The GARDENERS at Umm as Sabaan

When Donald G. Schnabel visited Bahrain in February 1957 he visited the island Umm as Sabaan where Max Thronburg and his wife lived. Max was a Middle East specialist and an employee of Standard Oil who had been "given" the island as a gift from the ruler of Bahrain. A nice job perk for sure.

These three fellows were the gardeners on the island. I have no other information. No names are written on the slide other than Thornburg.

Click on image to see it larger.

I'm guessing these fellows were in their twenties when this shot was taken which would put them in their late 70s to 80s now. It would be fascinating to find out who they were and how their lives progressed. When Thornburg gave the island back to the royal family, which I'm assuming he eventually did, did these gardeners stay on or move on?

Just another glimpse into someone else's past.


The LITTLE ORANGE TREE in Bahrain in 1957

What can you say about such a tiny tree producing such a big piece of fruit? Is the tree large and thriving today? Does it provide shade and wonderful orange blossom scents? It's the little tree that tried and succeeded and was acknowledged for its effort.



A shot of Donald G. Schnabel on the jetty at Umm as Sabaan in Bahrain, 1957. This is the island that had been given to Max Thornburg.

Lovely water.

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You never know where old photographs will lead. I established yesterday that we were heading to Bahrain with Donald Schnabel in 1957. The only reason I knew this was because Donald had written brief captions on his slides. Along with writing "Bahrain Feb 57" he repeatedly wrote "Thornburg" which meant nothing to me. Within moments of doing a search for "Thornburg Bahrain" I found that Donald was the guest, or at least visited with, Max Thornburg and his wife Leila on their private island, Umm as Sabaan. I have two rather blurred photos from this visit with the Thornburg's.

Click on images to see them larger.

Max Thornburg was very involved with the Middle East and helped create some of what the world is having to deal with now. You can't think of those countries without thinking of oil and turmoil. Max Thornburg was involved in both.
Max Weston Thornburg (October 10, 1892 – September 21, 1962) was an American petroleum executive and government adviser. He was a petroleum adviser to the United States Department of State and a senior oil executive for the Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) and California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (Caltex) in the Middle East including Bahrain and Iran. He was a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State from 1941 to 1943 during World War II.

Thornburg was born in Long Beach, California to Eva Louise (née Holbrook) and Charles Hix Thornburg. He married Leila Baldwin Berry on March 30, 1918 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Leila's father, Rufus Albert Berry, was in the real estate business and also the postmaster in Berkeley, California.

Thornburg received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1917, and then a Bachelor of Science (1921), and a degree in chemical engineering (1933), both from UC Berkeley. He also did post-graduate work at the University of Grenoble in 1919. He served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1920, stationed at Camp Lewis, Washington,[5] and in France. He was discharged with the rank of captain.

In June 1936 the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL; later Chevron) and the Texas Corporation (Texaco) formed a new entity called California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (CALTEX), to market and distribute the crude oil produced by SOCAL east of the Suez Canal and the refined products produced at their new refinery being built on Bahrain Island. Thornburg was named a vice-president of the new entity, CALTEX. James Andrew Moffett, II., was named the chairman, as well as a director, and Howard M. Herron was president.

In the 1930s, the ruler of Bahrain gave the island of Umm as Sabaan as a gift to Thornburg. Later he was a vice president of Bahrain Petroleum Co., Ltd (BAPCO).

Thornburg was named as a "special consultant on international petroleum matters," by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, in August 1941, to serve under Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and defense oil coordinator. Thornburg was to keep Ickes informed of the international aspects and problems of petroleum, which was crucial to the war effort both overseas and domestically to keep supplies flowing.

Thornburg died in Santa Monica, California at age 69. He was survived by his wife, Leila (née Berry) Thornburg (September 21, 1893 – October 13, 1969. They had three children, Roann (1919-1983), Priscilla (1922-1988), and Russell (1927-1989). (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To read an in-depth article about Max Thornburg read The Catalyst of Nationalization: Max Thornburg and the Failure of Private Sector Developmentalism in Iran, 1947-1951 by Linda Wills Qaimmaqami. It's quite interesting to read in light of where we are today so it's worth downloading.

Searching for photos of Max Thornburg brought up only one shot of him with his wife and children. Sadly the link to the actual photo seemed to be dead. However, I did find this video from the July 9, 1951 CBS episode of the Longines Chronoscope show. Max Thornburg is introduced as "the war time petroleum advisor to the Department of State and expert on middle eastern affairs." It's fascinating.


Donald G. Schnabel visits BAHRAIN IN FEBRUARY 1957

We're going on another trip with Donald G. Schnabel and his camera. This time we're going to Bahrain in February 1957. I think you'll find the upcoming posts a bit interesting.

This first shot is, if the label is correct, a shot of Bahrain.

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It's hard to think of the Middle East without thinking of politics. And it's hard to not think of the politics of today without the history of the region. What part Donald G. Schnabel played, if any, I don't know. But there will be a historical figure involved who I never heard of. A post about him will be next. This man was very much involved with the politics in Bahrain and Iran.

This may or may not be the plane Donald flew in.

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SUNRISE or Sunset on Clear Lake?

Again we view slides from the Betty Schnabel estate. I'm guessing these were also taken by her father, Donald G. Schnabel, though I can't be sure.

These first two are of Clear Lake in Northern California. Sunrise or sunset? I don't know the lake well enough to judge from which side these were taken, but they fit nicely with the third photo.

Click on images to see them larger.

Written on this third slide is "Mother Clear Lake" and it is in the box of slides taken in Sweden in 1959. Clearly she is in the sunset of her life. I believe she was Betty's paternal grandmother, but again, it's just a guess.

Click on image to see it larger.

UPDATE: Intense Guy has kindly supplied me with the following about Donald's mother:
Donald's mother, Mary G Schnabel nee Maguire was born 20 Feb 1877 in Lima, Ohio. She married George E. Schnabel in 1897. George was born about 1876 in Ohio. If the photo was taken in 1959, she would have been about 82 years old. She died in 5 Dec 1964. She and George had about 10 children.


Dags att bjuda adjö till SVERIGE

Thank you Google Translator. With the aid of this 21st century software I can say "It's time to bid adieu to Sweden" and have it turn into something I don't even recognize. I'm hoping the headline actually says this and not "Dogs eat buddha Alpo till Sweden."

These last two slides have serious color issues and even more serious schmutz issues. I made a brief attempt at fixing the color, seriously…I did. I finally gave up realizing I just didn't care.

Click on either gorgeous image to see the schmutz even better.

So say "So long to Sweden in 1959" (really, say it out loud and see if it doesn't make you feel good) and we'll see where Donald takes us next.



Four shots of Stockholm to ponder. Why you'd ponder them I don't know. They're just nice shots of the city, with the fourth showing the name of a chocolate company, Mazetti Choklad. That is a far too subtle "billboard" for me. If you're going to advertise chocolate I want to SEE chocolate. I want it to be like Hershey, Pennyslvania where the light poles have giant chocolate kisses hanging from them. I want it to be like the old Hershey factory where you actually toured the factory and saw real vats of chocolate and at the end of the tour there were barrels full of chocolate that you could grab.

I'll admit that I prefer to think that in that last shot that is not dirty water, but a huge river of chocolate and the fella on the boat is about to take a header into the glory of Mazetti Choklad.

Västerbron - "The Western Bridge"

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Just a warning, don't leave me alone with chocolate if you expect it to be there when you get back.

Way off theme, but this is my submission this week to Sepia Saturday.