All photos by Willard Drumm
Willard Drumm was a senior Aramco executive through the 50s into the 60s. In his work he traveled to most of the company’s sites and installations in the kingdom, ranging from the Rub Al-Khali to the offshore field at Sufaniya. At home in Dhahran, he and his wife hosted sumptuous parties, by Dhahran standards, enjoyed the beach, the town’s big events like the Nativity Pageant, the annual County Fair and mostly the company of good friends.
Fortunately for us, Willard was an enthusiastic, accomplished photographer. Thanks to him we have this fine collection of color pictures that truly capture the people of Aramco and the places of Arabia from 60 years ago. Much of this world has vanished and most of the people have long since passed away, but these photographs remain as a testament to their spirit and a sense of place that we all share.
CHRISTMAS IN DHAHRAN
Christmas was always a big deal in Dhahran. Perhaps we were compensating for a definite lack of snow. This giant snowman was built of chicken wire and paper maiche around a light pole.
There were front lawn displays of all sorts. A giant gingerbread house with candy canes.
An elaborate Nativity diorama complete with wise men and the star of Bethlehem.
Caroling Girl Scouts always add to the Christmas spirit.
And every year the Nativity Pageant was staged at the baseball field to a sell-out crowd of Saudis and Americans alike.
It featured live sheep and camels and of course a choir of angels.
By a fluke of circumstance, I know all four of these angels. Left to right: Diane Sherman, Gail Miller, Grey LaFrenz and Debbie McIntosh.
On Christmas Day, Santa Claus arrived by helicopter in the parking lot of the Administration building. By a one in a million coincidence, the girl in red pants is my sister Annie followed by my brother Michael.
Of course, the holidays are a great time for parties.
Guests gathered to sing and play music. When was the last time you went to a party and did that?
In looking at these photos it is important to remember that World War II had ended less than ten years before and there is not a man or woman in these photographs who was not personally affected by this disaster. They know how good it is to be alive.
Babe in a silvery gown.
He’s an avid admirer of African violets.
A great suit with a fine bow tie.
Babe in the center with two pals.
The ladies discuss dress designs as it’s likely that all of their gowns were made in Khobar by High Class tailors with a London diploma.
She got a wonderful Christmas present.
Mink stoles seem to be popular.
Oh! It’s the same fur.
Bill Burleigh, the company’s representative to the government since 1938, and Dick Bramkamp, Max Steineke’s right-hand man and now Chief Geologist.
Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Hill, the peacock print on her pleated skirt really comes to life when it is spread out.
Dinner is ready.
Center left is Fred Davies Aramco’s president. Opposite is Bob Keyes the senior vice-president.
Willard’s new mustache attracts a lot of feminine attention.
The ladies are giddy, worn out and happy. It’s been a great Christmas party.
Coming next week: WILLARD’S WORLD – THE EMPTY QUARTER
Tim Barger is the editor and co-author of the international bestseller, Out in the Blue: Letters from Arabia 1937-1940 by Tom Barger, the former President and CEO of Aramco.
It is now available as an e-book as well as print.
AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM