Colleen Wilson displays some of her finery.
All the celebrating wasn’t over yet. To start the New Year off right, we went to a dinner party for only “people from Texas” on January 1. The host & hostess were one of Oran’s bosses and his wife from Bandera, Texas, Walt & Daisy Mayfield. They had invited 10 of their Texas friends in for black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. The food was out of this world and I really stuffed. She also served shrimp cocktails, potato salad, ham, corn, Waldorf salad and cornbread sticks. Most of the talk was about Texas, of course, but about 5 of us discovered we were originally from Oklahoma, so had to talk about that a little, too.
We did settle down a bit after that, and I wrote a lot of long overdue letters to friends and family back in Texas, starting with my parents on January 2. I managed to send off 9 all together. We told them all about our Christmas and anniversary activities and our move to our new apartment. It was harder to tell them we wouldn’t be home next Christmas either because Oran’s two year contract wouldn’t be up until the last of January, 1953.
We had received a couple of letters from them, too, and enjoyed hearing about the family Christmas in Jena, Louisiana, where my sister & husband, Jolene & Bill Zoller lived at the time. We were glad to hear they all enjoyed hearing the record we had sent from Arabia, and apologized for not sending gifts from there, hoping they understood how difficult that was. I planned to bring them all some nice thing when we went home, and already had a pretty piece of brocade and some other things I got in Lebanon. I also thanked Mom for sending the recipes I had asked for and mentioned a few more I would like to receive. We were also glad Dad had become a Mason and Mother had passed her driver’s license test the first go around. It had taken my brother, Ben, and me two times before passing, pretty humiliating.
By the end of January, we had done nothing new or exciting since the Christmas activities stopped, except the usual; play canasta, bridge, go to the movies, etc. After his graveyard shift, Oran had been working from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. so that stopped our evening entertainment together. It was a good time to slow down.
Around the first of February, we found out we were going to live in our current apartment, N1E-1, permanently. The young couple, who lived there before, Pat & Bob Cundiff, bought a farm in Oklahoma, stocked it with cattle, and stayed there to run it. So, after 8 months of uncertainty, we didn’t have to look forward to another move, which was wonderful. We immediately started fixing it up. The entire apartment had a lovely paint job, so we didn’t have even one room redone.
The kitchen was white with a yellow trim, which pleased me more than one solid color, and since I had green and yellow items for it, everything matched perfectly. I had a Visualite Tappan Range and a G.E. refrigerator, and so much cabinet space, I didn’t know what to do with all of it. The only thing I was in the market for was a curtain for the window in the door. It had linoleum on the floor (also in the bathroom).
The living room was our biggest concern right after our assignment. I spent almost a week doing nothing but going to the Housing Office and the Tailor Shop putting in work orders to have cushion covers made for the chairs, and divan, hiring a man to put the rug and mat down, hiring an Italian tailor to make my drapes, etc. but it paid off, because in a surprisingly short time, our living room was finished.
The rug had to be cut about a foot on one side and several inches on the other, since that apartment was smaller than the plan sent to me by Oran. I had plenty of material for the cushions, and the drapes were made to cover the entire double window (drawstring). One chair cover matched the drapes and the other, the divan. The total result was beautiful, out of this world, and this was not only my opinion, but that of Oran and every other person who saw it. No kidding, everything blended just perfectly, there was just enough of each color, and the room looked like one of those modernistic advertisements in a magazine.
I’m not bragging really, it’s just that we were so well pleased. That’s the first house I had ever decorated, and I had spent hours in Tyler shopping and buying just to get everything right. Once it got to Arabia there was no changing anything major. Oran especially liked the rug, and I will admit I gave a sigh of relief when it was down. I didn’t exactly know what it would be like, but the color couldn’t have been better. It looked like a well mowed carpet of grass. One visitor said she even expected little daisies to pop up out of it any minute.
This is the Nejma section of Ras Tanura
where the Wilson's lived.
