Chapter 17: Aramco becomes world’s largest oil company, Onassis picks up first crude shipment at Ras Tanura, ‘Cinerama’ comes to Arabia, Air Force jets put on a show, Judy graduates from ACS in Beirut and the Webster Family plans for long leave via Scandinavia.

Top Aramco management, photographed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on March 17, 1955.
Top Aramco management, photographed in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on March 17, 1955.
From left: Ned Scardino, Allyn Webster
(Ken Webster’s brother), Wade Guyon, Tom
Barger (Aramco president), Sam Shultz, Carl
Renfer, Vic Stapleton. (Aramco photo, courtesy
Tim Barger, from Ken Slavin’s personal collection.)

“The big news from here is that approximately next Sunday at 1:48 a.m., Aramco will produce its two billionth barrel of oil. . . Aren’t we suppin’?” – Ken Webster in a letter to his Stateside family.

Midway through the 1950s, Aramco continues to flourish, achieving the distinction of becoming the world’s largest oil company. In 1955 the company reaches a milestone by pumping out barrel number 2 billion of Saudi Arabian crude.

Nineteen fifty-five is a big year in American history. According to ThePeopleHistory.com, “In 1955 consumerism [took] off in a big way with the sale of some 7.9 million cars in the U.S. with 7 out of 10 families now owning a motor car, and new laws were put in place requiring seatbelts to be installed on all new cars. The average wages were now $3,851 per year, and the minimum wage was raised to $1.00 per hour. The first McDonald’s was erected in 1955 and more fast foods and TV dinners [appeared], including fish fingers. The first cans of Coca-Cola were sold - up till then it had only been sold in bottles. Rock and roll music continued to grow in popularity.”

Additional top Aramco management, photographed in Dhahran on March 17, 1955.
Additional top Aramco management, photographed
in Dhahran on March 17, 1955. From left: Bill Cooper,
Rufus Savage, Ken Webster, Roland Cundall, W.E.
Squires, Bob Eads. (Aramco photo courtesy
Tim Barger, from Ken Slavin’s personal collection.)

Major world events are almost too numerous to list. Among the highlights: West Germany joins The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the Vienna Treaty restores Austrian independence; a Geneva Summit – the first of its kind in 10 years - is convened, supposedly signaling a relaxation of East-West tensions; and Argentinean President Juan Peron is ousted by the military.

1955 is also the year that Aramco and Saudi Arabia make world headlines when tensions mount over King Saud’s 1954 agreement allowing Aristotle Onassis to ship Saudi oil. Aramco considers the agreement a blatant violation of its concession agreement with the Kingdom. While legal action begins (Aramco is eventually vindicated), Onassis dispatches his newest oil tanker, the Al Malik Saud al-Awal, to Ras Tanura to take on its first shipment of crude from the Aramco refinery.

The following letters by Ken and Mildred Webster cover January to June 1955.

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
January 2, 1955
Sunday night

Dearest Folks:

The first letter of the New Year and little to say, except “Happy New Year” to you all, or as the Arabs say, “Kulla Sanah Wa Etum Bilhaire.”

Judy left for Beirut this morning, via Company Convaire, and the Rome kids went via New York Flight DC 6 B. Susan and others to Switzerland leave [on the] 13th via KLM or TWA. Local kids are back to school today, so Susan and the few others still here will no doubt be glad to leave for their school. It has been grand having the two chicks home for a few weeks and soon we shall again be without any.

Rather chilly the past week, high 80, low 49 and damp. No rain until today, but plenty nearby. Yesterday was the Waajid Bowl game, our annual. It was a playoff this year between Dhahran and Air Force for the Persian Gulf Conference Title, and the Air Force won 21-6. An excellent game to watch and fun for us too, as Judy was one of the attendants to the Queen, and they, [along] with the District Manager (me), sat on a raised platform all through the game and then handed out trophies at the end. Don and Inez Wasson, with Diana and David, came down for the day from Ras Tanura and they were joined here by Coopers, Renfers, Shultzes and Allyn Websters for ham dinner with us. It was like old home week for sure, and we talked and talked. Didn’t have even one cocktail to offer the, but was a good time anyway. I had to introduce the Queen and attendants and say a few words before the game, and a strong breath would not have been the right thing under the present circumstances of a “dry” Arabia.

The Waajid Bowl football teams.
The Waajid Bowl football teams, with the queen and her court, Dhahran, January 1, 1955. Original cutline from the Arabian Sun and Flare reads, “The Dhahran Bears (left) and Air Force Flyers (right) pose with Waajid Bowl Queen Barbara Lucher (on throne) and her court after the Flyers defeated the Bears, 21-6 to win the Bowl and the Conference, Jan. 1.” Seated to the left of Lucher is Dhahran District Manager Ken Webster and to his left is his daughter, Judy, who was one of the “attendants.” (Clipping from the Webster family papers.)

Had a record crop of births this year, 170, versus 151 in 1953, 134 in 1952, 97 in 1951, 73 in 1950 and 40 in 1949. With the greater-than- ever number of families here, we should have a big year in 1955 and break all past records. Had almost 500 Arab babies in our Health Center and a few years ago the Arabs wouldn’t let their women even come to the hospital!

Had a good Gymkhana Friday and Susan won several prizes with Nejma, but almost five months away from Neji made them just a little strange to each other, and others had ridden Neji in the meantime. Now she [Susan] says let’s sell Neji and when she comes back in summer of 1956 we can get her another horse. Does seem a shame to keep the two horses when the kids are way for most of the year, but we’ll see, and will probably sell Nura anyway.

[We were] just getting ready for dinner New Year’s Eve when the Shultzes called. They had come back from local vacation two days early. Had a fine time on the boast and in Bahrain, Basra and Baghdad. We went to the Fiesta Room for dinner and had chicken cacciatore served so nicely by Frenchy, our Mianiac friend from Ogunquit. Then after a bit to see the Aramco Employees Association present awards to the Waajid Bowl Queen and three attendants (Judy got $25), then back home to talk the New Year in and to await Judy’s return from the dance. Susan was out for the night to a dance party and then a slumber party. We actually saw quite a bit of the kids, but they were on the go every minute and the house was full of kids, the telephone ringing, or there was nobody and the place was quiet after the storm. Fun all the time with all the favorite foods, such tales from each one!

Kodak Retina II camera.
Mildred Webster became the family “shutterbug”
in the 1950s, using her snazzy Kodak Retina II
camera, just like this one, to document family
trips and such. (Internet photo.)

