George Worthy
George Worthy

I love living in the Salinas Valley. I have always loved this part of the state. Oh sure there is the wind, but that you have to have something to dust while cleaning house. I will say that you really never, as our early neighbors said, “Get used to it!” Well, at least I haven’t in the many years I have called the valley my home.

It takes almost a whole tank of propane to cook outside during the summer. Ah, but as my precious roommate says, “If that’s all you have to complain about, you are doing pretty well.” And you know what? She’s right. Well, truly she is always right. She insisted that those words were in our wedding vows. Of course I signed off on that paragraph. Our wedding was a time for the ages. We were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Salinas.

When we decided to get married, we both wanted that church to be the point of new beginnings. Her parents were pretty happy about their daughter getting married in a Catholic church, and Sacred Heart was where we were listening to God’s word on Sunday. I was mesmerized by the Gospel.

I had been in a lot of churches in my life up until that point. We moved around a bit and my mom would quickly ride around the nearest town looking around to find a church to take her crew of four boys. Perhaps “put up with us” might be a little closer to the truth. I would like to tell you that we boys were all for that, but since I am writing about our life of religion, I’m not going to take a chance that I might get the wrong ticket when the Roll is called up yonder.

There were three of us old enough to ogle the local girls. Well, maybe two of the older boys were old enough and that had caused mom to mention their peccadilloes to our dad when we got home. One did not tease my dad with reports of misbehaver. He was more of the “You boys have been warned,” that any behavior that made my mom feel like folks were starring at her boys would not be the right move. She never said anything to the master of the house that would bring down the roof or cause physical harm, but he was quick to order the most egregious boy to “Go get the belt.” In truth, no one was permanently scarred.

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned that my dad was crippled. He had been the victim of some mysterious malady when he was a young man and had lost three inches off his left leg. He used shoes with a huge sole on them to disguise his limp, but his limp never stopped him from doing anything. So, since running when he told one of us to “Go get the belt” was the same as blaspheming in a church, we usually would just hide behind each other until his lesson in church attendance was complete.

It was the order to “Go get the belt” that started our legs a quivering. In truth, my dad was a great guy. Oh, he might have had a second beer when one would do, but he never truly hit any of us hard enough to really make one cry or leave a mark. But that didn’t mean that we didn’t cry. We certainly did not even contemplate calling in the local law enforcement to save us.

In those days, threats were all he needed. He knew that a parent could do as they wanted to get a child straightened out. Funny, I never even knew that you could notify anyone about your dad spanking you with a belt. Even if I had known, I can’t even imagine how I would have done something about it. My dad may not have been a God, but in my eyes he was pretty darn close.

The strange thing is that he never had closed door meetings with anyone but my oldest brother. My other older brother, my younger brother and I just held our breath and hoped that he didn’t get notice of the fist fight at school. As far as I can remember, the only good thing about having an older brother was that no one picked on the baby of the family. Of course that also made my younger brother a little smart mouth, which got him in trouble after the two older brothers had joined the Marine Corp. I, of course, did not suffer because I had their reputations to remind any ne’er-do-well of the dire results of picking on me. Besides, it only happened once that he had to speak to a high school senior who had popped me across the head with a roller skate.

I was ready to get it on with this jerk, but one of my friends looked at my eye, which was the color of the most beautiful sunset you have ever seen. He told me to take it easy because I had older brothers to take care of this oaf. Funny thing about that, this scoundrel and his family moved away before anything happened that would have been catastrophic to him, me and my family of brothers.

I had a man teacher who told me he was proud of me for not letting my older brothers take care of my problems. He said that this guy would pay for his cowardice one day. I told him that he was nice to tell me that and to take me under his wing, but he didn’t have a black eye that could light up a stadium. I survived and even stopped a fight once where there was a big boy and a smaller tyke with a big mouth. I didn’t make a hobby out of that because some things we have to learn the hard way. Funny thing, nothing has really changed, I’m still learning the hard way.

God Bless.

Previous articleSalinas Valley Police Reports | Published April 10, 2024
Next articleDeadline nears for Monterey County artists to apply for Individual Artists Grant
Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here