happened this year it fell on a Friday and so all the plans for entertainment could go on as usual. There are big doings today – donkey races, rides, all sorts of footraces, etc., for the older children – special movies and refreshments. At 3 is the Teenager’s Tea Dance – until 5. That is where I come in. I’m on the committee for it and we think it will be fun. All the older children are home from Beirut and various other schools and this is for them, too. We have had the same sort of busy week – but we have had a shamaal (sand storm) almost every day and believe me they are a great nuisance. Everything gets covered with sand – it blows in your face and nicks your legs and fills your house. All the shrubs are covered and everything looks like tan sand. But, a little water and work cleans it off in good time. Besides going out, we had 10 for dinner Tuesday night and as usual, Francis went all out for a lovely meal. Wednesday night Judy had 26 boys and girls in for a party. Two of her friends are leaving Sunday for Switzerland to go to a lovely summer session at a school in Geneva. I’d like to do that for Susan one time. They only take French (it is an all French school) and sports, for two months. I am sure you will all be as happy as we are that Judy is Valedictorian of the ninth grade this year. Graduation exercises are the 20th so she is thinking hard on her subject. They have a very nice affair – and Ken gives out the diplomas. I had thought she might miss out on it because of our trip home, but she has maintained her standard for the six years here and so she was the one. I am already getting jitters over it! Her dress is fine and just fists. I am so glad we got it for her. She still is a little confused as to what she wants to do next year, but we feel sure it will be Beirut. They have big plans for a good year up there and 14 new teachers have been added. The main thing is that she will be close to us. Also, Dottie and Bill Moore (Ex-Pres. of Aramco) will be living there next year and their daughter, Ginger, will also be going to the same school. They are very good friends and Dottie already had plans for the girls and we feel very happy they will be there. Frances Shultz Skory lives up there, too, and they are good friends of ours. It all helps. Susan is off already this morning to see that everything goes right at the Donkey Ring! She is so crazy about them she feels it couldn’t go right unless she is there. It really is for the younger children, but I’ll bet she will be right in the middle of it all. She seems to be happy as a lark and is growing up very fast. She has two very good friends, and both lovely youngsters, so they literally move as one – of course, there are three boys in the picture, too. Ken is very busy getting organized. There is always so terrifically much for him to do as District Manager – he has to keep his finger on most everything that goes on in Camp. Best love to all of you – and please write. Mildred. July 18, 1952 Dear Folks: Only two more days and it will be over! This last week has been very hectic. The graduation class has been busy as can be and I don’t know when Judy has had time to write and learn her speech because she hasn’t ‘lit’ long enough to hardly do anything – but she does have it ready and we think it is good. She did it all herself except for some corrections in phrasing and organization of thought which the English teacher supervised. Her subject is “Teenagers.” She has taken the exams here, too, and they have been decorating the old theater for the Prom last night. It did look very pretty and they worked for days. After the Prom last night all the girls from this class and the girls from the classes in RT and Abqaiq had a slumber party in one of the houses. Dhahran had the other classes to their Prom.
Prom Night, 1952, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
The ninth grade graduation class at Dhahran
Senior Staff School invited the seniors from
Abqaiq and Ras Tanura to join in the festivities,
which were held in the old Dhahran theater.
(Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
Thursday night was the Prom – at the old theater. The class made all their own arrangements and decorating. Had an orchestra and buffet supper. It was formal and Judy wore the pale green taffeta with the silver threads through it that we bought while home this winter. She looked very sweet – her date called for her in a taxi and brought her a darling little gold bracelet -- and they all had a wonderful time. On top of all the hustle, Judy…had a very bad sunburn on the backs of her legs from last weekend and could hardly walk most of the week. It is much better now, but her back was peeling – nice in a formal – but she didn’t seem to care! Ken is on duty this weekend and was called out for something early, so I’ve been up earlier than usual on Friday. Susan is still asleep. We took her and one of her friends to the Water Show last night. It was from Abqaiq but given here. It doesn’t get dark until after one so we were late getting home. We were certainly very pleased over the girls’ reports from the Academy – and doubly proud of all the nice remarks from the teachers. Hope they [the girls] don’t get too pleased with themselves! Susan has been right in the swing of class work and doing very well. We both feel the time at the [Greenwich] Academy was very beneficial in many ways for both of them. The work on the porch is coming along but I am so impatient to get it fixed. The patio side has three big casement windows which with the door make that wall almost all glass – the room will be 9 by 15. Not big, but fine for the den we plan to make of it. . .
Judy Webster’s ninth grade graduation from
Dhahran Senior Staff School, 1952. This photo
was taken in the Webster living room in front
of Mildred’s cherished carved screen from
Bombay. Judy was valedictorian. (Photo by
Allyn Webster, courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
Bye now. Love to all, Mimi July 24, 1952 Dear Folks: Of course, the big event of this week was graduation! [It was held in] the new theater. There was a very good crowd and everything went off more smoothly than I have ever seen. We have a lovely electric organ in the theater and the music was played by one of the men in camp. The songs were by the sixth through eighth grade[s] and well done. There were 18 graduates – the largest group, so far. They all looked so wonderful all dressed up. The six girls all wore long white dresses. (Judy’s dress was lovely – “mousseline de soie”) and carried nosegays of peach glad flowerets, white carnations and pale yellow statice – which we [the mothers] made. We sent to Beirut for the flowers.
Dhahran District Manager Ken Webster, left,
presented the diplomas at the 1952 graduation
ceremony in Dhahran. This photo was taken
just after he presented his daughter, Judy, with
hers. (Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
The guest speaker was Dr. Widener, Dean of Engineering at Beirut University. The highlight, of course, was the Valedictory address, which Judy gave without a flicker of anything like nerves and did a perfectly beautiful job of it. Please pardon the bragging, but she really did and everyone said so! Dr. Widener asked for a copy of her speech.
Mildred Webster, kneeling, admires her
daughter Judy’s graduation dress, July 1952.
(Photo by Allyn Webster, courtesy
Judy Webster Bauer.)