Spent evenings and days talking about where Judy would go to college, which isn’t settled yet, wrote seven schools for catalogues and applications, talked to Dr. Hall from Columbia who was visiting and who is joining Aramco June 1st, bought Judy British pound sterling traveler’s checks (at 5 percent saving, as Aramco has too many) and she will change them to Lebanese pounds, Mildred sewed and sewed dresses and skirts, Louis [our houseboy] ironed and ironed, and in one way or another we have sent one off with a big box of cookies by Francis and soon the other will be flying back to school.

Susan is very proud of her French and being off to school, and likes Switzerland very much. I personally think she will go to Beirut next year, but hope she will want another year in Switzerland. She looks so good, gained in weight and grew, it seems, several inches - and is definitely grown up.

We all received many presents and the one I like the most is a suede jacket from Santa Claus Mildred. Lots of little things, slacks and shirts and socks – I won’t have to buy anything for another year. Mildred enjoyed her Swedish glass pieces, and the screen, which can be used when the projector comes. She is right busy with her Retina 2A camera, and has many nice slides to bring home next year.

Just a few of the many boxes of Kodachrome slides taken by Mildred Webster in the 1950s.
Just a few of the many boxes of
Kodachrome slides taken by Mildred
Webster in the 1950s. She carefully
labeled each tray with locations,
dates, etc. (Photo by Ken Slavin.)

Thursday the 30th [we] went to [a] wedding reception for [a] young couple that worked for me, who went to Bahrain Island for the wedding. Then went to American Consulate to meet the new consul and had REAL cocktails, but weak ones. Seemed like old times to have all our usual friends around us with a glass of eggnog, etc. new consul just came from Lisbon and seems quite nice.

No more holidays until April or May when we get two days to celebrate breaking the 30-day fast of Rhamadhan, so guess we’ll have to settle down and go to work.

Hope you all are in good health, had a fine Christmas and New Year’s, and have the best year ever in 1955. We received cards from all of you for Christmas and thank you.

Love from all, Ken

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
January 14, 1955

Dearest Folks:

Yesterday at 4 p.m. our youngest (binti sagueer) took off for Switzerland after three weeks here. She will stop at Basra, Iraq, Damascus, Syria, Beirut, Lebanon, Rome, Italy; and then early this morning was due at Geneva airport. Two other girls from her school were along, plus several employees, one being a secretary from my office.

Susan Webster
Susan Webster, just shy of her 14th
birthday, on the morning she left
Dhahran after Christmas vacation,
returning to Brillantmont in Lausanne,
Switzerland. (Photo by Mildred Webster.)

She was quite the young lady in a suit we bought for Judy in summer of 1953 in Amsterdam. You won’t believe how she has grown until you see her, and gained weight, too. Mrs. Killian and daughter Linda Lee are due from New York a few hours after Susan gets there, and will help her buy some needed items of wool socks, another [pair of] ski pants, and three-speed record changer for her birthday. We had a new RCA here, but sold it today, as it is larger to carry on planes and the foreign-made one is all the rage with the girls at Brillantmont. Now we are all alone again, rattling around in this big house, but that’s life. . .

We are planning [our long leave] six months ahead in order to get reservations, hotels, etc. More details later. . . Now expect to have 76 days [of] vacation, including travel, and will adjust this possibly to 80 days to make plane schedules work out. Some changes no doubt when we know for sure about Judy’s [choice of] college and Susan’s next year of school. . .

Love, Ken

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
January 27, 1955

Dearest Folks:

With Thursday the only mail day out and Wednesday and Friday mail in, we are hard-pressed to answer your letters if they come on Wednesday and make the Thursday 9 a.m. deadline. If we miss then, they don’t go for another week, unless I catch someone flying to Beirut or Europe who can take and mail there. Maybe we’ll get the TWA mail plane back, if they straighten out their trouble in India, or arrange to send mail [by] some other plane company.

Had a note from Susan written the day she arrived back in Switzerland, and she wasn’t too happy, but probably tired from the trip. Hope to get another better letter tomorrow. KLM radioed to Beirut and they teletyped to Lausanne, but the message didn’t get there and the girls were not met. However, I had given them Swiss Franks, so they bought the tickets and took the train, and it was only 60 miles.

Monday night we went to see a movie, “Out Of This World,” showing a trip to Tibet at the TOP OF THE WORLD by Lowell Thomas and his son. The son is here and gave a running commentary on it. It was a very interesting picture. He and his wife are on a flying world tour in a single-engine Cessna 180, piloted by Mr. Thomas. They have been gone from home almost a year, flying through France, Spain, North Africa, Turkey, Iran and will cover many other countries. They are both writers for Readers Digest and American Weekly and take pictures for NBC-TV. He was with his father on the Tibet trip, and his father is here with his Cinerama group, taking pictures of Saudi Arabia and including much of Aramco. The film will enlarge the scope of the Arabian sequence of the Cinerama film, “The Seven Modern Wonders of the World.” John Farrow is director and is [actress] Maureen O’Sullivan’s husband. The King is very happy about the whole deal.

(Editor’s note: According to Wikipedia, “Cinerama is the trademarked name for a widescreen process which works by simultaneously projecting images from three synchronized 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply-curved screen. It is also the trademarked name for the corporation that was formed to market it. It was the first of a number of such processes introduced during the 1950s, when the movie industry was reacting to competition from television. Cinerama was presented to the public as a theatrical event, with reserved seating and printed programs, and audience members often dressed in best attire for the evening.” Also according to Wikipedia John Farrow was an Academy Award-winning director who won the Oscar for his adapted screenplay of “Around the World in 80 Days.”)

Tonight we are dining out with the Renfers, Shultzes, Wassons and maybe some others, at the Officers’ Mess at the air base. The steaks are generally good there, and are American meat. Maybe we’ll stay for the show, play the slot machines, or go back to Renfers and play cards of some kind. It is our best fun when we get together with some of the old gang from back home days in Port Arthur (Texas), and talk over old times.

No further word on vacation trip schedule yet, but should have something soon. If we don’t go South pacific, we will visit Sweden and Norway and may take the famous bus tour from Rome, through most of scenic Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Time will tell.

Love to all, Ken and Mildred

Mildred Webster, circa mid-1950s.
Mildred Webster, circa mid-1950s.
This is probably a passport photo.
(Courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)

(Hi – I’ll just add a little note. The last four weeks have been just wonderful, having both girls home and all their activities. Certainly makes a difference in our lives. They both were happy as could be and busy from morning to night – with their individual “gangs.” There are always lots of things planned for the Returnees – Company and private. We saw the biggest change in Susan, of course. Others just couldn’t get over it. She was away from here for 5 months, which is a long time at her age – and then we had seen her in September. She has grown up not only in size, but maturity. Gained 12 pounds, which is very becoming to her and we hope she will gain at least that much more this semester. Definitely two young ladies in the family now. Judy changes more slowly now, but we can see it each time she comes home. Can’t believe she will be in college next year. I am enclosing a picture of the Waajid Bowl Queen and her three attendants. Plus Ken, who opened the game with a speech. Judy, Mary Pat Singelyn, who goes to Brillantmont, and Sally Rogers, a friend also of Judy’s who goes to ACS, were the attendants.

