Once upon a time, a century or so ago, American schoolchildren learned the lyrics to a popular song called “School Days.” The lyrics went like this:
School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
'Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick
Aramco children living in Abqaiq in the ’70s more likely knew the words to the late Chuck Berry’s famous rock-’n’-roll song of the same name, “School Days,” with lyrics that went like this:
Up in the mornin' and out to school
The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You studyin' hard and hopin' to pass
Workin' your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won't leave you alone
For the Aramcons who taught in Abqaiq back in the ’70s, their memories of those “Golden Rule days” live on today as though they happened only yesterday. A few of them might even have used a long, slender palm frond to point to words and numbers etched with chalk on a scratchy old blackboard. This past week, 32 former teachers and their spouses gathered in Encinitas, California to renew old friendships and relive fond memories of Abqaiq in that momentous decade.
Teachers' Lounge with Charlie Franck, Linda Simms, Larry and Marie Benchich.
Hosted at the house of Bob and Linda Simms with the assistance of Jane and Jary Archer and Cindy and Byron Hebert, the gathering centered around the theme of "The Abqaiq Teachers Lounge.” As could be expected, an overabundance of laughter and merriment marked the occasion as reminiscences of the past were shared along with news from the intervening years. For some in the group, it was a chance to reconnect with one another for the first time in 30 and even 40 years.
The fun began on Friday evening as early arrivals nibbled on hor d' oeuvres and chatted away merrily at the Simms abode until well into the night. The “formal” program officially began on Saturday, capped that evening by a Shawarma Night. Some years ago, a survey found that the favorite sandwich of PC users was a ham and cheese, while the favorite sandwich of Mac users was a shawarma. That survey should have included a footnote pointing out that a shawarma was also the favorite sandwich of an Aramcon, whether they used a Mac or a PC!
Aramcons enjoy good food, but it doesn't necessarily have to be fancy gourmet fare. Accordingly, a Pizza Night was held Sunday evening as the reawakened spirit of camaraderie reached its peak. When it came time to say goodbye on Monday morning, more than a few teary eyes were to be seen.
Most everyone stayed at the Best Western Encinitas Inn and Suites at Moonlight Beach. During the day on Saturday and Sunday, attendees split into smaller groups and visited local attractions, where the highlight was indisputably the Carlsbad Flower Fields—a riotous array of colorful flora spread across the hillside.
Look for more accounts of Abqaiq Teachers Lounge Reunion adventures in future installments of Aramco ExPats Highlights and Notices.
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