Ken, as District Manager, gave out the diplomas and also gave a little short speech very much to the point and very good. The most touching part was when he gave Judy her diploma. I had a good case of the jitters while she was giving it, but could have saved myself the trouble. Allyn and Lynn took some pictures of her in her dress the other night so we expect to send you some soon. She had the highest average in the class for three years. School was out Wednesday until September 7th. Judy goes to Beirut October 9th. It has been a very hot week and we have had a terrible shamaal all today, which was payday, and so only a half day of work. Most everyone plans to do something special – but even the buses to the other districts were stopped today. Judy has a friend down from RT for the weekend. Susan spent last night and all today with a friend. We had dinner guests last night. We are all fine and I guess that is all the news. Write soon. Love to all, Mimi
The ninth grade graduating class of 1952, Dhahran Senior Staff School, July 20, 1952. Left to right: Maureen McKeegan (“Momo”), Jerry Johnson, Gay Leeman, Gary Sanders, ?, ?, Don Coleman, Myles Jones, Tru-Lyn Cruse, Paul Schmidbauer, Bobbie Fleharty, Dave Biggins, Judy Webster, Pete Short, Adrienne Pont, Pat Cain, Gary Russell. (Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
August 1, 1952 Dear Folks: At long last, the porch is finished into a room – and we love it! It is 9 by 15 – the wall on the patio side has three casement windows and a door, so it is almost completely glass. At the end opposite the dining room we have book shelves from the ceiling down about a third of the way and against that wall we have a red leatherette (plastic) cushioned bamboo couch with end tables and lamps – a coffee table – then on the wall opposite the windows is the combination record machine and record cabinet. There are also two chairs and a table in between, by the windows. We had a bunch in for dinner last night and it was so nice to be able to use the room. We surely do appreciate it today for there is a shamaal blowing and usually the porch would be covered by sand a few inches deep – but I am out here typing! Several years ago when they started to use the quarry at Ras Tanura, they ran across a stone with ancient writings which was sent to a museum in the States for identifying. It said something to the effect that a “one Eyed Phoenician Maiden Sleeps Here.” Tomorrow they are opening the chamber they have just come across, which they expect to be a burial place. Some archeologists are here to do it. I am going up with Ken tomorrow morning to see it all. Isn’t that interesting? Haven’t done too much this week but herd Arab workmen around inside and out. Tuesday night we went to a wonderful party and lots of fun – danced for hours, which is right [up] my alley – can’t be too much. I played Canasta one afternoon and was supposed to go yesterday, but just couldn’t make it. Allyn and Lynn did a beautiful job on the graduation pictures. When I figure a way to send them to you, will do so. Francis had a lovely dinner last night for our guests. Chicken fricassees then cut off the bones and mixed with bacon, mushrooms, olives, sauce and seasoned to a turn – done a la casserole and topped by French puff pastry about two inches thick and so crisp it melts in your mouth – then vegetables, salad, cornbread sticks and potatoes au gratin – then strawberry short cake. He really can cook – only thing is we eat so simply as a rule, it doesn’t give him a chance to use his talents. But, we can’t go a steady diet of such rich foods. With cocktails he fixed cheese puff things done in deep fat and in shapes—served hot. Think we will go to the movies this afternoon. It is a comedy – the only kind Ken likes on the rare occasions he goes at all. He still keeps going at a steady pace, but seems to be able to take it. Guess the big move is on this week – hope everything goes without a hitch – Health, Wealth and Happiness in your new home, Connecticut family. (Editor’s note: Ken’s sister, Alice, and her family moved into a new five-bedroom house on an acre and a half of land on Hillside Road in Greenwich after their home in Riverside was bought by the state to make room for a highway.) Love to all, Mimi August 25, 1952 Dear Folks: . . . I’ve been sewing and fixing things, getting Judy’s clothes ready. Her friends are all leaving – one by one – and soon she’ll be off, too. We think we will go up to Beirut with her and get her settled. I dread the time . . . Ken still keeps very busy and has had a very, very nice big raise, for which he is happy. At least he is appreciated. He is doing a grand job, but “District Manager” position is really a “stinker.” Susan has been riding several times a week. A friend of ours has a nice little filly at the Hobby Farm. If it wasn’t so inaccessible, we’d buy her a horse. Mr. [John] Ames picks her up and takes her out with him. . . Love, Mimi Dhahran, Saudi Arabia August 31, 1952 Dear Folks: Soon after our return from my “schoolin’” at Harvard, we had a two-day holiday, Ed ‘L Fitr, which commemorated the end of the annual thirty-day fast. This is similar to our Easter. This weekend we had a two-day holiday, Ed ‘L Adha, which commemorates the end of the Haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Although I have written before about this period, I shall tell briefly about it.
A view of the modern-day Haj in Mecca,
photographed in 2006 – not much different
from the Haj of half a century ago, described
by Ken Webster in his family letters.
(Photo from the Internet.)
The “sacred precincts of Mecca” consist of a large area around Mecca, which is encircled by a series of boundary pillars set up at a distance of approximately three marches from the city. Wherever roads converging on the city reach this boundary line, special posts have been set up (during the Haj season only, of course) for pilgrims to halt, purify themselves and change into their pilgrim garments. If the Haji or pilgrim is coming by camel from the East, he pitches his tent in the dry riverbed called Al Batha (three marches from the city). Having washed from water which he will find just under the sandy surface of the dry river bed, he puts on his ihram garments (men white, women, green) and retains these until the day of great sacrifice on the tenth day of DHUL HIJJAH. The pilgrim now moves toward Mecca with bare head and bare feet, and on arrival camps in a special place allotted to him. As soon as possible after arrival he is taken by a guide who explains all that he has to do and say by way of prayers and ceremonial, walks round the outside of the GREAT MOSQUE which is known as the HOUSE OF GOD, the Bait ALLAH. Next he enters the Mosque, walks around the KABAH seven times, and kisses the black stone which is guarded by men whose business it is to see that there is no crowding and everyone gets a chance. The black stone is built into the outside wall of the KABAH about the height of a man.
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims circling the
Kabah during the 2006 Haj in Mecca.
(Photo from the Internet.)
The pilgrim next runs between the hills SAFA and MARWA, visits the place of Abraham and drinks the water of ZAM ZAM. The above is repeated each day until the eight day, when the pilgrim goes to MUNA, some ten miles from Mecca. On the ninth morning early, he goes to Mount ARAFAT eight miles further away, and sits in an attitude of supplication until sunset. He then rushes to MUNA, near which is the place of stoning, and camps for the night. On the tenth morning early he proceeds to the “place of stoning” and casts seven small stones at the “GREAT DEVIL” which with the “MIDDLE PILLAR” and “LITTLE ONE” are enclosed in a small wall. Then he performs the GREAT SACRIFICE (sheep, camel, goat or bullock), and again camps for the night. The second morning he stones the “MIDDLE PILLAR” and likewise the “LITTLE PILLAR” on the third morning. The pilgrimage is now over, and he removes his garment, washes and shaves, and puts on his ordinary clothes, which must be new and clean, and proceeds to Mecca enroute to Medina. According to the Muslims, the well of ZAM ZAM is the same water which was miraculously provided by God for Hagar when she was dying of thirst. The hillocks SAFA and MARWA are the same between which Hagar ran in despair when distracted at the thought that her child Ishmael was about to perish in the wilderness.
Muslim pilgrims on Mount Arafat – during
the Haj. (Photo from the Internet.)
This feat is held annually throughout the Muslim world, to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac his son, or, as the Muslims believe, Ishmael, on Mount ARAFAT. Over 500,000 made the pilgrimage this year and we sold over a million gallons of aviation gasoline during the period, as many have taken to the air, although many still come by boat and camel. You may have read in the papers that the US Army or Air Force flew 6,000 from Beirut in fourteen planes, as they were stranded there and would have been too late for the ceremonies otherwise. Our holidays are now New Year’s Day, King’s Coronation (January 8th), Ed ‘L Fitr (two days), Ed ‘L Adha (two days), Christmas, for a total of seven. The only holidays recognized are universal ones or those of Saudi Arabia, and not Labor Day, Fourth of July, Pakistani Independence, Shiah days, etc. No real news from here. Susan is looking forward to going back to school Sept. 6th, Judy will quit work soon and get ready for Beirut, we have a local leave of two weeks during which we intend to drop Judy off at school, everyone is healthy and happy, the lawn and flowers are doing well, the days are not too wet nor hot but still at about 118 in mid-afternoon, the air conditioning is good, and we look forward to Fall in about eight weeks as the best time of year here. In celebration of the holidays, I worked all day Friday as we had over 30,000 tons of freight in the harbor. Saturday we all took it easy, and I only spent about three hours looking around the area. Today we had some problems with local people, and I was able to finish the lawn, check some other overdue items, and visit a little with friends. It is nine P.M. and Mildred and I just came in from a last ride and check of some people we wanted to come to dinner. No mail out for this weekend since all mail centers closed for the Haj, so you may get more than one letter at same time. With no more holidays until Jan. First, and Christmas, we should have mail uninterrupted for next few months. Our best to all of you, and hope you Riverside folks have moved and are about