Tim Barger’s new collection of stories, Christmas in Khobar, will be released soon. There are more tales of childhood adventures in the Dhahran of the fifties and sixties, as well as stories told to him and accounts of hapless situations he encountered in Riyadh and Jeddah as a 20 something adult.
January isn't the best time of the year to travel through Europe, but we didn't have much choice, so we started our third return back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the 16th, 1977 from Dallas, Texas. By the time the plane arrived in New York, it was snowing so much we had to circle over the airport for an hour again before landing.
I met the girls at the Dining Hall at 9 o'clock for our "breakfast club". Sheila had received her film of our rug laying party at the Steindorfs, so we went to her house to watch that. It was really funny with everyone acting crazy, dancing, etc., but we wouldn't have wanted that film to fall into the wrong hands. It would either have been misinterpreted, or everyone would want to join our group.
Saturday, October 16th, 1976, Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah for the start of another work week. Our lives were just settling back into a normal routine, and we were taking things one day at a time. Things came up at work every now and then that could have had an effect on what we did about staying, but so far Oran just remained calm, and didn't give an answer or reaction until he had thought about it for awhile.
Oran was able to take his resignation retraction letter by his boss’s office before he caught the morning plane back to 'Udhailiyah on Wednesday, September 22nd, 1976. With a new lease on life, I had a spring to my step as I went to the Post Office to mail Vicky's birthday card...
The day before had been invigorating and uplifting, so we went to our breakfast in the Dining Hall with the other regulars in a much better mood, but the rest of the day was just routine. Back at the apartment, we discussed the pros and cons of Oran's resignation and different possibilities.
There would be another cocktail party, dinner, and performance by the "Creative Source Group" in 'Udhailiyah Tuesday night, so that afternoon I went in a taxi to the airstrip with Trish Miller and Sharon Green, waiting there 45 minutes for the late plane to arrive.
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.
All good things must come to an end, so after nearly six weeks of living and working in Abqaiq, Oran had to fly back to 'Udhailiyah to continue his work there on Tuesday June 15th, 1976. For a couple of days, I felt rather lost and just tried to adjust to the old routine of being in camp alone again.
In the days before desktop computers and smart phones, we used adding machines, and charts and graphs were hand-drawn, I performed entry-level project management tasks for different projects including construction schedules, manpower histograms and organization charts.
The next day, Saturday, May 8th, 1976, started a new period in our life, though, that was different and stimulating for both of us. Oran didn't return to ‘Udhailiyah as usual, but started on his new job in Abqaiq teaching a class of 12 Saudi Arabs about the new Sea Water Project. He was very pleased to be "back in civilization", but a bit leery of teaching...
Another trip to Al-Khobar was warranted Monday, so I made the usual bus connections and found another gold bracelet to buy on my one day shopping spree. I had finished a role of movie film on the way, so took that to the Post Office before visiting with Ruby and Frank Adams.
Monday morning, I went to a bridge lesson at the Women’s Club Portable, and was taught the Staymen Convention, which I didn't like and probably wouldn't use. Marge Williams and I went to lunch at the Dining Hall afterward. All that afternoon I worried about whether or not to join the Sorority because of so many other activities. I finally decided not to, so called Marge to tell her I wouldn't be at the beginning meeting that night.
Believe me, I mostly rested the next day after Oran flew back to 'Udhailiyah. On Sunday morning I went to a Newcomers' Welcome Tea at the Women's Club Portable then walked to the Post Office with Marge Williams and Harriet Fretwell. Marge went on to my apartment with me, and we visited about the dance and future activities.
On Sunday, February 1st, I bussed to Al-Khobar to meet Pat Smyth and her sister, Phyllis, who was living in Arabia as well now, with her husband, Roy Boyd. We had known Roy in the early 50's in Ras Tanura, when he was married to Ilene, who later died. We had also known Pat's sister after several trips to Phoenix, Arizona, over the years to visit Pat and Guy.
After an enjoyable five-week vacation in the United States, which included Christmas and New Year with family and friends and putting Vicky on a plane to Hawaii for her semester of school, we left Dallas on Sunday, January 11th, 1976, at 2:25 p.m. on a Braniff flight to New York.
For the next three days Oran was off work, so he stayed in Abqaiq. We did an assortment of things – visited with friends, played some bridge, and bowled. On Wednesday we went to a Halloween parade at the school and later sat on our porch passing out candy to the trick-or-treaters who came by.
Oran had stayed in Abqaiq on Tuesday as he was going to have weekend duty again, and I would be going with him to 'Udhailiyah on Wednesday. So we slept late, had coffee on the porch before a big breakfast, ran errands around camp, and got clothes ready for the trip.
Ramadan began the next morning, Saturday, September 6th, 1975. That is the yearly month of fasting, prayer, and good deeds each Arab or Muslim is required to fulfill as part of their religion, unless they are ill or under a certain age.
The next day, July 26th just happened to be our birthday, both Oran’s and mine coincidentally, but since we had done so much for the past three days, considered that to be our celebration. Sharon Morris had me over for coffee that morning, and the Kings had me over for dinner that evening.