Thursday, February 23, 2017

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says there will be no local town hall meetings, and who knew Men's Wearhouse owner founder George Zimmer was such a big proponent of legal marijuana?

 * ... TOWN HALLS: Don't expect Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy to hold any town hall meetings soon. The House Majority Leader made that clear Wednesday when I spoke to him in a
wide ranging interview on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. In fairness to McCarthy, he has always been accessible here, spending his time in the district at events, pressing the flesh at restaurants and even working shifts at local sandwich shops. And, as he correctly noted, House Republicans have been ambushed by well organized groups who appear less concerned about debating the issues than shouting down the incumbent for TV sound bites. McCarthy also indicated we might see the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act sooner, rather than later, and that it might include subsidies to allow families to customize coverage to their own individual needs. Finally he said the GOP plan would likely save two popular ACA guidelines: leaving children on plans until they reach the age of 26 and guaranteeing coverage for pre-existing conditions.

 * ... PROTESTS: And speaking of McCarthy, I think it is deplorable that protesters think it is perfectly okay to  stage their protests in front of McCarthy's personal residence. It raises serious security issues not only for McCarthy's family for for neighbors as well.

* ... TRUMP: Nick Graham dropped me this note that no doubt speaks for a lot of folks here: " "It is troubling to watch how divided are country is becoming.  However, I have peace of mind, a better sense of security, and most of all HOPE in knowing that Donald Trump is our President and not Hillary Clinton."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "A job interview is like a first date. You dress up, pretend to be someone else and spend the time wondering if you’re going to get screwed."

* ... ZIMMER: Did you know that George Zimmer, the gravely voiced founder of Men's Wearhouse, has turned into an outspoken advocate for recreational marijuana? It turns out that Zimmer, who was ousted from the company he founded and is now working on his new firm Generation Tux, credits marijuana with helping him quit drinking some 35 years ago.

 * ... HAIL TEXAS: Phil Jacobs responded to my earlier post about how Californians are viewed in Texas. "As someone who has great admiration for all things Texas, I was really interested in the e-mail sent to you about Californians at a Texas rodeo. To be honest, I'm surprised that they would allow anyone from my pitiful state in any Texas activity. I'm sure there was no rudeness involved, because Texans are incapable of this or any other vice. It was probably just natural shock that Californians were let in... As a Californian who loves Texas, I hope Texans feel free to stop by our humble state anytime they get tired of glorious Texas. For those Texans that know how to use a compass or the location of Polaris, California is about 600-800 miles west of Amarillo. It's near a big water sometimes called the Pacific Ocean. There are rumors that this water is bigger that the Gulf of Texas, I mean Mexico. I'm sure that's untrue. In closing, I say hail to the great state or rather World of Texas. It is truly the most wonderful place on Earth, including Disneyland!"

 * ... MEMORIES: I lifted this memory from the Facebook page Kern County of Old: "Not counting our heritage Basque restaurants, there were exactly five classy places you might take a dater for the prom in the mid 1960s: Maison Jaussauds, Tam O'Shanter, Freddie's Top of the Hill, Bakersfield Inn and the Skyway Lounge at the old Meadows Field terminal.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally this from the same source: "Dan Blocker (1928-1972) was Grand Marshal of the Bakersfield Christmas Parade in 1961. He played 'Hoss Cartright' on the show Bonanza. While here for the event he was a guest at the Cousin Herb Henson home."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

More rain headed for California makes for an epic wet year, Cafe Smitten opens to huge crowds and who remembers Tri-Valley Rambler on Chester Avenue?

 * ... WEATHER: Can you remember the last time rain was not in the forecast? What a year it has
been and yet more rain is in the forecast. One friend told me he had not used his sprinklers in three months, another is predicting we will have water in the Kern River well through July Fourth, and experts say don't be surprised if we are skiing in Mammoth through Labor Day.

