An American Woman's Life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

An American Woman's Life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

by Carol Lewellen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490777092
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 09/28/2016
Pages: 138
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.32(d)

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An American Woman's Life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


By Carol Lewellen

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2016 Carol Lewellen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4907-7709-2



CHAPTER 1

THE DECISION TO LIVE IN JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA


The year was 1975 – My husband worked for Trans World Airlines In Kansas City, MO. We decided as TWA had so many lay-offs we should seek better horizons. My husband informed me TWA had a contract with Saudia Airlines in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and he knew of some mechanics in the hangar who went there and were working and their families followed. There was no worry of a lay off in Saudi Arabia and every two years we would sign a contract for another two years or return to the states. I gave it a lot of thought and we talked and decided if we wanted to give it a try the timing was good. The twins were just ending kindergarten and this would be a good time for us to go.

Frank signed a contract and he was gone. I took care of the household expenses, renting our home, taking care of the twins, etc. I also worked at that time and kept working and doing all of this also.

I spent the next 90 days renting the house, selling items, sorting household furniture, and giving our precious Irish Setter, Sandy, away to a family who promised she would have a better life than they had. I found out later when I visited Kansas City they were telling me the truth, they took her to the Lake of the Ozarks in summer. They had 5 kids and loved her very much, that was important enough to me!

I finally heard from my husband and he was in a faraway land and he was lonely and depressed. He was sending me tickets to go to London and meet him. I thought this was wonderful! I was part Welsh/Irish/German and Cherokee and could not help but think of this part of Europe being the land my ancestors were from and I was eager to go see.

My cousin, Dr. G. W. Kelling's wife, Dorothy, is a wonderful cousin and volunteered to stay at my home and keep the girls while I was gone. My husband instructed me to go to the Crest Inn in London, England. There was a free bus ride from the airport, when I arrived at Heathrow Airport. I was to tell the persons at the front desk my name and ask for my husband. He was not there yet so I went to my room to wait for his arrival. We had not seen each other for three months!

I was doing a lot of yoga in Kansas City, so I tried to do that and relax and get over the jetlag! I was hesitant to sleep during the day as I was afraid I would miss Frank when he arrived; so I was doing a yoga exercise where you place your head on the floor and rest feet on the wall and relax. I was doing so with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and here came a cleaning woman and she yelled and ran out. She was sweet and funny. It was beginning to get late and I was hungry; the restaurants were closed so I just picked out the pecans from the fruit cake I brought my husband. I hate fruit cake but I liked the pecans.

When I finally awakened the next morning, I went to the Front Desk and asked for my husband and was told he was not there.

I stayed up late that night and the next morning back to the Front Desk and again another lady told me Frank was not there.

This was ridiculous – not turning out as I planned. I had no way to call him, etc.

The third morning, I went downstairs and asked for my husband or a note or something! All of a sudden this woman told me he had signed out! I ran out front and here he was entering a bus for the Airport.

It seemed we had both been there all along and the stupidity of the personnel kept us from knowing this! He stayed another day and we had a great reunion and a good meal and off we had to go in our directions!

Frank had lost 40 lbs., had a full beard and hair grew out several inches; what a site! I hardly knew him. I was quite thin and he was happy to see me. Frank bought me small bottles filled with French perfume he bought in Jeddah and the atomizers. They were wonderful. I explained how Dorothy was watching the girls and he was pleased.

So, my ancestral trip to England was only spent in a hotel room, waiting, wondering for my husband's whereabouts; whatever. What a mess!

After this first trip to London, I returned to Kansas City, MO, and within three months, I sold my unwanted belongings at garage sales, said Goodbyes to friends and relatives; and the little six year old twins and I embarked on a JOURNEY AND y!

I knew the customs of the Saudi women vaguely and I wore a long dress with long sleeves, not to show my skin. The girls also wore long dresses and scarves on their heads. I was scared to death and had a good reason to be!

CHAPTER 2

OUR FIRST DAY IN OURCOMPOUND DUPLEX IN JEDDAH


When we arrived in Jeddah it was evening and Frank and the girls and I went into our new home and flopped down; not meeting any neighbors at all as it was dark and no one was outside and I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was try and find our gowns, tooth brushes and go to bed.

My husband had been thoughtful and he said he had not slept on the new mattress as he wanted to make it all brand new for all of us. I thought that was very nice of him.

The next morning, after we only slept a couple of hours because of jetlag, Frank surprised me and brought in our soon to be very good friend, Linda Taylor, who lived behind us with her husband, Ken and two sons. Ken worked for American Contractors; at the airport. He was a mechanic, like my husband.

