Sunday, January 25, 2015

In a fog shrouded valley, head up the Kern River canyon to find the sun, remembering the old Tam O'Shanter and identifying who was the cowboy who rode his horse into the old El Tejon Hotel bar

* … GLOOM: This was a gloomy, fog shrouded weekend here, but I found one way follow the sun.
Accompanied by six friends, we drove up the Kern Canyon with our mountain bikes in tow, hit crystal blue skies and temperatures in the 60s, and did a brisk ride on the fire road to Cow Flat.  Even if you don't ride, put some boots on and take advantage of nature's beauty just 45 minutes out of the fog.

* … PASSING: The passing of long-time Bakersfield College chemistry professor Patricia Lee caught the attention of one of her former students, Martha Turner Ingle. She said: "My high school chemistry teacher had announced that 'girls have no place in this class.' Mrs. Lee understood what I and many others had experienced and she went to great lengths on her own time to help us catch up. I just wanted to offer one last tribute to a fine teacher. "

* … EASTSIDE: Living on the east side of town doesn't get the attention it deserves, at least according to Jeanne Schamblin. "Once you come down the hill past Morning Drive, you enter a beautiful valley which I feel should be given the name of Rio Bravo Valley. We aren't really a part of 'east Bakersfield' but in our own part of town. We have Rosedale, Greenacres, Oildale, Seven Oaks, Southwest, Northwest etc… we deserve our own identify such Rio Bravo Valley… We've been the 'red headed stepchild' of Bakersfield long enough. Take a look at our area: beautiful homes on hills, gated areas, golf course living, a lake, soccer park."

 * … MEMORIES: Gerald Sutliff was moved to share a memory from 1957 when he was a bus boy working at the Tam O'Shanter when it was owned by Jack Ewing. "One evening when Jack was away I came out of the kitchen to find the wait staff, all women, standing in a cluster;  They seemed to be upset about something.  I asked what was going on? They told me there was a negro couple waiting by the entrance  None seemed willing or able to act. I grabbed a fresh table napkin draped over my arm and assumed the appearance of what I thought a head waiter should look like. I went to couple and offered them seating which they took. Then one of waitress came the table and took the couple's order.  Nothing was said to me about it by Jack or other staff."

 * … CAR DEALERS: One more memory of all those old car dealers that are now gone, this one from Erik Cortez. "All these memories of old car lots and no one has mentioned the old Columbus Porsche dealership on Columbus between Mount Vernon and Haley which is now Lowe's. My father was friends with the owner but can't remember his name. My father is 78 so this happens. I remember my father's Porsche 924 turbo burning down on the Grapevine and going with him to pick up his new Porsche 944 non-turbo. Everyone was super friendly at that car lot. I believe it was a VW and Audi dealership as well since my sister's convertible VW Rabbit was picked up from there too, with a red bow wrapped around it as well. Can anyone remember that owner's name?"

 * … HORSE BAR: Trudy Hodges cleared up the question about who rode a horse into a local hotel back in the day. Said Hodges: "Sheriff Charlie Dodge told the story about my grandfather riding his horse into the El Tejon Hotel. His name was P.J .Branson .. There was a photo of my grandfather at the bar with his Stetson hat on and on the back of his horse called Babe  My grandfather was the first Parks and Recreation Manager in Kern County and as a child I lived at Hart Memorial Park in a large white house.  My mother grew up at the park. The reason that my grandfather rode Babe into the bar was because of a bet, probably made with the sheriff."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: President Obama more interested in posturing than finding common ground

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

   "The Constitution says that the President 'shall from time to time give the Congress Information of the State of the Union.' Through most of our history, the President has provided to Congress a state of the union through either a letter or a speech, and President Obama continued that tradition this past week.
 "Through the election in November, the people made it clear that they want our country to go in a different direction. At the state of the union, the President had an opportunity to do more than just claim he wanted to work with Republicans, but to actually put forward ideas that we could work together on and that the American people want.

