After a year repairing Farm Machinery in Shafter, working their way to the top of the pay scale, Guy and Lester both were feeling boredom creep slowly but surely up their now powerful frames. With folks often telling stories about better opportunities up north, they were starting to get that familiar itch between their shoulder blades to move on.
One day Lester found a fixer upper cab over camper shell for their pickup, so in their spare time, they fixed it up right nice, so if they had too, they could make that their temporary home, wherever they ended up next. Plus it gave them a place to keep what little they owned out of the sun and rain.
A lot of the talk centered on a coastal area in a place called Monterey County. Having never seen an Ocean, the boys were excited about that prospect. Everyone kept mentioning the Farms up there in a town called Salinas.
After talking it over, they made the decision to move on, so they gave their boss their two-week notice. At the end of the two weeks, they packed everything in their new camper and said goodbye to the few folks they’d met at the trailer park and their co-workers. So on a Friday after work ended, they picked up their last paycheck, which included a nice little bonus the owner gave them in appreciation for their continued good work there, and drove off with light hearts and anticipation toward their next adventure.
After a three-hour drive first west on Highway 46 to Highway 101, then north toward Salinas, they once again found themselves traveling within the large green farms there. Being close to the sea, everything seemed lush, richer and greener than the valley areas. Plus the smells and moister in the air slowly grew a little strange with a slight tang of salt in it’s essence they’d never smelled nor felt before.
It was in their blood and souls to not waste a moment setting on their Loral’s, so after asking some of the other oakies they came across about jobs around there, they headed straight over to one of the larger recommended farms.
This turned out to be an Artichoke farm and what an operation it was. There were Artichoke plants in perfect rows as far as the eye could see in every direction. Raised in the hot climates of the Southwest, they’d only heard of these strange vegetables. They’d never even seen one until now. When they first tried one, after learning how to cook and eat them, it seemed such an awful lot of trouble for such a small taste but they ended up liking them in the end.
With their special skills and experience from the Orange farm down south, getting on with the Artichoke farm turned out to be a snap. They were both hired right on the spot and were told to show up first thing in the morning.
As usual, Guy was hired to drive farm machinery and Lester was put on as a mechanic. With their considerable expericance, they were promised both raises and a step up the ladder of employment, soon as a management position opened.
Then one day, everything changed. As guy drove the tractor-trailer out to gather up another load of Artichokes, there she was. There were hundreds of laborers in the field but for some reason, she caught his eye. First with just a backward glance, then a coy, almost embarrassed smile that made everything else of a sudden shadowy.
He was far too shy to attempt to meet her that day but couldn’t keep her out of his mind.
Within a few weeks of seeing her out in the fields and wondering how he might meet her, he got a break. Word got around there was going to be a dance at the local Grange Hall in town this next weekend.
So the next time the laborers lined up with their full baskets, when his dream girl reached the trailer, with her shy downward cast eyes shining, he decided it was now or never.
So he straightened his shoulders and stood up tall and walked right up as if he were doing nothing but inspecting the artichokes. That’s when she looked up and once again bedazzled him with her radiant smile, which almost left him speechless, and week kneed. Luckily he reacquired his faltering backbone in time to smile back and say. “ Howdy Ma’am. I don’t mean to bother you while you busy here but…..” He almost faltered again but saved himself just as she was showing signs of walking off. “My name is Guy.”
“Why hello Guy.“ She said with far more boldness than he was showing so far. “My name is Viola. Nice to meet ya.”
Then came the dreaded moment of silence where guy wasn’t sure what to do or say next. Again just as the moment stretched a tad too far and she again showed signs of turning and walking away, he found his voice again. “I was awondering….” He mumbled as he kicked at a dirt clod at his feet.
“Yes?” she asked into another awkward growing silence.
“Did you hear about the dance this weekend at the Grange hall?” He finally almost blurted out.
“Why yes. Yes I have.” She answered then again stood looking at this strange creature that couldn’t seem to string his words together into real sentences.
“I was awondering…..ifen you would like to go to that dance with me?” He finished in a rush before he lost his nerve.
Now it was her turn to blush and look down at her feet, which made Guys heart almost skip a beat.
“Why yes Guy. I would like to go to the dance with you.” She said, which sent a thrill starting at Guy’s toes, then clear up to the top of his head.