They were from Riverside, MO, not far from our home in Kansas City. She was a nurse and a stay-at-home Mom with sons Mark and John. They were several years younger than our girls, but they all played together anyway. The girls were excited to get to know new friends. Linda told me she was raised in Jeddah and went to Kansas City to stay with her grandmother and got her nursing degree, met Ken and married and went to Jeddah with their two small sons.

My direct neighbor, whose duplex was right next to ours, was Linda Cola. She was a stay-at-home Mom, with a daughter Anna, pre-school age and Michael 2 years younger than our twins. Her husband was a pilot. He had flown in Vietnam and then went to work for Saudia.

We became close to another couple further down the block, Barbara and Jerry Holan, and their son, Brian. We were all to become very close and depend on one another in the years to come. It seemed our house was full of international children of all ages from morning to night, mostly Egyptian and Afro-Americans. Our girls grew up with the majority of black peers, them being in the minority. As we did not have our swimming pool, which was promised to us when we arrived, our girls walked all over our compound meeting all these kids.

The school they attended was called Parents Cooperative School (PCS), which was started by TWA employees some 30 years before our arrival. It was a good school as it grew from only a handful of students originally and grown to two classrooms of each grade. It seemed at times there were always kids out of the country, so our girls really only had about 19 students in their classroom most of the time. They received a very good education.

The school teachers were mostly married couples, each being a teacher. They knew the school was the only means our kids had for amusement and entertainment. We had no theatres, parks, etc.; we just had to make do at our homes and the school. I remember when American holidays came around our school went all out and made each child feel very important. They also had a huge sport competition once a year and the kids all participated and each always seemed to win a ribbon for something.

CHAPTER 3

MY POSITION IN THE PIPELINE PROJECT


We had only been living in Jeddah a couple of weeks. My really nice lady neighbors had small children and wanted to stay home but I really had to work to keep busy. I spoke with my husband and told him I wanted to try and find a job in Jeddah. Frank introduced me to a man from Kansas City, who worked in the office at Saudia. Harvey Crader was his name. Harvey lived down the street from our duplex with his wife and two children. They were really a nice family.

Harvey invited us to his office soon as he found out about an American company downtown who was hiring new personnel for a pipeline project.

We went to his office the next day and he let me use his phone and contact a company called Mobil Oil. I spoke to a British Lady who worked for the President of Mobil in Jeddah. Her name was Janet Bareham. She asked about my qualifications and she wanted me to come to the office and meet her.

The next day we did just that. I took shorthand and she needed someone who could do just that and now not to wait a day.

I began working the next day for all the men in the office in a building called the Queens Building. A week later Janet spoke with me and had another position. She said Mobil was beginning a new project building a pipeline which would last five years; would I be interested. Boy, would I. It was an Administrative Assistant position working for three gentlemen to begin with. They interviewed me and I got the job. I was ecstatic! Their names were: Cliff Deraso, Earl Mador and Dennis Baindon. Dennis was from London.

The pipeline project was to have their office in a villa actually closer to my Compound and out of downtown.

I immediately took to all three men. Cliff was like a Father to me and a grandfather to my twins. My own father died when I was just out of high school and he was the most wonderful Father anyone could ever have. Cliff helped fill that gap. Thank you, Cliff!

There were two Arabs in charge of the Arab part of the pipeline project. The company was Petromin. One gentleman was called Dr. Tah, who I saw only a few times in the years I worked there. There was an Arab side of the project and an American side which was Mobil. The other gentleman was Sheikh HIL.

We moved to the villa location. I had an office in a portion of the huge dining room. One day as I was working, I heard a cheery, clear voice enter the villa. It was Sheikh HIL. He appeared suddenly in front of me as I sat at my desk.

He was laughing and very polite. He welcomed me as a member of the Project. HIL yelled a good bye to the other men and quickly exited as fast as he entered the villa. It seemed HIL was just a few months older than myself and we hit it off right away.

As I mentioned Dennis was from England and spoke with a beautiful English accent. I loved to take shorthand from him – at the end of a sentence he would loudly say Stop (Period) and Full Stop (Paragraph). I just loved it! The Mobil men lived in temporary quarters in one of Dr. Tah's villas near our office. Our office was in a very nice neighborhood – beautiful villas, very unlike the rest of Jeddah.

