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Worthy to Print Column | You Say It’s Your Birthday

George Worthy

“You say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too, yeah. They say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time. I’m glad it’s your birthday, Happy Birthday to you. Yes we’re going to a party.”

I’ve told you before that I enjoy living in Gonzales. I’ve watched three generations growing up in the cul-de-sac that I live on. As these kids grew, we became closer to the families that live here and watched the children of these neighbors flourish and bring a smile to the rest of the folks that live here. 

After a while it starts to get expensive to make sure every child has a gift for their special day. So I sat down at my computer and recorded every artist as they sang “Happy Birthday.” I put all these songs on a disc and present it as my gift to the birthday person. 

I don’t know if it will become anything special to these children, but it doesn’t matter. I just wanted them to have something to remember the day and the old man that gave the disc to them. I didn’t write the words to the song we have all sung to the birthday because the owner of that song has said that they want a royalty every time it is sung. I may get a letter from The Beatles saying the same thing, but I’ll take that chance.  

What month of the year is your birthday? This month is also my birthday, and as I am getting older each year this song reminds me of all the wonderful birthday parties that my family has thrown for me in the past. I have told them that I don’t want any presents. I want their presence on the day set aside for my birthday. That will be enough of a gift.

The song “Birthday” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1968 at a recording session that they had. It was written as easy as pie. Just that little blurb should convince you that The Beatles were very likely a couple of geniuses.

I remember watching the “Fabulous Four,” as they deplaned in New York on their very first visit to the United States. The ladies were going crazy. Can you imagine being one of the teens of America where Elvis and then The Beatles came to set their hearts beating? I was on my way to Europe to protect the world and I had no money or car. So I could only watch them on television. Europe was not bereft of good music.

The German people were pretty shook up to see their children embracing these master musicians. But it was the same everywhere. Before Elvis and The Beatles, we were listening to Pat Boone singing “Love Letters in the Sand.”

There was a lot of difference between the music our parents listened to and the hip-shaking Elvis or The Beatles. Of course, Elvis “The Devil” was bringing the wrath of our parents upon any teenager who even tried to sing one of the “Devil’s Tunes.” Grownups had huge “record burning” events throughout the country. The Beatles, because they wrote their own lyrics and had long hair and even sung that they wanted to “Hold Your Hand,” the parents were aghast.

These musicians of that period, and there were many rock and rollers, changed the very fabric of our lives. I know it is difficult trying to understand today that at the time of these musicians, parents had never faced anything like this, but this was a movement that was fueled by teenagers. The parents of that time were just back from war, so the long hair and tight pants drove them crazy. Long live rock ’n’ roll!

My favorite was Elvis due to his dyed long hair and his ability to mesmerize the ladies. He drove them nuts. Every male teenager tried to grow their hair long. Of course, I couldn’t grow long hair that looked as good as Elvis. My hair was curly, and since my parents were the money pit I did as they asked and got short haircuts.

It was a small thing, and if it made my mom happy I was on board. I was also in the Army, and they didn’t care if you wanted long hair. It was a demerit to show up for inspection with any hair touching the collar anywhere on your head. If we got a demerit, we couldn’t get a three-day pass to go to Amsterdam.

Our hunger for the music that made you move your feet was satisfied by pooling our money and going to the PX to buy any record we didn’t already have. Then we would grab a couple of beers if we had enough and sit around and mouth sync to the songs played. No women, but that was what Amsterdam was for.

My favorite birthday of life was one that my blushing bride threw for me. She had somehow reached out to just about every person that I considered a friend and rented a restaurant that used to be on Abbott Street in Salinas. I was working over in Carmel at the time and got home pretty late, but as soon as I got home she said that Larry Barnes wanted to see me about something.

Larry is not with us anymore, but was a great guy and a good friend who almost singlehandedly brought restaurants and a sandwich shop to the 100 block of Main Street in Salinas.

When we went to the restaurant, Lorraine said she would go get him and bring him out to the car. Larry appeared at the door of his sandwich shop and waved me in. I was getting a little tired, but Larry came over to the car and said, “Come on in, George. I’ll get you a beer.” So I told myself I would just see what he wanted and get back in the car.

As I entered the little sandwich shop, I saw people that I didn’t normally see while out to dinner. Lots of folks were yelling “Happy Birthday!” I was telling myself, “Hey, I know that guy and that woman, but I know they didn’t know each other.” Then, while folks were singing “Happy Birthday” to me, I realized that Lorraine had done what no one ever had done. She had set me up for a surprise birthday party. Did I ever tell you that I love her?

The night turned out to be a highlight of my life. So there you go! Nobody had ever made me as happy as my young bride, and that night was just one of thousands she has touched and made my heart sing. To anyone having a birthday this coming week…Happy Birthday and may all your wishes come true.

God Bless.