I sewed and sewed almost the whole vacation, but both needed things fixed and made. I always enjoy sewing for them, but hate to do it for myself. Susan grew 3 inches, so had to do something about it. We sold Nura - and felt like I was selling one of the kids. With both girls gone and the fact she needed training, which neither Ken nor I could do, we felt it was a crime to just let her stand. She is too good a little horse. She can’t be ridden for at least six more months and by then we will be on our way home and both girls off to school again next year. Sold her to a wonderful family of friends. They have two boys, 8 and 12, and all of them love her dearly and are having a wonderful time taking care of her. Susan thinks she might sell Neji next summer before we leave, but that remains to be seen. A friend is taking care of her so we have responsibility, except a look see now and then. Will write. Love, Mimi.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
February 2, 1955

Dear Folks:

I am still trying to get used to the change in [the] mail schedule – being geared so long to writing on Fridays. I almost let this week slip up on me. Mail goes out tomorrow and has to be in the mail center by 9:15 a.m. So, here I am at bedtime writing! We are hoping that something will be done about it, but so far, no good!

We are having winter weather for us – low last week was 39 – pretty low for here. I love it when it is chilly and it is nice to be able to wear woolens for a change when we are in cottons so much of the year.

We have had a busy week socially and an interesting one. We had an air show at the Base with U.S. Saber jets – giant RB-36’s. There were six jets, plus various other types of planes. The King came over to see and we had hosts of Air Force people visiting. I took some pictures, which I hope will turn out well. (Editor’s note: This must have been quite a sight! The RB-36 was a reconnaissance version of the Convair B-36 (nicknamed Peacemaker), a strategic bomber built for the United States Air Force. The RB-36 was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made and had the largest wingspan in a combat aircraft ever built (230 feet), although there have been larger military transports, and it was the first operational bomber with an intercontinental range. Source: Wikipedia.)

RB-36 aircraft
A photo of an RB-36 aircraft in flight. Six of these
flew in formation during an air show at the U.S.
Air Force Base outside of Dhahran in 1955.
(Internet photo.)

We had dinner one night at our own Brig. General’s house at the Base – a very interesting evening with major General Glantzberg, commander of the 17th Air Force at Rabat, French Morocco; Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, commander of the 12th Air Force from Germany; Brig. Gen. Dougher, commander of the 5th Air Force in French Morocco – plus the retinue and also Bill Ayer, who is assistant to the Minister of Air. . .

We also have Cinerama here, [making] an Aramco film – with John Farrow directing.

We also went to see and hear Lowell Thomas Jr.’s picture on Tibet. And I took some shots yesterday of Cinerama taking pictures!

Tuesday morning at 4 [o’clock] we had a terrible fire. The Stag Club burned up completely. It is only a block away from our house and was certainly a big fire – too bad – they had just had it all redone before Christmas – burned for hours.

Allyn and Lynn were up [from Ras Tanura] to dinner tonight and afterwards, we initiated our new projector – a La Belle 55 – and it is a honey. Ken gave me the screen and projector for Christmas, but the projector just arrived. I am still definitely a rank amateur, but am acquiring some nice pictures. Sorry now we were never interested in taking them before, for we have been to so many wonderful places on trips.

Letters from both girls today and both are fine. Susan is so happy up there and we are delighted. Judy still happy with everything at ACS and busy getting applications off to various colleges. She ought to find one out of the group that will be the one she wants. She wants – and so do we – to get her college first and then go on into nursing, if possible. It remains to be seen what she will eventually end up doing. There are so many fields and having been exposed to them, she may take another type [of career] in the medical field.

End of the sheet. . . write soon.

Love to all, Mildred

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
February 5, 1955

Dear Folks:

Not much news today, but maybe some more before we mail this, as it won’t go out [for] five days. Days nice and warmish, but cool and almost cold nights, down to 50 [degrees]. Radio news today said [the] Hudson River [is] frozen over near New York! I wonder if we can ever stand such weather again. I do hope it won’t have any bad effect on any of you.

Had word from both of the girls, and they must be having a fine time, from what they write about activities at school. They do seem to be enjoying themselves and both write very interesting letters. It won’t be long until Easter vacation for them, and then the last period for Judy before she graduates. Do hope Susan wants to again go to Switzerland, next year at least, for although it is further away from us, almost 4,000 miles altogether, we think it is an excellent school and very healthful climate.

The news of trouble in Formosa has definitely made me think of a different trip this time, and will talk to Pan American this week about Spain and maybe Scandinavia . . .

Will continue letter later.

February 9, 1955

I will try and finish this as it must go into the Mail Center by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. I think Ken told you in one letter that we were going to move into Stapletons’ house in May. Well, we have changed our minds and as of now will stay in our house – probably until we leave here for good. There are advantages both ways, but no saving in rent and the sacrifice of one bedroom and the sun porch for a larger living room with a fireplace. Our living room is very ample and so here we stay, as of now.

Both girls were fine in their last letters. Judy [is] disappointed because they have had a very mild winter in Lebanon and no snow. Their ski trips to the Cedars are scheduled in February, but there is probably snow in the mountains. Susan [is] very busy and from all reports, very happy. It is plenty cold up there, though.

Dhahran District Manager, Ken Webster
During his seven six years as Dhahran District
Manager, Ken Webster often participated in
company education and training programs.
In this clipping from the Arabian Sun and Flare,
he is shown outlining the “purpose and scope
of the Management Development Program to
Dhahran conferees.”
(Clipping courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)

I am having 14 for dinner tonight for friends who are going to the Harvard course [advanced management program that Ken attended in 1952], and wives, and so this is the day the carpenters came to fix all the doors, make some shelves I wanted, etc. There are at least ten out in the kitchen right now. They are happy crews and do a lot of singing and jabbering to each other -- but usually leave a mess! They make good workmen, though, under good supervision.

Ken has two assistants now, as well as the assistant district manager, which certainly gives him time to catch his breath. They keep adding more and more to the department.

We go out tomorrow night. I have 28 women coming to coffee for the Aramco office head’s wife from Bahrain Sunday morning – and Allyn’s birthday party that night.

Bye now, not much news, but we are all well.

Love, Mildred

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
February 15, 1955

Dearest Folks:

The big news from here is that approximately next Sunday at 1:48 a.m., Aramco will produce its two billionth barrel of oil. The first barrel was on October 16, 1938, the first billionth barrel on January 5, 1952 and now, about 37 months later, the second billionth. We led the world in 1951, 1952 and 1954 as a company producing crude oil. Aren’t we suppin’?

We are well and happy, hope you are the same, will be writing more, soon as Mildred thinks of some.

Love, Ken

February 22, 1955

Dear Folks:

They are working with an air drill right outside my window – I hate the darned things! But the Company is having to replace all the light cables. We have grown so big now that the old [ones] wouldn’t carry the whole town and streetlights. . .

Last week was a dilly and this week, so far, I am enjoying comparative quiet. We did have 8 for dinner Sunday night unexpectedly and I had to miss my Great Books meeting, which I like so much and hate to miss. Our friend Mohammed Kanoo and his brother were over, so we had them, plus two other men who were with them. One is the private secretary and advisor to the Sheikh of Bahrain. The Kanoos are a big shipping and travel concern in Bahrain and here. They were the ones who were so lovely to us when we were on Bahrain before Christmas. A very delightful family.

Judy was 17 yesterday and they spent the weekend at the Cedars skiing. Or rather, hoped to ski, but there has been very little snow this winter. A friend was going up to Beirut Sunday so I was able to send her a birthday cake. Haven’t heard from our little Swiss Miss for over two weeks – so assume she is fine and happy.

Our mail system is getting back to a better deal. I believe Pan Am is bringing it into Beirut and Middle East down here and it comes every day. Also, we still have two TWA planes direct here that bring mail – so things should look up.

We went through the new hospital wing this week. It is the Arab wing and is certainly just wonderful. All the latest equipment – and are they proud! There are two more wings to be added, plus an isolation ward and new surgical theaters. The old Arab Hospital is across the road and will be kept just for Arab women. The company gives medical service to all Arab employees and families and never turns an Arab or family away, even if not an employee. Our Senior Staff wing is very nice, too, and has just been enlarged. The Arab male nurses in the Arab male wing are amazing. We have a man here who takes them literally off the desert and three years later turns out wonderful nurses and they are taught in English. He had to even write his own texts as they usually only have a very small vocabulary, even in their own Arabic. After three years here, if they warrant it, the Company sends them to Tripoli for further training and those become the supervisors. They were simply bursting [with pride] over their new hospital.

No further news. We are both fine, even though there has been lots of sickness – sort of a virus flu around camp.

They are trimming and cutting back everything in the yard and removing the old false jasmine hedge. It is about 9 years old. They will replace it.

Love to all, Mimi

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
March 4, 1955

Dearest Folks:

An old friend of Sam and Mim [Shultz] is visiting for the weekend and will take this letter to Beirut Sunday to mail it so it will be with you about the time we would have mailed it by regular TWA [service] from here each Thursday. Seems funny to have a friend take letters over 1,000 miles north in order to speed delivery. Soon we hope to have two or more added days for mail out, and are well pleased to have five in.

March 7, 1955 edition of Newsweek
The March 7, 1955 edition of Newsweek
included a large story on Saudi Arabia.
(Internet photo.)

We have been advised to get the Newsweek magazine for March 7th, as it is supposed to have some good nine-column stories on Saudi Arabia. The Time magazine representative is visiting the King and rumors are we might get Time allowed in again. I wouldn’t normally buy Time again, as they are too flip, and Newsweek does okay, as does U.S. News Report, plus two to four Rome Daily Americans a week.

Temperatures here high 79, low 50 past week, and then last two days have been 90 and higher. Don’t expect to turn on the air conditioning units until March 31, but may have to, to avoid complaints.

Went to dinner last night with the Tom Bargers (Aramco president). They are the first family to have six children here. Newest one is fourth girl, a month old. They had a little scotch left over from the christening and had just us to finish it. Then we four went to First Annual Roundup of the Corral group, an informal dance and buffet get-together. We left early to see late movie, “Lili,” with Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer. Got to bed at 2 a.m. – late for us – up before nine, made out Federal Income Tax (no payment, thank goodness), went to Gymkhana for the Corral group, then to local village of Khobar, then to dinner with Mim, Sam and friend, then movie, a Western, and home to write this and get to bed.

Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat, former
president of Egypt, visited
Dhahran in 1955 when he
was serving as his
country’s Minister of State.
Dhahran District Manager
Ken Webster helped escort
him around the camp,
attended a dinner in his
honor, and made
arrangements for Aramco’s
Sudanese employees to
host a tea in his honor.
(Internet photo.)

Tomorrow night I will attend a dinner for Anwar al Saddat [sic], Egypt’s foreign minister, who is making the rounds of all Muslim countries to arrange for an Islamic Congress at Mecca during the “Pilgrimage” this year. The Sudanese boys asked me to help them give a “tea” for 200-400 for him, as they feel very close to Egypt in many ways. There will be much speech making, etc., but guess as “mayor” I’ll have to go. (Editor’s note: Anwar Sadat participated in the military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and deposed King Farouk I. He was named Egypt’s minister of state in 1954. In 1964, after holding many other positions in the Egyptian government, he was chosen to be vice president by President Gamel Abdel Nasser. He served in that capacity until 1966, and again from 1969 to 1970 – the year he became president, following Nasser’s death. Sadat is most famous for signing the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979 – a major diplomatic success of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Sadat was assassinated in October 1981. Source: Wikipedia and other Internet sites.)

Just had figures on last year’s business and find Aramco the worl d’s top petroleum producer in barrels of oil among single firms for 1954. Kuwait Oil Company was second in barrels, but first by weight, as their crude is heavier. Each company produced over 347 million barrels, and we averaged 953,000 barrels daily. This month is supposed to average over one million daily. . .

Love from us all, Ken

March 15, 1955

Dear Folks:

We slipped up on the time last week and missed a letter. This will go out tomorrow, so won’t be too long. I’ll be glad when they get the other mail day established again.

The weather is perfectly beautiful – resort type. We had rain one day and all one night, making everything so clean and fresh. Now it is perfect – too bad it won’t stay this way! But I guess we would get tired if it did.

The main event of this week is the Stapletons’ farewell reception and departure. He [Vic Stapleton] has had three heart attacks the last two years and is retiring at doctor’s orders. They bought property when they were in Dallas last Home Leave and so with alterations, they have a lovely home. Having been here so long, they know most everyone and it was hard to narrow the guest list down so it could be handled. There will be 800 guests at staggered times for three hours. I hope he can take it. He will be 50 in May. Too bad.

Thursday is the Women’s Club Flower Show, which is always a very lovely event. Amazing the amount of flowers, vegetables and desert arrangements that are entered – hundreds of entries. As of this morning I have three glads in bloom, - just about the last of them – three sunflowers – my hibiscus and a well-covered bougainvillea vine with purple blossoms. I’ll have to dream up some sort of entry!

