Friday, February 27, 2009

First Two Years In Saudi Arabia:ARAMCO by Barie & Christina Fez-Barringten

The First Two Years In Saudi Arabia:
By Barie and Christina Fez-Barringten

This is an account of the first two of twenty years we spent in Saudi Arabia. There are many other chapters already written of the years that followed. There are also photographs which we will eventually make available. This is an ongoing project which we began in 2000 and have converted into memoirs, brief essays and lectures.

This section covers the period from August 3, 1981 at ARAMCO’s orientation in Houston to arriving in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on August 11, 1981 to group termination March 1983. (One year and seven months or nineteen months).

Within two weeks of ARAMCO’S formal offer in June, Christina and I were married again in order to receive a marriage certificate (since the one from New Haven would not be available for several months), packed all of personal effects including one large carton which would arrive first from which we would live aside from our suitcases and two cats, and attended a five day orientation at a very nice hotel with many other new hires. During this time we met a couple and their son with whom we would remain friends for many years (Ed and Mina Pleasance with son Ted).

In August we boarded a Pan Am charter flying first class. Fifteen hours later we arrived at 2:00 am at the Dhahran airport. Before landing I can remember the plane diving quickly and then turning sharply followed by a silence and then the typical landing in the hot desert, bump, bump, lift up, then down, bump, bump, up again, then down hard and then hard wind breaking with the flaps.

As we approached we saw the lights in the desert of small camps and tiny villages. Before landing the moon lit the sea so I could see the shores of Bahrain, emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia platelets of land covered by the Gulf.

Christina, cats and suitcases departed into the sultry heat, met by a crowd of people including James Young and his sign bearing our name. After various and very brief formalities we were whisked onto buses to head for our accommodations passing blazing GOSPS then to Rahima after internal security forces searches. We arrived in camp and found our way to our apartment in a one-story barrack type building.

It was very hot and very humid. We were over one hundred people who exited the plane, each to be greeted by some one who would give us papers, sign for us, etc. In our case the very man who came to college station, Jim Young and he made sure we got all our stuff and boarded the bus and of we headed north to a labor compound in Rahima near Ras Tanura just about 80 kil north of Dammam. The Jubail/Ras Tanura highway had not yet been built so we drove for hours on a sometime dirt and some time paved road past black desert until we reached our destination and saw 2 fiery flames like giant candles on the desert spewing fire and black smoke.
These were the GOSPS burning off gas from the many oil wells in the oil fields we were passing. Finally, we arrived at our compound after having passed through two checkpoints where our passports and our persons were spot-checked by Bedouin officers with machine guns.

We disembarked and were escorted in the dark to our various bungalows and urged to keep the air conditioners going and get to sleep immediately because we would be awoken by some one to go to work the next morning. And, indeed that is what happened. An Arab Shiites guard had been assigned to care for us. So after dressing quickly and leaving the bungalow I was to see what place we were in and just simply walked though a hole in the fence to the entrance of the compound where I would board one of three buses to take me on my ride to Dhahran. ; after waiting for 20 minutes where I was able to get breakfast at the Ras Tanura commissary cafeteria building.

But on this and proceeding mornings for nearly three months I routinely had a breakfast before the long journey to my work place at Dhahran.
After waiting for 20 minutes where I was able to get breakfast at the Ras Tanura commissary cafeteria.
It was a one-story building with a second story at its far end housing a special executive dining room and a few rooms for traveling guests. It was directly on the beachfront and had swimming pool and locker facilities. Later a dance floor, out side seating, benches, and terraces were added. Over the years to come this place would be a source of rest and relaxation.
During the next three months we had house parties, learn to shop in Dammam, Al-Khobar, and Rahima. Close relations ships develop with families who came on the same plane and lived in Khobar, Dhahran and Rahima, most notably Ed, Mina and there son Ted.
We swam in the gulf from the club house/beach in Ras Tanura and I bussed to work on three buses from Rahima to Dhahran. Highway was not yet built so all this travel was on poorly paved to dirt road.

I bought a car (ten year old delta 88 Oldsmobile) during this time.
All ARAMCO met at the pool and entertained each other at home. We went shopping and explored together. Our first residence was at the Rahima Family Camp in a one bedroom, 1 bath with small living room and dines room. ; very small windows in a building of 12 units with low roof and minimum ceiling height.
It is where we lived from August 11, to October 1981. It had a large central and partially shaded swimming pool with a clubroom and kitchen manned by Philippinos serving hamburgers, chicken and cold drinks all day long. It had been built as construction workers labor camp in the seventies, and abandoned.

It had a giant central warehouse, which one night caught fire and burned for several hours until the ARAMCO fire department finally came. We called the guard, police and fire department and watched it burn. I recalled my watching a factory burn near Faile Street and in a tire housing project burn to the ground in Houston. When it was over the warehouse skeleton still remained. This was one of the events, which taught us that God, not man would be the one to keep and protect us from harm.
There were to be many lessons on this subject in the next many years that followed.

It greatly resembled an industrial farm’s chicken coups. It is where we lived from August 11 to October 1981. chicken and cold drinks all day long.
The compound had two walls with one surrounding our “chicken coups. It had a hole in the wall, which I passed daily to get to the main gate and my bus daily. I passed other trailers/manufactured homes occupied by non-ARAMCO people. I had no idea that they were.

Others who came with us from Houston stayed in our camp while others were in different other camps. ARAMCO’s shuttle bus allowed Christina and the other ladies to visit each other daily and in the evenings we would go shopping in the village of Rahima. It was in walking distance from our camp and I bought a loose fitting thoub so I could perspire in comfort. Afterwards we would swim in our pool. On the weekends we’d somehow visit and sleep over at each other’s houses and go swimming in the “hot” gulf. At some point I fainted and could not stand up for several days. I probably had heat exhaustion, malaria or some virus. The doctors did not really tell me any thing.

By the way most of the doctors at ARAMCO would prescribe “Valium” for most any complaint. The social life on all the compounds was extraordinary including the milieu and casual nods and recognition of westerners toward each other all over the compounds.

It was exhilarating and familiar. Wherever you went on Dhahran you’d see the same faces day after day at the same time just like in a small town. At the post office, mess hall, parking car, and entrees, at the commissary and at shops and libraries one rarely knew the names only the familiar faces and the types of cloths.

The same could be said in the offices of Lee County and Del Tura where ones says hello and some odd and inane comment about the weather or the day of the week as a confirmation of being in the same context.
Later I visited Rahima to see one of my consultants and even later in 1997, when job searching, he offered me a job as a director of his company at a very low salary and to live in a manufactured home in a barren labor camp. Oh no, I thought, I will not repeat the whole story all over again. I been there and done that.

Pictured to the left is a Shamal (north wind) coming upon Riyadh.

The heat combined with humidity was our immediate first impression as we came off the plane on our initial arrival at the Dhahran airport at 2:00 am, August 11, 1981.

The impact was immediate and overwhelming, permeating ones cloths and resting on the skin. One does not walk fast in such a heat. This is the heat we lived with until we relocated to Riyadh but returned to in 1991 till 1999. It is a heat, which produces a huge amount of condensation on windows, roofs and car’s windshields. It pervades the climate for at least six months and then dramatically subsides making ways for six months of beautiful spring like weather.

The climate changes other than the excessive temperatures and humidity are much as Florida’s'. During the day the combination of sun and humidity produces dangerous conditions, which warrant caution and keeping indoors.

If going out of doors, be brief and well covered. It’s the kind of condition, which let’s petrol stations permit keeping the car and air conditioning running while filling up when parked to keep cool.

The air conditioner is a very valuable and necessary item. Indeed there are other methods the Arabs have invented for keeping the air flowing which is a an giant rectangular air exhaust shaft on the roof in the center of the house opening to below to facilitate cross ventilation.
This, along with shrubs and palms keep traditional houses comfortable.
However, the apartments and villas constructed and occupied by over ninety five percent of the population rely upon air conditioners.

The most inconvenient one we experienced were in the Bin Jumah building where we resided for the first year and the last eight years of our stay. They were always broke and getting spare parts was very difficult. This difficulty compounded by our building janitorial and mechanical crew being subject to give priority to repair Mansour Bin Jumah’s residence made us focus on the maintenance and repair. It also, affected our life style having to use the rooms that were air-conditioned.
However, the noise of air conditioners working is pervasive and a welcome sound where ever you go.

Bin Jumah Bldg in Al-Khobar
After visiting the ARAMCO housing office and being assured that there FIFO (first in first out) list and the availability of our of camp housing close to where I was working was being given lots of effort, we were notified that we had a choice to either accept in-camp (Dhahran) old hosing with no hardship allowance and a high rental price, or a hardship allowance and a low rental price to live rather in Al-Khobar. Christina’s choice was instant. So we joined many others who had come with us from Houston, and others who were there just a few weeks before to fill up this ten stories plus penthouse building with ARAMCON’S. We were assigned apartment 10 a facing King Abdul Aziz Blvd. We had three bedrooms and two beautiful bathrooms; a dining room and kitchen with a beautiful built in cabinet and two balconies (one facing the main boulevard off our dining room and the other off one bedroom which Christina made her studio.

Each room came equipped with a water-cooled Canadian manufactured a/c/heater. These were at that time ten years old and required weekly maintenance. By the time we returned to the building in 1991 they were even in worse condition and were the source of daily and weekly encounters with the building uninterested maintenance staff. While under the ARAMCO contract the Philippine maintenance staff was 100% assigned to our building and very happy to be requested to fill our requests. We had a European electric stove with oven whose temperatures got much hotter that US comparable; and a very tiny refrigerator, which we eventually became quit used to stocking.

Four months later we resided in the Bin Jumah building’s tenth floor Apartment at a time when Half Moon Bay had sand dunes where we could see young teenagers in dune buggies, cars and trucks racing straight down dunes at high speeds. Maxims restaurant on a near by corner on King Abdul Aziz Blvd. was a landmark for us. We ate their one time and had snacks at other times. Khalid liked to visit this place when I lived with him in Dammam, by then in 1991 it had become famous. It soon closed and reopened across the street as a very sheik club restaurant. It had the same name as Maxims in Paris. We knew the owner of a restaurant bearing that name in Houston; He was on Christina’s board of the German wine society.

Amongst the many peculiar ARAMCO concepts was the FIFO list. First In First Out applied to housing and I later found out employment. It was the system by which administration regulated the waiting list for in-camp housing. ; including, new entries, upgrades and any requests for furniture and maintenance. By the time our turn came we were terminated just within days after we received notice of the house we could occupy. However, since it was all-department purging coinciding with a hiring freeze it was not a FIFO deployment.

The first Christmas in Saudi Arabia was spent alone in Bin Jumah building with us standing on our balcony overlooking King Abdul Aziz Blvd. Wishing and praying because we were alone and not invited to any thing. Several days later we were invited and traveled to Bahrain to spend the holidays in a beautiful hotel and had a grand dinner with all the fixings including a beautiful Indian girl who sold and lit my cigar after dipping it in Grand Mariner.
It was very nice. There was Christmas music and se toured the Island. The Griffith organized the trip. Everything was so special in Saudi about Christmas. We would go to the souks and King Khalid Blvd and Ghazzas to buy gifts including glasses, cloths and carpets. In the early eighties we invited our ARAMCO group to turkey dinners and later our church groups to dinners. We shopped in the malls.

I’d go and come to work daily and so many friends and neighbors in the building and the neighborhood kept Christina well accompanied. She gave classes in painting in the apartment and at villas in the neighborhood. My many ARAMCO Saudi Arab trainees visited us and friends form other compounds. Except on holidays when they would all disappear to return to their homes and families in the USA. We needed to save every dollar so we made no trip except for the first new years to Dubai for a splendid few days and great secular Christmas dinner at the Hilton. I remember the Indian female hostess lighting my cigar and dipping it in orange liquor.
In our Tenth Floor Bin Jumah Bldg. apartment Christina gave art classes and invited ladies for coffee and tea during the day. I rode with the men on the bus to and from the main camp; Walter and Eve; Vince and Rosa; Lenore and Gordon DePree and others were to be long lasting friends. It was during the Lebanese war and we met several couples whose families were there and they told us the trouble they were having traveling and living in a war zone. Tony adopted us as his parents and told us many stories of his home and brought us Lebanon food for breakfast lunch and dinner. He visited often. It was also the place in which I brought the Saudi falconer.

We resided in the Bin Jumah building’s tenth floor Apartment when Half moon bay had sand dunes where we could see young teenagers in dune buggies, cars and trucks racing straight down dunes at high speeds.

Maxims restaurant on a near by corner on King Abdul Aziz Blvd. was a landmark for us. We ate their one time and had snacks at other times. Khalid liked to visit this place when I lived with him in Dammam, by then in 1991 it had become famous. It soon closed and reopened across the street as a very sheik club restaurant. It had the same name as Maxims in Paris. We knew the owner of a restaurant bearing that name in Houston; He was on Christina’s board of the German wine society.

Tony Haddad: He was like our son and then we lost him when relocating because Jane Boyhan did not give him our forwarding address as agreed.
I was initially employed by ARAMCO from 1981-1983 by Jim Young, and worked for both A. Lee Griffith, Andy Battenbaugh and Hank Z. I learned a lesson that was to last the duration of my doing business in Saudi was that no matter how many plans, meetings and agreements were made, management was by “crisis” or as is said in the USA by “triage”. People never follow plans. In construction in Texas I learned that detailed schedules were made but every one did every thing possible to beat and complete before the scheduled completion date. , the sooner the greater the profit.

Another way of expressing the style is management by “fiat” which is an arbitrary order or decree. This usually starts form the top down. , and, every knows the source. So most live in a limbo waiting for the next fiat and triaging out their days. However, in Saudi I learned Triage as a process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from immediate medical treatment. Triage is used in hospital emergency rooms, on battlefields, and at disaster sites when limited medical resources must be allocated. It is a system used to allocate a scarce commodity, such as food, only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it. It is a process in which things are ranked in terms of importance or priority and for millions of Americans each week becomes a stressful triage between work and home that left them feeling guilty, exhausted and angry”

ARAMCO’S referred to their style and the style of the board as “crisis” management.
I had to take a two week long defensive drivers class which totally disoriented me from the expert skills I already possess. I had to repeat this course in Lee county twenty years later when I was caught speeding on Tamiami trail five miles from our home. The course led me to believe that I had to fear and be defensive so I was constantly keeping my mind in high anxiety instead of using the good God given and good training given to me by my Dad. Finally Christina told me to forget every thing I learned and drive normal. From that day on I enjoyed driving in Saudi.
We resided in a variety of places including the Sea View Apartments where A young Saudi guard took us many times to drive surf our Delta 88 "Olds" across the desert to visit various ruins out in the desert. North Camp was amongst several double wide trailer camps where friends resided. RUSH housing projects in Dammam, Khobar, Riyadh and Jeddah. were deserted projects which were rumored to be unoccupied for many cultural and economic reasons. Later they filled by Iraqis after the invasion of Kuwait and then by US military and then open to the public to buy and occupy.

Mid November 1981: we were relocated to the tenth floor apartment of the bin Jumah building: here we met a new set of couples and friends in the building (which at the time was all ARAMCON’s) and in the neighborhood, Some Saudi trainees and families and some Lebanese/ Europeans.
In 1981 we spent our First Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve in Saudi Christina and I in our apartment. We stand on the balcony and prey for all of Saudi to be blessed. We also realized that besides God, were quit alone in our faith. We were certainly alone on that balcony and our building was practically empty. All of the people we knew had children and family and scheduled them selves to return to them for the holidays, we did not. So there we were cats and we. Below us, the city of Al-Khobar and in the horizon Dhahran with the blinking lights of the newly constructed UPM stadium. Our doorman’s name was Mustafa, a Muslim Indian who bought a green scooter and cleaned our apartment once a week.

Visits to desert historic places, many invites to dinner parties at ARAMCON’s homes, invite Saudi trainees to our apartment; Hamden, Faisel Al-Naimi, Aziz (a Bedouin) , Tony (from Lebanon); buy breads, zata from local bakery; cats on shoulder to esplanade and roof top of bin Jumah building; many trip to Ras Tanura on weekends and sleep in Plaissance home. , many turkey dinners in our apartment with our many friends, including Vincent and Rosa Rossi.
Weekends we would visit and sleep in the home of Ed and Mina P. in Ras Tanura. We would enjoy the warm gulf and the cool swimming pool. Work filled with strife and misunderstandings between our unit and division. Evidently, too many people hired with not enough workload and rapidly falling price of oil. For example Lee Griffith, my supervisor, had a nervous breakdown because the proponent for whom we prepared an Engineers Workbook would not attend presentation meetings.

By March 1983 division, department and our unit was phased out. During this time Christina made trips to Kitzbuhel and I told me that if I were to leave they would terminate me. I finally visited her after fifteen months with out a vacation. On that vacation, I arrived exhausted and slept for days having visions of the cross. I made pen and ink sketches of these visions. All of these are with Missy, our friend in Sanibel. One, she tells us, hangs in the home of the Priest of a Catholic Church in Sanibel. My Superintendent and Supervisor put me on probation and I visited her while we were paying house guest of the Ruprecht. Finally when I returned to KSA they terminated me. There we got to know Kitzbuhel and some people; namely, Ruth, Maria, and Lotti.

Al-Khobar was just a delight of discovery and mystery. We often went out to shop and explore the Dammam and Khobar Souks, Thugba markets and restaurants. There were Arab, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, etc. restaurants and shops. The Arabs taught us how to see what they had, how to bargain (negotiate, haggle), and how to pay quickly in Saudi Rivals. I still think about prices of every thing is 3.75 SR to the dollar for everything. I still price things in Rivals and dollars. I still remember the prices I paid for each item and commodity.

We also spent weekends with the Plaissance family for the beach at Ras Tanura and the accompanying great Persian meals at their house. We also visited our other friends. The beach was very warm and then the pool, with its cool sweet water was very refreshing. There were outdoor dances with Philippino playing copy music sounds of disco, ballroom, etc. It was like being on an old fashioned military camp listening and dancing to the big band sound.
Everyone except us was making sadeeki (in Arabic this means friend, but it’s the expats and Arabs name for white lightning {distilled alcohol). We bought many audiocassettes and watched lots of taped movies. We brought hundreds with us along with a Sony Beta and RCA /vhs/VCR (lots of connection wires, and learning the different speeds, e.g. 4.1, etc.). We had them interconnected so we could play and copy. At the time Saudi and ARAMCO TV was close to non-existent. I listened to the short wave radio at night for the current news and entertaining programs, mostly from USSR, Britain, and some from the USA. WE attended Arabic language classes and on weekends I’d make videos of our art and Christina. I did some writing and generally tried to keep cool and live simple. My Saudi Arab trainees took us on trips to historic landmarks in Abquiq, Turkish fortress, Tarot Island, etc. They visited and filled our lives with a strong sense of Arab presence. I became a great customer of tape shops on King Khalid Street and the JVC shop.

Christina made a couple of trips to Kitzbuhel to explore the area for a potential second home venue. To do this we got to know several really good travel agents. At the time, Austrian air just opened it office and gave us special price help to schedule her flights. It only took her less than eight hours to go to Vienna and then six hours to get by choo choo to Kitzbuhel. Even Austrian Air made parties and there was a new Austrian restaurant, which opened. We go to know the Famous Saudi lady who owned an art gallery in Khobar. There were specialty dress shops, tailors, and even barbers who came to our apartment to give us hair styling and haircut.
We had a houseboy who was one of the Moslem Indian doormen. He was very nice and helpful. He drove a green scooter, which he bought with the money he earned from working extra. Bakeries surrounded the neighbor hood and the esplanade was so convenient for walking and playing with Spatzel on the weekends. She loved to accompany me on my shoulder to the bakery and then play on the grass and climb up trees. I’d buy Zata and other just baked bread and cakes. Otherwise we went up to the rooftop to play and see the city.

During this time we were visited by Howard Cook (wife Dianne who documented poets in different languages at Columbia University):President/CEO/fund raiser International House: Visited us in Puerto Rico; Houston, Saudi (Dhahran and Riyadh) and Manhattan at Harvard Club. Chris resided in “I” house from 1964 to 1966. I had visited I house in 1960 for reception held by Swiss girl in my class from Pratt. Sea View was the compound shown in College Station to us by Jim Young and the one I eventually lived. I met the Boyhans here. There was also a young couple who bought a Chinese living room interior set up and installed it in the living room. We met many people by the pool and the young Saudi guard of the compound introduced us to driving our car over the desert.

January 1983 ARAMCO housing terminated there contract with bin Jumah and moved us to Seaview apartments to the very unit Jim young had occupied, and, the one he showed us in the photographs in College Station. After finally cleaning the place from palmetto bugs we stayed there until ARAMCO terminated me along with hundreds of other due to the economic downturn.

Three months prior to hundreds of ARAMCONs being terminated we were moved from the bin Jumah building to Seaview townhouses; remarkably, the very one shown to us by Jim Young in his slides of Saudi he showed us in College Station. A young Saudi guard took us many times to drive surf our Delta 88 "Olds" across the desert to visit various ruins out in the desert.

After one year living in the bin Jumah bldg ARAMCO decided not to renew there contract with Mr. Bin Jumah and offered us to come into camp or go to sea view. We found out that it was to be the very same unit at SEAVIEW that Jim Young had lived in and shown us in pictures in College Station so we decided in favor of Seaview.

In the Seventies, Zachary an Austin, Texas developer built Seaview. It was pre engineered and prefabricated and furnished modular two story shells. Later I was to learn that my friend, Shahid Sohail came to Saudi with Zachary to build these. He later rejoined Zachary and managed their compound in Riyadh.

Our unit was one of about 200 in a compound directly on the Gulf. Our unit backed up to a wall, which faced the gulf, and we could hear the water at night. I had two bedrooms, two baths up, a half bath kitchen, and long living dinning room down. You entered by a big sliding glass door, which faced the auto driveway. It had a big wooden media center. We delayed our move in because the company had failed to clear out a big palmetto roach nest.

We stayed in the Al-Ghosaibi hotel while they did that. We enjoyed the use of the pool and some neighbors we met such as the young couple who order a Japanese tea house shipped in which they built into their living room. I remember recording balalaika music off of late night classic radio. , ARAMCO radio broadcast several specialty music stations such as classic, country, and pop.
Forest Wilson encouraged me to photo and write about what I was seeing. With the help of Hamdan I took pictures, wrote descriptions, and then found out I needed official ARAMCO permission to publish any material. So I applied and went through a lot of red tape to finally be told that I was wasting my time that no matter how clean the text and benign the photos I would not get permission. I dropped the project and put away the material for another day in the future.

One evening we could hear noises; and when we looked out our rear window facing toward the Gulf we saw a ship pumping sand into another ship. This went on every night and eventually Christina put a ladder over our fence and was able to attract one of the workers. He came to our house over the wall and every night for weeks had coffee with us. He spoke only Dutch, so only Christina could understand him. Years later we were able to see the results of his labor as the entire Corniche land mass was extended into the gulf with enough space for a grand Corniche highway and development to either side of it.

Suicide in Saudi Arabia
Long before we ventured to Saudi I read an article in the New York Times that Saudi Arabia had the highest suicide rate in the world. The following is a contemporary view reflecting the same issues. Things haven’t changed very much.
For twenty years in KSA we were there, but visiting; not connected: We learned to live accordingly with roots and rights elsewhere. As a Non-resident alien in KSA with and Igama; having physical presence in KSA and for many years passing the IRS non-physical presence test for Non-resident tax status.