* ... CAFE SMITTEN: Cafe Smitten, the impressive new downtown coffee and pastry house, opened Monday to a crowds that snaked out the door onto the sidewalk virtually all day. The design is stunning, or as a friend muttered to himself, "are we in Santa Monica?" For me, I knew this 18th Street bistro was special when I was greeted with the soft melody of the song "Sin City" by the Flying Burrito Brothers when I walked through the door. My non-fat latte was excellent but I was secretly envious of a friend's 'smashed avocado' sandwich, one of the many creative items on a menu that includes beer and wine. Another big selling point: plenty of outdoor seating. Among those I spotted on opening day were Watson Realtors John and Katy Glentzer, Ward 2 City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith (his daughter and son-in-law run the place), local businessman Mel Atkinson and daughter KellyAnn, Metro Galleries owner Don Martin, Californian editor Stephanie Diaz and reporter Jason Kotowski and Live Office Systems marketing artists Matthew Prewitt and Bree Wattonville.

 * ... HUMAN KINDNESS: This note from Lynn and Bill Seeker showed up in my mailbox: "We would like to thank 'Bailey'' who kindly paid for our breakfast at the 24th Street Cafe on Feb.16.  It  was very generous of him to do this. There are a lot of very kind  people here in Bakersfield  and you are one. "

  * ... LIFE: This is why I love Facebook: the other day a friend posts this: "Seriously, can you imagine Trump in a real crisis?" while at the same time another chimes in: "Who wants to do the Abs Challenge?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy you a really nice house to be miserable in."

 * ... MEMORIES: If you are a Bakersfield old timer, you may remember the old Tri-Valley Rambler dealership. I learned this while visiting the Kern County of Old Facebook page, a repository of old photos and local history. In 1964, according to a story in The Californian, Tri-Valley was purchased by a then young Richard Stricklen and relocated to Chester and 26th streets.

 * ... RODEO: A reader dropped this note in my mailbox: "I recently received this note from a close personal friend who recently attended the Humble Rodeo in Humble, Texas. It said: 'It was a great event and with about 2,000 in attendance, it had the flavor of times past in small town America. As the evening progressed, the announcer began to ask people from various states to stand as he called them out. Loud applause for some, polite for others. When he asked who was from California, two people sitting in front of the arena stood. There was no applause, just silence. The announcer then said 'welcome to America.' That brought down the house!”

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cafe Smitten and the renovated Silver Fox Starlite Lounge open on 18th Street, Cathy Butler retires from the Downtown Business Association and remembering when Truman's whistle stop tour came to Bakersfield

* ... CAFE SMITTEN: The downtown area is getting an upscale new coffee and pastry house east of Chester on 18th Street. It is called Cafe Smitten and it is run by the daughter of Ward 4 City
Councilman Bob Smith and her husband, Stasie and Shai Bitton. Not coincidentally, Smith is a principal investor in the 17th Place Luxury Townhomes just a couple blocks away. Cafe Smitten opens on Monday. Meanwhile, down the street we are about a month away from the opening of Qwikcafe, the new venture by Sequoia Sandwich Co. that will feature a full array of "to go" sandwiches and salads.

 * ... STARLITE LOUNGE: Meanwhile a bit farther east on 18th Street the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge opens Friday after an extensive remodel and facelift by new owners Rod and Julie Crawford, who also own the popular Pyrenees Cafe in east Bakersfield. Both the Starlite and Cafe Smitten are important chapters in the renaissance of the 18th Street corridor.

 * ... CATHY BUTLER: Congratulations to Cathy Butler who recently retired as president of the Downtown Business Association after more than 40 years. Butler was a tireless advocate for downtown, but the passage of time has rendered the DBA as something of a nostalgic relic of the past. Whatever largely ceremonial work the DBA is now engaged in could likely be performed by a committee at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, at a fraction of the cost.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Don't be surprised when your tax refund arrives as store credit toward the purchase of Ivanka's Spring line of fashions."

