My worst fears came true the next day, July 28th, as Oran turned in his letter of resignation to be effective between September 23rd and October 23rd. He said he had decided that trying to re-adjust to living and working in 'Udhailiyah again just wasn't worth ruining his mental and physical health. Even with our new experiences, it couldn't offset the conditions he had to live and work under for the past 16 months there. He also said he may negotiate with the company for a job in Abqaiq between then and the deadline, but if nothing was offered, we would leave Arabia. He said it had been a hard decision, but he felt like a great load had been lifted from his shoulders.
I was devastated, of course. Not only was being able to return to live in Saudi Arabia a dream come true, I was beginning to have unheard of opportunities that Oran living in 'Udhailiyah afforded us. It didn't seem like such a terrible way of life to me, but, of course, I didn't have to live there all the time and, as a woman, was treated like royalty every time I went there. I would just have to try to be grateful for the marvelous experiences and opportunities to see and do things we never would have been able to otherwise.
Although my stomach was tied up in knots of disappointment, it was almost a relief to have the decision made, and not stay torn up all the time, wondering "if" or "when". Even though we had completely altered our lives to return to Arabia, and didn't have a clue what we would do when we returned to the States, I just resigned myself to accept his decision, and try to do as many interesting things as I could during the time we were still there.
I would never be sorry we had returned to Arabia. For the 19 years we had been gone, I had sustained a deep yearning for that Kingdom, and thought of it almost like a Utopia. By returning I was able to fulfill that desire, and although I still loved and would always love Arabia, I was able to see everything in a more realistic light, to sort of get it out of my system. I think being older helped me do that. We would be going home better off financially, too, so it wasn't all for nothing. Nevertheless, I started going about the daily task of living in a daze and a fog.
Oran came back to Abqaiq for the weekend, and on Thursday morning, we drove west of Abqaiq to the brand new road that I mentioned earlier we were going to keep an eye on. It had just been completed and opened, and looked so nice we thought surely it must go to something or someplace really important. But we drove all the way to its' abrupt end and found, along the way, nothing but three small, not too prosperous looking, dirt street villages, lots of camels, sheep, and, at the end, several Bedouin tents scattered about.
As it turned out, we wouldn't find out until several years later its real purpose. The road was built to connect the southern cities, towns, and villages in that area to the new, ultra-modern, divided highway the government planned to build from Dammam, on the Persian Gulf, directly to Riyadh, the capitol, in the 1980's. We enjoyed seeing the things on that road that day though, and stopped to take some pictures, and get a Pepsi at a stand in one of the villages that was no more than a wood and tin shack. As an added reward, three young Arab boys there had a baby camel with them, so we looked him over good, petted him, and got some really great pictures.
The company had let Roy Steindorf out of the hospital, and he returned home to Abqaiq. No final decision had been made about his situation yet, but he would be allowed to stay and work in Abqaiq.
That evening we went for drinks and pizza to Harriet and Bing Fretwell’s to welcome him back. The Williams and Adams were there as well. Friday morning we ate breakfast in the Dining Hall (this was getting to be a regular activity), then drove out to explore the new road more thoroughly.
During the next week, on Saturday, I worked at the Shuf Shop from 2 to 5. The Shuf Shop was an exchange shop of used clothes and household items run by the Women's Club, and each member took turns working there.
Marge Williams, Kathy Steindorf, Sandy Adams, and I decided to play bridge at my place Sunday afternoon. We hadn't done that for a long time and it was fun and relaxing. Of course, we still talked more than we played bridge.
When Oran flew home from 'Udhailiyah that afternoon we went to the Adams for a small impromptu party for Harvey Pederson, who had just gotten back from vacation.
Oran came back home again on Monday, so after dinner, we walked to Estela and Bill Syphers with the Steindorfs. We had drinks, snacks, and talked about everything, especially what had happened to Roy and Bill. The Adams were there too, so it turned into another small, impromptu party. I went to Sheila Kaul’s for dinner that evening and we went to the movie afterward.
We wanted to do as much as possible, so on the weekend Oran and I rode with Marge and Chris DeSantis to Ras Tanura to visit the Smyths again. We left Abqaiq at 7 o'clock Thursday morning, stopping in Dhahran to have breakfast at the Dining Hall. When we arrived at Pat and Guy's we visited awhile before Marge and Chris went on to Ann and Bob Gulovsen’s where they would stay. We went to the beach for the afternoon, and that night we all went to Gulovsen’s for a drink before going to the Dining Hall for dinner.
There was no way to know at that point just when, or if, we would ever be back in Ras Tanura, so on Friday morning we went to the beach again for a little while, but it was just too humid to enjoy.
Back at the Smyth’s, we packed while Pat fixed some delicious eggs benedict for our breakfast. The DeSantis' came over from Gulovsen’s then, and we rode back to Abqaiq together. It was a nice, laid-back visit with good friends.