The men's wives began arriving a couple of months later, one by one. Rene Yearney was the wife of Wayne Yearney and she was the first wife to arrive. She was from Houston and adorable and very personable. She and I began taking Arabic lessons together at my villa, from a friend Frank met at the Hangar at Saudia Airlines. We formed a good relationship. She was married to Wayne, one Engineer in our office. We became good friends.

I lived in a Compound called Saudia City. Saudia Airlines built it with the help of the Greeks. This was north of the villa where we worked and the driver did not have to take me into the downtown area anymore at the Queens Building where I used to work.

One drawback to the neighborhood, where we worked, we noticed one day, there was a very loud noise (never heard it before this) and this noise was from a huge crane – chopping up and down into the cement street. It was so loud. It was very hard to ignore, but trying to ignore we all did.

Next, arrived Earl Mador, the Manager of the Project on the American side. Cliff was the Office Manager. Earl's beautiful wife, Maydelle, joined us a little while later as did Debbie, Cliff's beautiful wife. Both women had wonderful southern accents. I loved both of them very much. They eventually lived next door to one another in a beautiful villa down the street from our office. I believe Dr. Tah owned them, also.

The office began to grow with incoming personnel from Dallas and Houston. Wonderful John Trigger, Engineer, arrived from Houston. He was great. John was young, long red hair, styled and tapered but the men always razed him to cut it. He then grew a beard and mustache which he kept grabbing and chewing all the time. He always wore a beautiful gold chain bracelet he got at the Gold Souk. He drew blueprints and a brain of the outfit.

Wayne Yearney was a relative of an old fisherman newscaster we had on TV in Kansas City when I was a kid. Wayne was another Engineer, later on his daughter and two sons joined us.

I remember one day I told Wayne the light plug on the wall near my desk was loose and would not connect all the time. He just looked at me and laughed and kicked it and it then worked and he said, "There". Brother! We laughed about it. If I had any other such problems, I asked John to fix them and he did.

We had a houseboy – Mohammed from Pakistan who worked at the office. We picked him up in the morning on our way to the office. He made hot tea for us and coffee all day long.

My desk was in the corner of the huge combination living room/dining room, and at one end of the room stood a Huge Long Glass topped Table and 10 wrought iron chairs. The place had blood red velvet drapes and looked more like a bordello, Cliff said. Cliff was so funny.

Anyway, I had worked there for one year and had heard of Sheikh HIL as I typed many letters with his name on them and Cliff would take them for signature.

I learned Saudi Arabia was one of the last countries in the world to outlaw slavery. Until 1962, it was still common for grand families to own slaves. The government finally bought their freedom.

Donkey Square, located in downtown, was a crisscross of dirt tracks where people came to buy water from men leading donkeys with barrels on their backs. Shimmering waves of heat rose off the city's roads. Here and there were small shops. There were houses in between the sand dunes.

After the oil embargo of 1973, when the price of crude oil rose from about $3 to $12/barrel in the space of a few months, money had begun pouring into Saudi Arabia. I was told it was like Jeddah experienced growth from the camel to the jet in one generation. How could the common person ever understand that? The persons I met told me, one day there: Prophet Mohammed was digging for water and prayed to Allah for the water and then they struck Oil.

Two years later we moved from our villa office to a regular office building near the Red Sea just off a busy road. It was a large flat building. I have a picture of it with me in front of it. It was illustrated. The Americans only worked in this long, flat building – I remember one day Cliff, hired a young boy from Pakistan. He arrived and as I worked in my office I noticed he got a chair and was sitting in the back of my office just watching me. He was hilarious. I asked what he was doing. He said he was studying to be a secretary and he was observing how I worked. I said, "Can you type or use shorthand"? He replied – "NO". So, I slowly showed him how to file our correspondence.

He never did become a secretary but became a tea boy and was happy. We had him over for dinner and he was thrilled. Later on he went to his homeland and returned with a gorgeous lavender sauri for me with beautiful gold threads and bead work. He brought gifts to the girls also. He was very appreciative.

Dr. Tah, a very well-known and highly educated Saudi national was in charge of the Arab portion of this project.

It seems when a project is begun in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is divided into two work forces; the outside country company (in this case USA, Mobil Oil, and the Saudi counterparts). Mobil Overseas Pipeline Co., Inc. better called MOPCI.

As Executive Secretary for the Pipeline, I was responsible for taking notes at meetings with gentlemen from various countries. My boss, Cliff, said we all work together and try to purchase materials from various countries. I remember a meeting gathering more than 10 countries being represented and this meeting was the basis of the pipeline and I was so honored to be a member of the team I was a nervous wreck – we used typewriters then, no recorders, just my notes. Luckily I took fast notes and typed fast also, this helped. Cliff noticed I was nervous and came to me and put his arm around me and told me not to worry, just be myself. He was always so thoughtful like that.