We had people for dinner Sunday night – had received a rare treat of wild Guinea chickens from North Africa. One of the men from here goes shooting over there every year. They were very delicious and something different. Have the consul general and his wife coming for dinner Saturday night with six other couples. They are fairly new at the Consulate – via Venezuela. Very nice!

The girls will be home shortly – HURRAY! Susan gets in on the 31st and Judy on the 2nd.

I still enjoy my Great Books group, but have quit playing bridge. Enjoy it once in a while, but it is impossible here not to get tangled up in foursomes, which seem to take up all your time. Occasionally we play when out at dinner.

Had the kitchen repainted – also the laundry room. It was done yesterday and still have paint smell. But it is so clean and nice. Will wait on [painting] the house until we return from Long Leave. Looks like we have changed our plans again. Ken has to be back sooner than we thought, so now we will go up to graduation at ACS [American Community School in Beirut] in June, come back, leave in a few days and pick up Susan and go on to Scandinavia for two weeks or so – and on home. . .

Love to all, Mildred

March 23, 1955

Dear Folks:

Believe it or not, it has been raining off and on for a whole week and hasn’t let up yet! Doesn’t often get that way – in fact, this is the second year it has happened. Everything looks so clean and fresh. The desert will really be good and the green will show – a good year for the sheep. . .

Saturday night we hosted a dinner party – and a very nice one: Consul General and Mrs. Carrigan; Brigadier General Grover and wife; a couple just in from The Hague, Bob and Hazel Brougham, VP from New York office; Dr. Cowan, PhD from Cornell, and George Kriegher from New York who is head of Aramco aviation. Turned out fine, considering all didn’t know each other. Had duck and frozen lobster thermidore in the chafing dish – lots of fun.

Sunday we all went down to see Vic and Gladys [Stapleton] off to Beirut, where they were to catch the ship on Monday. This week a little quieter – out to dinner tonight and tomorrow night. I’ve been doing a bit of sewing, as both girls get in next weekend – ‘nuff said! Really counting the days now.

Lynn Webster, left, and her husband, Allyn
Lynn Webster, left, and her husband, Allyn –
Ken Webster’s younger brother, who worked
for Aramco in Ras Tanura.
(Photo courtesy Pam McFerrin, Lynn’s niece.)

We are all looking forward to Lynn’s sister, Lucille, coming this weekend, also. She will only be here a week. She seems to be enjoying her stay in Holland. She plans to go from here to Jerusalem and Beirut. Too bad Judy will be down here at that time.

College boards are in now, so we will just have to wait until we hear where Judy was accepted. I still can’t believe she is going home to COLLEGE!

Guess I have about covered the news since our last letter. Ken is busy as a bee about his various affairs – had a dinner in the Dining Hall last night for various Arabs and they all seemed to have a good time, he said. He really spins like a top, but seems to love it. Except for getting jammed up once in a while, I try to keep his week not too busy socially – or at least I spread it out so he gets rest. It is a good thing he has excellent health and lots of energy, plus a decided interest in what he is doing – and doing it very well, I might add.

Bye now. Hope all are well. We are beginning to feel vacation is just around the corner and it really isn’t long.

Love to all, Mimi

Judy Webster
Judy Webster in Switzerland, mid-1950s.
(Photo by Mildred Webster from Ken
Slavin’s personal collection.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
March 30, 1955

Dear Folks:

The main event in our minds is that Susan arrives tomorrow afternoon and Judy comes in Friday night!

We have the house shining – the deep freeze full of all the things they like and besides I have moved all my various things out of their rooms – I sort of overflow when they are away – sew in Susan’s room and do all my writing in Judy’s. Also hang part of my clothes in Susan’s closet. We are looking forward to the time they will be here and cherish each day. Susan goes back the 21st and Judy in two weeks.

Drove down to the [Hobby] Farm tonight after dinner to check on Neji. A very nice friend of Susan’s has been taking care of her and doing a fine job, but we wanted to see that everything was in good shape.

Lucille [Lynn’s sister] will be in Saturday and there are several things planned for her week here. She will go on to the Holy Land – Beirut and Cairo. Guess I told you that last week. . .

Well, we have definitely decided that we are coming home via Scandinavia and have a very lovely trip planned – Inshallah! [God willing!] From all the literature we have, it is certainly a beautiful and interesting place.

Dramaramco [the company’s drama club] wants Grey Boy [the family cat] for their next play, “Bell, Book and Candle.” But I am afraid he would be frightened on the stage and I am sure he would be terrified when the audience applauded. He is beautiful and would be an asset, but I don’t think it will work. We’ll see. He loves company here and usually is right in the middle of the floor, is very good natured and friendly.

Must go – it is late. Ken is working at the dining room table – didn’t even go to the ball game.

Love to all, Mildred.

Susan Webster and Cammie Booth
Susan Webster, left, and one of her best friends,
Cammie Booth, outside the Webster house
on King’s Road in Dhahran, circa 1955.
Here they are dressed for horseback riding
at the Hobby Farm. (Photo by Mildred Webster.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
April 8, 1955

Dearest Folks:

Four years ago today I was made District Manager, and the time has really flown. Soon we shall be on our way to USA for almost two months’ vacation. We can hardly wait and talk of it each day.

The girls are both home -- at least they sleep here! -- and between the Hobby Farm, movies, slumber parties, etc., we are kept quite busy. Mildred is sewing at a mad pace, as Susan has outgrown her clothes again, and both girls need things for graduation, trip north, parties here, and we must decide what to pack to send home, what to leave here, what to leave in Switzerland, what to take with us, how to get all Judy’s things packed and shlpped as she will not come back for a year, etc. What a madhouse! But we love it!

Judy will leave here April 17th, Susan the 21st, then we can settle down again for several months. We plan to go to Beirut June 22, graduation is 24th, we come back 25th, Judy on the 25th or 26th, then we leave for vacation the 30th.

Definite plans now are that we will leave here June 30 via KLM at 7 p.m., arrive Geneva in morning, rush down to Lausanne to pack Susan, get back to Geneva for 2:20 p.m. SAS via Düsseldorf for Copenhagen, arriving 6:30 p.m. We will spend about three days in Denmark, seeing old castles, Hans Christian Andersen home, buying things we don’t need, enjoying coolish weather and good beer, resting (?), etc. Then plane or train to Stockholm or maybe the three-day boat trip through canals (52 locks), and after five days or so, Stockholm and side trips in Sweden, on to Norway via train or plane combination, hope to see much of Norway, Lapland, Arctic Circle country, and one of my Harvard classmates.

