Donkey Riding in Dhahran

If you are a baby boomer that grew up in America in the ’50s, chances are you remember a children’s song called “Donkey Riding.” The lyrics to the first few stanzas go like this:

Way hey and away we go,
Donkey riding, donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go,
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Quebec,
Launching timber on the deck,
Where you can break your bleeding neck,
Riding on a donkey.

Way hey and away we go,
Donkey riding, donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go,
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever round the Horn,
Where the weather’s never warm,
Where there’s a lion in a uniform,
Riding on a donkey.

Way hey and away we go,
Donkey riding, donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go,
Riding on a donkey.

Donkey Riding in Dhahran

Lois Savery Conklin has a memory of someone riding on a donkey in Dhahran that would make for a colorful new stanza to this old song.

The last time we checked in with Lois a few years back, she was sailing through the Panama Canal in style. Recently Aramco ExPats caught up with her at her home in Citrus Heights, California near Sacramento and got an update on what’s been happening in her life.

It was nearly fifty years ago—1968, to be exact—when Lois and her then-husband Ross Conklin first moved to the Kingdom and settled in Abqaiq before moving on to Dhahran, returning to the United States in 1972.

“We were drawn to the adventure of living in a foreign country and having the travel opportunities,” Lois responded when asked what drew her to Saudi Arabia.

“I remember the appearance of Santa on a camel in a parade in Abqaiq,” she continued, sharing a favorite memory. “At Christmas time in Dhahran, there was the outdoor depiction of the holy family on the baseball field. ‘Mary’ was making her entrance riding side-saddle on a donkey when something spooked the donkey and it ran off with ‘Mary’ bouncing on his back! This was in 1971, I think.”

Donkey Riding in Dhahran

“One year in Abqaiq,” she went on, “I took Arabic lessons. I continue to practice my rudimentary Arabic today whenever there’s an opportunity. I was a classroom teacher in Sacramento for nine years, a high school counselor for nineteen, and a community college adjunct counselor for fourteen. It was good to be able to welcome Arabic-speaking students and invite them to sit down and so on in their own language! Ana ahtallum ahtakallum bil Arabie, shway. Fahumpti? Al humdahlilah!

Retired today to the Sacramento area, Lois and her husband Mel Savery enjoy bicycle riding and skiing as hobbies. Like all Aramco annuitants, Lois enjoys traveling as well. This past August their gypsy feet took Lois and Mel to the Netherlands where they went on a barge-and-bike trip with nine other couples from their ski club.

Lois doesn’t anticipate attending any of the several reunions scheduled for 2018, but would welcome emails from former friends and colleagues from their Aramco days. You can reach Lois via email at [email protected].

Lois has lived a full and happy life, blessed with two daughters—Cathy Conklin Zanzi and Caryn Conklin Brown—and four grandchildren—Alison Zanzi Bietz, 28, Kyle Zanzi, 22, Jenna Brown, 22, and Connor Brown, 20. Add all that to her memories of life in the Kingdom and she has much to be thankful for.

As for a new stanza for “Donkey Riding” commemorating Lois’s Abqaiq memory, we offer for your consideration this verse:

Were you ever in SA,
Celebrating Christmas Day,
When Mary bounced on her derr-ee-ay,
Riding on a donkey.

Way hey and away we go,
Donkey riding, donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go,
Riding on a donkey.