 "Unfortunately, the President missed this golden opportunity. Though he said he was willing to work with Congress, he threatened to veto four different bills during the speech alone—the largest number of veto threats in a state of the union in memory.
 "And when he moved on to offering proposals of his own instead of just shooting down ideas from Congress, he went back to the same tax-and-spend, big-government ideas that the American people have made it very clear they don’t want.

  "So far, it seems the President would rather continue his political posturing instead of finding common ground.

  "There is a simple formula for divided government to work together. First, you need a Congress that passes good bills that both sides can support. Next, you need a president that is willing to work with Congress to find areas of agreement so both parties can accept the resolution.

 "In the opening weeks of this new year, the House has been keeping up its side of the bargain. We’ve passed bipartisan bill after bipartisan bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, rein in the Washington  "regulatory regime, reform the permitting process for natural gas pipelines, stop the taxpayer funding of abortion, and more. But the President has already threatened to veto seven bipartisan House bills. In total, these bills have received 123 Democrat votes.

 "As I’ve always said, I am willing to work with anyone who is willing to work. So far, the President hasn’t shown that he’s willing to work with us. He needs to set his sights higher than the veto pen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tracy Leach forms a group to tell a positive story about the oil and gas sector, an indie-folk singer comes to Bakersfield and Brock Bonetti shines as a star of the Texas A&M swimming team

 * … ENERGY: Keep an eye on a new organization that is working on behalf of our oil and gas sector here in Kern County. Founded by Tracy Leach, the Kern Citizens for Energy is focused on countering some of the misinformation being put forth by environmental and anti-fossil fuel groups. This is long overdue, primarily because the energy sector has done a lousy job talking about its safety record and the benefits of oil and gas exploration. If you don't think the energy sector is important here, consider this: the sector employs some 12,000 people directly, but indirectly supports some 50,000 jobs throughout Kern County.

 * … MUSIC: In music news about town there is a talented singer and musician coming to town this Sunday over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Her name is Lauren Shera, an indie-folk singer who has recorded some terrific melodies. The show is hosted by Passing Through, a local group of businessmen dedicated to bringing good live music to our community. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the show at 6 p.m. It's worth checking out.

 * … BONETTI: Congratulations to former Stockdale High swimmer Brock Bonetti, who has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week as a member of the Texas AM swim team. Bonetti led the Aggies to a victory over rival Southern Methodist University with an individual and relay first place finish. He is the son of Brett and Cindy Bonetti.

 * … CAR DEALERS: More nostalgia about long-gone car dealers, this memory compliments of my friend Rick Kreiser. "An Austrian (I think) cat named Fred Clad had the original Fiat dealership in the spot at the foot of westbound 178 currently occupied by a Hookah lounge (across from – then – Ed Fant Buick).  I lusted for months over a bright red 1963 Austin Healy 3000 as the East Bakersfield swim bus braked for the stoplight at the end of the freeway every day back in 1970. Mom thought ‘it was too old’ for Little Richard’s first auto investment, so the co-signer effectively canned that deal in favor of a 1967 Triumph. He did his own PR with the catch line 'Fred Clad Imports…twunty-forz and N'…guess you had to hear the accent to appreciate it. Which, curiously enough, I do fairly often. You see, Fred’s still at it some 55 years later. I rent him a couple of spaces in my building where he details and flips used cars!"

 * … MORE CARS: And Robert Mergler added this: "Concerning recent comments on auto dealerships of past years, has Van Wyk's VW on 24th Street been overlooked? I bought my first Volkswagen there in 1962. "

 * … HOUSING: The housing market will soon be entering its critical spring phase, and new home builders are slowly getting back into the action. Lennar Homes will hold a grand opening for its Chateau Series model homes at Mountain Gate II this weekend. The tract is located in the southwest just north of Taft Highway and east of Ashe Road.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Ronal Reynier said you may be a real Bakersfield old timer if you remember "when the local hills were covered each spring with California poppies, and the area below the Grapevine was covered with hundreds of acres of blue lupines. In those days the scenic routes marked in maps were indeed scenic. At times the Carrizo Plain could be covered so densely
with poppies and yellow daisies you could not see the ground. At Carrizo Plain you can still see wild elk and prong-horned antelope on the hills, if you're lucky.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bakersfield grows west toward a new "epicenter," the owners of Pyrenees Cafe benefit from customer and employee loyalty and a new sports radio program makes its debut

