George Worthy
George Worthy

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way!” My eye surgery is over and I’m a happy patient. Yes, it was done by a Veterans Administration doctor who looked suspiciously like a college student, but he was very competent and it was almost painless.

I did have a word with him after the last procedure, but he reminded me that he had told us about the irritation that may be felt when the second procedure was being done. But hey! I’m a Vietnam vet! We don’t feel pain. Well, except when they forget to give us a lollypop for not crying.

But seriously, it was pretty much the best thing I have done in many years, next to the time I spent learning to live with my PTSD. My vision has improved to 20-20. I have already mentioned how I feel about VA medicine. I can read a newspaper from across the street. At my age, I was pretty happy if I could read the Tribune!

I would really be remiss if I didn’t mention that my lovely bride was one reason I came out of this journey so happy and healed. She was right there to drive me back and forth to Palo Alto and to administer the antibiotics that are applied three to four times right into my eyes. 

She also wouldn’t let me get under my truck as it is a known source of dirt and grease. As some of you are aware, working under an engine, it is hard to stay clean and one crumb can be enough to have to start the whole procedure again, that’s not something I want to do.

I’m sure there will be additional reasons for her driving skills as the days go by and I am blessed to have her by my side. But then I have told you that before.

I had an emotional moment this morning. I was out in my office when Lorraine asked if I wanted to see this program we had seen advertised about the women who broke the glass ceiling with their songs over many years. I was pretty happy that she called me as the songs these women were singing were full of memories for me. 

As I watched them sing I was reminded of the times I was allowed to ride with my brother over to Bakersfield, where some enterprising young men had converted a warehouse to a dance hall on the weekends. I was probably about three years too young to be allowed in, but that is one of the treats if you get along with your brother, and I did. At least for the weekend when music was played, it was pretty raw and I had not witnessed young folks learning to hit the right chord when they played the guitar. 

Years later I snuck into the Blackboard in Bakersfield and these same kids had grown up. Perhaps you have heard of some of them. Does the name Buck Owens and the Buckaroos ring a bell for anyone? These were the days of fights and booze in the Blackboard. 

The age limit was 21, but again, someone was always leaving the doors open and the guy at the door was definitely putting some of the money in his pocket. What did he have to worry about? In those days it was the youngsters who got put in the patrol car and taken to the station for their parents to come and pick them up. I don’t know if you had strict parents, but at 15 or 16 years old this was not something that happened twice.

The crazy thing about this memo is that the next time I heard the twang was at a club over in Germany. Again, it was Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. I had just been promoted and could get into the NCO Club in Mainz, Germany. The advertising for Buck Owens brought out just about every NCO in the Battalion, and if they were married they brought their wives. Since beer was pretty cheap, there was a lot provided, and if you were broke, someone would buy you a round. Then the trouble started.

Buck was supposed to start at eight o’clock and the doors had opened at seven. Then to complicate the evening, the talent was held up over in Wiesbaden across the Rhine from our club. That’s where the Air Force had their Headquarters. Just for your information, that is also where all the single girls that worked for the Air Force lived in a hotel called, The Amelia Earhart, after our famous woman flyer.

Computers were a novelty back then and the simplest one took up about three huge rooms. So to not lose the combat readiness we were supposed to be living under, they brought single girls from America to operate the machines. I guess this was a good idea on paper, but trouble living so close to a bunch of paratroopers.

Cheap beer and thirsty soldiers do not make a good mix, but perhaps that is a story for another day. As it happened, Buck finally showed up to an entire club full of slightly inebriated soldiers.

We were yelling and pounding on the tables as he arrived and he said we were making too much noise. I’ll never forget him saying, “If you don’t stop I won’t play.” As soon as he said that every NCO and enlisted man stood up and it was deadly quiet. I think Buck realized he had said the wrong thing as he grabbed his guitar and started playing, “I Got a Tiger by the Tail.” As music soothes the savage beast, we all settled down and the night was full of camaraderie.

It’s all gone now, but a vivid memory. For some reason, music has always meant more to me than I ever realized, and my best memories always come to life through music.

God Bless.

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


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