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this memory from east Kern's Bill Deaver? "About your item on president Harry Truman visiting Kern County during his 'whistle-stop' tour in 1948. My brother Mike (later deputy chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan) and I were attending Mojave Elementary School and walked to the Standard Pacific station in Mojave to see Mr. Truman. He walked onto the back platform of the heavily-armored Ferdinand Magellan, the presidential car. About that time one of the new jet fighters from Muroc Army Air Base flew over and Margaret Truman ran onto the platform to see it and almost knocked her dad down, to the great entertainment of the large crowd. Fast-forward to 1984 and guess who was riding in that car as a top aide to President Ronald Reagan during another presidential campaign? That kid from Mojave, Michael K. Deaver! One of those “only in America” moments!"

  * ... MORE TRUMAN: Jim D. Smith also remembers the whistle stop tour of Harry Truman. "As an 11-year-old I was on the Beardsley School playground as the train slowly rolled into Bakersfield, powered by a steam engine and pulling a caboose. Teachers had us all outside, knowing the train was due to pass by. "    

 * .... BAKERSFIELDISM: According to Ronal Reynier, you may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember two of Bakersfield's auto thrill rides: "the 'Seven Sisters' outside of Oildale and when the road down the Bluff's was two-lane. I think almost everyone when they got a car had to try the Seven Sisters. There were other places outside the city were you could 'fly' with four wheels up but they were a lot further out then the Sisters. A trip in the spring on Round Mountain Road to South Granite Road can be quite interesting at times. At times you can still see pieces of cars at the bottom of 100 foot gullies who did not make the complete trip. It gets interesting when oil trucks are coming at you 50 mph and you think your 25 mph is too fast."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

City Councilman Bob Smith steps in to help residents of a neighboring ward, Monsignor Craig Harrison holds forth at another successful CrabFest and remembering the late Trice Harvey

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here's an example of really good form from Campus Park resident Kevin Cornelius. Campus Park is in Ward 5, represented by the late Jeff Tkac, and was having issues with trees being cut and hauled away. So with no current city council representative, residents turned to
Ward 4 Council Bob Smith for help. "Last Monday the city cut down five trees in one day! We the neighbors of North Campus Park decided enough already. We also had complaints with the sump or pond which was formerly a nice ecosystem a few years back. In this pond area or sump as the city calls it... everything from kit fox to ducks, cranes and falcons thrived before the city brought in heavy earth moving equipment and cleaned out all the reeds and vegetation. My wife (Sabrina) contacted Bob on Tuesday about the situation and he responded right back with a meeting three days later. Councilman Smith brought along with him city officials ( Dianne Hoover with Parks and Recreation,   Jason Meadows theWater Resources Director, and Arthur Chianello the Water Resources Manager).  We would like to thank Bob and these three city officials who showed up in the pouring rain at the park to listen to all of our concerns. They were all very courteous and promised to get back to us with some hopeful solutions."

* ... CRABFEST: Monsignor Craig Harrison held court at the annual CrabFest this weekend, the hugely popular fund raiser for St. Francis School that brings together a few hundred like minded people under one roof for a dinner of ribs and crab. Angeline Mason and Rick and Cindy Jones were honored for their service, and longtime St. Francis principal Cindy Meek learned the school will build a new wing and cafeteria named in her honor. I had the chance to break bread and chat with the remarkable Kathy and John Ritter, both longtime educators and St. Francis supporters. Events like this bring our community together, and it was good to spot so many people giving their time (and money) to a good cause.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Relationship status: getting a back rub from a tennis ball wedged against the wall."

 * ... TRICE HARVEY: Ronal Reynier shared with memory about our late Assemblyman Trice Harvey, which speaks to his good character. "About 20 years ago my wife Mary and I, on the way back from the coast, stopped at the White Elephant in Taft for lunch. A Iowa football game had just started. Trice was there and said Iowa had no chance against his team. My wife could not let that pass and so bet him $5 Iowa would win. Our quick 30 minute lunch turned into a three hour game. Iowa won and Trice reached into his wallet ... he had to borrow $5 from a friend, his wallet by that time was empty."