I remember our office room was HUGE. A lot of desks and each desk had an old fashioned black phone. No one worked in this building but Cliff, Dennis, Earl, Wayne, John and me. As I sat in the corner away from all the other desks all day and it was constant, the phones would ring and not stop until I picked them up. No one was ever there. It really drove me crazy. Finally, Cliff had them shut off. Thank Goodness! I was thin and it took all my energy to run to each desk and pick up the phones; it was exasperating.

One day I received a request from my boss, Earl Mador, to consider taking shorthand notes at a meeting which was held in another building (like ours) – across the sand. You could see it from our building. The English male secretary became ill and had to go to England. Dr. Tah had a monthly meeting and needed me to take minutes until his return. I reluctantly agreed to do it.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from An American Woman's Life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by Carol Lewellen. Copyright © 2016 Carol Lewellen. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

FORWARD TO MY BOOK ABOUT SAUDI ARABIA, vii,
THE DECISION TO LIVE IN JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, 1,
OUR FIRST DAY IN OUR COMPOUND DUPLEX IN JEDDAH, 4,
MY POSITION IN THE PIPELINE PROJECT, 6,
A SUBSTITUTE SECRETARY FOR ME, 14,
THE CREEK – ALONG THE RED SEA, SAUDI ARABIA, 15,
AN ARAB WEDDING, 17,
MY HUSBAND'S FISHING TRIP, 22,
SAUDIA CITY FURNITURE MAN, 24,
THE FIRST RAIN, 26,
THE GOLD SOUK, 28,
DESERT WHOLE MILK, 30,
THE YEMEN MEAT SOUK, 32,
MAISAI PEOPLE ---1976, 36,
THE RIFT VALLEY, 40,
LATE NIGHT JOGGING IN THE COMPOUND, 41,
LEB JOE'S GROCERY STORE – JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, 43,
EVENING ADVENTURES WITH LINDA AND JUDY, 45,
THE GIRLS' SUMMERS AT AHMIC HARBOUR, CANADA, 48,
MIDNIGHT, OUR BEAUTIFUL BLACK DOG IN SAUDI ARABIA, 52,
IBRAHIM – MY DRIVER – AFRICAN BREAD, 54,
MEETING CROWN PRINCE ABDULLAH OF SAUDI ARABIA/SKATE BOARDING ACCIDENT, 56,
SKATE BOARDING ACCIDENT, 59,
MEETING IDI AMIN THE LEADER OF UGANDA, 61,
THE TURK IN OUR COMPOUND, 64,
EASTER SUNDAY IN SAUDI ARABIA, 66,
CAMERA SAFARI TO NAIROBI, 68,
ONE SWIM MEET IN OUR COMPOUND, 72,
SAUDI SWIM MEETS, 73,
AN ADVENTURE TO THE BEAUTIFUL GREEK ISLANDS, 77,
TRAVELLING TO THE SOUK IN DOWNTOWN JEDDAH, 82,
PALESTINE ROAD, 85,
RECREATION IN JEDDAH, 88,
TAKING A CAB WITH MY FRIEND, BARBARA, 90,
LINDA TAYLOR'S BOYS' CAMPOUT IN THE DESERT IN JEDDAH, 92,
CHRISTMAS IN JEDDAH, 94,
JUDY FARLAND'S GOLD SOUK TRIP, 96,
LEBANESE GROCERY – SAFEWAY STORE, 98,
BURNING CAR TIRES IN THE RED SEA, 100,
FOURTH OF JULY, 102,
HAL – REMEMBRANCES OF HIM IN JEDDAH, 104,
PETROMIN'S VILLA PARTY, 107,
FRANK'S REACTIONS TO STRESS IN JEDDAH, 110,
JEEP CAR WRECK IN JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, 111,
OUR LAST HOURS IN JEDDAH AS A FAMILY, 113,
WORK BACK IN RIYADH, 115,
BEFORE LEAVING RIYADH, I MADE A TRIP TO SEE HIL IN JEDDAH, 122,
THE PLANE TRIP BACK FROM RIYADH TO KANSAS CITY, 124,
MORE COMMUNICATION FROM HAL IN KANSAS CITY, 127,
LIFE IN KANSAS CITY AFTER JEDDAH, 128,
MEMORIES, 129,

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An American Woman's Life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carol, This is your cousin Jo Ann. Please get in touch with me.