settled again. Nothing is so constant as change, unless it is change in my pocket, but when settled again you’ll feel as though you should have done it a long time ago. Love from all, Ken September 5, 1952 Dear Folks: This is a most unusual day for us – there was such a thick fog this morning we couldn’t see across the street. This is the time of the year when we do get our humid weather, but not fog as a rule. Susan was disappointed as she had a date to ride at the Hobby Farm and it was called off. Maybe they can go this afternoon. School starts tomorrow for Susan. They are a week late as they were redecorating the school. They pretend to be sorry, but actually this month vacation deal is just the right amount of time. They get too bored trying to keep busy for very long. Doesn’t seem possible Susan will be in the 7th grade. Judy will have to get busy now as it will only be a bit over three weeks until she will be taking off for Beirut. I sure hate to see her go, but it has to be. I don’t doubt but that she will love it and have a wonderful time and guess it will be good for her, too, but hate to have her go away at the ripe age of 14! I’ve been busy this week – it has been a little cooler and I have made some long overdue calls. Also gathering some Scout data for this new session. We have a very large group to ‘fly up’ now. There are close to 300 in our school in Dhahran now. I don’t do any actual Scout work – just Secretary of the Scout Committee. Feel I should keep active in it as long as I still have a child in Scouts. It has been a rather busy week socially. Ther has been a Change of Command at the Air Base and Brig. Gen. Day and his wife will be leaving the 10th for Washington. We had them to dinner last night, along with the Consul General and his wife – the Bishops. There were 11 of us, plus Bob Keyes, the new Aramco President. Francis did himself proud, as usual, with a wonderful dinner – they do love to fix party meals – and I made ice cream parfait pie with meringue crust – it was good. Fortunately, we had frozen strawberries at the commissary. Went to a coffee at the Consulate for a vice consul’s wife – and also for the new Command’s wife. They are very young with small children. LATER… Time out for a trip to Al Khobar – was sort of sticky down there but had a little shopping to do. I’ll be glad when the cool weather gets here. The Stapletons go out Sunday – to Beirut and on the Export Line home for 6 months. He is feeling fine, but still can’t work and can’t fly for 6 months. They will go up on the Company plane to Beirut and they can fly low enough for him – it is a pressurized cabin, too. Bye now till next week. Love, Mimi September 12, 1952 Dear Folks: Enjoyed all the letters this past week. So glad to have all the news about your move, Alice, and details about the house. I’m sure you will love the new place, Gram. And I can just see you with all that space to move about in – so many large, airy rooms . . . Did I tell you that Daisy Cooper’s father died in August? I am so glad they were home at the time. It is still very hot and humid here – but can’t last too much longer. I have been busy getting Judy’s clothes in order. She has plenty, but seems everything has something to be done to it. They all have to be marked, too. She is very lonesome, as all her gang has gone – and the younger ones are in school. She stopped work as we wanted her to get some relaxation and rest. She has been swimming and bowling a lot. I met a darling youngster yesterday who is a senior at ACS [American Community School in Beirut]. She is 16 and has lived many years in Aleppo where her father is head of a school – she went to Arab school there – a very good one and so speaks Arabic fluently – even does her math in Arabic. She has been at ACS for several years – three, I think. She is visiting one of the girls here. She is American. Last night we met a tremendously interesting young Pakistani who was born and reared in Kenya, Africa. He comes from a very wealthy Muslim family who have donated $28 million to the Arab government – Saudi Arabia, I mean – to build schools, etc., indirectly for the Arab Nation. He is 21 – graduated from Dartmouth – and has finished one year at Harvard Business School. He has just finished the pilgrimage to Mecca, where he joined his family. Returns to Boston this week. He is very handsome and so much personality. Has visited the Pryors in Greenwich many times – in Field Point Park. Is familiar with the Indian Harbor Yacht Club, etc. (Editor’s note: Ken’s sister, Alice Jenner, and her husband, Ted, were sailing enthusiasts and members of Indian Harbor.) He traveled around the world speaking as a representative of the UN – some youth organization. . . He seems to have a wonderful time out of everything, but is kept on a very meager allowance, so we are told. I may go to Beirut with Judy, Mim and Anna [Shultz] and just stay a few days. Have been invited to stay with Mim at Frances’ apartment (Mim’s daughter in Beirut). Ken feels he doesn’t need a local leave, having just returned from the States – we shall see. Frances is having her second baby the 15th. We are having a big cocktail party the 25th – the only big event on our calendar. Have to do it once in a while – is too expensive, but a good way to get in a lot of people – all at once. Girls are at Sunday School and Ken is out cutting the grass. He likes to do it and won’t let the gardener do it. None of them can cut grass very well, anyway. He is weekend on duty – last time was a terrible one. He was on the jump every minute – hope this one is a little quieter. Our yard really is nice now with all this humid weather – but everything grows double quick time. Susan seems interested in being back in school and is riding several times a week, too. I think it is too hot, but get overruled every time! I do hate to deny her when that is the thing she loves the most. Wish it were easier to arrange transportation out there – [we] would get her a horse. One of the men who has several horses has been taking her out with a friend of hers. . . We will keep our eyes open for a rug, Alice – may see something in Beirut. Love to all, Mildred, et al Dhahran, Saudi Arabia September 19, 1952 Dear Folks: Never mind the Mix Master, Sister, if the serial number we sent is not sufficient, we don’t know the model number and will get by with the blender we have. Maybe the parts made by the [Aramco] shop will last until we leave for home, or when Allyn leaves, and maybe we can buy one from someone leaving. Am so glad that the new house suits everyone and that Philipine [the Jenners’ housekeeper] will work six days per week. We are so used to six days per week for all activity that less than that sounds funny. I would like a job that was really five days per week, as actually mine is seven and has been since arrival here in 1944. Took Mildred and Mim Schultz to Al Khobar this morning and let them see the various jobs I was checking. It was well over 106 degrees in the shade, and I let them out at home while I looked the rest of them over. Allyn and Lynn went to dinner with us at the Dining Hall, where for $2.25 we each had all we wanted of cold meats, salad, dessert, coffee and tea, and many various other items. This is served each Friday and you eat all you want of all items for a fixed price. Susan still gets the 70-cent price, but the rest of us pay the full price. General Day left the Air Base and General Grover took over, and Management gave a party last night for the new general and his wife. There were thirteen of us and it was a good dinner and fun. First we had a cocktail party at the Consul General’s house, then dinner with two vice presidents and the president of Aramco. Came home at midnight, after songs, guitar, and the piano, and it really was an entertaining evening. Planted three mimosa trees today and hope they grow. Mim raised them from seeds from Port Arthur. Will have Ebrahaim [our gardener] get garden ready starting tomorrow, and plant things about first of October. Records kept by long-time residents say plant in early October, but not before. Lawn and hedge doing fine, shrubs look better every day, but must get garden going, as so many things we can raise will make table better than if we depend on Company. No news, and will write again soon. Love to all, Ken et al. September 26, 1952 Dear Folks: I feel very virtuous this morning – I am up very early for Friday! We had a big cocktail party last night for 45 people and as they all left fairly early, I went to bed early, consequently had my sleep out. The party was for Carl and Verdel Renfer who are leaving for their Home Leave the 14th. It was a group of their closest friends and a very nice group. We had fun. We had cold sliced turkey, ham and marinated shrimp with all the relishes, etc. We have found it simpler that way – everyone serves themselves and with the warm rolls they make sandwiches and we don’t have to fuss with so much china, etc. Francis does things very nicely and they cleaned it all up. We would rather have it that way then to serve hors d’oeuvres. One 20-pound turkey, one 10-pound ham and 10 pounds of shrimp – eight dozen rolls – and there is just enough meat left for snacks today. We are so glad to hear that you are feeling better, Gram. A cold is a nasty old thing and sure can make you feel rotten. I seldom have one but think it is because I take so much anti-histamine for my hay fever and sinus. I can’t wait to see the house all painted and fixed up so lovely. The draperies should be just grand in the dining room. I thought that room was sort of colorless with the pale yellow and grey – pretty, but not very bright. I love color myself. Please send us some pictures when you can. . . Susan is off to the Hobby Farm this morning – left at 8. She will ride for a couple of hours and be very happy while doing it. We may have to give in and buy her a horse – if we could just get to the place easier. I have no transportation down there during the week. Right now a friend of ours [John Ames] who has several horses there takes her down. Judy leaves a week [from] tomorrow and I will go up the next day. The Company sends them up on a School Flight and we thought it would be more fun for her to go with all the new kids and not have Mama along. The returnees go up the 9th. Mim Schultz is going with me. I probably will only stay about a week – will get her room all set and get a few things for us – some Christmas things. I have been appointed Room Mother for Susan’s room at school, so must have a tea before I leave to have all their teachers – four – to meet the mothers . . .