 * ... CHARTER SCHOOLS: My piece on charter schools triggered this response from my friend Louis Widman out at Cal State Bakersfield: "Public schools are good for our democracy, because no other institution brings so many children together and, very importantly, teaches them how to get along with people of different faiths, races, and wealth. Since we are only free to make choices among the alternatives we know, a democracy needs public schools to provide everyone with an education that prepares people to make choices as citizens. I don’t want corporations or churches running charter schools to control what choices people realize they have."

 * ... MEMORIES: Anthony Bernal says you know your are from Bakersfield "if you remember the days presidential candidates traveled by rail and both Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey made campaign stops at the Southern Pacific Depot at Baker and Sumner in 1948."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Orleans may soon have all its school children in charter schools, I scored gold in two tickets to CrabFest and what is your rule on tipping in restaurants?

 * ... BETSY DEVOS: Newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a strong supporter of charter schools, striking fear into teacher's unions and others who fear this could spell the demise of traditional education. But the future may already be here, in no place else than post Katrina New
Orleans where the percentage of children attending charter schools has reached 92 percent. I spotted this letter in Politico Magazine: "Soon, New Orleans may become the only big city in the country without a single traditional public school run by a central office; nearly all have been turned into charter schools—there are now more than 80 in all—and the five remaining holdouts may be converted in the next few months. A few thousand families take advantage of the state’s voucher program, enrolling in local Catholic schools. And overall, test scores here have improved markedly." In a report by The New York Times, there were surprising percentages for other urban school districts: Flint, Mich., stands at 52 percent; Kansas City is at 40 percent, Philadelphia 32 percent; Detroit is at 53 percent and the District of Columbia is at 45 percent. The lesson: give parents choice and in many cases they opt out of public schools in troubled urban districts.

* ... CRABFEST: Life is full of small surprises and mine came when I scored two tickets to this year's CrabFest out at the Fairgrounds this weekend. There are a lot of terrific fund raisers about town - West Rotary's Cioppino feed comes to mind - but I put CrabFest at the top of my list. It's a huge event featuring fresh crabs and ribs and proceeds go to help the folks at St. Francis School for the purchase of band instruments, art supplies and sports equipment and fees. It has also provided funds for construction of the school chapel, renovation of the cafeteria and the formation of popular extracurricular activities such as Academic Decathalon and Homework Club.

 * ... TYLER WILLIAMS: Congratulations to Tyler Williams, a 22-year-old Bakersfield lad who is living the dream as a professional cyclist in Europe. Williams, who attended Centennial High before being home school so he could compete, is riding for the Israeli-sponsored Cycling Academy team on the Pro Continental circuit. The team is currently based in Girona, Spain, and when back stateside he calls Santa Rosa home. Williams and his high school sweetheart, Brea Wanner, wed a few months ago.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I know you're supposed to eat three meals during the day, but how many do you eat at night?"

 * ... TIPPING: What is your policy on tipping? My standard is 15 percent but if the service is really good, and the waiter not too overbearing but at the same time attentive, I go 20 percent or higher. Jeramy Brown, general manager of The Mark Restaurant on 19th Street, appeared on my radio show on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM and approved my system, but also said some restaurants in bigger cities are now doing away with tipping altogether, choosing instead to simply raise the price of the meals. My take: allow me to retain the decision on how good (or bad) the service was.

 * ... TOWNHOMES: Some good news for downtown: the first tenants have moved into the 17th Place Luxury Townhomes, a major step in the further development of residential facilities east of Chester Avenue. Coming soon: a new downtown coffee shop and bakery called Cafe Smitten on 18th Street.