All visitors to Saudi Arabia must hold a valid passport. Citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates do not require visas for entry into Saudi Arabia. All other citizens require a valid visa. There are two types of visa - Entry and Transit. Exit visas are also required. For business an entry visa is mandatory since Transit visas are only valid for 3 days. All prospective visitors must obtain a No Objection Certificate or letter of invitation in the first instance, issued through a local sponsor. Visa applications should be made to Saudi embassies abroad. Visitors’ passports should be valid for at least three months and must be accompanied by photographs, sponsor’s NOC (letter of no objection) or letter of invitation and a supporting letter from the visitor’s employer. Multiple re-entry visas are not usually granted
Along with hundreds of others, I was terminated and stopped working for ARAMCO in 1983 but I alone started working for Al-Suhaimi and UPM after we visited Paris and Washington DC’s Tyson’s Corner's Holiday Inn.

Along with hundreds of others, in March 1983 ARAMCO terminated my contract but unlike all the others I was offered two positions, which encouraged us not to leave Saudi.Thanks to the facilities offered to us by Suhaimi, Christina and I celebrated the conclusion of this very miserable time with ARAMCO by stopping over in Paris for a week headed for Washington DC to get our re-entry visa for re-employment with Al-Suhaimi.

Christina could not return with me so as I returned to Saudi and our personal effects while she headed for Kitzbuhel to settle in our condo/apartment by Schloss Liebenberg. I assisted her in her search for this place and before leaving we had found one. I also suggested she find a lawyer to help her with all the arrangements. This advice later proved to be a disaster as the lawyer she selected turned out to be a dishonest opportunist, not a surrogate to help and assist Christina.
Making Kitzbuhel our point of repatriation was wonderful. It was an easy six-hour flight followed by a very pleasant six-hour train ride. At first Christina would meet me, but we soon learned that the late schedules made this awkward.

This first Eastern Province period employed and housed by ARAMCO and Suhaimi had its own set of events and circumstances. In a country where who you knew made all the difference, we knew nobody! And those we knew less than we did. Our circle of friends and acquaintances were made from the people living in our building.

However, by the time we left the Eastern Province we did know so many of the people in ARAMCO, many more by face than by name, and, many of my Saudi trainees and Arabs, Indians, Philippinos we met in restaurants, shops and on the road. Christina got to know a young Lebanese couple living in a villa in the neighborhood. A friend of there’s managed the RCA tape shop in Khobar. I eventually bought my blank tapes from him. Several very interesting Saudi’s visited us with wonderful gifts. They were extraordinary gentlemen. One of the advantages of our location was its accessibility and access to down town Khobar. Many families form Ras Tanura and Jubail could visit us and shop in Khobar. We could also easily reach the shops and make friends with many of the shopkeepers who were anxious for our business and conversation.

Unlike the Bedouins and our boys and girls in the US military we spent little time directly in and on the desert. In all the time we lived in Saudi, probably more sand came into our rooms through cracks in the window and doors and air conditioners then we directly experienced. The exceptions are our drives to and from Riyadh and especially when we drove on the desert with our Oldsmobile. Oh how wonderful that was. The guard at Seaview took us to specific destinations and we got hooked on this thrilling experience. It was like being in a speedboat. You have to keep up your speed and you bounce and glide over the short dunes as you would over water, we would visit various ruins in the desert.

The other desert experienced we had was visiting the Rube Cali (Empty Quarter or red desert) with an ARAMCO cargo. It was all red sand and we walked and slid down the dunes. We traveled on a cargo plane and landed on salt flats and were I by buggies and brought tot the camp. Wee were fed in air-conditioned manufactured buildings. It was splendid. Another tremendous experience was being taken by Mohammed Al-Bajasch to his family’s desert farm. There we danced with the farmers and shepherds; we experienced a sandstorm, known as: "Shammal” and saw a large flock of camels, a large mixed flock of sheep and goats. This was an exciting event which we were able to video tape and later add music.

Other events included a trip with the “hash Harriers” where we walked over sand in the desert of the Eastern Province. I have worked in the desert as the project engineer building a sports park stadium for the Presidency of Youth Welfare and when I first arrived and worked for ARAMCO many of our facilities were located in the desert. Many of the concerts we attended were at compounds in the desert. Our ministries were often in the desert, particularly surrounding Riyadh where about 1000 Christian’s believers gathered to praise and worship God.

UPM was in a desert context and many of our friends had desert locations. The desert is one of God’s awesome creations. Just as the Alps, Rockies, and other mountains; as the Sea and lakes, as the tundra on the plains and the great coasts of South Africa’s Cape Town or the ocean drive on the California coast. The desert is awesome both from the air and land. It welcome forbids and inspires. It can be a place of tragedy as it was for our friend Roger Standish who died on his desert trek. Its sands can sand blast a windshield and fill a car’s motors.
Social customs include the one where when invited for a meal one talks and drinks and converses for a very long time; however, after completing the very big feast one politely gets up washed (ablutions) and leaves.

The other, is the custom of visiting someone while he may be entertaining another and be kept waiting, even they’re in their presence until he has completed. Related to that custom is “custom” being invited and visiting but not returning the favor? The host is using you to build his Harem and majalis without really having any regard for you personally but only as a measure of his accomplishment and power. So while you may be invited and entertained very well by your hoist, he will never visit you. I also noticed this custom reaching Europe and America with my relative’s. So long as I called and visited my parents welcomed us; but they would not call or write to us. Yes, in response to a call or letter, but they would not initiate a contact.

Rightfully, the Saudi religious authorities and writers have published many articles about the negative influence of commerce on the spiritual and family life. On the other hand, these urban commercial institutions and natural wonders is the key to life and distinctive urbanity of Saudi. It is in their complaint and thought that I find my self in perfect agreement that urbanity and its operational elements are opposing our spiritual natures and reality. Indeed they are worldly and becoming even more worldly.

The argument goes back to the time of John the Baptist and the Essennes whose idea of holiness was separation from the mundane and fleshly nature of the world. The word of God has taught us to be in, but not of the world. But the concern is real and the epidemic is growing as Saudi now has met the franchise craze and begun to add Popeye, McDonald's, Wendy, Pisa Hut, etc. chains to the shopping malls and strips. Souks are being engulfed with modernity and the restaurants and hotels are only growing in number and quality.

However, it all of these things in contracts and combination which gives Saudi its unique and peculiar urban identity. The freedom of pedestrian movement and limited relations between the sexes and restrictions on meetings, etc is off set by these other strong natural and commercial elements. It is where the “UR”-like Arabic derivative nature manifests and we see the stirrings of vitality and life in a kingdom, which has no public movie theaters (but, every home has a video and rents and buys tapes); no nightclubs, dance halls, orchestra, dance halls, and other forms of entertainment.

The first Christmas in Saudi Arabia was spent alone in Bin Jumah building with us standing on our balcony overlooking King Abdul Aziz Blvd. Wishing and praying because we were alone and not invited to any thing. Several days later we were invited and traveled to Bahrain to spend the holidays in a beautiful hotel and had a grand dinner with all the fixings including a beautiful Indian girl who sold and she lit my cigar after dipping it in Grand Mariner. It was very nice. There was Christmas music and se toured the Island. The Griffith organized the trip.
Everything was so special in Saudi about Christmas. We would go to the souks and King Khalid Blvd and Ghazzas to buy gifts including glasses, cloths and carpets.
In the early eighties we invited our ARAMCO group to turkey dinners and later our church groups to dinners.

After a few months living here ARAMCO informed me that many others and I were terminated. My division was being abolished and there was a hiring freeze. I could not be transferred into another division with in ARAMCO. So the living room desk became my office and I began to make so many calls seeking offers. I got many, but the special combination, which attracted us, was with Al-Suhaimi for six months and a permanent contract with UPM as associate professor.
We were exuberant to leave the strife and angst of ARAMCO. We decided to celebrate the lifting of this ARAMCO burden by stopping off in Paris on the way to Washington DC to get our new visa, etc. Christina and I had a wonderful time in Paris, then Washington staying at Tyson’s corner and Alexandria. I returned alone to Saudi while she and I went to Kitzbuhel to find us a place to live. I went with her and we found a lovely two-story condo. This was a major turning point in our lives. Deciding to have ARAMCO move all our household possessions to Kitzbuhel having a vision for remaining Saudi for a long time and having a nearby place to spend the many-needed holiday and vacations that were offered.

First of all, I did not go to that country as a tentmaker–missionary. I am a Yale graduate architect and went there on business. However, shortly before departing I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and was "born-again".

When we got there I looked for other Christians. To find them was not easy because they where all underground. After a joyful discovery, which is a story in its self, we began helping in serving spiritual needs to all. After several years of serving, my wife and I realized, we are missionaries. God has simply drafted us to be soldiers in His mission field. Fighting the good fight in God’s mighty army, on the front line in a most hostile Moslem country. Finally the Gulf War brought a halt to all our efforts. But we recall the many persona of that era as noted below.

Aziz was Bedouin, falconer who I met on the way to my job at ARAMCO one day there was an automobile accident and I stopped. I helped and met Aziz. He visited us many times in our Bin Jumah apartment and brought many gifts. He brought his falcon and sat for Christina to make a painting of him and the falcon. He became to us like our son. Finally he got married to his cousin, invited me to be his best man, and for us to attend the wedding. Plans were made but the last minute the family adjudged that we should not attend. Aziz was shocked, embarrassed, and lost face. This was an arranged marriage necessary for his family. Aziz loved us and finally said that we could no longer see each other. This was in 1982 and we never heard from him again. We have the painting.

James Young: ARAMCO came to College Station and offered me a position working for him in ARAMCO. He showed us his house at Seaview, which was in-fact, assigned to us several years later. American who initially recruited me into ARAMCO.

Bernie Schaeffer: ARAMCO Rahima; He was the one who drove me from Rahima to Dhahran and in 1981 helped me to select car to buy at auction (car (sarrayaya) “Souks” on the Dammam/Khobar Highway. In 1991 I bought another car (Buick Park Avenue) at same auction at a slightly different location) I bought Oldsmobile, Delta 88.

Tom Thorstonson was my first manager in ARAMCO and American and former military man
Andy Battenbaugh a Welshman and one of supervisors in ARAMCO who navigated me through ARAMCO challenging my performance and later a dinner guest in Amy’s villa. I met him when he became my supervisor in ARAMCO in 1983 before I transferred out of his unit work for Hank Z. and . A Welch unit supervisor for ARAMCO.

Charles and Pat Brake worked for ARAMCO as the chief engineer of the Ras Tanura Refinery. They came with us from Houston to Rahima and later visited us in Kitzbuhel. They were good friends who made good beer, wine and liquor. Charley and Wife very good friends in Ras Tanura and electrical plant manager who visited us in Kitzbuhel.

Hank Z. : Supervisor of the Open services contract section of ARAMCO. He was my supervisor and the last section in which I worked at ARAMCO. After I received my termination notice and I asked him for people to contact to find other work he refused saying that if he helped me it might detract from when he would have to use the same contacts to seek work. He was also the person who encouraged me to visit and meet our consultants and contractors. He soon let ARAMCO and the kingdom.

Shoukri N.: Was the superintendent over my unit in Resource Planning department (RPD). Recently his family’s name has come up as a member of the Lebanese Syrian and Iranian supported “Hezbollah”. In his attempts at being friendly he told me of his children living in the USA and that he also owns a Delta 88 was the superintendent over my unit in Resource Planning department (RPD). Recently his family’s name has come up as a member of the Lebanese Syrian and Iranian supported “Hezbollah”. In his attempts at being friendly he told me of his children living in the USA and that he also owns a Delta 88 Oldsmobile. He gave me nothing bout trouble the whole time I worked in his group. ARAMCO; Resource Planning Department's; he gave me nothing bout trouble the whole time I worked in his group.

Sabri: Syrian in charge of our department’s education and to whom I coordinated work with ARAMCO trainees.

British man who house sat for us while we traveled and when I returned I took him shopping for night gown for his wife. He used my Oldsmobile in our absence. He was a very suave and kind man.
Kim Ralston of ARAMCO was a working colleague and very kind. She invited us to her home in Dhahran but would never come out of the compound to visit us because the only time she ever left the compound was to return to the USA. She was born and raised in Dhahran. She always s listened to the radio and was a very social person. Kim Ralston, who would never leave the ARAMCO camp except to travel the airport, was raised as a child inside the camp.
Lee (A.L.) and Pat Griffith: ARAMCO Lee and Pat Griffith now married and a tech writer was my supervisor in ARAMCO.

Magdi alDawas is an Egyptian doctor and excellent diagnostician serving KFU who helped me through much difficult illness especially prescribing Betazirk for Vertigo (equilibrium ear infection causing imbalance and dizziness).

DePree, Gladys and Lenore: Lenore DePree in Bin Jumah
Lenore Dupree in Bin Jumah American artist who missioned to china before coming to Saudi and working in PR for ARAMCO One and the same person who was taught painting by Christina in her art class in the bin Jumah building in Al-Khobar in 1981. She and Gladys became good friends and under the advise of Christina changed her name from Gladys it Lenore. In Saudi her artwork is still famous and her book as Gladys is still in print.

It was while working as a writer for ARAMCO in the Saudi desert that De Pree "discovered" classical Persian art, and knew the time had come to again (she had never painted before that time) take up her brush. The next two years (she was a student of Christina’s in the Bin-Jumah building) she explored and researched this method of painting and in 1987 began an art business in Saudi Arabia.

Fine artist, Christina’s art student in the Bin-Jumah bldg. in 1981. She and her husband had missioned to China and she was public relations writer for ARAMCO in Dhahran. An abused child by her father, she wrote a book on her experience and recovery. Her artwork is sold internationally and in many galleries.

Dhahash Al-Subai: ARAMCO trainee who traveled with me to Riyadh and we stayed in MARRIOT Hotel and we visited his relative the Sheikh and his son could not believe that the shoes I was wearing were older than he was.

Mohammed Al-Bajasch: He visited our house many times and eventually took us to his farm where we experienced a Shammal out doors in the desert video filmed his camels, sheep and goats; and, danced with his shepherds.

George W. Baulch Special assistant tot the Executive Vice President of Our division took a liking to me and invited Christina and I to his home in Dhahran and explained that the numbers of people being employed by ARAMCO was all political and a power game played by the royal family. Later I was to discover that Lee County’s Barbara “B” Mann had the same name as “Baulch”. Was the executive assistant tot the senior vice president of the division at ARAMCO to which I was assigned? He invited Christina and me to his home in Dhahran and amongst other things told us that the reason for the large number of expatriate employed by the kingdom is that people is power. We are all pawns in keeping the royal family power stable. George’s friendship provided Christina and I a sense of dignity in what was otherwise a very demeaning period of employment in our career. Demeaning only insofar as I was employed as a very low-grade code and subject to the whims and whiles of some very nasty people such as Sukri Nasrallah. George kept ion touch but ultimately could not be of very much help when I was terminated because of the across the board hiring freeze. Barbara B Mann’s middle initial stands for Baulch who was the name of her first husband; which was not George. Ms Mann name is used for the major theater here in Lee County. She was the one who raises d the funds to sponsor its creation. Special assistant tot the Executive Vice President of Our division took a liking to me and invited Christina and I to his home in Dhahran and explained that the numbers of people being employed by ARAMCO was all political and a power game played by the royal family. Later I was to discover that Lee County’s Barbara “B” Mann had the same name as “Baulch”. In 1982 I met George when I worked for ARAMCO. It was at diner that he told us both that ‘people are power” indicating the system and policy governing ARAMCO’s recruitment of various quantifies and qualities of which specific. This is what George did for our division and although I was only a mere grade code 13 he gladly invited us into his home. I believe he really enjoyed our cosmopolitan and educated points of view. His conversations with me were intelligent and candid. George, too was a misplaced urbanite in 2000 in Fort Myers, Barbara B. Mann who’s founded the Lee county theatre bearing her name told me that the B in her name stood for Baulch but she did not know George. Was the executive assistant tot the senior vice president of the division at ARAMCO to which I was assigned? He invited Christina and me to his home in Dhahran and amongst other things told us that the reason for the large number of expatriate employed by the kingdom is that people is power. We are all pawns in keeping the royal family power stable.
George’s friendship provided Christina and I a sense of dignity in what was otherwise a very demeaning period of employment in our career. Demeaning only insofar as I was employed as a very low-grade code and subject to the whims and whiles of some very nasty people such as Sukri N.. George kept ion touch but ultimately could not be of very much help when I was terminated because of the across the board hiring freeze. Barbara B Mann’s middle initial stands for Baulch who was the name of her first husband; which was not George. Ms Mann name is used for the major theatre here in Lee County. She was the one who raises d the funds to sponsor its creation. In 1982I met George when I worked for ARAMCO. It was at diner that he told us both that ‘people are power” indicating the system and policy governing ARAMCO’s recruitment of various quantifies and qualities of which specific. This is what George did for our division and although I was only a mere grade code 13 he gladly invited us into his home. I believe he really enjoyed our cosmopolitan and educated points of view. His conversations with me were intelligent and candid. George, too was a misplaced urbanite,
In 2000 in Fort Myers, Barbara B. Mann who’s founded the Lee county theatre bearing her name told me that the B in her name stood for Baulch but she did not know George.

Hamdan Al-G., ARAMCO trainee and a leading ARAMCO executive living with family in Dammam and Riyadh. Hamdan was more than acquaintance but a very good friend. He was from a very large and well-known Saudi tribe from the western mountain region. He had just completed his bachelor’s degree in the USA and was beginning his masters in Industrial engineering at the new program at K.F.U.P.M in Dhahran.

Hamdan loved America and its cars, opportunities and culture. I have many photographs of him his friends on visits we made to the desert, Safwa, Tarak, Island, etc. He was capable of expressing his affection for us by his many visits and when I was sick brings me my favorite chicken and rice from a shop at the northern n outskirts of Dammam. When we left ARAMCO our friendship did not end. He completed his studies and received his masters.
One day he lamented about his kingdom and its prosperity concerned that the profits and benefits of development and growth of his country is being squandered into the hands of foreign business and not the Saudis. He further was concerned that even he was not able to begin his consulting business or get a position of because such contracts and employment opportunities were being handed out to foreign companies.

He loved the Country in which he had studied but saw a tremendous fleecing of Arab people and a lost moment in the history of his country. A moment he said that would never come again. To Hamdan it was a tragedy of epic proportions. I t was a dilemma to him because he loved the cars, cloths, music, etc. but the results and impact on his “life” was horrible.
Later Hamdan got reassigned to Riyadh and visited us there now more mature and married to one of his cousins. He built a house in Dammam and spent time with his family on the weekends. Our affection for each other never dawned.

Later, when we reentered the kingdom to work for the university Hamdan immediately volunteered to be my sponsor for the apartment and the telephone, etc.
He bought us a framed brass 3d rendition of an old car, which we have hanging in our home and he visited us often. We had dinners at the hotels and in our home and his. We met his wife and he gave us videos to watch. When Christina was not in town he would take me around and one night to his favorite “hubly bubbly” in sunset beach along the corniche. Now much older and tired Hamdan further lamented his frustrations about the limitations on his potential and his Hopes to overcome this quagmire he and other lived. He was not specific and I told him that I would help in any was I could and did introduce him to my employers as I could. I did the same with Mohammed in Riyadh.

For our discussions I understood that Hamdan’s views were that independent Saudi business people were not benefiting from the outpouring of wealth and the continued expenditures by the royal family. We never spoke in any treasonous way about the government or the kingdom but I sensed Hamdan’s heart was heavy and filled with disgust. It was not good.
Before leaving the kingdom I contacted him to offer him the telephone line but he declined and I sold it to CDE’s Abdul Latif.

In the mid-eighties Helmut Schmidt and other world leaders encouraged Oil producing states to reinvest its earning in world stock markets so as to participate in the profits of the growing globalized economy. Amongst the, Saudi did just that and today stock premiums and income distribution represent am significant share of the Saudi kingdom’s government and individual income.

This further exacerbates the dearth of investment and development in the kingdoms indigenous industries because the incentive to use principle investment now yielding high gains with minimum risk to high risk, low return and possible future value is discouraging. In 1999 I attended a conference in Georgetown University hosted by a former consultant of Citi Corp about identifying the policies and proformas for investing.

In Saudi Arabian infrastructure, communication, industry, and transportation. In the early days Hamdan was at our apartment very often and would take me to special places to buy broasted chicken in Dammam. Later when I was very sick he made a special trip to bring me that chicken. He would take us on field trips to Al-Kharj and some Shiite villages to homes of other trainees. When I returned in 1991 was without Christina he invited me to lunch at the Meridian Hotel and then another time to a humbly bubbly place in the sunset beach area. He also brought us a decorative brass plaque, which we still hang in our home in Del Tura. It was here Hamden told me of his special projects and ambitions to do things he could not give me details about but asked if I would help him edit the business plans he was planning to do for others.

John & Jane Boyhan (deceased 2003) , formerly an ARAMCON living in Seaview. Jane was an epidemiologist, and her husband John, a satellite and telecommunications specialist formerly with Bell Labs. Jane later worked in Manhattan and John went back for a second career with Bell Labs. Daughter has house in Cape Coral.

Vincent and Rosa Rossi now live in Trenton and working the tables at Atlantic City, New Jersey, Before coming to Saudi Vincent worked for many years in Greenland. He now was an inventory control man. Rosa dressed in her best dresses every day and rode the ARAMCO buses all over the Eastern Province. They visited our apartment often. When were in Kitzbuhel they visited us and took a room in a nearby pension. We had a wonderful time together exploring the area. It was there first time to see such things.

Walter and Eve Stork, ARAMCO. We lived together in the Bin-Jumah Building before they were relocated to Dhahran. Walter used to jog on the dirt road (Pepsi Street: 21 Street) which was later paved to be major access to the Dhahran highway. He was manager of Material supply for ARAMCO. Eve later got and won out over cancer. She and Walter were always hospitable and kind. When Christina was out of Kingdom Eve would invite me for dinner. She was the first person I knew to use her computer for email and newsletters to family and friends.

There were others such as Mina and Ed Plaissance: Persian and American with son Ted,; Riyadh Al-Gatari: ARAMCO trainee under my supervision; Scottish man who wore his kilts to all ARAMCO social events.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Blog Flux Local - Florida,Blog Flux Local - Florida

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New York Life & Culture by Barie Fez-Barringten

New York Life & Culture
by Barie Fez-Barringten

Cynthia Blair wrote in 2004’s Newsday that in 1789, the first federal Congress convened in New York City, which served as the new nation’s capital until 1790. A state lottery raised money to remodel the old City Hall building, which had been built at Broad and Wall Streets in Manhattan in 1699. The newly named Federal Hall served as America’s first capitol building, and on April 30, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the nation’s first president on its balcony. New York City was also the state capital until 1797.

Just a street away was the offices of the Pratt family I visited to see Richardson Pratt and the New York Stock exchange where I’d visit with frank Palamara, then the President of the New York stock exchange.
New York Life and Culture

World Urban Features: Rockefeller Center
I learned to travel to Manhattan using public transportation when I was 10 years old and kept traveling since. I had already learned to use the trolley, which we called “the street car” when I was five from Faille street to Grandmas house and the “Y”. My first Interborough (Van Wyck) goal was Manhattan to either Times Square or the Museums on fifth ave. I started this long distance travel on Simpson Street. But, keep in mind the starting point of my journeys to Manhattan were from the station, which was at the end of my block. I did not even have to cross the street. And, I was an expert at crossing streets, well practiced since I was four on Faille Street. To get to Rockefeller Center I had only to walk up the street, up the stairs of the IRT and onto the platform. When the Lexington Ave. Local came, I would enter the car and go to 180 street and transfer to the express.