Well, on to the rest of the place, our big bedroom was pink, and had such a pretty paint job, we went with the blue accessories I had sent over. The bathroom was also the color we wanted, blue. The back bedroom would be fixed up as a nursery. I had some white organdy curtains we put up and a white spread for the one twin bed that Oran had purchased before I arrived until we could fix it up completely. We would have about 3 months.
While all of this was going on, my parents were doing some remodeling of their own, so we were exchanging the information. They had just had a bathroom built onto the house they (and I) had lived in the East Texas piney woods. Up to that time there had just been a one-holer out back, I kid you not. So we were pleased to hear about it, and made comments to them. Oran said, “It won’t seem like the same place, anymore, and I used to tell my friends that yours was the only place where a person could recall the good old days”. I said, “I would really like to see it, and you can give that old one to the spiders for all I cared”.
I didn’t know they were fixing up the living room, too, and other parts of the house. They were painting, and it sounded like we somewhat had the same color scheme. They put up new drapes and got a new rug, too. It all sounded pretty snazzy. The pictures they sent made me nostalgic and homesick, but I was too happy with my new life to want to go back for anything other than a visit. It pleased me that they were getting those improvements, though. We had taken pictures, as well, and even had sent 2 rolls to Bombay, India, to be developed. But we were having all of them made into color slides, so would have to take another roll of black & white film to send to them. It wasn’t that easy doing all that from Arabia then.
My parents were concerned about the effect the Egyptian situation was having on us, so we tried to reassure them. We told them it had even less affect than the Iranian one did, if you can even say it did at all. Did they realize that between Egypt and the part of Arabia we lived in was a whole desert of sand with no roads and no means of crossing except by Camel Caravan or airplane?
The country of Arabia was not directly connected with any conflict, except maybe the Jews in Palestine, who were against all Arab nations, and would be very hard to invade, especially for them. The only thing there that any other nation would want was the oil, and any attempt to get it would mean total war with the U.S. because it was run by Americans. So, we don’t believe you have anything to worry about concerning Egypt. We weren’t at all, and just carried on our lives normally.
On February 7, 1952, the weekend, the fifth grade school students put on a circus, and I went as I knew so many of them. They sold popcorn and had a ringmaster who announced, two clowns, a baby elephant, a bareback rider, a strong man, a snake charmer, and a trained seal act. All of the characters and animals were the students, of course, and it was very good and entertaining.
We had had very warm, pretty weather since Christmas. Everybody was ready to put on their swim clothes. The next day, February 8th, was so pretty that Oran and I went walking on the beach. A lot of other people had the same idea, and some children and men even went in swimming. But by the middle of the next week, it was cold again, and we had even had a sand storm.
By March, Oran had started working 12 hour day shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and our activities came to a stand still. He was so worn out, we would go to bed right after supper each night, unless there was a very good movie playing in the theater. Some new employees arrived, though, and that helped. One of them was Guy Smyth, from Arizona, but originally, Texas, and was put in the Refinery working with Oran. We hit it off right away. His wife, Pat could not come with him, then, because of the housing shortage. As it turned out, though, she was pregnant, too, and we would all become life-long good friends.
It wasn’t long before Guy was care taking a house for someone on vacation. He had worked at a Mexican Restaurant when he was in college at Texas University, so could cook Mexican food. To our delight, he had us over for a home cooked Mexican meal, which we loved. I had even been craving that since I became pregnant and just the canned tamales in our commissary weren’t totally satisfying.
My parents wrote that they had gone to a New Years Dinner at the Humble Recreation Hall and had a delicious fillet mignon. I wished there was a good place in Arabia where we could get a good fillet mignon. We had them, but they didn’t taste so good. I had a craving for a T-Bone steak, too. That’s one thing we hadn’t even seen since leaving the States. I had heard from my sister, Jolene Zoller, too, saying she was interested in coming to Arabia to visit and wanted me to send her the information about doing that. I could hardly believe she was serious about it, but was so enthused I went right down to the Personnel Office to get the information. The company wanted an approximate two months notice of the date of a visit, so they could process them just like they did employees and families.