Last night went to dinner with Company officials for guests, one being the Standard of New Jersey H.W. Page, who is mainly responsible for Consortium success in the oil venture in Iran, and another one is Commodore of Esso in Sweden. He insists we let him plan our days in Stockholm, his company yacht trip around the 200 island archipelago, etc. And as he has two daughters the same ages as Susan and Judy, it should work out. Wish we could spend three weeks or more in Scandinavia, but we don’t think time permits.

We shall be glad to get home with our families.

Love to all, Ken

Dhahran Administration Building
Aerial view of the Dhahran
Administration Building, late 1950s.
(From Ken Slavin’s collection of
Webster family memorabilia.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
April 27, 1955
Wednesday night

Dearest Folks:

The weeks are flying. Judy has been gone 10 days and Susan six, and all our thoughts are on our long vacation.

Hated to see the kids go and they too were not ready. Judy won’t be back after the last week in June for a whole year and Susan not until next Christmas vacation. Things are sure different here without them running in and out – and it will get worse instead of better.

Judy was accepted at Lake Forest College, a small basically religious school 30 miles up the Lake from Chicago. Some very good friends of ours graduated from there and recommend it highly. Today, a friend here received a letter from the president of Middlebury College in Vermont, saying he was very pleased to accept Judy and would write her so this week. I will be surprised if she is not accepted at Colby, Maine, the third place she applied, as they know about ACS as students and faculty at Beirut have had good records there. Now she has to choose.

We haven’t pressured her, but feel Middlebury would be excellent, although I know it is a hard place to get to, except by car, as the railroad hasn’t had passenger service there for several years. It is a small co-ed college with 700 boys and 500 girls, and she could have the winter sports and be in a good climate, not too far from Greenwich.

There isn’t much news. Allyn and Lynn will move into our house while we are gone and take care of Grey Boy and the chickens. . .The lawn and hedge are flowering and growing like mad, the trees are in bloom, and Spring has arrived. . . Louis will go home when we do and be back about when we arrive or soon after. The weather has been almost 100 in afternoons, but the mornings are fine and the nights cool.

Had only one dinner out this week, meeting some friends of the President’s, but also went to a retirement reception. A lot of the group who came here when I did are retiring this year and the next four, being mostly long service company men who transferred from the USA companies when I did. Tomorrow night we go to a nice dinner at the Les Snyders’, a farewell for another old-timer. Last Friday we went to Ras Tanura with Sam and Mim and took the Wassons to dinner. I asked young David [Wasson] to get me a sack of cuttle fish off the beach, and I’d give him a dollar, as I wanted them for the chickens. Today I received three bushels, enough probably for a year. Maybe I should put them around the trees, etc.

No other news except that Ramadhan started Sunday, which means the Moslems do not eat or drink during the daylight hours for 30 days. Fortunately, it is cooler than any previous Rhamadhan since we arrived, and comes ten days earlier each year, so in our time here it will always be in cool weather. It is very rough on the men, and as the month goes on, less and less work is done by each.

(Editor’s note: According to the Aramco Handbook of 1960, “Ramadhan, being a lunar month, is reckoned as beginning when at least one reliable witness sights the new moon and his testimony is confirmed by the religious authorities. The month continues until the appearance of the next new moon. . .For every day of this month, complete abstinence from food and drink, as well as continence in other respects, is enjoined from the moment before dawn when a white thread can be distinguished from a black until the setting of the sun . . .The purpose of fasting is to lead men to a deeper and richer perception of God and the obligations of human creatures in the service of their Maker. . .”)

Mildred just came in from the movies, having gone with the Shultzes while I did some homework and letters. It was “The Last Time I Saw Paris” with Liz Taylor and Van Johnson. She says very good, but sad.

Love to all, Ken

May 4, 1955

Dear Folks:

There is lightning again tonight – strangest thing for this time of the year! There have been two storms the last two nights. The first one it rained buckets – the one last night was wind and a hard shamaal with little rain. Ken and I slept through both of them.

Our weather out here is changing as much as it is in the rest of the world. We have had more rain in the last two years than anyone can remember. (Editor’s note: Shades of the dawn of global warming? Or simply the ongoing – and wildly fluctuating –weather observations from generation to generation? Food for thought!)

I am beginning to do things in the house prior to leaving. We are so fortunate, though, that Allyn and Lynn will stay in the house while we are gone. It certainly simplifies it all for us – and they have to give up their house anyway. Louis [our houseboy] will leave right after we do for his vacation. Francis [our cook] is staying here with them.

We haven’t been too active this past week. Went to a very good large party last Thursday night – at the Les Snyders’. Incidentally, no one would know him as the same man since he married Betty. She is a wonderful hostess and they give grand parties. Sunday night we drove to Ras Tanura for a farewell dinner – a couple we have known since our Lockport (Illinois) days. (Editor’s note: The Websters lived in Lockport, Illinois, during one of Ken’s assignments with Texaco, prior to joining Aramco.) Last night we went to the Officers’ Club with Allyn and Lynn, Mim and Sam [Shultz} – Allyn’s birthday party.

Our 18th wedding anniversary was Sunday night – and I have a beautiful Chinese satin evening jacket from Hong Kong. It is a heavenly shade of blue. Also a Rosenthal vase from Allyn and Lynn. It is white and lovely.

Judy is busy as can be. As usual, she is into everything up to her neck – but having a wonderful time. We had a note from her tonight. A letter from Susan last night and all is well in Suisse. She is very happy there and plans to go back next year. Judy has acceptances from Middlebury and Lake Forest – one more answer to come in, from Colby. I still hope it will be Middlebury, but it will have to be her choice, too. Such a good setup there.

We are both fine and there isn’t much news. I have been having hay fever and sinus – so much dampness – but it will clear up soon, I hope. It just started to rain and is pouring. Absolutely unheard of in MAY! Anyway, our yard is looking lovely and the hedges are growing so fast.

Guess that does it for this time. Hope all are well.

Love to all, Mimi

P.S. Nana and Pop: Thanks loads for getting the dresses and am I glad you could find them! It will be late when I start to shop for summer things. I am enclosing a check. If anything is left, pick us up some seeds: sweet alyssum, snaps and carnations (several), carrots, lettuce and parley – add beets and little green onions and any other flowers for a hot climate. . .

May 12, 1955

Dear Folks:

Here I am rushing again to make the mail. I wish they would get the old schedule back. My week seems to consist of Thursday, Friday, Saturday – whoosh – Thursday, Friday Saturday. Things have slowed down, though, and I don’t know where the time does go – but go it does!

We will be so glad when it is time to go. The end of the contract is always tiresome, but Ken seems more so this time. After all, we aren’t getting any younger. But he seems to have so many things to do. I should be doing more, but I work best under pressure and can get it whipped into shape in no time at all.