New York Life and Culture

I’d take the express to 149th and Grand concourse and enter a huge elevator to the IND level and to through tunnels to the IND train which would take me directly to Rockefeller center.
I’d exit and wind my way through tunnels which went up and down till I got to the network of three levels of shops, exhibits and convenience stores and the elevator lobbies of the towers. I’d enter the elevator I needed and I’d be on the floor of the radio broadcasting studio I was visiting that day. I often went with my friends, Milton, Benny and Gerry and my brother Saul. Some times my mother would take us. Rockefeller center sat on eleven acres of land which had been a derelicts respite but had now been transformed into a palatial paradise, a paradigm of communications and the world’s center. John D. Rockefeller had years before cleared the area and built this vision of NBC broadcasting, Theater, Ice skating and related facilitates.
It was a landmark and would stand with the other World class Landmarks. IT started the year of Christina’s birth in 1927 and completed in 1930 it seemed to me it was part of eternity. I could go from Simpson Street where I listened on the radio to all my favorite programs to the source at Rockefeller Center’s Radio City.

I could see my entire favorite broadcasts in progress and be part of the audience. I could see the sound effects man, orchestras, and casts. I knew where each studio was and what it looked like.
The creator of this center was one of sever commercial royals whose names are synonymous with the great Assyrian and Babylonians rulers who create the models for all cities and urban centers. John D. Rockefeller Jr., Astor, Mellon, Vanderbilt, etc. these were the wealthiest families in the world and they lived in my city. Wow!
The Depression came before building could start on the RCA building and surrounds, however, and the plans for the new Opera House faded away. JDR Jr., committed to a long lease of the Columbia property, decided to create an international business and entertainment center. Later his family was to continue their vision at the World Trade Center. I believe the September 11 attack was directed at the ideas and heart of this family and their vision.

When Christina entered the landscape contest for the WTC site I prophicised the design and profession of the winning solution would be based on Rockefeller center and be very simple imprint measured to the WTC site. It was the winning solution by an Israeli landscape architect worrying nearby for the city of New York. Which I also predicted it would have to be someone with continuous access and intimate familiarity with the details of the site.
A simple solution which would not be controversial; and, inexpensive and easy to build. And a solution which would be politically easy to navigate the controversies to ensue. I also believed that the landscaping design, materials, steps, and feeling of Rockefeller center was the prototype for any such future parks and memorials in New York City. That the Rockefellers had got it right the first time! This was based on my cosmopolitan aesthetic.
All my years of training my ability to see and understand and experience as an urban designer has gifted me with judgment and wisdom in urban planning and design.

Visiting this center was like coming to heaven, being greeted and cared for at every turn by ushers, matrons, messengers, and stewards. They all wore uniforms, helped and guided so that your movements and awareness of the amenities was easy and effortless. They tell you the schedule and upcoming events of the day. They would help you get to the nest event quickly.
Striking Art Deco office-building complex consisting of 19 buildings and scores of upscale shops and restaurants connected by three layers of underground corridors. There is a 400 by 400-foot forth-lower level for trucks and deliveries.
Rockefeller Center, and the sophisticated circulation systems and public amenities in what was the first large-scale business complex in the United States. An innovative urban development at the time it was built, Rockefeller Center was a model for future projects in the decades following its construction. A mixed-use complex containing 13 buildings for commercial, retail and entertainment uses, the various structures were surrounded by open plazas and gardens embellished with public works of art.

Built between 1932 and 1940, the original buildings had a similar architectural vocabulary that featured grey Indiana limestone, simple geometric forms, and bold facades with little decoration except for vertical lines used to emphasize the height of the buildings.
The central focus of the project is the former RCA building, a tower rising 70 stories above the Channel Gardens, which serve as a monumental passage to the building from Fifth Avenue. Even today, the complex is still considered one of the best examples of urban architecture in the world built in the 20th century. In the 1960s, the Center was extended west across Sixth Avenue. The more recent additions to Rockefeller Center are somewhat bland, tall buildings set in open plazas that are characteristic of late modern architecture. A walk through midtown follows.
Christina got to know David Rockefeller in connection with dinners given at the International House on whom he was a founding board member and she a resident artist. He invited her to prepare a design for his chase Manhatten Plaza in Lower Manhattan, which finally did not succeed because of staff’s concern with sea breeze erosion to the Plexiglas.
New York Life and Culture.

RCA Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Raymond Hood [1933]
Christina was to meet David Rockefeller who invited her to propose a sculpture for his new Chase Bank in lower Manhattan when she lived at the International House. It may be said that John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s life was directed toward the ideal chiseled in stone over International House in New York: "That Brotherhood May Prevail."
I got to know Nelson Rockefeller supporting him in his campaign for both Governor and then President. I met him several times at the Waldorf Astoria. When I was a child I recall the announcement that they were tearing down the sixth ave elevated structure. The Avenue of the Americas bears no resemblance to the neighborhood cleared to make way of the center.
Other Urban Center Features:
  • NYC: Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Fulton fish market
  • Grand Central Development Project (GC Station)

Vincent Scully once described an illustrated section and plan of the original project which reached north to 59 street and south to 34 street in at least 8 layers of rail, auto and truck roads, parking and dock facilities. Hotels office towers and other building linked to these levels and the terminal was the pedestrian link. You could drive; park, or use trains and railroads all linking to the levels of elevators. The huge project was drawn and planed with many of the wealthiest investing. Finally, the project suffered economic woes and no longer was feasible. Bit by bits parcels of land were sold off in an effort to rescue the balance and eventually the track and train system remained. Some links to building and tunnels were formed and closed but still do exist. Although I searched, I could not find any of the original plans on the WWW.

The Algonquin Hotel
There isn't a place in New York more important to Dorothy Parker's enduring legacy as big as the Algonquin Hotel (59 West 44th Street). Any Parker enthusiast worth his weight in books will know that The Gonk is where the Round Table met from 1919-1929. They were the most celebrated literary group gathering in American letters, ever.
New York Life and Culture

But there was a past to my city filled with political, social and economic strife.
"America was born in the streets", it was not in the squalid, savage turf struggles of the Five Points, but in the streets of Boston and Lexington in 1776 - where the people traduced here as having no identity or qualities outside their xenophobia, fought for the liberties that all modern Americans take for granted.

The Tammany Society was a patriotic organization that championed democratic government and opposed aristocracy. Formed circa 1786, the Tammany Society had branches across the United States, but the most powerful office was located in New York. The organization was named for a Delaware Indian chief, Tamanend. The Tammany Society tended to support the Democratic-Republican Party and the
Democratic Party
Books written about this tumultuous and harsh history include Herbert Asbury’s depictions of 19-century gangsters in the five points of New York City; and, Charles Dickens descriptions written in 1842.

It was during the ninetieth century that the urban wars and strifes were fought to produce the tough building codes, political parties, religious separations, city infrastructure and amenities we now see in the twenty first century.
The New York I knew as incandescent lights until the sixties seductively lighted a child.
Telephone Party Lines: Party lines are telephone lines shared by more than one household' subscriber'), would lift the receiver, a light near the plug would light, and the operator would switch into the circuit to ask "number please?". Depending upon the answer, the operator might plug the plug into a local jack and start the ringing cycle, or plug into a hand-off circuit to start what might be a long distance call handled by subsequent operators in another bank of boards or in another building miles away.

Party lines were the exception before World War II, not the rule. In cities and country, most people shared a line with two to ten to twenty people. You could talk only five minutes or so before someone else wanted to make a call. And anyone on the party line could pick up their receiver and listen in to your conversation.

Eavesdropping was as easy as picking up the phone; when, instead of urging us to "reach out and touch someone," the telephone company warned not to talk too long; when you counted long and short rings to know a call was for you.

I believe is was by attrition that our party line became a private line because 90% of what phone companies call multiparty lines are really telephonic ghost towns. They're old party lines that over the years have lost all but one party -- a single household still billed at a party-line rate for what amounts to a private line, and thus might pay a dollar or two less a month. it's hard to imagine six homes on one line. But 70 years ago, most people had party lines.
In the Bell System, 36% of residential customers were on two-party lines, and 27% were on four-party lines. Bell chief engineer Joseph Davis said in 1899.

"It therefore requires that enough subscribers be placed on a line to make them dissatisfied and desirous of a better service." According to historians the 1959 movie Pillow Talk, in which Doris Day silently and indignantly listened in as Rock Hudson wooed other women, was set in New York City. They say that was a fantasy; by 1930, neither New York City nor Washington, D.C., had a single party line. That is incorrect because DAyton 9-3129 (DA9-3129= 329-8129) was a party line) which we got while living on Faille Street. It was then converted to single line by attrition. Back then," she adds, "the telephone was such a wonderful new thing that people didn't mind sharing a line."

However, the bane of the party line was what some called "rubbering" -- eavesdropping. In the days before radio and television, your neighbor's conversation might be your entertainment.
Party lines carried with them certain social niceties as well as arguments. You didn't talk too long, a point driven home by phone company literature on telephone etiquette.

"You'd say, 'We've been on long enough, someone else might be needing' the line,' "Even after the conversion some would say that "I still get that feeling, too, if I've been talking for a while." I learned to listen for the click of the other party or the operator getting on the line and eavesdropping which I still listen for today.
Though the lines lacked privacy, they helped build a sense of community. If several calls in succession to the same number sparked worries that something was wrong, others would pick up and listen in to find out whether there was anything they could do to help.

Three footnotes below:
Footnote #1: Rockefeller

I was able to search the www and found many sites describing the family and their accomplishments. I t is awesome and will surely be remembered in years to come. Much of the below is quoted or paraphrased from those web sites.

John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. (JDR Jr.) was a philanthropist who gave more than $537 million (In 2003, that would be many billions) to educational, religious, cultural, medical, and other charitable projects. The son of John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company, and Laura Spelman Rockefeller, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on January 29, 1874, and died in Tucson, Arizona, on May 11, 1960.

Next to Colonial Williamsburg, JDR Jr. probably gave more attention to the development of Rockefeller Center than to any other project. The story of how it came to be built is well known. In 1928, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. joined with others in a plan to acquire a site on which a new Metropolitan Opera House was to be built. He leased the major part of the land (about 11 acres) now occupied by Rockefeller Center from Columbia University and purchased the remainder of the land from other owners.

West 48th to 51st Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues, 47th - 51st Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues Manhattan (212) 632-3975 The Associated Architects: Reinhard & Hofmeister ; Corbett, Harrison & Mac Murray; Raymond Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux; Edward Durrell Stone [1932-40, expanded 1947-73] .

Radio City Music Hall, Edward Durrell Stone (architect) and Donald Deskey (interior) [1932] .The land was cleared of more than 200 brownstone houses and other antiquated buildings, and the first fourteen buildings of Rockefeller Center were erected between 1931 and 1940. On November 1, 1939, JDR Jr. drove the last rivet in the steel work of the United States Rubber Company Building, the final structure completed before the war. More than 75,000 people worked on the construction of the Center during those Depression years.

Footnote #2: Sixth Ave Elevated

J. Sloan Poster
What an evocative scene John Sloan painted in 1928 of Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street in 1928! Women in short skirts and cloche hats are rushing off to a party; the Sixth Avenue El rumbles overhead, and a trolley rumbles underneath it. Within 10 years or so, most of the scene as painted would be swept away.
New York Life and Culture

The El would be razed in 1939, and all the storefronts on the right side would also be condemned as Sixth Avenue was widened. Yet, the buildings on the left are still there, most notably St. Joseph's Church at the extreme left, and the tall tower of the Jefferson Market Courthouse. And, bishop crook lampposts have also made a Sixth Avenue comeback.
December 20, 1938, when Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, who had actively supported the campaign, donned goggles and with acetylene torch personally attacked a steel El girder on Sixth Avenue at 53rd Street.

Beyond the new vistas and opportunities for redevelopment created by the destruction of the unsightly structures, the banishment of overhead trains from the avenue also led to the completion of the IND Sixth Avenue subway line, making the El immediately obsolete.
The End of an Epoch commemorates the dismantling of the El tracks on Sixth Avenue, ushering out an era in the city's public transportation and unleashing conflicting emotions among the system's riders.