The elegant Hud-Hud
bird, enjoyed by Mildred
Webster in her Dhahran
yard. (Photo from
We had a big Scout rally the other afternoon to start off all the work for the season. Judy is delighted to find she has completed enough work for the Curved Bar. I am glad because I don’t imagine she will have time for Scouts at school. That makes her a First Class Scout plus. She won’t receive it until the next Court of Awards, but I will receive it for her – it sort of ties up all the loose ends. Our weather is cooling off and some of the mornings are lovely. The only thing I like about the humid weather is that it makes the yard so pretty, but mostly because it is the time the Hud Hud birds come – they are just fascinating – rather large with brown and white striped bodies and rust colored top knots which fan out as they fly and land. The beak is very long and this fan just as long out the other direction. They come in groups and we have had as many as 12 on the lawn at once. Only stay for about two weeks and then are off for other parts. They don’t make any sound that I know of. (Editor’s note: A description on the Internet states, “The hud-hud (hoopoe) is an elegant bird, which is related to the hornbill. It gets its unusual name from its shrill call of “hoops, which rings clear and far and is repeated two or three times. Often the cry is cut off very short. This may be caused by the bird’s bill sharply striking the ground at the end of note.” Why the birds didn’t make a sound on the Webster lawn is unknown. Source: Islamic Research Foundation International Inc. – online.)
A common BulBul Bird. There are many
varieties throughout the world, primarily
in Africa and Asia. Mildred Webster
enjoyed watching and listening to them
in her Dhahran yard.
(Photo from the Internet)
They and the Bul Bul birds are the most interesting ones, but we have lots of birds, much to my surprise. The Bul Bul is the one that they call the “Persian Nightingale” – they sing beautifully. Grey Boy is our only pet now – but he is a beauty. He loves a party and will stay right in the middle of one. Last night he was lying right in the middle of the living room after the crowd thinned out enough! He is so lovable and good-natured – makes an ideal pet. I have most of Judy’s things packed, but haven’t even given myself a thought. But guess I will grab up something on the way out the door. It will be cooler up there and will probably only take a couple of suits and one dress. Time out…. We picked up Lynn and went to Al Khobar to pick up some film and to get some buttons for Lynn. Stopped on our way back to go through the new dining rooms at the Intermediate Camp. It will open the first and is housing for all the employees between senior staff and the regular Arab workmen. They have 4 dining rooms – cafeteria style – a recreation building and movie theater plus a nice swimming pool. I don’t know the number of dorms, but there seem to be dozens and dozens of buildings. Ken could tell you more about that. Just had the news that one of our bys died a little big ago in the hospital. He was badly burned four days ago and up until last night we still hoped he would make it. He leaves a young wife who is expecting a baby in December. They were a very nice couple – he has been out here for years and she was a nurse here. Paula Weathers had a baby girl yesterday – that makes three girls and one boy for them. We are terribly fond of Paula and Stormy. Judy’s address at school is: American Community School, Beirut, Lebanon. I guess that is all our news for the week. . . Bye now. Love to all, Mildred and family. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia October 10, 1952 Dear Folks: There has been a little trouble lately with the mails, and possibly you have not gotten all of our letters. It is all clear now, but every once in a while someone gets a letter that has been on the way for weeks or months. It is hard for us to realize that there is cold weather in other places, when we will have 104 afternoons, although 80-85 nights. The mornings are grand, and only after lunch is it warm. No doubt we’ll still have some hot days, but summer is definitely over. Just starting to plant the garden, and many people have radishes, etc., up already. Judy went to Beirut last Saturday and Mildred and Mim Shultz last Sunday. I told Mildred to take all the time she wanted to and have fun, but doubt she will stay over two weeks if that long. Les Snyder and wife went to Beirut yesterday and will be there a few days enroute [to] New York, and Mildred may stay only long enough to show Betty the town and then come home. I may go up for a few days, but can’t see it now. Lynn and Allyn are here so that Susan and I are well taken care of, but miss the two others and will miss Judy until Christmas. It is a big step for a girl her age, but had to be done. Last night Lynn, Allyn and I went to an Arab dinner, the best tasting one I have ever had. Tea and coffee to start, then thirty guests sat on rugs in the yard, and did very little damage to three sheep, rice in four ways of serving, pickled mangoes, stuffed eggplant, potatoes cooked inside the sheep, four or five kinds of fruit, okra, meatballs very highly seasoned, and other dishes I can’t describe. The host cut a leg off and handed it to Allyn, who of course took it and ate plenty, but you couldn’t tell where he had taken some from. The rice cooked inside the sheep was missed with almonds, raisins, bean sprouts, cloves and a seed that looked like a watermelon seed. The whole meal was grand. Then the five girls were taken in to meet the wife and three daughters. She is Javanese and the one son looked like it. Then we had coffee and tea about four times, and left at eleven. Half of the people were American and half Arab, and the dinner was given at the Passport Director’s home for the brother of one of my boys who has just been called into the Air Force for training at local airbase. Your house sounds grand, Sister, and must be a real satisfaction to you and Ted. We’ll be able to see it next summer when all the trees and shrubs are in bloom. Mowed the lawn, watered, spent three hours at office, and leave soon for a cocktail party for John Rogers, VP Bechtel and President of Bechtel Middle East. Susan rode at Hobby Farm, Allyn worked all day, Lynn was left alone most of the time, and the day is ending. Sounds like the Websters and Jenners at home are boating and fishing most of the time. No other news, hope Mother’s cold is over, and that you all have a mild winter. Love, Ken P.S. Pop – Did you love any money on Dodgers? I was for them, but no money bet. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia October 18, 1952 Dear Folks: Today is my eighth anniversary of arrival in Saudi Arabia and Mildred and I arrived at nine A.M after a fine time in Beirut. I had told you she went up on October 5, after Judy went on the fourth, and I had hoped to go for a few days but doubted I could make it. Then last Tuesday, our first of two new Convairs arrived, and when I heard it was flying to Beirut Wednesday on [a] trial run, I asked to go along for a three-day visit. The old Milk Run, DC-3’s, took eight to ten hours, stopping at all pipeline stations along the 1,068 miles. On “straight-through” they took over six hours. On the International flights of DC-4 Camel and Gazelle, it took five hours, fifteen minutes, and on the new [plane] it takes three and one-half hours. On the Convair it was four hours and forty-five minutes and a beautiful pressurized ride. Coming back this morning on DC-6B it was only three and one-half hours. Beirut is two hours after or earlier than here, and I arrived at Shultz daughter’s apartment where Mim and Mildred were staying, before noon. The Arab maid let me in due to my winning smile, broken Arabic, and sales talk, and after lunch with Frances, her husband, Mildred and I, we went to call on the new head of the school where Judy is, The American Community School. (Editor’s note: ACS in Beirut was one of the most popular schools for Aramco students after they graduated from ninth grade in Saudi Arabia – at which time it was mandatory to go abroad or back to the United States to continue high school. According to the ACS website, “The ACS legacy stretches back to 1905, when a small group of American parents from the Syrian Protestant College (American University of Beirut) founded a school where their children could receive good preparation for entrance into American universities… In 1921, the American Presbyterian Mission joined the AUB in sponsorship of the school. A new constitution was formed, plans for a small boarding department were begun, and the school received its new name: The American Community School. ACS began to develop its reputation as the best American school in the region. In the late 1940's when ARAMCO …needed a good boarding school for the children of its American employees, it looked to ACS, and became the third sponsor of the School. ARAMCO purchased the land on which the School currently resides, and provided the funds to build the first buildings. In 1950, ACS moved to a piece of land on the Corniche adjacent to its parent, the AUB, where it has remained until now. By the beginning of the 1970's, enrollment had reached over 1,000 students, with a full boarding department.) [Judy] is so busy she had little time for us, but acted glad to know we were nearby. Ate with Frances for that night, out to dinner with friends Thursday, then took Judy and three friends to dinner Friday. Shopped all day every day and visited friends at Tapline Office. Got to hotel at eleven, lay down for two hours, then out to airport for three A.M. departure. After [only] two hours’ sleep, feel it best to go to bed tonight to make up for the shortage. Shopping in Beirut is a chore, but you can find almost anything there if you look long enough. Hawkers sell live chickens, dead cleaned small birds, Victrola records, flowers, fish, lottery tickets, bubblegum, plastic balloon material, kitchen wares, neckties, fruit, etc., along the main and side streets, and many meat markets are wide open to dust, flies, etc. Many places are now FIXE PRIX or fixed prices, but many bargain for all items. Americans pay double or triple what local people do, and you can’t resist buying most things. With money, time and weight allowance on planes, we could buy enough to give all our friends and fill their houses with many interesting things. Brasses, wooden items, silks, and ivory paintings are quite reasonable. Mildred has Judy settled with the things for her room, clothes, etc., and we were glad to know there are 32 teachers for 207 students. They get individual attention and have a high record when returning to the States. Lynn and Allyn went home tonight after taking care of the house for two weeks. Mildred had a welcome change, I had three days of fun, my second time in eight years to be away from work except home leaves and Harvard. All are glad to be back at the old routine again, but it was fun sitting on Frances’ balcony enjoying the breezes off the Mediterranean and seeing the mountains. Love to all, Ken et al. October 24, 1952 Dear Folks: I haven’t written for several weeks, but feel sure Ken was doing that for us. Mim and I left three weeks ago tomorrow for Beirut – on the new DC-6 and it was certainly a wonderful trip. Only 3 ½ hours! We didn’t even take off our hats. The very quickest before was 5 ¼ hours and it was very nice, believe me. The two new big planes are very lush and lovely inside. We have new Convairs, too.
