George Worthy
George Worthy

I know I have told you many times how much I love living here in the Valley. It is a place where magic happens on a regular basis. Of course, we have to pay a price for this privilege. You remember the rain that had everyone putting sandbags around their house? About the only thing I remember about that is the lawns had to be mowed a lot sooner than usual. 

It’s a good thing I live in Gonzales because I saw in the paper that the folks that live on the hills to the west had a rough time of it, what with the mud and water they had to deal with. While I may be a little jealous of their view of the Valley, I’ll just stay on the bottom of the Valley until The Roll is called up yonder as my loving mother used to sing around the house. She surely did love singing. I often find myself singing some of those old songs she used to serenade us with. She said that she learned her songs in the many churches we would attend when my Pop decided to head for greener pastures.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Lorraine and I were just starting to find out how much we cared for each other, we had some pretty great times together. There was the time it rained for what seemed like 40 days and nights. OK, it wasn’t really that long, but it did rain so much our shoes were squeaky. We both love the warm weather and sunny skies that were missing for about a month.

We both had our jobs on the corner of the 100 block in Old Town Salinas. She was running a little café that was popular with all sorts of citizens and my gun shop was just next door. I would drop over for lunch and she would put a few extra cashews into my Cashew Chicken sandwiches. We would always have a chance to talk about the next day when we had some time off.

While we were talking one day, we had just had our fill of the rain. “Hey, let’s go find some sun this weekend,” I suggested. “Well, I can get Monday off if you really want to go somewhere,” she responded. So as quick as a wink we decided to have a grand getaway. 

Since my pickup was undergoing another one of the many trips to the repair shop, we decided to drive her little G.L.C. I don’t know if you can remember that little car sold by the Mazda dealer here in Salinas. About the only cool thing about it was the cassette player. We had a lot of cassettes. 

We wanted to get away while there was a short break in the rain. Didn’t make much sense to pack a lot of things because we didn’t know exactly where we would end up. So as the rain took a little break we jumped into her “Great Little Car” and headed south. The rain gave us a little hope as we skirted Paso Robles and kept going south. “Well, what do you know?” Lorraine queried as we left Paso in our rearview mirror. “Perhaps our prayers have been answered?” she gushed. “I have been praying,” she continued, her voice was filled with hope.

“Well, don’t get your hopes up because I can’t see the moon for all the clouds,” I added. So, we just talked about whatever came to mind. We were just laughing at any silly joke about the rain when Lorraine perked up and said she had bought some new cassettes before we left. So she picked out a real rocker and we started to sing along with the music. Or rather, she started to sing. I can’t sing any better than I could fix my truck. I have a pretty good memory for the songs I like to hear, so I just carried the tune since I knew the words to most of the songs.

If you have ever driven south on the 101, you come to a pretty big hill. I don’t know the name of the hill, but it slowed down her new car due to the grade. It was really raining hard again as we peaked over the top. I told Lorraine to stop at a turnoff and see if the rain might stop a little. It was getting to rain so hard you could barely see the signs that tell you to slow down. Of course, we didn’t have to slow down since you could barely see the stripes on the road.

It was a let down that we couldn’t get any further. But what did happen was pretty cool. I reached over the seat and picked up the bag with the new cassettes. It was dark in the car, so I couldn’t see what I had picked up until the music started. This is where it got good. She had bought a cassette with a new album by Paul Simon. Well, I found out it was Paul Simon. I didn’t know beforehand as the rain had made it pretty dark. 

But when the music started, we just looked at each other and started grinning. We didn’t know the words at that point, so we just sat there and listened to the music. I should point out that this guy has turned out to be one of our favorite singers. We sat there listening until we could sing along with the music and laughed as hard as we wanted to.

As the years go on, he has continued to be one our favorite singers, but you don’t hear much new music coming from him. Then a few nights ago we were rewarded. Paul Simon had a bunch of singers on TV to honor him and his music. Of course, some of the songs were sung by other artists and they were all good, but no one can sing his songs like Paul Simon.

We sang with the music when it was something we knew, and I was smart enough to shut up when it was a song we both knew. I can’t compete with Lorraine so I just listened. What a great trip down memory lane.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].

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