 * ... PUMPKIN CENTER: I am a sucker for almost anything that connects us to our past, and that's why I spend far too much time on a Facebook page called "Kern County of Old." This is a treasure trove of information on the history of Kern County, thanks to folks who post family pictures and memories. This is one that jumped out at me, posted by a woman who accompanied this post with a picture of her relatives early on in Pumpkin Center. "Thought it would be cool to share a little family history today......This is Taft Highway in 1932. My grandfather Mike Giminiani started the little town of Pumpkin Center with a fruit stand and grocery store. It was the last stop to Taft during the big oil boom. He also had a jitney service that drove loggers to and from Johnsondale up above Kernville with that car you see pictured here. He also bootlegged and made his own wine... To this day, the large wine barrels are still in the cellar of the house my mother grew up in. I have such fond memories there."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Remembering a big boned neighborhood dog named Gennie, a star at the Fox Theater for the late Wendy Wayne and do we really want full dinner service in movie theaters?

 * ... RIP GENNIE: Pets are like friends, even if they didn't belong to you. So it was with a heavy heart that I read that Gennie, the big boned, 16-year-old white muzzled Lab mix that belonged to Herb and Sue Benham, had finally died. I got to know Gennie when I would feed her and her blind
companion, Poco, when the Benhams were out of town being doting grand parents. Even on those days when I didn't provide the occasional rib bones from Luigi's, Gennie was ever grateful for the attention and a fresh bowl of food and water. She was a big girl and I suppose imposing to a stranger with bad intentions, but to me she was sweet Gennie who embodied all that is good about Bakersfield: born of humble origins, a bit awkward for her size, yet grateful, loving and determined to make that last two block walk until the day she could not longer muster the strength. The selfless love of a dog or cat is unequalled in this world even if she doesn't happen to be yours. RIP Ms Gennie.

 * ... WENDY WAYNE: The next time you are at the Fox Theater downtown make sure you check out the new 'walk of fame' star honoring Wendy Wayne, the big hearted community activist who died of cancer in July of 2012. The star was uncovered on a beautiful Saturday morning by her husband Gene Tackett and a couple dozen friends and family members. Tackett read a poem by an unknown author called "I'm Free" that ends this way: "Perhaps my time seemed all good brief, don't lengthen it now with undue grief, lift up your hears and share with me .. I'm free." Wendy would be 69 today had she survived her cancer.

* ... SILVER FOX: Expect the renovated Silver Fox Starlite Lounge to reopen by the first of March. That's the word from the new owners Rod and Julie Crawford, who have pledged to bring the Silver Fox back to its old glory. The interior now sports a beautiful, classic black and silver wallpaper that beckons back to the hey day of old Bakersfield, a fresh new coat of paint has been added and expect to see new "Silver Fox" signage in the coming weeks.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Imagine how fun Pringles would be if the cans were spring-loaded."

 * ... HISTORY: Did you know that there used to be two elementary schools on the site where Bakersfield Fire Station No. 1 is now located at H and 21st streets? The first was called Bryant Grammar School until it burned in 1889 and the second was simply called the H Street grammar school. I learned this on the 'Kern County of Old' Facebook page, a wealth of information about our community.

 * ... MOVIE THEATERS: I have already weighed in on the idea of serving full meals and cocktails in movie theaters - that would be a resounding 'no' - but Carole Cohen told me about a better idea that she experienced in New Mexico recently. "I recently attended the movies in Santa Fe.  Lots of different food and beverages, including alcohol, served IN THE LOBBY, where tables and chairs were plentiful. Some items could be taken into the theater, but I didn't really see big food orders going in. I'm assuming this was mainly because, with reserved seating, no one was let into their individual theater until 10 mins before show time. (All seats were reserved, and tickets could be purchased by machine in the lobby, several days in advance, or through the usual means -
humans behind a counter.) The theater was always packed and their business model was obviously popular. It seemed much better suited to the Bakersfield market."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Congressman David Valadao strikes an independent pose, some ideas for Hart Park and did we find that owner of the 1962 Cadillac that turned up in a Florida car museum?