I am clearing out and making myself get rid of old stuff that I have put back. Being an old Pack Rat by nature, it is hard for me to do. I never wear out anything and always think I just might need it for something sometime. It is wonderful that Allyn and Lynn can stay in the house, for I won’t have to pack everything away. We can just walk out and leave it knowing that things will be taken care of.

I am finishing up my Scout year – making 9 years of active duty in some capacity – but think I will duck out this time. I enjoy it, but feel there are so many younger mothers with children active in Scouts – they should be the ones to get into it. We are proud of our progress. With one Scout and three Brownies, Judy being one, we organized in ’46 and now have seven Girl Scout troops with about 160 girls. Boy Scouts have grown, too, but I don’t know their statistics. I’ve been on the Coordinating Committee this year. (Editor’s note: Readers of earlier chapters of “Dear Folks” will recall that my grandmother, Mildred Webster, helped to organize the very first Girl Scout troop in Saudi Arabia in 1946, of which her older daughter Judy was a member. Younger daughter Susan, my mother, later was a Brownie and a Girl Scout in the same troop.)

The Man Who Loved Redheads
The poster for the film, “The Man Who
Loved Redheads,” starring Scottish
actress Moira Shearer. Mildred Webster
saw the film in the Dhahran movie theater
in 1955 and called it “riotous.”(Internet photo.)

We are looking forward to getting home, even though I will have even more to do this time, with two to outfit for school. I am sure Susan will be ‘out’ of everything – and Judy will need a lot to get started in college - most all of it being winter clothes, which aren’t cheap! Judy does have a very lovely coat we bought in Lausanne last September. That will help.

Did we tell you that Susan definitely wants to go back to Brillantmont? We are so relieved. She is very happy there and I am sure you are going to see such a change in her. She has grown up in so many ways. Of course, she is “going on 15” now.

Saw a riotous movie this week – the best comedy in years – an English production – “The Man Who Loved Redheads.” (Editor’s note: The 1955 film starred the famous Scottish ballet dancer and actress Moira Shearer, perhaps best known for her role in an earlier film, “The Red Shoes.”)

I am upset – received a bunch of color slides from Paris – and they aren’t mine! Surely hope I get mine back. (Editor’s note: There was no such thing as local photo processing in those days. Film had to be sent to Paris for developing. All of Mildred’s slide boxes are stamped, “Fabrique en Paris.”)

Love to all, Mimi

Kodachrome slides
A front and back view of one of hundreds
of Kodachrome slides taken by Mildred
Webster during her family’s years in Saudi
Arabia. This one, showing an image of the
Pyramids of Giza in the 1950s, is an example
of the “Made in France” stamp that appears
on most of her slides, since she – along with
many other Aramcons – sent her film to be
processed in Paris. (From Ken Slavin’s
collection of Webster family photos.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
May 18, 1955

Dear Folks:

I’ve been rather quiet this week – one tea – my Great Books meeting – people in one night for a small dinner. Tonight is the reception or open house at the new school. It really is a lovely building, all one story and spread out all over the place. Ken has been busier than usual. Ned [Scardino] goes on local leave in early June for 3 weeks and that will leave him very short-handed.

No news from either of the girls so far this week, so we still don’t know what Judy has decided about schools. We may get a letter today or Sunday. Both were fine when they last wrote. Judy, of course, is busier than ever in all the last year things. She gets her finger into so many things – but seems capable of carrying them. I guess you just have to be YOUNG! But it makes me tired trying to keep up with it all.

Wait until you see the unique and beautiful present Sam brought her from London – down in the silver vaults. Mim had told him to look around for something and this is practically a museum piece. I can’t describe it, but we will bring it home. Judy doesn’t know anything about it. I don’t know what we will give her – nor what she wants. (Editor’s note: My Aunt Judy told me this about the gift: “Sam Shultz brought back an amazing silver seamstress’s belt that he found in the underground vaults of London where valuables had been stored during WWII. It was amazingly beautiful, a collection of a silver measuring tape, scissors, and more.”)

It is warmish – high of about 104-105 each day, but not blistering and it has come so much later than usual, that we are delighted. Rhamadhan will be over next week and we get two days’ holiday for Idl Ftr. Friday we hope to drive up to Ras Tanura and take a look at the huge Onassis tanker all the fuss is about. I’m sure you have read about it.

I am supposed to go over to the Clinic this afternoon and start my “Going Home Physical.” Have two shots to get, too. I must remind Susan to check her shots. We have to keep our international health cards up to record. Guess us ‘ferriners’ are about the best immunized people of all! The ACS kids get their shots at Tap Line Hospital in Beirut and so keep them regular. But I guess Susan will have to go out to a doctor unless the school nurse can do them.

Love, Mimi

The Al-Malik Saud Al Awal
A photo of what was then the largest oil tanker
in the world, the Al-Malik Saud Al Awal, which,
according to a letter from Ken Webster, means
“His Majesty the King, the First.” The tanker was
owned by Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
It docked at Ras Tanura in the spring of 1955 to
take on its first load of Saudi Arabian crude oil.
Ken Webster was one of 10 Aramco officials
invited on board for cocktails and a private tour.
(Internet photo.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
May 23, 1955

Dearest Folks:

Last Friday we went to Ras Tanura to see the world’s largest tanker come in for its initial load of crude oil. We took Sam and Mim with us, leaving about 10 a.m., and it was almost 100 in the shade. It only took one hour for the trip, but it was hot and we were ready to sit and drink Pepsi colas for an hour after getting to the Ezzells’ house. (Ras Tanura district manager.)

Seeing the ship come over the horizon, we went to the pier about 12:30 and the head mooring master took us in his special launch around the ship and a trip through the whole harbor. It was cool, except the deck was hot enough to blister my toes. Then after taking pictures from the launch, of the big tanker and others, we went on the main pier head to see the actual berthing – sitting under some large canvas covered rooms set up for the large dinner in celebration of the event. Just the day before, the Saudi Government decided they would give the dinner, so Ras Tanura gave up [the chance to host] the 1,500-person dinner after really spending time and money to prepare for the affair.

As the ship docked, 10 of us went on board and gave the Greek captain a special set of Encyclopedia Britannica. He and his wife served drinks – real ones including cold beer – and then we left to let the local Arab officials have their visit. The captain’s quarters were really sumptuous and we enjoyed the visit. After a lunch at the snack bar in camp, we drove home, arriving about 5 p.m.