One of the buildings on the ACS campus,
early 1950s. (From Ken Slavin’s collection
of Webster papers.)
We stayed with Mim’s daughter, Frances, and her husband, David – a darling young couple. They have a little one-year-old boy and by now must have the second baby. It was due last week, but no news yet. It was so much nicer than staying in a hotel. We practically ran our legs off that first week getting as much of our shopping done as possible, racing with the stork. Judy went up on the school flight the day before we did and was snug as a bug and happy as could be when I left. I feel sure she will have a good time and like it there. They have a very good staff and many new plans for a well-rounded-out year. They don’t have much time to sit and mope. But Judy isn’t inclined to do that anyway. Before I left, her roommate had arrived and they were well on their way. She is a very nice girl and they have known each other for quite a while. I helped get her room set up – had a few things to get up there such as a rug and such. They had indoctrination the first week for all the new students and they had a wonderful time. There were all sorts of trips and social functions plus a day at the beach planned. The older ones arrived the next week. School started the 13th. We miss her terribly but [we are] so glad she as this opportunity to go to a foreign school in an interesting foreign city. Her course is full and the work is quite accelerated, so they really have to work hard. She is taking English, Geometry, Chemistry, French and World History 2 – Native French teacher who conducts the class in French only. She wanted to take Latin, too, this year, but I felt she should get settled in the new school first before taking too much, for there is a lot of outside activities and I want her to have fun, too. They will be home two weeks for Christmas. 350 in the school and 85 in the Boarding Department – boys and girls. I stayed two weeks and was surprised to have Ken show up Wednesday before we came back Saturday. So we had a few days together – Lynn and Allyn were at the house with Susan, so didn’t have to worry about anything. Left Mim up there waiting for the new grandchild. It has been a very busy week – more social stuff than usual. A couple who used to live here are visiting and so there were lots of things for them. The Coopers came in yesterday from home. I am glad to have Daisy back. Susan is at the Hobby Farm. Left at 7:30 this morning and will be back by noon. They were going on a long ride. She still lives for horses, but is doing very well in school and has grown up so much. She misses Judy, but in a way it is good for her to be the only one here for a while. The chief topic of conversation out here now is that the government has decreed NO MORE LIQUOR – ain’t that something? We are interested to see just what bearing it will have on people here. There is quite a supply on hand, but going fast. They have had to ration it closely and all that was in customs was shipped back. Of course, it doesn’t worry me one bit – I can take it or leave it. All the beer will be gone next week. I don’t know how long the hard stuff will last. I’ll be there will be lots of terminations – will be curious to see. They didn’t have liquor at first, then had just beer. They only got permission for hard liquor after I arrived in ’46. The main reason for this is that the native villages are overrun with liquor – fortunately not our brands – they are getting it from Bahrain and Kuwait, I guess, but the idea was instilled by our having it, no doubt. It is definitely against the teachings of the Moslem religion to use liquor in any form. Saudi Arabs are stricter on that than Arabs of other countries. They aren’t supposed to smoke either, but most of them do. We went to a very nice wedding reception last evening and then home to change and on to a party where everyone dressed as kids. Silly but very funny. I’ve never seen so many hilarious sights! Bob Underwood – all 240 lbs. of him dressed in a very short pinafore with a ribbon in his few hairs – was one of the funniest. It was a birthday party and there were about 40 people there. Dinner, too. We do have fun out here – there is no doubt about that. The weather is much cooler – lovely in the mornings and grand enough to be out in the evenings. We will be using our patio a lot now. I bought one dress, a winter tweed, in Beirut and a very good-looking black wool skirt and black linen blouse to go with it. There are several shops with American clothes now. Bought Judy a cute cotton – a green and gold cotton ‘party’ dress and one lovely lime green short semi-formal. They had a banquet and formal dance last weekend to start off the year – and there is a formal for Thanksgiving. You can get all American goods there now except shoes. None of us can wear the shoes out here. They [the Arabs] all have short, wide feet. Ken is out trimming the hedge. He likes to work in the yard. He is on a special assignment now, temporarily, and seems to be enjoying the work. Will give him a little relief from the grueling business of District Manager – that one is really a toughie . . . Bye now. Write soon. Love to all, Mildred and all. October 31, 1952 Dear Folks: Happy Hallowe’en! We haven’t done much exciting for the day – being Friday. Susan did go to a school dance last night and had a good time. She looked very cute. I guess there will be “Tricks and Treats” tonight, but I am prepared.
Hanging around Dhahran, early 1950s: Judy
Webster’s schoolmates Nan Cooper and Kay
Landis, on the patio. (Photo courtesy Judy
I have been working all morning getting our Stateside Christmas cards underway. Takes quite a time to write notes to some of them, too. However, we contact people at that time who we don’t write to otherwise. I guess I am lazy, but by the time I write all the weekly news to the families, I don’t feel like repeating it all. We were glad to have letters this week and to know everyone is well. Glad you are over your cold, Gram. Aren’t you all the gadders – having lunch out at the Clam Box! That is fine. We were glad to get the pictures and see how lovely the house looks. The Minstrel Show last Sunday night was very good – in fact, so many have said the grownups could take a lesson from the kids when it comes to finished performances. All the dance acts were made up by the girls themselves and were good. Susan and three friends did one number. I’ve been busy going, as usual. Two coffees this week – a luncheon and Canasta – a large (150) cocktail party – and the [Girl] Scouts’ Seventh Birthday Party at which I had to work. Tomorrow I am having the 20 mothers of the 7th grade and the four teachers for tea. Had to postpone it from last week. Tuesday I am having 12 for luncheon and cards – some bridge and some canasta – in honor of Pat Singelyn’s aunt and cousin who are visiting on a ‘round-the-world tour – and it goes on an on. I am enjoying having Daisy Cooper back. Haven’t seen her since February. Mim is still in Beirut and still no baby – Sam is having a fit! We have had several letters from Judy and she is still bubbling with enthusiasm. I am sure she likes it up there very much. Last Saturday they went on a trip to Biblos – oldest city in the world (uninhabited, of course, for Damascus is the oldest inhabited) and to Tripoli. They had a wonderful time. I don’t know if she has written anyone [of you] or not, but she has been good about writing to us. There are so many people from here going through she is able to send letters down by them. For some unknown reason it takes 7-10 days for them to come direct and they come by Middle East Airlines, too, which has flights almost every other day here. I think they must send them via South America. Susan just blew in from the Hobby Farm. They were there all morning and now plan to go back at 2. It isn’t so hot now, so it is good for her – besides, she would rather be on a horse than riding to the moon. She loved getting your letter, Aunt Ella. Bye now. Keep up the good work and write us. Love, Mimi November 7, 1952 Dear Folks: We have decided to write individual letters for a bit instead of the family letters – and see how it works out. I don’t know if we will write as often that way or not, but we can try. Our letters seem sort of impersonal, but guess we do cover the general news. (Editor’s note: this letter is a personal one to Mildred’s father, “Pop” and his wife, Beverly.)