 * ... DAVID VALADAO: There are few politicians who have been better at walking the tight road of being a Republican and supporting immigration reform than Rep. David Valadao of Hanford. The son of Portuguese immigrants, Valadao succeeds in a largely Hispanic congressional district by paying
attention to the needs of his constituents. I spoke with the congressman on my daily radio show on KERN NewTalk 96.1 and it was clear he was willing to butt heads with the Trump administration no matter the cost. He was an early supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and this week he introduced legislation to protect the 'Dreamers' in case these young people who are here illegally but were brought to the United States as infants risk deportation. Valadao said there may be as many as 50,000 'Dreamers' in the counties he serves, as astonishing number by any standard. I was also curious to learn that Valadao, a strong supporter of Israel, supports the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If Jesus does return, I'm pretty sure he'll be stopped at the airport."

 * ... THEATER DINING: Count me among those who are skeptical about this idea of introducing restaurant dining into movie theaters. It's bad enough dealing with people who talk and incessantly check their cell phones, and now I have to hear the crunch of the taco and the sound of silverware on plates? No thank you, I'll pass.

 * ... TRICE HARVEY: And also count me among those who are mourning the loss of former county supervisor and Assemblyman Trice Harvey, a unique spirit who possessed a special gift of making others laugh. While working at The Californian, I would often stop by the office on a Sunday and would occasionally receive a call from Trice telling me his paper was not delivered. I'd grab a copy and drive it over to the Harvey home, where Trice would greet me with a big smile and this greeting in his deep Arkansas drawl: "Well lookie here, the CEO as my personal delivery boy! Now that is service!"

 * ... HART PARK: There is a lot of talk about what to do about Hart Park, that gem of a greenbelt out off Alfred Harrell Highway. The county is broke, and is now considering charging a daily fee to park there, but a better idea was raised recently on my talk radio show when Supervisor Mike Maggard was my guest. (For the record Maggard opposes the daily fee). A caller suggested hiring a vendor to bring back paddle boats, food trucks and other activities to raise money for the county and provide entertainment for the park goers. Yet another suggested having a private company build a restaurant on the river. "Can you imagine a nice steak house right there on the river?" she said.

 * ... BATTLE OF HUE: Hard to believe it was 49 years ago when U.S. Army and Marine units were engaged in the Battle of Hue, one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the Vietnam War. On Monday, Army veteran Fred Drew will join me on The Richard Beene Show to talk about his role at Hue and how the Vietnam experience shaped his life. I will also explore human trafficking and the moves afoot to raise awareness of this appalling crime. Join me from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.

 * ... CADILLAC: Jeanne Schamblin read my post about the search for the original owner of a 1962 Cadillac that showed up in a Florida car museum. She recognized the address on the original bill of sale (the buyer was a C.R. Smith) and had this say: "I would bet it is and that person was Carmen Smith who lived in the large home behind what, at that time, was Mason Jassaud but is now the Casino. Carmen was a cousin to the Schamblin family, owners of Pioneer Mercantile for many years. I imagine I met her once or twice but understand that she was a very independent lady who lived in this large home with three bedrooms, each with their own full bathroom. The home also had a basement. When we purchased it, there was no lawn but plastic on the ground with small pebbles painted green. The home was transformed into a lovely residential care home where many well-known residents of Bakersfield lived. Today it is owned by a couple who continue to serve the community with this house as it has remained a  residential care home for the elderly."    