The tanker is the Al Malik Saud Al Awal, which means “His Majesty the King, the First.” It is named for our King Saud and owned by [Aristotle] Onassis, the Greek shipping magnate, so much talked about recently. It is chartered to Socony, one of our owners. It loaded 288,000 barrels of oil and could have taken 340,000, except that it was going through the Suez Canal and until they dredge deeper, it cannot be fully loaded.

Saturday there were rumors that Rhamadhan would end Saturday night, but nobody believed it. But at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, I was called that it was Ed’l Fitr, or first day of celebration of the end of the 30-day fasting in daytime. I arranged for a train and buses to take our Arab employees to their villages, then slept a few more hours while the canons announced the end of the fast and called the people to prayers. At 9 a.m. I went with several others to call on the local officials, and to give them greetings of the season, as we do at home on Christmas. After at least six large glasses of juice, a dozen of tea, and a dozen of coffee (Arab style in small cups, with cardiman seed), I came home at 1:30. It was quite cool for Rhamadhan until the 10 days of the period, but we were all glad when it was over. Today, Tuesday, is the second day of the holiday, and we go back to work tomorrow, but many Arabs will feast, etc., for the next week. Things won’t be back to normal until next Saturday.

The days are getting hot, we are awaiting June 30 so we can start our trip north, and will be glad to set foot again on USA shore and see our families in July.

Love to all, Ken

Middlebury College
The Latin seal of Middlebury College
in Vermont. Judy Webster was
accepted there in the spring of 1955
and matriculated the following fall.
(Internet image.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
June 1, 1955

Dearest Folks:

Did we tell you in the last letter that Judy has decided on Middlebury? Well, she has, and she sent us the application so we could put in a check and forward to Middlebury. The letter never reached us, so we have been cabling Middlebury, writing and enclosing checks, and await now the answer that all is well. Did get a cable tonight asking what happened to the letter and check, and that they couldn’t wait indefinitely. I think our cables crossed and will, through George Wood, send another tomorrow. Not being able to reach for a phone and straighten this out bothers us – but all will be well I am sure.

My Assistant District Manager, Ned Scardino, left for Germany yesterday with Mabel for three weeks on a short vacation. I am alone in the office, and plenty busy. He is due back the 20th and we leave the 22nd for Beirut for Judy’s graduation on the 24th. Back here the 25th and off again the 30th. Just thirty days from now and we’ll pick up Susan in Switzerland, then off to Denmark – and I can almost taste that beer.

Susan is all signed up now for another year at Brillantmont and we hope she will want a third and maybe a fourth year there.

There really isn’t any news this time – we are just getting ready to take off.

Love to all, Ken

June 17, 1955

Dear Folks:

I am so sorry that we slipped up on the last weekly letter – but we are both pretty busy now getting all the last things taken care of. I tried so hard to keep the farewell parties pared down and no two in a row, but what with unexpected things popping up, we have been out every night this week. Some of it is Company business and we do break up our parties much earlier than in the years before, so I guess we can stand it.

Ken is very shorthanded right now. Ned is on local leave and yesterday the second pipeline break came up in two weeks. This one is up the line. It is the big one to Sidon and when out of operation, it means thousands of gallons of oil not traveling. They really “homy homy” on these things and get them going in a hurry. Tapline built it – not Aramco. However, we have to take care of it. All such things stem out from Ken’s office. He sees that all departments get their work done. . .

Both girls are fine and busy – especially Judy. All the Stateside college folks are coming in on every Company plane – such fun and do that have a wonderful time getting together and comparing notes! We will be among the waiting parents next year and we are not looking forward to not seeing Judy for nine months – but guess it all comes in the natural course of events.

Must run – have a trip to Khobar to do before lunch and this is Thursday – half day.

Love to all, Mimi

American Community School Class of 1955
The 1955 senior class of the American Community School (ACS) in Beirut, Lebanon. Judy Webster is in the second row, second from left. (Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)
Judy Webster receives her diploma at ACS graduation.
Judy Webster receives her diploma at ACS
graduation exercises, June 24, 1955.
(Photo courtesy Judy Webster Bauer.)

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
June 25, 1955

Dearest Folks:

Got back from Beirut this morning and Judy arrived this P.M. – and we are making our plans for last five days, packing, checking, last-minute items, etc.

As planned we took Company Convair to Beirut on Wednesday, arriving their time 10 A.M. and our stomach time 1 P.M. Had a snack and then to American Community School to see Judy and get the last-minute plans. Had lunch with the kids there, met the faculty, talked over the school layout with the principal, then left, as Judy had a last exam at 2 p.m.

Logo of Scandinavian Airlines, early 1950s.
Logo of Scandinavian Airlines, early
1950s. The Websters took flight 901
from Copenhagen to New York City
during their leave in 1955.
(Internet image.)

Down to the suks (shops) and ordered charms for a new bracelet for Judy, bought Momma a hat (French, of course), bought various things for people here, and generally enjoyed the people, the shops and no telephone calls. Had a car and driver from our office there, so could be taken places without too much delay in asking questions.

Back for a nap, then took Judy and her boyfriend to the King of Caves, a new hot spot, for dinner. They had to be in by 10 and we went to bed.

Next day we shopped some more, bought Judy a dress for the senior party, left it to be altered, checked on her pictures, picked up some brocade for an evening dress for Judy to be made by Lynn later on, out to the school again and dined with friends. . .

Ken Webster with his daughters Susan and Judy.
Ken Webster with his daughters
Susan, left, and Judy. Kronberg
Castle, Denmark, 1955.
(Photo by Mildred Webster.)

Friday finished last-minute items, picked up the dress, took three footlockers to hotel, lunched with friends, back to school at 3:30 for class pictures, graduation at 5, reception at 6, sad goodbyes from 7 to 8, out to dinner at 9, stopping in at Senior dinner to check (way out of town for our dinner at hot spot on the shore), back to hotel at 11. Company car picked up our luggage and me at 11:30 [in the morning], while Mildred rode out with a friend in his MG, to the airport – plane took off at 3:30 P.M. . .

Will leave Thursday, Inshalla, at 6 P.M., pick up Susan Friday A.M. in Switzerland, arrive Copenhagen 6:35 P.M. Friday, tour Denmark, Sweden, Norway and leave Copenhagen July 16th, arriving New York Idlewilde at 10:55 A.M. Sunday, July 17th, via Scandinavian Airlines, Flight 901.

Off to bed. It is nearly 10 and in the next five days we must pack and ship things, especially Judy’s, and the days will be full.

Love to all, Ken

The Webster Family at Kronberg Castle in Denmark.
The Webster Family at Kronberg Castle in Denmark during their long leave in 1955. (This famous site was the inspiration for Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.) From left, Ken, Judy, Susan and Mildred. (Photo from Mildred Webster’s collection of travel slides.)

Chapter 16 Back to Chapter 1