George Worthy
George Worthy

I believe that if you didn’t have a good time these past couple of weekends, you must have been hiding. Our weekend started off having a great time and seeing friends that have been out of our usual destination. Let’s start out with a good and bad report on the Salinas Valley Fair Kick-Off Dinner held two Saturdays ago.

Our plan was to go dancing. If I haven’t mentioned in some of my past thoughts that I share with you, I am crazy about all kinds of dancing. My love of this exercise began back in the sixth grade at Bonita School between Santa Maria and Guadalupe. Bonita was a great school where the students were enrolled with the first to the fifth grade in one room and the fifth through the eighth grade in the other. Seriously, it was a two-room school.

Two teachers, if you count the principal as a teacher, that taught every subject you needed to know. There were two restrooms and a general purpose room where students could learn to play almost any musical instrument. These classes were taught by a visiting music teacher that came once a week. I’ll never forget that music teacher. He would really make you feel terrible if you didn’t practice the instrument that he let you choose. We even had a dance class taught by one of the other teachers.

Life was so simple back then. I was no threat to Harry James, but I learned to play the trumpet good enough to get into the Guadalupe Band. The jacket was too big, but my mom just got a big belt and wrapped it around my waist. Those memories are the sweetest memories I have. My family had moved from Lompoc when my dad got a job on a flower seed farm in Santa Maria that came with a house. We never thought it was anything but a bare bones workers house. I would bring kids home to spend the night when they didn’t believe that you could hear the rats fighting up in the attic at night. My mom, who loved Siamese cats, was afraid to put the cat in the attic. She was afraid that the rats would gang up on the cat.

When I write that you might think we lived in squalor. Fear not! We actually had a better house than many of the kids, whose parents were both field workers. There were no rich kids, and dancing to the one record we had was our escape from the doldrums of school work.

During this time, there was a program put together by our government where Japanese workers lived in their own camp. They were sent over to work and send their money home to help the Japanese economy. They had no women or children and we were warned to stay away from their camp. They didn’t have to tell us twice. They all traveled from one field to another, and one day they ran over my goat who was tied up across the road from our house. I wanted to get a gun and go after the driver, but my dad had other thoughts. He made them buy another goat for me.

We had dance classes each Thursday and you learned to feel the music even if there were no voices on the record, just a beat to teach us how to feel the rhythm. No one was singled out for dancing, you had to volunteer. Then you had to stay in during lunch break.

I started this column by telling you about how we danced in school. I forgot to mention that you also had to do some kind of dance when the school would have a Parents Day. We might have had some pretty sour notes to dancing at the time. But the reason I loved it is we got to switch partners and that meant a new way of dancing.

I would like to go back a little and tell you about the weekend we had enjoyed a couple of weeks ago. We had the SVF Kick-Off tickets given to us by some wonderful people, and I was really looking forward to dancing to a band. We didn’t get to dance because the power went out. They had just about finished all the auction items when blackness enveloped the entire room.

I should not be remiss about the auction. Of course, this is where the founders of this evening of wonderful things make money for the Heritage Foundation. I can’t think of more deserving recipient, and these folks do all this preparation of cooking of the beef that was tender and delicious beyond any that I have eaten in awhile.

Not only that, but the line to get your food flew faster than any other barbecue I have attended. They also had a room or two dedicated to a silent auction. The items that were up for bid appealed to the vast array of guests, and Lorraine and I put our pen to paper, hoping to take home some goodies.

The guys and ladies that put so much time into this annual affair had never had the power blown out, so their donations might be a bit lower than usual. But if I know the generous folks of South County, I’m sure it will work out. They truly tried hard to bring in another generator, but the huge building we were in was just too much for what could be sourced right away.

This past weekend we had a very important milestone in Gonzales. We broke ground for our upcoming Dennis and Janice Caprara Community Center Complex. This has been a long time coming. I can honestly say that we were talking about this when I was on the council. I’m so glad, God willing, that I will be able to see this come to fruition. Thank you to our city leaders, city staff and all those who have contributed to this worthwhile cause. Gonzales will truly benefit in so many ways that maybe soon I’ll be able to kick up my heels right here.

But for now, next year will be here sooner than you think, and I’m itching to buy tickets for next year’s Kick-Off. They said they would bring back the band for dancing. They are buying a new generator just right for dancing beats.

God Bless.

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


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