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Remembering the remarkable life of thespian Bryan Kelly, Julie Moss gives some love to our bike path and looking for the owner of a classic 1962 Cadillac

 * ... BRYAN KELLY: Do you ever wonder about what impact your life will leave on others? Will
your legacy be one of love and laughter and kindness, or one of achievement, drive and aloofness? I thought about those things the other day when I attended a "gathering" of sorts recognizing the life of the late Bryan Kelly, a longtime thespian who brought his wit and charm to his day job at Trader Joe's for so many years. His longtime partner and fellow theater co-conspirator, Michael Izquierdo, hosted the "celebration" at Little Italy where a group of 60-odd folks gathered to share stories and a few tears about the life of this remarkable man, who died of cancer at the age of 63. We were treated to a showing of Greater Tuna, the hit local play that featured Kelly and Izquierdo that was as fresh today as it was in the md 1980s when we were all younger. God's speed, my friend.

* ... JULIE MOSS: I was out for a long hike along the Kern River this past weekend when I ran into Julie Moss, the marathon runner whose dramatic finish in the 1982 Hawaii Ironman marathon made headlines around the world. (She was leading in the race when her body gave out and she was forced to crawl to the finish, only to be passed with just 15 yards to go by Kathleen McCartney). Moss lives in Cardiff but was in town often to visit her college friend, Lisette Whitaker. She was doing a brisk run along the river when she stopped to share this: "You should write about how great his bike path is. How many cities have something like this so accessible?" She is right, of course, and we all should appreciate this slice of nature that runs through our community.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Never trust a married guy's opinion of who’s hot. It’s like asking a starving guy what food tastes good."

 * ... CADILLAC: Nashville area Realtor Joe Rice reached out to me to help him find the original owner of a beautiful 1962 Cadillac he recently purchased in Florida. Rice bought the car, popped open the glove compartment and found the original bill of sale. It turns out the car was purchased in 1961 from Gene Winer Cadillac on H Street, purchased by a person named C.R. Smith who once lived on Trinity Lane. Said Rice: "I have also attached the original check used to purchase the car as well as the receipt from the dealership. This car has only 21,000 original miles. It also has original paint and interior with the exception of the headliner which I just had replaced. I purchased it about six months ago from a museum in Florida and love it. I thought it would be great to share this information and pictures with the family." The price of this classic product of Detroit: $6,999. 32. The check was drawn on an account from the East Bakersfield branch of Crocker Anglo National Bank. Folks: this car is a beauty and if you can help Joe Rice find the original owner, privately email me at

 * ... WINTER FORMAL: Local high schools put on their winter formals last weekend and the restaurants were packed with young people spruced up in their formal dresses and tuxedos. I was dining out and found a piece of paper outlining the "Frontier High School Dance Policy," which laid out these guidelines: "No inappropriate or suggesting dancing will be allowed. No simulated sex acts, bending over or grinding. No dancing that threatens students safety." A sign of the times, I suppose.

 * ... GRAFFITI: Vicki Coble speaks for a lot of us when sent me this missive: "I drive (Highway) 99 from Panama Lane to Airport Drive four days a week. The wall that is being built on the freeway is full of graffiti every morning. Do these people have nothing better to do than paint names and gang signs on the wall and over passes. I know I could find them something to paint if they are bored. "

 * ... MEMORIES: Stephen A. Montgomery shared a special memory when he was in the military and used to take a bus between Bakersfield and Sand Diego.  "Members of the armed forces got all sorts of minor considerations and some not so minor. Management was proactive in making sure we made our connections and that sort of thing. One trip comes to mind. Around 1966 I was there in uniform along with many other sailors and Marines. We were waiting or had already boarded a local that was scheduled to stop at every fireplug between Bakersfield and San Diego when a manager came out and called to us to get off that bus and stand by as he was calling an extra express to take us nonstop to Camp Pendleton and US Naval Station San Diego. The bus they furnished was a very old art deco delight with a streamlined body. It featured thick and deeply padded seats next to highly detailed cast aluminum flourishes extending from the deck into the overhead with cast frosted glass side lights that followed the same line of detail as the aluminum elements. If I ever wanted to own a bus that gorgeous old lady of the highway would be it!?"