George Worthy
George Worthy

Today seems like it might be a little different than most Sundays; there is an Artichoke Festival. This year it is in Monterey instead of Castroville. I was going to accompany my bride and her friends and go with them, but I needed to get this written. I love artichokes; naturally, I really only like the fried ones. 

When I was getting out of the Army, I had put in my application to be a deputy sheriff. Since they were short of deputies, I was pretty much assured a job, and so the Army let me ride along with a sergeant from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. He took me to the Giant Artichoke for a lunch break and bought me some fried artichoke hearts — this was when I fell in love with the Monterey area. 

The sergeant said that if I found myself without lunch, they would probably give me a couple of hearts. He didn’t recommend that I try it until they knew me better. I decided right then that I wouldn’t be one of those officers who accepts free food. Of course, when I was hired and sent to the Monterey Sub Station working midnight till 8 a.m., I might be talked into a free cup of coffee at Denny’s in Monterey.

OK, now you know almost all my secrets. So I guess I will write the rest of this week’s offering about my pickup. Nelda, my wife’s mother, gave me a Christmas card this year that said it was good for one thing for my pickup. I keep that card on top of my desk because I want to make sure it is around when I need a big ticket for my truck. At least that is the story I keep telling her. She won’t ever find out that I have no intention of taking money from her. Let’s face it, I live with her daughter. She doesn’t realize that Lorraine has already told me I could look at the card, but I can’t use it. So, I will be working on it by myself.

Since I write my columns about my truck more than anything else, you pleasant readers have heard about my pickup ever since I have been trying to grab your attention. You may not know that my truck is again in the shop. This time it is because there is a new mechanic in town. Paco, the tow truck master of Gonzales, has moved. We all can remember looking over at Paco’s place of business on Gonzales River Road as you drive west out of Gonzales. It has always been a busy location, and like most successful men, Paco wanted to grow! He already had his tow trucks, the service station at the intersection of Gonzales River Road and Alta Main, and oh yeah, his kids! 

Children are the real treasures we have. Paco told me he was helping them to get their feet under a business. You might have seen a repair shop across from his Service Station. It was called Wally’s Garage. Well, Wally got a little too much California and sold Paco his garage. Since Paco has a son, Isaiah, who was looking for something to keep him busy, they both decided that Isaiah was going to be the savior of the location. So I was happy to let him work on my pickup. 

I was talking with Paco about our kids and he mentioned that Isaiah was up in the Bay Area taking a class on SMOG. Like a lot of you, I have three cars that all need smog inspections when they are getting a new registration. It will be pretty good to not have to call up to Salinas and make an appointment. Even if Isaiah can’t get to you right away, it is still a lot better to spend the money locally. So, good luck to Isaiah in this new endeavor. I hope you will drop by.

I can still remember moving my gun shop from East Gabilan Street in Salinas, where it had been since 1936, to the 100 block of Main in Salinas. I can tell you it is hard to move a location of your business, even if it’s just around the corner. What with the fire in my gun shop, I decided to try a new occupation. 

While in my shop I found that the best customers were men who worked to grow or sell the produce that made this valley famous. I didn’t have any farmland to plant, so I decided to try and sell the produce. 

Like any good job that paid well, there were a lot of folks that also wanted that job. I was a little behind the curve because I only knew a few farmers or salesmen. Most of the time if a farmer had kids, he would hire them to work in the sales office and even then it was difficult to find a job. I did have one stroke of luck. One of the guys that was in charge of selling was a particularly nice guy and he had put an ad in the paper looking for a broker. 

Now a broker is a salesman, but he helps all the farmers sell their goods to the produce houses across the United States. When you look out the car window as you drive along Highway 101, you might not understand that our land and climate make the Salinas Valley a major player in the produce business all over the world. I begged this fellow that was advertising for a broker until he let me come into his office and sweep the floor and answer the phone. 

I came in at six in the morning and made coffee. I listened and wrote down what I was hearing, studied the Blue Book, which is the “Bible” of the broker business, and called the East Coast produce wholesalers. Eventually I got a couple of houses to buy from me. This led to about 25 years of sitting behind a desk selling produce. This was one of those days that you might have a few of as you grow. 

I’m fortunate to have tried many different things in my life that led me here. I hope you find what makes you happy too.

God Bless.

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

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