Whereas many had cheered the announced demolition, camera-toting New Yorkers thronged Sixth Avenue's El during its final days of operation to preserve memories of its unrivaled views of the city (and outlooks into private apartments adjacent to its tracks). Other sentimentalists took souvenirs, pillaging fixtures along with their bolts.

The Sixth Avenue Elevated Railway was constructed in 1878 and cast a shadow over the park until it was closed in 1938. In November 1934, Architecture magazine noted that Bryant Park had “become one of the most disreputable parks in the city.” During the construction of the subway that replaced the El, the park was used for storage of construction equipment and otherwise filled with debris.

For much of its history, it's been an avenue without a number, ever since it was proclaimed the Avenue of the Americas in 1945. New Yorkers have always referred to it as Sixth, however, and in the 1980s the Department of Transportation finally gave in and installed new "6 AVE" green-and-whites along its entire length.

Sixth got no respect above Central Park, was renamed Lenox Avenue in 1887 for James Lenox, whose collection formed the original New York Public Library; exactly one hundred years later, it was subtitled Malcolm X Boulevard for the slain civil rights leader.

Footnote #3: Principles of New Urbanism:
3. Urban Life: Urban New York
I tried to find the principles described by the new urbanest poster (, but was unable; instead I found the following.
The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.
We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built

We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.

We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.

We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.

We dedicate ourselves to reclaiming our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.
WTC,Blog Flux Local - Florida,Blog Flux Local - Florida

Change by Barie Fez-Barringten


by Barie Fez-Barringten

The most apparent impact on American Culture is the proportional context redistribution from a rural to urban. According to Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist of the late nineteenth century these changes result in a loss of identity including our values and standards resulting in deviant behavior. This deviant behavior is the basis of crime, suicide and trauma. He calls it anomie”. It is these demographic shifts and their vulnerability which political parties amass to their advantage. It is not only the impact of internet, TV, suburbia, malls, computers, and the likes of cell phones but contextually random urbanity. All of the aforementioned are but the “techne”. The reality is life's infrastructure or the lack of infrastructure. Buckminster Fuller drew my attention to the structural relations between the universe, earth's cultural and world social systems which was only confirmed by my research about Saudi Arabia and Leipzig which showed that metaphors and interrupted expectations contribute to global terrorism and national dysfunctionalism.

To extrapolate, terrorism really begins with the terrorized "terrorist".

Many live in the past resisting the future, defying agents of change and ready to die for a return to a status-quo while others mourn for a life which was no longer the one they enjoyed and believe defined their life and pursuit of happiness.

In the seventies, it was this same loss of identity sociologist found caused Saudis to have the largest suicide rate.Sociologist also reasoned that this and their cultural norm to follow without question had not only made them the perfect group to be subject to a king but also very susceptible to potential hurtful ambitions. This vulnerability, using such societies on a global scale, is different in our modern time, though not without precedent, as was true in the Germany before Hitler and the great despotic warriors in history (including the Japanese suicide bombers of W.W.II). To most others that are less vulnerable, change can be superficial and vicarious as a society challenges, thinks and directs itself; it is the co-dependent society which is most susceptible.

Contemporary contexts are increasingly synthetic, controlled and managed urbanity playing out in malls, corporate workplace, shopping centers, gated communities, churches, etc. The random, flexible, risky, unpredictable, dissonant, vulgar, and surprising networks of intersecting life styles and ideas has been replaced by reliable, predictable and repetitive ideals and expectations. Architecturally, it is without walls, program, and contexts. Because of its velocity, change has become irrelevant as contexts and buildings obscure and hopelessly mitigate. Agents which manage, facilitate and support speedy variations have become standard commercial and government tools. Society has become absentee owners and visitors leaving the care and maintenance of our bodies and habitations to specialized “others”.

While artisans , poets and dreamers portray their visions, society lives amongst these aberrations with insincerity and disdain; or worse ignored and forgotten. Many proclaim “change” as the new reality when in fact it is the oldest. But aside from our neo-violent post deluvian age we are in the midst of a new urbanity where infrastructure of sewers, roads, wires, ducts, water, subways are being abstracted, reproduced, and globalized.

There are pockets and oddities amongst milieus of states and their cities. In the cities, it is not the suburbs which are reentering and invading but the synthetic urban.

Still alive and well are the ancient and tumultuous souks of Arabia, Pakistan, and India as well the junkyard markets of the Philippines and Indonesia. In the New York of the forties there were the open markets of Delancy, Ghirardelli, Bathgate and Simpson; even Rouse Development recreated these market concepts in Boston and Baltimore. Eclectic or not the recreation of forms, functions , techniques and details is the result of business modeling, site selection, research , analysis, programming, planning and design. This can be followed by the award to operators, franchisees, specialized products and vendors to synthesize what normally took generations, happenstance, and fortunate (and often failed) circumstances.

These are the places of the have- nots, disenfranchised and non-affluent ( insufficient, lacking, needy, suffering, wanting ) There is no small group organizing our lifestyle but it is the world making itself palatable. Indeed, we are a better market because we buy and live in mass. Our populations are exploding because they can be fed by our means of mass production and controlled urbanization. It is not what we do it is how we live in that milieu. In the USA the most dramatic changes in the economy has been in the product of production that transforms the most income form materials to ideas.

There fore it has more efficiency, more free time, more leisure, more recreation and more efficiency. This was all predicted in the New York 1939 world’s fair and prophets back in the in the forties and fifties. We now have creative destruction, which is to say that we intentionally destroy to benefit.

Globally, the world’s common dependency is energy. Discovering, exploration, refining, distribution and sales drive all economies and denominate in dollars making the USA a global power and the world linked by a common need and roles in the energy chain from discovery to consumption.I cannot help think of urbanity when I think of change and what has been lost.

In fact, it is about and at this point that I felt the urge to write about this ebbing condition of urbanism and how it is being eclipsed in favor of a new expectation, social framework and context. Planners, developers, and town fathers try to recreate that lost “something” into rural and suburban settings. Is urbanity something that one can create? Royalty creating Baghdad and other ancient cities did it. Did they created urbanity or the infrastructure on which urbanity flourished?

When one period ends another begins to take its place. When one story is told another story is being written. The mind of men and men’s imagination has no limit and the realities which all of mankind and their creativity can create have no limit. The places, cities and constructs of civilizations are too many to grasp and comprehend. It is only in our hand to live each day of our lives and in living construct of our own story.

The variances of one to another from this period to another are worth noting and savoring. These are reified in our urban contexts and what constitutes urbanity. It is why they are so wonderful and worthy of our attention. They, as our lives are the metaphors of our time and the period in which we have lived. They are the artifacts of our being.

In fact, urban is defined by places like Baghdad, Madras, Berlin, Amsterdam, Calcutta, Arabia’s souks, Bangkok, New York, Florence, Rome, Munchen, etc. I believe it is coincidence of both. There are also hundreds of small islands of inhabitants and the infrastructure that earns such a reputation, such as the urban villages in Italy, France, Germany, Holland; based not alone on trade, but cross sections, intersections, terminals and complexity.

It is places dense and demographically mixed in population. Places where a complex and contradictory set of interest coexists. Typified by ambulating, transporting and communicating conducted on many levels, places and mediums. We also expect freedom and liberty as well as respect and unwritten rules and protocols. It is not the wild and unruly chaos but variety and spontaneity. It can be conservative and controlled but the controls obey the need for diversity and contradictions in language, and tastes. The controls are there to facilitate limitless creativity and imagination and provide for the health, safety and welfare of inhabitants.

Urbanity encourages opportunity for the poor to survive and advance and the rich to thrive and wallow. The best of urbanity combines both and lets the have and have-nots interact in unfair and often wealth building and culturally advanced peoples. It is where the diverse needs of poverty are exploited by the overly rich and the rich are envied because they are at hand and exhibited. Urban places allow the rich to build institutions for the poor and where the poor can utilize those institutions for upward mobilization and development.

Urbanites expect working contexts including sidewalks, public and private transportation, the latest in technology, arts and crafts originating from their context and fountainheads of science, fashion, construction, foods, and every invention and art form known to mankind. If it exists it can be found in the urban context. It is where you seek and find; and, where finding is a delight and part of the urban experience. It is both the infrastructure and the mind of its' dwellers that make the place urban. The two transfer and change each other. They feed and nurture each other. The city is urban because it has an infrastructure and the mind of the people transforms the city because they are cosmopolitan.

Metaphors proliferate in urban settings, defining urbanites and their relationship to each other, family, society and specific contexts. Urbanites can tell you where they stand on the socio-economic pecking order and about their neighborhood’s relative stature amongst neighborhoods. They can define, categorize and characterize neighborhoods and building types. It is a place where creature comfort is often sacrificed for location status, image, contextual and status expectations and reliance upon the urban identity.

It knows its' merits and competes with other centers on the basis of heroes, brand names, adherents, and institutions. For example you will not find an urban center without a symphony, museum, college, medical center, etc. Urban centers have themes and are notorious for being the first, greatest, longest, etc.

“I am a New Yorker”, means not just my city of origin but what behavior, stature, and metaphorical references I carry with me from all that has been told about the city. Paris, London, Dublin, etc. like wise carry characteristic metaphors identifying its' society, individuals, and institutions. Our preoccupation with metaphors and the expectations they contain is characterized by so many events in our experience. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest suicide rates; people form India pray and mourn for our lifestyle with its burdens, discomforts and inconveniences; and, Leipzigers in the former German East Zone are increasingly made miserable because people from the West immigrate to take away their jobs and more importantly challenge and confront their seventy year-old habits with new and modern standards and cultural rightness.

I can recall when cities, roads and streets were dark. The streetlights were very dim, few and far between. Building’s lights were turned off when buildings were unoccupied. Few people owned or used automobiles, few people had telephones or more than one, air conditioning was something you enjoyed in theaters and public buildings, and people’s expectations were different. Countries and neighboring states were very far away and exotic. People had much more disposable time, bi passes, ring roads, parking fields, and highways did not carve up cities. Streets were filled with people walking and using building’s appurtenances as stoops, porches and fire escapes to sit and relate to neighbors.

The scale of our life was related to a different world then it is today. Today’s world is miniaturized by communication and transportation. The power black out we experienced in the mid sixties came about 28 years after I was born just about when the glut of oil and its potential had reached it first phase. The loss of power was surely an inconvenience but most people easily adapted to the lack of power because many things they used were manually operated and independent of power. The blackout of 2003 showed the difference between the impact of the shut down and the systems we rely upon for increased population it serves. New York City in 1965 was at about six million compare to twelve million today. The following italicized descriptions were copied off the Internet.

Globalization, internationalization, increased disparity between nations, religions, and peoples, population increase, increase food and resource supply and distribution, dependence on massive , complex and automated systems, drug dependence for long and quality of life, etc. are impacting our personal choices causing strife, anger and world conflict. Have nots, disenfranchised, and destitute are becoming affluent and capable of global redress and consequence for global policies that do not include there interest and needs. National, Commercial and religious leaders find themselves challenged to reconcile their “reality “ with the “realities” of outside and non-participating groups.

Western Life became metaphoric when life became life as military following world war two. Military concepts begat corporations, family life, education, recreation and even domestic household management.

Life is controlled and managed under this approach and choice. As the “Victorian “ times, life reflected mechanized of industrial revolution into family life being orderly productive, efficient and consumptive. It permeated and cultured business, family life, education and recreation. Many families remained immune from such influences because of their remoteness form media, communications immigrant status, location, classes, etc. Most of my high school, family and friends succumbed to the rightness and correctness of the status and portrait being painted for a happy and successful life. The ideal life would be controlled, managed and prescribed. People like Barbara Streisand, became successful by saying “no” to these choices instead using her identity. She scoffed at the momentum toward a controlled and managed culture for her own personal identity. The concern, dependence and responsibility of communications media to our lives and our perception of reality was greatly dramatized by this and other smaller scaled events. Communications and the media in our times are an overwhelming stimulus of material, earthly and fleshly reality. Urban folks learn to lean on their five senses and media as they’re extended tool, for checks on there own perceived truth than at any other time in history or government. The very Bill of Rights separated press from state and made the media our eyes and ears to the real ”Que Pasa”. (What’s happening)?

