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August 3, 2020

Worthy to Print Column: Always darkest before the dawn

By George Worthy, Gonzales Columnist

I had to go to South San Francisco on business yesterday. It was really hot while I was up there. Not something I have seen often. Usually there is a breeze off the ocean where my customer has his plant. But it was missing yesterday. Of course it would happen when the air conditioner in my car was out. I had needed to fix it, but since I couldn’t leave the house, according to Heir Newsom, I didn’t worry. But since I also had to pick up a check from some folks in Milpitas, I just rolled down the windows. That helped a little, but then I couldn’t hear my stereo.

It didn’t cool off until I came over the pass by the old Highway Patrol Office on Highway 101. It occurred to me that as much as we all complain about our wind, we would be cooking if it didn’t blow almost every day in the Salinas Valley. I still think we should have an air quality station in Gonzales. Too many mysterious maladies are seen in this valley.

You might remember that I was aghast at the beginning of this pandemic of the coronavirus. I pointed out that the farmworkers were still going out into the fields to improve our economy. They were seated right next to each other on 48-passenger buses. It appears we are now paying for that mistake. I pray that our farmworkers are in good shape and can beat this terrible threat to our community.

We are still at a time when we were being fed conflicting statements from officials that should have known better, but of course they didn’t know anything about this scourge either. It didn’t matter that the governor of New York was actually killing older folks by sending them to nursing homes, knowing they were infected with the coronavirus. How he stays out of jail is mystifying to me.

I like the signs that are on the doors of the establishments that are open. They are now serious about not letting you into their store if you don’t have a mask. I wasn’t used to entering stores. (I had been hiding for the past few months.) Yesterday, I had to go back to my car about five times to get my mask. When I got back and went over to Jim’s Liquors to pick up some relaxing medicine, I started to go right in and then I saw the sign on the door. I sort of smiled at myself because I had forgotten again. 

I went back to my car to get my mask. I burst out laughing when I noticed that there were two other customers that were stopped at the door by the signs. We sort of bonded at that moment when the other customer said, “We have to do it!” I agreed with him and stepped in to buy some of Jim’s inventory.

While standing in line to pay, I noticed a new young man being trained to run the cash register. He was also being trained in customer service. It was heartening to see him concentrating hard to pick it up. He had a CSUMB sweatshirt on and said he was attending college. I thought how cool to see a young man getting his priorities straight. Working in his hometown and attending college at the same time. It made me think about my first job working in a Getty Service Station.

You probably never heard of the Getty gas. This was a trial deal established by J. Paul Getty, who was a pretty rich and famous guy a bunch of years ago. We didn’t call it a gas station; we called it a Service Station because we provided a service. The high school kids would drive up and hand me 50 cents and ask me to check their tires and oil.

So we would spend about 10 minutes checking everything to make sure they could make it to the next service station. They thought they were being funny, but it didn’t bother me. I actually liked providing a service. We mopped the driveway into the station when there were no customers. We even cleaned the glass on the gas pump so you could see how much you owed.

Back in those days there was a famous service station at the corner of Highway 99 and Highway 46. It was a standard station and the attendants all wore a uniform, including caps. They had one guy holding a mop who just stood there while the car was getting gas and then mopped up after each customer. It was pretty famous back then. I believe there is a gas station there now. Pump it yourself.

I don’t know when they stopped offering service at these gas pump deals, but I liked it better when they were service stations. For you see, it had to do with cars. Cars were more important to a teenager than anything else, and that’s saying something because the other really important thing was girls. You couldn’t get a girl unless you had a car and you couldn’t get a car without working.

Even today, at my age, it is a constant battle as to what is more important. (That’s a joke.) I can remember there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do if you had a car. Shoot! You could take a girl to the drive-in movies. That was unlike anything available today. You may have a thought about a girl and a boy at the drive-in, alone, you would be wrong. It was just too hot over in the San Joaquin Valley. I remember watching a movie sitting on the front fender of my car when they announced that it was 100 degrees.

I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, it’s just that we are slowly being reintroduced to those happy times and coming together by a viral invasion. It’s too bad that someday we will think of these times as the good old days. I survived those happy days and we will survive these days. It is always the darkest before the dawn.

I have to mention this even though I might be proved wrong. I am blessed that I don’t know anyone that has contracted this virus. In fact, I don’t know anyone who knows anyone that has. But maybe that’s just me. Wash your hands and wear your masks.

God Bless.

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