Judy Webster, left, with her friend, Mary
Thweatt, in Dhahran, early 1950s.
(Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
Haven’t had a letter from Judy this week, but may today. One of our friends went up Wednesday and took a note from us and was going to try and take her out to dinner. . . I have had a very busy week – don’t know why I tried to cover so much in such a short time. The tea for the teachers and mothers of the 7th grade [Susan’s class] turned out very nicely with 23 of them here – 3 missing. On Tuesday I had a luncheon with canasta afterwards for three tables – plus me. Everything seemed fine, anyway they all said so. Tomorrow night I am having 22 for dinner on our patio. One of the men in Ken’s District Dept. was married a week ago, so it is for them and includes couples in Ken’s Dept. – at least the Superintendent level. He has 860 Senior Staff (Americans) in the Department and 9,000 non-Americans! I can’t hope to get around to all the Americans, but do try to include the wives and men of some. This is all I am going to do until Thanksgiving when we always include single men and women – no married couples. Almost everyone does the same. Christmas will be here before we can turn around. No letters from anyone this week – but the young couple I stayed with in Beirut [Mim Shultz’s daughter, Frances, and her husband] had a baby girl October 31st. They have a little boy who was one [year old] October 11th. I am glad this one was a girl. Last night we had an interesting time – we were invited to a Chinese dinner – real Chinese. They had two Chinese cooks from the Dining Hall who cooked the dinner. There were 8 courses instead of the usual 18 he fixes as a rule! It was all simply delicious and all but one course stuff I had never had or seen. I had to skip the things with shrimp in them, but I ate a terrific amount just the same and all delicious. He has some of the things like the French mushrooms sent in. We didn’t have to use chopsticks, though. We are going to drive up to Ras Tanura this afternoon late to have dinner with friends and attend the first football game of the season – Dhahran versus Ras Tanura. Ken is to kick off the first ball. I haven’t been up since July, but the weather is much cooler now. It is a night game and should be nice out. I am fine and feel so much better all the time. I am so glad I had the operation. I weigh 132-34 but don’t want to gain anymore. So far I seem to be able to hold it. There is no comparison in my energy, feelings and even looks – they all tell me I look 10 years younger. I don’t know about that, but I am thankful to feel well after so many years. Bye now, write soon. Love from us all, Mimi November 14, 1952 Dear Folks: Gosh, here it is the middle of November already! Thanksgiving then before we know it will be Christmas. Thanks for the letters this week. It is so nice to hear fairly often so we don’t get ideas about things. This is the nicest time of the year out here – and the days and evenings have been wonderful. We can really use the patio now. Our dinner party for 24 last Saturday night turned out very well. It was mostly some from Ken’s office and I try to get around to as many of them as I can. As I told you, he has 800-odd in his Dept. – that is Senior Staff men – then there are 6 to 9,000 non-Americans in his District Dept. So, you can see the little boy keeps busy. It is a job equivalent to being Mayor – he keeps his finger on all the activities and departments of the area – Dhahran. Scout Troop 1, of which Judy was a member and now Susan, went on a two-day Camp Out leaving Wed. afternoon. They should be back about 6 tonight. I spent the better part of two days arranging transportation, tents, tables, etc., for them. I am Chairman of the Troop Committee and I get lots of odd jobs. I don’t mind, though, as long as we have an active member [Susan] in Scouts. I could delegate that sort of stuff to others, but it was quicker and easier to do it myself. I was in on the organizing of Scouts out here – in 1946 – starting with one girl invested and a bunch of Brownies. Now we have three patrols of Scouts with 80 girls enrolled – plus jillions [sic] of Brownies. As of the last Sun and Flare (our newspaper) there are now 1,157 children in Arabia – and 642 of those in Dhahran. There are 300 in our school here. People are very prolific here – our obstetrician told Ken yesterday he had delivered 120 children this year to date, and 12 more due before January. This is a wonderful place for young couples – excellent medical facilities, an easy life and some of them plan their families on one child each two-year contract. Three couples here have had four in two contracts! My social life was very quiet this week – three coffees. At noon today we are going out to the Engineering Dept. annual picnic. Wed. night Ken opened the first football game here. We played the men from Floor (?) Middle East – a construction company stationed at the Air Base – and walloped the daylights out of them! We play touch football here. Won our game in Ras Tanura last weekend, too. We have a distinguished visitor this week – Chief Naval Officer of NATO – man named Wright, I think. He will be here 4 days and we are going to a formal dinner at the Consulate for him Wed. night. Ambassador Hare and Mrs. Hare, too. Also the new Admiral of the Persian Gulf. On top of all that we have a gang of Company visitors coming – from parent companies – and they are scratching deep to get suitable housing for them, as some are bringing their wives. Thank goodness I am not responsible for their entertaining – we just go to them. We are “louse-ey” [overrun] with Vice Presidents out here now, they take over on that sort of thing. Frances and David Skory, the friends I stayed with in Beirut, had a baby girl the 31st – Elizabeth Ann – just one year and 20 days after their boy, Davey. Judy still writes as if she were delighted with everything at school. She is so good about writing and we get letters several times a week brought down by friends. She has been out to dinner with visiting friends several times and spent last weekend with the Moores, Dotty and Bill – he used to be President of Aramco and now lives in Beirut as Consultant for several companies, as well as ours. We have known them for years and they have a girl in school with Judy. They took a trip to The Cedars of Lebanon last Sat. Judy has been all over that area, but is having fun backtracking. They have a fine trip planned for them over Thanksgiving – to Jerusalem and Petra – for 4 days. Her letter said yesterday she might not go as she has been to Jerusalem and it won’t be such a cheap trip. We have written her to go by all means.
View of Petra. (Photo from the Internet.)
Petra is a spot very inaccessible – you have to go on horseback and cover the whole area by horse or by foot. It dates back to 85-60 B.C. it is a great valley and was inhabited first by cave dwellers. On the trip they go in and stay there – sleeping in huge caves. We haven’t been there – it is near Jerusalem, in Trans-Jordan – and they fly down to get to it. The pictures of the ancient tombs and architecture [are] fantastic . . . I do hope she will go. It is a school trip and well handled, chartered plane, etc., so would be fine. There are trips now and then from here, but right at this moment we can’t cross Trans-Jordan – so it means going clear to Beirut and flying back down to Jerusalem. Maybe they will lift that decree again soon. Something to do with Arab world affairs.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected 34th
president of the United States in 1952.
(Photo courtesy the Internet.)