Christina and I traveled from New Haven to NYC in our new Austin Healy Sprite to go to several Art gallery openings. We parked and had just gone up several flights of stairs to one gallery when the power went off. We immediately prayed and left the building, got in our car and proceeded to one of the East Side avenues. Every thing was calm. The radio stations were reporting the event. Our concern was an attack by Russia, or worse sabotage. It was important to hear from the radio stations about what was happening. We listened as we drove and believed it best to get out of the danger zone and to our home in New Haven. We drove through Harlem noticing volunteer civilian traffic monitors stopping and waving cars on.

In most intersections this was not needed as cars waited the normal amount of time and then like a harmonious school of fish all proceeded while the others stopped and waited. It was like a ballet. We went over the 138 street bridge and up Bruckner Blvd. to Cross Bronx and to Holland Ave to see Mom. She was fine and unconcerned. We then proceeded to New Haven on the Merit Parkway and reached New Haven by dark. All was normal in New Haven.

This was one of the many events in our life, which well prepared us for working in danger zones. Contextually, this was one of the early distancing events from our ties to New York City. We were able to be objective about our context and its structure.

Like the four hurricanes that devastated parts of Florida in 2004 the media were there reporting and helping society communicate and know that help was on the way. The media brought comfort and assurance. It was the voice that let you know you were not alone.

Change in Fashion

I have been told that since W.W.1 neither men wanted to be gentlemen nor women aspired to be ladies. These changes in attitudes have been reflected in abandoning some of the symbols of gentler and symbolic times. The italicied below was cut and pasted off of the world wide web.

For example the Fedora (hats) was made of felt with a lengthwise crease in the crown, and a medium brim. In addition to shinning shoes my grandfather blocked, cleaned, and made hats for men.

According to a former friend, Carol Howland (Nolan), she wrote that “Men's fashions of the 1940s that “The beginning of the decade saw extreme social and economic conditions. According to the 1940 US census, one out of five Americans owned a car, one in seven had a telephone and only fifteen percent of the college-age population attended college. Other statistics revealed that only 75% of American households had a refrigerator or icebox, 60% lacked central heat and three out of four farmhouses were lit with kerosene lamps".

My Grandfathers, Dad, brother and I wore such hats. Of course with shorter brims fitting to our height and size of heads. It was our identification with adults. Today our society cloths styles identify with the children.

The following is a timetable of the chronology of some of the key events that took place over my lifetime, in italics copied from the internet, which started December 28, 1937:

¨ On September 3, 1939, England and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, and refusing to withdraw troops. On September 3, 1940, the United States transferred destroyers to Great Britain. The United States officially entered World War II on December 8, 1941. My brother was born December 4 and my Dad and his friends still were fedora hats. My mother wore hats and gloves and I wore knickers and short pants. Furniture in most homes was European style and heavy. Modernism was not known. Tradition and respect for elders and etiquette between sexes prevailed.

¨ On March 8, 1942, the US Government War Production Board issued regulation L - 85, which regulated every aspect of clothing and restricted the use of natural fibers. In particular, wool supplies for civilian use were cut from 204,000 to 136,000 tons in order to meet military requirements. We struggled to maintain dress and household cultural codes.

¨ Stanley Marcus, the apparel consultant to the War Production Board, took the stand that it was the designer’s patriotic duty to design fashions, which would remain stylish through multiple seasons and use a minimum of fabric. I remember everything getting very practical and we were dressed in Navy pinafores and wore jackets to school.

¨ There was one exception to the strict rationing of the early forties - the zoot suit. By no means was it sanctioned by the War Production Board - as a matter of fact, the zoot suits were thought of as contraband and illicit items during the War. The fashion was born during the early thirties in Harlem’s nightclubs. It was an exaggerated look comprised of an oversized jacket, wide lapels and shoulders, with baggy low-crouched trousers that narrowed dramatically at the ankle. The zoot influence remained through the 1940s and men's coats were noticeably roomier as a result of it. Higher-wasted trousers were also due to the influence of the zoot suit.

¨ The end of the war and rationing brought a dramatic change in fashion. Men’s style after the War favored full-cut, long clothing. Part of the reason for this change was a reaction to wartime shortages. Long coats and full-cut trousers were a sign of opulence and luxury, coming in a full spectrum of colors from garish to delicate hues. Hand-painted ties were also popular featuring skyscrapers, exotic foliage, limousines, rodeos, Tahitian sunsets and even pin-up girls.

¨ One of the most extreme changes in postwar men's fashion was the adoption of the casual shirt. In 1946 and 1947, Hawaiian or Carisca shirts were first worn on the beaches in California and Florida. Made in bright colors, the shirts sported fruit, flowers, flames, and women or marine flora. About this time, a man walking the streets of New York without a jacket and shirttails flapping, became a common sight.

¨ In 1949, Esquire promoted a new look by labeling it “the bold look”. Its characteristics were a loose fitting jacket with pronounced shoulders. Other style changes included single-breasted jackets with notched lapels and three buttons. Henceforth, peaked lapels were reserved for double-breasted jackets. These jackets also included a center vent.

¨ The end of the decade saw American men home from the war and craving a new look, tired of uniforms. American designers left their mark on the world with sportswear. Europe now looked to the United States for trends in sportswear. For the first time in history, young people were setting fashion trends and older people were following.

Christina bought me hand tailored blue doubled-breasted suit in Manhattan tailored by an Italian Taylor. I wore it only a few times before I out grew it. When we lived in Jackson we shopped at local warehouse outlets for a variety of suits and sport jackets that were lightweight and fit to the colors and styles worn by me fellow employees.

When we moved to Reston, Christina discovered designer’s suits and outlet in New York City and Virginia's Tyson’s Corners and she bought me about fifteen three-piece designer’s suits at cut-rate prices. One place was Barny's and the other Sam’s (the same company that is now franchised throughout out the USA) on the corner in the Lower East Side garment district. I still have these suits hanging in our closets that I hardly ever wore. I out grew them with a few years of purchase. They are the trophies and symbols of a period and hope in our cultural and style of our life. The bears such labels as Bill Blass, Pierre Cardin, SSSSSSSSSSSSSS, Gevanchee, Dior, etc. At the time these cost more than we could afford at about $125/each. They originally cost upwards of $500. They were bargains and Christina wanted me to dress the part of a well-paid corporate executive. She hoped that the “cloths made the man”. In fact, as with most such things, no one noticed. I was just "normal".

Women’s Fashions changed:

To understand my context and my urban identify would be impossible with out a description of the cloths and the care and attention they were given. Cloths were not only symbols and metaphors for each person but decorated the street, homes and gatherings. One could compare one to another interpretation of current style and trend and command of the wearer’s ineptness or discernment to be “in” and up- to- date. It is worthless to discuss fashion of the forties without first understanding the tremendous impact World War II had on everyday life during the early part of the decade. Social trends dictate fashion. World War II changed the world of fashion forever.

When GOREDCO sent me to Houston they gave me a saddlebag and a Stetson hat. Change requires all of us to stay awake, be sober, civilized and loving.

Change and it’s evil cousins demand governments to be wary and on guard. It demands parents to be loving, patient and watchful, full of responsibility and dedication to their children.

Change also requires flexibility and courage to face difficult decisions, alternatives and to do disengage and reengage for more mature and ethical alternatives.

Add to this the change in writing instruments from the inkwell and quill pen used while I was in public school to the current ball point pen. Parker’s fountain pen was injection quill pens also made by Script were used to carry around in jackets and even dressy it’s in gold and silver. Christina bought me a Parker for my birthday. In school we used rapid-o-graphs to make all sorts of weighted lines.

The wooden pencil made by Ticonderoga has lasted the longest but in college I used led pencils with let fillers and led pencil holders.

Radio receivers changed and got lighter doing away with the tubes and wires and being replaced by digital and other means. Electronics which started out big and bulky got small and miniaturized. We fancticed about all this with Dick Tracey wristwatch telephone and moving images well before television.

Five Footnotes below (3,680 words)

1. Introduction; .3 Chronology; List; Change

Footnote #1 Suicide:

1. Introduction; .3 Chronology; List; Change

Comparing Cultural Similarities between W.W.II Japanese Kamikaze Pilots and Modern Day Terrorists. Kamikaze means "the wind of gods. Thousands of kamikaze pilots made a suicide. The kamikaze pilots were kept unknown. Their names, writings and nothing were revealed to public.

Only the family and some friends knew about a young man's decision of going for a kamikaze mission. Much like some of the Arab terrorists young people then who had gone into military schools did not have the ability to think logically, and therefore sent applications without much thought. He also says that these pilots were really innocent, and thought purely that they would be able to serve, and protect the country. These pilots wished to die for their country. "Japan." They had a secret weapon to help turn the tides when the battle was going poorly, namely kamikaze attacks — the art of flying an airplane directly into the enemy, usually a naval vessel.

The history of kamikaze goes back to the 13th century, when legend has it that Kublai Khan's invading fleet was turned away from Japan by a typhoon sent from the gods (kamikaze translates as "divine wind"). Long thought to be an apocryphal story, recent archaeological excavations have proven the tale true (the fleet part, not the gods part), with the discovery of underwater remains from Khan's fleet. Of course many other Arab terrorists are coerces and paid to commit suicide. Everyone was terrified by both the Japanese Kamikaze and the German’s blitz bombs to London. Historians have long proclaimed that there is nothing new under the sun; change is still prevalent at all times in history.


Footnote #2 Urbanity:

1. Introduction; .3 Chronology; List; Change

In describing identity and urban space in filmic representations of the Casbah, Frantz Fanon described the generic colonial city in the “Wretched of the Earth" saying: “The colonial world is a world cut in two . . . .The zone where the natives live is not complementary to the zone inhabited by the settlers. The two zones are opposed, but not in the service of a higher unity . . .. The settler’s town is a strongly built town; all made of stone and steel. It is a brightly lit town; the streets are covered with asphalt, and the garbage cans swallow all the leavings, unseen, and unknown and hardly thought about. The settler’s town is a well-fed town, an easygoing town; its belly is always full of good things. The settler’s town is a town of white people, of foreigners.”

This description of the levels of understanding is similar to Serge Chermayeff’s hierarchies and levels in complementarities of both equals and opposites. Where, at one level an issue may seem opposite but at another equivalent. So he analyzed campuses in a report to the USA Bureau of Standards which I illustrated.

Fanon Continues: “The town belonging to the colonized people, or at least the native town, the Negro village, the Medina, the reservation, is a place of ill fame, peopled by men of evil repute. They are born there, it matters little where or how; they die there, it matters not where, or how. It is a world without spaciousness; men live there on top of each other, and their huts are built one on top of the other.

The native town is a hungry town, starved of bread, of meat, of shoes, of coal, of light. The native town is a crouching village, a town on its knees, a town wallowing in the mire Space is essential in any exercise of power. In the colonial context, the oppressive power relations inherent to colonialism were inscribed in the spatial organization of the city itself, most visibly in the institution of segregation. It is this legacy I experienced in the Bronx and its reputation when attending Pratt and Yale. I was from the Bronx. I was an enigma.

Sociologist say that at the center of steel and stone in our modern cities stands the same individual that once stood in the shadows of the ancient desert. This individual yearns for the same spiritual rootedness to a universe larger than one's context. This cry for a glimpse of the ineffable is becoming increasingly audible as a public voice in the canyons of our urban environments.

We began as nomads, free and limitless in a land not sown. It was all earth and sky, a land and a light of exquisite contrasts, with a wind and a people moving across its endless space.

