Gin & Tonic

My first taste was at age twenty-one when I was a driver for an old salesman of agriculture-industrial belts in the valleys of California between the coast and the Great Central Valley.

Mr. Brett couldn’t see or hear too well, but he loved his life-long job. He hired me as his eyes and ears and for my driving capabilities (I was a good driver, having learned at age fifteen).

My life was on hiatus between the US Navy and San Francisco City College; I, needed something remunerative to do before classes started.

Mr. Brett paid me $1.50 per hour, plus lodging and food along the way. At the end of each day, we would register at a hotel in Salinas, or San Luis Obispo, or a smaller town, and go to the hotel bar for a gin and tonic.

As Ernest Hemingway would undoubtedly have said under the same circumstance, “it was good.”

As a native San Franciscan and a city boy (the family lived five years in Brooklyn before repatriating), I was fascinated by the atmosphere of rural California, where all its real wealth then was, perhaps still is.

The rhythms were slower but more purposeful; perhaps the purpose was clearer and certainly more fundamental. We’re talking about food here: garlic and onions in Gilroy, broccoli in Greenfield, salad vegetables in Gonzales (now grapes), more towns and crops than I can remember, now fifty-six years ago.

I’m currently sipping on my second G&T, and these memories are flooding back.

I was twenty-one, I had served as well as this geek could in the US Navy as an electronics tech, and I was now entrusted with the safety of this kind and loquacious man who lived in Marin County, near San Rafael. His family accepted me graciously; I realize now they wanted to assess my ability to care for their paterfamilias.

Ah, sweet memories. Ah, gin and tonic.


About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate Californian living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
This entry was posted in Memoirs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gin & Tonic

  1. Eric Gandy says:

    Relaxing by the poolside of my hotel in Harare after a long day teaching, I nonchalantly beckoned the waiter and asked for a well-deserved G & T. International or African, sir? What’s in an African G& T? After a slight hesitation he explained: You don’t want to know, sir. With another week of teaching ahead, I played safe.

    • Ron Pavellas says:

      … do you wonder what it is that you didn’t want to know? Or are you glad you don’t know what the waiter said you wouldn’t want to know?

      Thanks for the response, Eric.

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