Everyone was delighted with the outcome of the election. Heaven help us, maybe this will be the beginning of a new era. We surely need something done. (Editor’s note: This is a reference to the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower earlier in November. According to Wikipedia, “The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in one of its most tense periods. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional investigations into the issue of Communist spies within the U.S. government. McCarthy's so-called "witch hunt", combined with national tension and weariness after two years of bloody stalemate in the Korean War, set the stage for a hotly-fought presidential contest. Incumbent President Harry S. Truman decided not to run, so the Democratic Party instead nominated Governor Adlai Stevenson II of Illinois . . .The Republican Party countered with popular war hero General Dwight D. Eisenhower and won in a landslide, ending twenty consecutive years of Democratic control of the White House.”) I am delighted that Chuck is taking the course offered by his company. (Editor’s note: Mildred is referring to her half-brother, Chuck Nelson, son of her father “Pop” Nelson and stepmother Beverly “Nana” Nelson.) I told him maybe they would want to come out here some day. This is really the place to make a good nest egg for young couples and live a pleasant life while doing it. Allyn and Lynn living in an apartment and keeping no help for the two of them are able to easily live within the Company subsidy for living and therefore bank every cent Allyn makes. They are able to save at a greater percentage than we are, but we have many obligations and our housing and servants, which are a necessity for Ken’s position, make our living costs high. Even so, we chunk a good amount away each month and the Company benefits are wonderful for everyone. . . I seem to [have] rambled on at great length – so by now – write when you can. Love, Mildred. November 21, 1952 Dear Folks: Another Friday rolls around – we have been to Al Khobar already this morning as well as done a ‘look see’ of the camp in general. Just went through the President’s new house. It is very ultra modern and quite nice for that type of thing. Susan went to the Hobby Farm at 8 this morning to stay until noon. We dropped by, but she was off across the desert riding. She and her best friend, Judy Austin, the little girl who is diabetic, spend almost all their spare time there. Believe it or not, I have stopped three times since I started this – Daisy and Bill just dropped in and stayed an hour. It is nice to have them back. I missed Daisy so much.
Naval Commander-in-Chief U.S.
Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic
and Mediterranean. Wright was
a special Aramco guest in the
fall of 1952, visiting the company’s
operations in Eastern Saudi
Arabia and enjoying a full social
schedule while staying in Dhahran.
Mildred Webster partnered with
Mrs. Wright for a game of
Canasta during a small luncheon
hosted for the wives of ranking
(Photo from the Internet.)
We have had a very busy week. The Company guest, Vice Admiral Jerauld Wright, Naval Commander-in-Chief U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (how’s that for a title?) and his wife turned out to be very, very nice. (Editor’s note: Wright was a highly decorated war veteran who died in 1995 at the age of 96. According to Arlington Cemetery.net, “Much of his postwar career dealt with the NATO alliance. From 1952 to 1954, he was commander of US Naval Forces in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. From 1954 to 1960, he was U.S. Atlantic Fleet Commander and NATO Supreme Commander in the Atlantic. After he retired from active duty as a four-star admiral in 1960, he immediately recalled to serve on the CIA's Board of Estimates. He held that post until serving as Ambassador to Taiwan from 1963 to 1965.”) [Wright’s wife] is darling and a wonderful sport about everything. They were terrifically impressed about our whole set up here. He was accompanied by 9 staff officers and there was a lovely formal dinner party at the Consulate Wed. night. We have a Consul General, Consul and two Vice-Consuls here. Also there was U.S. Ambassador [to Saudi Arabia, Raymond A.] Hare and his wife. (Editor’s note: According to the New York Times free online archives, “In his 40-year career as a diplomat, Mr. Hare served as United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1950 to 1953, to Lebanon from 1953 to 1954, to Egypt from 1956 to 1960 and to Turkey from 1961 to 1965. He also served as an envoy to Yemen and to India. He is credited with having helped avert a possible war between Turkey and Greece during the partition of Cyprus in 1964 by urging that the Turkish Government not send an expeditionary force to the divided island. In the Suez crisis of 1956, Mr. Hare counseled the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to turn to the United Nations to arrange a cease-fire and secure the withdrawal of Israeli, British and French forces that had invaded the Sinai.”) We see them often, though, as they just come from Jedda. They have one boy in Judy’s class in Beirut. Then our Rear Admiral [George C.] Towner – USN Commander Middle East Force – who is stationed in the Gulf and is around often.
U.S. Navy Commander
of the Middle East
Force. He visited
Dhahran and Aramco
operations in the fall of
(Photo from Internet.)
Thursday noon I had lunch with Mrs. Wright and ten others and played cards all afternoon. She and I were pardners at Canasta – it was fun. They live in London. Last night we went to a cocktail party at the Officers Club at the Base for them. Our poor ‘top brass’ just have time to get a breather today, for there is another group in tomorrow – Brig. Gen. Alfred Johnson, Chief of Office of Petroleum Programs of the Munitions Board and his four associates! Then comes the bunch of Aramco hot shots for a visit. Glad I don’t have to be responsible or them. . . We were very proud of Judy’s grades and she made the Honor Roll – not bad for the first term in a new setup. I’ve been trying to get some sewing done – seems everything I have taken out for winter wear needed something done to it. Made Susan a new dark green corduroy skirt. She has grown so much most of her things were way too short. Thank goodness I got all of Judy’s stuff done before she went to school – suppose she will have plenty to have done when she is home [at] Christmas. Grey Boy is just beautiful now. He has his winter coat and is tremendous. He is right on the table by the typewriter which is always a great help. I tried to take some pictures of him this morning on the patio, but he thought it was a wonderful game and just when I would get him in a good pose and step back to snap it, he would dart off – more fun. He has been chasing locusts. We have had quite a bunch blow in this last week – not a scourge like last year and if the wind stays right, it will blow them on back into the desert. Must go now and roll up my hair – we are going out to dinner tonight. Bye now. Love, Mildred November 28, 1952 Dear Folks: It is early and very quiet around the house. I got up to fix Susan’s breakfast – she has gone to the [Hobby] Farm – and Ken is still asleep. It is a beautiful day. Much colder, but clear sunshine. Yesterday we had a shamaal in the morning and sprinkle of rain in the afternoon. Our Thanksgiving dinner was grand – turkey with all the fixins – plus pumpkin pie. We only had nine for dinner as two couldn’t come at the last minute – all of them single people. We get perfectly wonderful frozen turkeys out here – the short, broad-breasted kind. Ours was 18 lbs.—and just enough left to enjoy nibbling on for today and probably tomorrow. I like it, but tired of it soon. We have our big play-off football game this evening at the Air Base. Our Dhahran team and theirs [are] undefeated, so it should be a good one. However, the average age of the team down there is 24 and ours is 34 and up – all makes for fun, anyway. With all the hundreds of people out here you find professionals in every line. The Women’s Fall Tea was a huge success and was very lovely on the green terraced lawn at the Executive House. We had about 15 visiting Arab women in their colorful costumes, or dress, which added to the occasion. They are so interested in everything and were able to go unveiled, as it was an all woman affair. I have started bowling again – twice a week. Maybe I will be able to stick with it this time and really do something. I feel wonderful and should be able to do anything. The Indian boy in charge of the alleys has been giving me some pointers, which should help – he is very good. Social stuff has simmered down. We have two dinner engagements this week. However, Mr. and Mrs. Keyes (Aramco President) arrived the other day. He was here for several months, but we haven’t met her and so there will be a flood of stuff to give her a royal welcome. She was sick with a cold when she arrived and was put to bed for a few days. He is a grand person and all reports are that she is also. Now…we can start thinking about Christmas – won’t be long – and Judy will be home the 20th. Humdillalah! Every letter she is still having a wonderful time. She is taking part in everything and I am glad she does. Certainly makes for a better school spirit. Susan does, too, this year more than before – and is active in Scouts. Otherwise, she rides HORSES. Our mama guppy had five babies this week. They are so cute. We have 8 guppies now and two Black Mollies and the man who gave them to Susan is giving her some other kind – swordfish, I think. He is a nice fellow out here without his family and this is his hobby. Bye now. Love to all, Mildred et al. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia December 5, 1952 Dear Folks: It is almost bedtime and still the family letters not written. The day has been busy and the time hurried by. We were out to dinner last night, but not late, so made it up in good time. Picked up Allyn and Lynn and friends of theirs and drove all to Al Khobar. It is amazing the number of things they have down there to buy now. But the prices are very high. They will stay that way, too, as long we pay them. I was in hopes I could find something for the girls [for Christmas] as I am finding myself very short where they are concerned – they are hard to buy for now – too old for toys and have so many of the other things. Ken worked in the yard and I decided to move all the furniture in the living room so as to get ready for the Christmas tree. I shuffled it around three different ways and finally got it done. I get tired of things always in the same place. Fortunately, our piano is quite light! Went to call on the new President’s wife – and she is very sweet. We like him [Mr. Keyes] so much. Also to a coffee by Mrs. Davies (wife of Chairman of the Board) for Mrs. Keyes. Amy and Fred Davies just returned from their protracted home leave. Everyone loves Amy and they live in a beautiful house – Company, of course, but very attractive and very modern. She says they finally got used to the very modernistic paintings – some of them are really something. To another coffee and another dinner – next week is busy, too. Mim and Sam are still away in Holland and London. I miss her so much, but Daisy is here now. Know they will have a wonderful trip. Had such a nice letter from Dr. Bassett at ACS telling us that Judy had been elected to a newly formed Greek letter society which is done on citizenship – sportsmanship, etc. There are three classes –and you earn them as you along. He also said she was a fine girl and they were very happy to have her in school – which all made us feel very proud. She still seems to be loving it. She will be home in 15 days. She made the Honor Roll – so did Susan, here, last 6 weeks. She is doing very well. . . It is getting colder so I am still fixing on clothes. Seems there is always something to be done, even if they were in good shape when put away. Also made Judy a pair of tailored silk pajamas this week and fixed a silk taffeta for Susan to wear to the Jr. High semi-formal Christmas dance. It is one I bought in Tulsa and she has finally grown right into it – very minor adjustment. She said, “Well, at last, something that fits me!” Dhahran has a very good football team this year and we have been enjoying the games – still undefeated. Love to all, Mildred et al. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia December 12, 1952 Dear Folks: Seems as though Christmas is almost upon us and we are almost too warm today. . . Mowed the lawn, have the hedges all cut for the holidays, thinned out and cut down our oleanders to six feet high, have new screens on the side porch as it was too hot there in PM with windows closed, set up and decorated the [Christmas] tree but have not yet hung the lights outside, moved all the furniture in living room and porch, and in general are ready for Santa Claus. Judy arrives the 20th and from then on it will be several weeks of gay parties and the house will ring with many voices. Went to Hobby Farm this morning with Mildred and Susan and Judy Austin, so the girls could ride for a few hours. Mildred is about ready to agree to buy a horse, as Susan is so interested in them. So that you people can gradually learn to be good Muslims, I am enclosing a page of the Arab calendar used locally and throughout Saudi Arabia . . . The Company sold Christmas toys and decorations last week, but we couldn’t find too much for the girls at their ages. ($9,000 were sold in first two hours, and nearly $25,000 in the three days in just our district.) Wish I could have that kind of business as a concession. Local village stores have many things from all over the world, including USA, but prices are very high. We’ll have to postpone gifts to you all until we come home next summer and get them enroute. No news except we are all well and happy, miss Judy but are getting used to her being away, I am not working nearly so hard as I have two assistants now who run most of the daily operation, and I can ride around and dream of what we should be doing for improvement. Will get another letter off before Christmas, but in case the mails are delayed, will take this chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Love, Ken et al. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia December 19, 1952 Dear Folks: I am not sure that you will get this before Christmas – sort of doubt it the way the mail must be congested by now. But Ken wrote the letters last week and I am sure they will arrive. Hope you all had a good holiday and best wishes for everything fine and good for the New Year. It gets more hectic than ever this time of the year – for good spirit is one thing we have lots of here. Everyone gets into the swing of things and the place fairly hums. We have as many outside decorations on the houses as you would have per capita, so the camp looks very gay and festive. We put ours up this week and the tree also. Everything is ready. Tomorrow is the big day. The school planes will be in about 5 o’clock and we are all anticipating seeing Judy again. The Boys [Francis and Louis, the cook and houseboy] have been working for it, too. Her room is shining and Francis has a sort of fruitcake made with fancy icing on it and Judy’s name on one half and Susan’s on the other. There are 55 children coming down for the three Districts. I’ve been to some unusually nice parties this week. We had 17 for dinner Wed. night and had lots of fun. There was a cocktail party before and most everyone went. Last night was the Woman’s Club Formal – and tonight we go to another cocktail party. Won’t be long now – think the liquor will last through the holidays and maybe a bit into the New Year and then, Kaloss! That does it. There are many things scheduled for the next two weeks. Besides parties there is the Messiah – the Nativity – Santa in the helicopter on Christmas Day – with presents for children under 14 at the patio – the Choral Singers doing carols – etc. Never a dull moment. We are going to have a family dinner for Christmas Eve – with Allyn and Lynn and only two other guests. We have our tree the next morning and then the rest of the day is taken up with Open Houses and callers and making calls. Took Susan to the Hobby Farm this morning so she could ride a while. Ken is out now on business. It has been quite winterish and wool suits, etc., feel good. Our season is short, so we have to make the most of it. Bye now – write us soon as you can and have a wonderful time for the Holidays. Love, Mildred, Ken and Girls – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Dhahran, Saudi Arabia December 26, 1952 Dear Folks: The week before Christmas was exciting for many as we had special musical programs, Choral Singing at the Theater, Choral Singing around camp in trucks, the Nativity was put on in the Ball diamond, Santa Claus came to town three times before today to check on what the kinds wanted, and on Christmas morning arrived in a helicopter and gave all children up to 15 a gift, and there were special movies of Christmas themes. The weather has been grand, although damp, but only about ten drops of rain. Temperature about 80 high and 58 low at night. Numerous children’s parties and there will be a dance for the junior high including as guests the kids home from ACS and other schools in Europe. Santa came to our house and left all kinds of things, mostly useful gifts of clothing, and I have a very fine silk robe. The girls went to Midnight Mass with friends, came in at one forty-five, and didn’t awaken until 9 A.M. Then we had the Tree, and the gifts were all received with thanks, as most of them were the kind for all-year need, although a few were games, etc. We all felt we were very lucky and had a full Christmas. Judy arrived on the 20th and leaves the 5th, and at least sleeps here, but spends much of her waking time with friends. She is just Mildred’s height now, and none of Mildred’s clothes or shoes are safe from conscription. No doubt the next 10 days will find our house filled with many people and we won’t settle down until she leaves.
The Webster family on Christmas Eve, 1952.
From left, Mildred (holding Grey Boy), Ken’s
former secretary, Stella, Louis (houseboy),
Ken, Francis (cook), Judy, Susan, and Ken’s
(Photo courtesy Susan Webster Slavin.)
Have gone to numerous cocktail parties, but not as many as in former years, as the lack of bottle goods has made people more cautious than in the past. If the present restriction continues, we will be out of bottle goods in January, and should have a lot of fine teas and coffees as replacement. We’ll miss the giggle oil, but will save much money by not having any. . . (Hi – I’ll pick up from here, as Ken had to attend to some business. We are all a bit on the weary side but happy and we’ve had a very good Christmas. It is wonderful having Judy home. She looks fine but has changed some in that short time – more grown up. She is enjoying every minute of the vacation – but short on sleep. I’ll have to clamp down soon so she can get enough rest to carry her back to work again! Susan still goes from riding to riding to horses and back again. We also have 7 baby chicks hatched out yesterday as a nice Christmas present. Have mother hen setting on some very special Stateside eggs from which we hope to have a good start on a special stock. . . I have a very lovely brocade robe from Ken and many other fine things. We certainly cannot complain. The robe is apple green and silver – yummy. Bye now, and love to all of you. Mildred et al.)