Had it ever been hot and humid the entire past week of Saturday, July 31st, through Friday, August 6th, 1976. (117 degrees in the shade.) We had thought we were going to have a relatively cool summer because the nights had continued to be so comfortable, but not anymore. There were fewer sand storms though, which was a small blessing.
I was going to have the canasta group at my house Saturday, so I got all the food and everything ready for that after Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah. I was grateful for all the activities I was involved in to help keep my mind off the fact that we were leaving. I had already planned to have Kathi Steindorf, Sheila Kaul, Sandy Adams, and Marge Williams over for coffee and goodies left from the canasta party at my house the night before, so went ahead with that. Despite everything, it was enjoyable.
There was to be another event in 'Udhailiyah, so on Tuesday, August 10th, I flew there with Oran. Marge Williams, Harriet Fretwell, and some other wives were already there, so we visited back and forth with each other all day. When our husbands finished work, we all went to John Cochrane's house for food, then on to the swimming pool patio area for the Brenda Beyers Show. She was another professional entertainer the company had brought to Saudi Arabia to put on shows in all the different camps. She was a beautiful, young, blond singer, and you can imagine the delight of all the bachelors there, as well as the husbands whose wives were in attendance. We sat right on the front row during the show, and, at one point, she pointed her microphone at Oran, who croaked out a few bars of the current song. Then she broke everybody up by saying, "Boy, has this guy been in the desert too long". This was an excellent show and everyone had a really good time, even us.
I missed the plane the next morning, so shared a taxi with the AEA photographer on the roughly, two hour ride back to Abqaiq. We got there by 9 o'clock, so I was able to get a few things done before Oran came home on the afternoon flight. We went to the Dining Hall to eat fried shrimp (a regular item Wednesday night), but just went on back to the apartment after that. Our hearts just weren't into trying to do much of anything. I hoped this lethargy didn't continue, so we could at least try to enjoy the rest of the time we had in Arabia.
Thursday morning we took our usual trip to the Dining Hall for breakfast, and stopped at Steindorfs after. She was fixing flour tortillas and eggs, which I had never had before, even though I am from Texas. She wanted me to sample one, and although I was full, I'm glad I did, as it was super delicious.
Back at the apartment, we decided to try to have a tripoli game, so we called some people, who were receptive. We were both pretty uptight, and it was hard to relax, although I had thought it would get better after Oran made his decision to leave. Anyway, I prepared some shrimp and other food. Marge and Marvin, Kathy and Roy, Sheila Kaul and Harvey Pederson came over to play the game, and we had a good time and a brief respite from our turmoil.
When Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah the next morning, Saturday, August 14th, I went to the pool, met Sheila Kaul and stayed for 3 hours. It was good therapy for me. Later Marge Williams and I went to Sheila's house, then to the Dining Hall to eat dinner. Afterward, we walked by the King’s to see a new Mecca Chest they had just bought, then back to Sheila's where we showed everybody's movie film on her projector. Marge and I walked home together about 10 p.m. It had been a nice day.
I caught the 7:30 bus to Al-Khobar Sunday morning with Sheila and Kathi. We shopped, had lunch in Dhahran, then caught the 1:30 bus back to Abqaiq. It was hotter than Hades on that August 15th, and the buses were not air-conditioned in those days, but I just had to stay busy. There was a Sorority meeting at the Adam’s that night.
Oran was back in Abqaiq the next day to talk to the personnel man. When he went by the Post Office, we had received the two rolls of movie film we had taken during our visit to the Bedouin tent of Ali. That evening, Marge and Chris came to our apartment for dinner, and we showed the film. Everyone thought they were excellent, and I was extremely pleased.
There was some good news the next day when Pat Smyth called to say the general manager in Ras Tanura, Frank Woofel, had called Oran's supervisor to ask if he would be released if they wanted him for a job. That pleased him, but we would just have to wait and see what happened.
Wednesday evening we went by Marge and Chris DeSantis' to say goodbye before they left on vacation. We called the group over for an impromptu party at our house, just to celebrate, in any eventuality.
There would be a dinner at the Adam’s Thursday evening with the King’s, Steindorf’s, and Sheila. Everyone brought a dish to go with the meat Sandy and Jack grilled, and it was a delicious meal. We showed films after that, which included our visit to the Bedouins. Everyone was really impressed.
After swimming for awhile the next morning, I got started working on our picture scrap book, then invited Kings and Sheila over to see their film that they hadn't brought the night before. That took the next three hours.
Saturday I worked at the Shuf Shop again, and on Sunday started out with coffee at Kathi's, then stopped by Sandy's to get the name of a hotel in Athens, Greece, where they had stayed. We had talked about going through there on our way home when we did leave. I found all the ingredients for chalupas at the Commissary so I made them for my lunch, then went to the pool with Sheila that afternoon. We went to the Dining Hall for dinner, as well, then to a movie after I went to a bowling meeting.
When Oran came home from 'Udhailiyah Tuesday evening, we went to the Golf Club House for a performance and dance by a group called, "Creative Source". We didn't dance much, but enjoyed visiting with everyone.