According to another sociologist the peasant found a rootedness in the planting. He himself became the plant, no longer nomadic, limitless or free. And the marketplace of the peasant was one of individuals, rooted to their crop.

But we went further, leaving the rootedness of the peasant life of the earth. We imagined, through the abstract life of the mind, a built world manifesting a universe greater than ones self. The intellectual construct of the collective, which we know as urban landscape, freed us, made us limitless and again nomadic.

The fact that almost the entire Book of Exodus is dedicated to the most intricate and detailed descriptions of the building, contents, materials, assemblage, and even timing of the assemblage of the Mishkan along this journey, indicates an enduring importance to the People of Israel that is significant beyond its literal physical attributes. The Mishkan became the vehicle that strengthened the bonds between individuals assisting greatly in their evolution as a People.

It is held in the Hebrew text that God created this physical world as a dwelling place for man. And in turn, man created the Mishkan as a dwelling place for God. Just as the world that God created needed man to complete it, the dwelling place that man created was not complete without God. This reciprocal act of “making” signifies the partnership established between God and man”. However, God later said to David he does not need a tabernacle.I tell this to explain the ancient nature of urbanity.

In the prologue “Architecture of Time” Abraham Joshua Heschel states “Technical civilization is man’s conquest of space. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time, where the goal is not to have but to be,

Not to own but to give,

Not to control but to share,

Not to subdue but to be in accord.

” Heschel’s admonition is that “life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.”

Our cities, although intricately layered, have become a singular idea, a space-oriented world devoid of the distinctions of time. It is this focus on the bottom line, creature comforts and amassing of real and abstract property that I lived. Sizes of dwellings, cars and bodies have become preoccupations forming the metaphor of expectations. It is an oversimplification to call it materialism when it is much more significant and essential. I changed the way we shop, live and value our lives.

The great urban environments of the world are formed by a critical mass of diversity, a life force in the continuous encounter with the stranger, a speed of movement for the urban dweller that makes all time like any other time.

Its spaces are static, its architecture is immutable.

Our urban complexities are losing the living dynamic, the constant dialogue between space and time. There are no distinctions, no landmarks.

European and ancient cities have landmarks, which are these “bench marks” of time telling of the past and events, which form literal dialogs of the place and what formed the place.

Footnote #3 NYC Black Out:

Introduction; .3 Chronology; List; Change

The below in italics is cut and pasted from the internet.

The “New York City 1965 Black-out was an event which reminded many New Yorkers of what defined there lives and how they would cope with change. At 5:27 p.m., November 9, 1965, the entire Northeast area of the United States and large parts of Canada went dark. From Buffalo to the eastern border of New Hampshire and from New York City to Ontario, a massive power outage struck without warning. Trains were stuck between subway stops. People were trapped in elevators. Failed traffic signals stopped traffic dead. Now there was insufficient line capacity for New York City. New England and New York are inter-connected on a power grid, and the power that had been flowing toward New York City had to go elsewhere, instantly. The grid wasn’t prepared to handle this overload. The operators of the control centers at Consolidated Edison in New York and at Boston Edison, and in many other localities around New England, were left with a massive power shortage. But they had no contingency plan for partial blackouts to supply power to part of their customer base.

One by one they were forced to shut down their generators to prevent damage from overworking them. The lights went out. The flickering decline took only a few minutes. New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, metropolitan New York City and some small parts of Pennsylvania were in the dark.

And, at the height of the Cold War, many thought Armageddon had arrived. One pilot flying over a darkened New York City stated, "I thought, 'another Pearl Harbor!'" By 5:40 p.m. that evening, 80,000 square miles of the Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, were without power, leaving 30 million people in the dark.”

But, what was most remarkable was the ease at which every one adapted to the reality of no power. The sense of a holiday and vacation; a very convenient set of conditions. It was business that was concerned to get back up and operating. The people themselves could cope. The power lines from Niagara Falls to New York City were operating near their maximum capacity. At about 5:15 a transmission line relay failed.

Our problem was not knowing all of the above and surmising, preparing and contemplating the worse.

Later, August 14, 2003; 4:00 pm computer controlled blackout put 50 million people out of power in 9 seconds and unlike the 1977 blackout which went without the over 500 fires and looting more like 1965. New York had changed.

That was all back in 1965 and 1977 when the population and service area were much smaller. When the power died in the Northeast the evening of November 9, 1965, radio stations in the affected area either made or lost their reputations as reliable news sources in a crisis. My favorite media was once again the lifeline of civilization, as I knew it.

All affected stations were off the air briefly, leaving the broadcast band rather quiet; then they gradually came to life again. Within one minute, carriers that were off began to return, and those stations equipped with automatic switchover began to program. WCBS was a prime example of preparedness. With studios on the 16th floor of a new building and a remotely controlled transmitter, the station had auxiliary diesel generators with automatic switchover to produce operating power for two studios, control rooms, input equipment, newsroom, and some lights. In addition, there was a second generator to power elevators. It was the same during the 2004 hurricanes in Florida; somehow lonely obscure radio stations became the lifeline and chat room of the community. People were linked and helped.

Chief engineer of WABC, Julius Barnathan says that his station was off the air for 15 minutes, the time it took to get the emergency generator going at the transmitter site. WINS, the city's all-news outlet, lost studio facilities for two minutes as lights when out. WINS, being an all-news operation, had more reporters on the street when the problem occurred than other stations. As soon as programming began, chief engineer Hal Brokaw (perhaps Tom’s relative) reports, his engineers turned to the problem of coupling battery-operated tape recorders to incoming phone lines for beeper reports.

WOR Radio was typical of the non-network metropolitan stations partially affected by the power drop. With a transmitter in Carteret, New Jersey (an unaffected area), a studio in Manhattan, and a remote-control-point in the Empire State Building manned by WOR-TV engineers, the station was off the air for a quarter-hour.

WOR was blessed with a traffic-report helicopter in the air and a mobile unit on the street at the time.

WNEW was more fortunate. Chief engineer Max Weiner reports two of his maintenance men were about to leave the transmitter when the failure occurred. Again the transmitter was in a safe area, but the fail-safe feature of the remote-control unit kicked the carrier off the air. The men immediately restored the carrier locally and programmed music from a turntable at the transmitter.

Footnote #4 NYC Women’s Fashion

1. Introduction; .3 Chronology; List; Change

Prior to World War II, New York fashion designers made the trek across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the flamboyant and opulent French fashion shows each year. Of course no one I knew did this but the movies and magazines let us know who these people were and what they were wearing.

In their attempts to design new fashions for the United States market, they concentrated on sportswear. This led to the United States emerging as the sportswear capital of the world.

In 1941, war goods manufacturing took center stage. The government confiscated all stock of natural fabrics, forcing domestic manufacturers to concentrate on substituting other fibers for domestic garments. The industry geared up rayon production. Nylon stockings disappeared in 1943.

In an effort to comply with the restrictions imposed on them, American designers created a new style of suits for women. Skirts were short and straight topped by short jackets of twenty-five inches or less in length.

New York City had the latest in all these developments and you had to go downtown for the absolute latest. Neighborhood shops were a few months behind.

McCall’s produced patterns for transforming men’s suits into ladies’ suits and women’s dresses into children’s clothing. The women of America were once again sewing their own family’s garments. Many of my girlfriends, aunts and cousins were trendy and followed these fashions very carefully. I’d love to be the audience to the many fashion shows paraded before me by my family and friends. They would but something, bring it home and then model it before me looking and carefully listening to my reactions. I found after I got older that they really cared less about what I thought than what their girl friends agreed or disagreed. It was all about metaphors, competition and identity.

The true hallmarks of fashion in the early 1940s included an austere silhouette with narrow hips, padded shoulders, and all manners of hats.

The working-class look of icons such as "Rosie the Riveter" became chic, as women of all social standings joined the war effort. They kept things going at home, taking over the jobs - and the closets - of husbands and other male relatives. Class barriers fell and people dressed down. It was considered gauche to be showy during a time of shortage. Designers flexed their creative muscle - even creating beautifully decorated gas masks for evening wear! There was a certain masculinity expected in women because of the dual roles they had to perform. I do not believe my mother adapted well to this and my father chided her in the early years of their marriage.

American designers introduced the concept of separates and co-coordinating components in order to create the illusion of more outfits than one actually had.

Many varieties of peplums were in vogue: butterfly, bustle and gathered peplums were a few. Ruffles found their way to skirt hems, necklines and waists.. Lace also accentuated blouses around the neckline. Factories were converted from consumer goods production to military production. U.S. rationing rules limited the height of shoe heels to one inch and allowed for only six color choices; stockings were also unavailable. Magazines and beauty salons helped out by offering tips on how to paint legs with back seams and tans using makeup. This being unpractical as an ongoing ritual, ankle socks became increasingly popular.

In 1947, Dior introduced the “New Look”, featuring longer lengths and fuller skirts; a return to classic femininity with a nipped waist.

Before I was born the great Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929 and subsequent Depression directly influenced fashion of the 1930s. The autumn, 1930 Sears Catalogue admonished, “Thrift is the spirit of the day. Reckless spending is a thing of the past.” The beginning of the decade saw women sewing more. Clothing was mended and patched before being replaced. Less ready-to-wear garments were purchased, even though styles were dramatically changing. This was the mood of my childhood. It was the glass ceiling I had to penetrate. It was the cloud, which covered the generation caring and protecting me. It was the generation that was preparing me to face the future and all they could see was the gloom and horror of the past.

A softer, more feminine style replaced the boyish, flapper look of the twenties. At the beginning of the decade, hemlines dropped dramatically to the ankle and remained there until the end of the thirties. Necklines were lowered while torsos were sensuously molded beneath squared shoulders.

I recall the belabored discussions my mother, girlfriends aunts and cousins had about hemlines, seams in nylons, bra thrusts, necklines, crinolines or tightness of dress, panty lines, etc.

The entertainment industry continued to exert a strong influence over fashion. Movies were one of the few escapes from the harsh reality of the Depression. Movie star endorsements of styles and accessories became common, especially with evening wear. A popular formal look was the empire-wasted gown, with ties at the back.

Fur of all kinds was worn extensively during this era, both during the day and at night. Fur capes, coats, stoles wraps, accessories and trimmings adorned women’s dresses. Pelts in demand were sable, mink, chinchilla, Persian lamb and silver fox. Cloths but actresses looks, hairstyles, makeup and general appearances were not only studied and emulated. The average women strove to clone one or another Hollywood goddess. She dressed and became her man’s personal “cupie-doll”, icon, and goddess. The look of Sophie Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Monroe, etc.

Washable, easy-care fabrics were introduced during this decade. The first openly synthetic fibers were developed in the 1930s. Prior to this, manufactured fibers had been developed to emulate natural fibers.

In 1935 the DuPont de Nemours Company successfully synthesized nylon. Nylon was introduced in stockings during 1939 but World War II interrupted its use in fashion. Widespread use of this synthetic fiber didn’t occur until after WW II. I remember how my mother and her friends relished there nylon stockings though many still wore cotton not wanting to be exorbitant or frivolous with precious funds.

An American Point of View

From colonial times until well into the 20th century, Americans imported their fashions from Europe. Even the greatest American dressmaking houses - Mrs. Donovan in New York, Weeks in Chicago, and the Shogren Sisters in Portland - had to import a certain number of Paris models each year in order to be taken seriously by their clientele.

In 1865, with 100 dollars, John B. Stetson rented a small room; bought the tools he needed, bought 10 dollars worth of fur and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born. A year later the "Hat of the West" or the now famous "Boss of the Plains" hat was born and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming the mark of quality, durability, innovation and beauty.
John B. Stetson experienced trying times in his life but after it all he relied on the one thing he did exceptionally well, making hats.

Footnote #5 NYC Change is Biblical

About future change Paul says in 1 Cor 15: "51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed

And, about current change Paul says in Romans: 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

But he advises that we must do some thing to make it effective for which I strive”:

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
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