Rhonda's A 'Muse'-ing Rambles

Life and Times of a Busy Woman

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Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern stories’


Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on January 2, 2011

I just finished editing and submitting a piece for a new blog, One Woman’s Day, which can be found at http://onewomansday.wordpress.com

My piece is [hopefully] going to appear on this new blog on January 10th, which is/was my mother’s birthday. While writing it, I started to dig through a box of old photos my Dad had given me so that I could find pictures of my Mom and her good friend, May Riley. I’ll post some of those pictures here.

During the writing of this piece, I was assailed by many memories of what our family and many families dealt with while forming our family groups in the Middle East. As many of you have read before, I grew up in a combination of the Midwest [Missouri Ozarks], a Catholic boarding school [Mt. St. Scholastica Academy in Atchison, Kansas] and the port town on the Red Sea of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. My memories of Jeddah and the familes we met are what I want to write about today, just a bit, so that you can understand a little more of the bond my Mom formed with her friends there.

Back in the early 1960’s, Saudi Arabia was a growing third world country in the Middle East that was struglling to assimilate itself into a Western veneer. They had found oil and were trying to find ways to improve not only their struggling, desert economy but their presense as a power in the great old planet we call Earth. A country ruled by Muslims was trying hard to obtain their goals of economic progress while not being taken advantage of by Westerners nor tormented by their Muslim breathren. It was and still is a work in progress. Back then, in the 60’s, American and European workers, with their families, were being brought into that country to help build and train in a variety of industries, including oil exploration and commercial travel.

Where the women come into play was, I think, an attempt to keep the men there longer and keep them happy. While an adventure for many, those western women such as my Mom had a difficult time adjusting to the status of being just ‘an accesory’ for the men. The dress, the language, the freedoms enjoyed, the food, religion and families were basically left behind and it was hard for these outspoken, sometimes lessly clad [not necessarily ‘scantily’] independant women find themselves having to cover their skin, unable to drive and definitely not speak their minds, They became non-people. And so..they learned to adjust. They learned to ‘Make Do’. And they learned to form new family groups to lean on, laugh with and share – replacing, but not forgetting, the families they left at home. Into this hodge podge of mixed families, my Mom formed many new friendships and one of those nearest and dearest [although not the only one] to my Mom was quirky, beautiful woman named May Riley with her English upbringing and accent.

That’s all I will write about today, but in this month of my Mother’s birth, I wanted to remember her with a few thoughts and pictures on my blog.


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