 * … GROWTH: The intersection of Panama Lane and Gosford Road is positioned to be the
"epicenter" of growth in the southwest and could eventually be as large a retail center as the Northwest Promenade. That's according to Vince Roche, a partner in the commercial brokerage firm Cushman and Wakefield, who was my guest on First Look with Scott Cox. Roche said that intersection, which just a few years ago was a sleepy little farming area, will provide the same kind of retail coverage that the Northwest Promenade does off Rosedale Highway. Roche also said that Total Wine, another larger wine retailer, is actively looking for locations in Bakersfield. And finally, Cushman and Wakefield has also branched into agricultural development and has hired Kevin Palla to head that operation.

 * … FOODIE:  If you want an example of the benefits of both customer and employee loyalty, look no further than Rod and Julie Crawford, co-owners of Pyrenees Cafe. Before buying Pyrenees, Julie was the long-timer manager of the popular Narducci's Cafe (right next door) until she was booted out in a dispute with owner Jimmy Narducci. What happened? More than 20 Narducci's employees (many of them with more than eight years at Narducci's) followed Rod and Julie next door to Pyrenees, where business is popping, and the customers followed. "We could not be happier," Julie told me. "When you treat people right, they are loyal."

 * … SPORTS RADIO: Bakersfield's newest all sports radio station, ESPN 1230 AM, has announced the launch of the Greg Kerr Show, weekdays from noon to 1 p.m.. Kerr is the dean of sports anchors in Bakersfield, having been the senior sports anchor for KBAK Channel 29 for over 20 years. The Greg Kerr Show will discuss local and national sports, feature great sports legends from the community, and engage the audience to call and share their opinions. ESPN Bakersfield 1230 AM is also the new home of The Jim Rome Show, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

 * … CAR DEALERS: Not many of us have a memory like Stan Anderson, particularly when it comes to some of our long-gone car dealers. "Like Marilyn Kendig I can’t forget the Leo Meek Automobile jingle that we all heard so many times with the evening news," he wrote. "Another old time car dealer was Motor Center (not to be confused with Motor City).  Motor Center, which was located where the downtown GET terminal is today, sold all GM vehicles under one roof until GM decided to go to separate franchises. When they split Motor Center’s franchise up many of the brands went to managers from Motor Center. Adams took the Pontiac franchise, Gene Winer got Cadillac, and Bill Hawk got the Oldsmobile franchise. I’m not sure if Ed Fant who had the Buick dealership came from the Motor Center breakup. Before Highway 178 joined up with 24th Street, most all these dealers lined 24th Street."

 * … OVERHEARD: A local man is talking about spending the weekend on the Central Coast. "We were coming back on Highway 46 and I swear, as soon as we hit the Kern County line we hit fog. It was a total buzz kill."

 * ..,. MEMORY: J.J. Gianquinto posed this question for all you history buffs out there: (former sheriff "Charlie Dodge often told the story about a relatively prominent man in Bakersfield, initials GCR, who rode his horse into the lobby, and maybe the bar, of the old El Tejon Hotel.  Do you, or does anyone else, know who that person was?"

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Residents on Bakersfield's east side lament the lack of services, squatters take over houses on 24th Street and remembering those local car dealers from long ago

 * … EAST SIDE: Marilyn Sullivan is a proud resident of the east side, but she is frustrated by the lack of services in the area. "Take a drive out 178 on our in- progress freewa.  You can't help but notice the complete lack of commercial development east of Morning Drive. Our councilman has said it's
because of the recession, lack of rooftops, Caltrans, etc. There are many housing developments but no grocery stores. However, the new freeway will make it more pleasant  and easy to drive out to the west to shop and buy groceries. Just one Sully's corner (Ming and Buena Vista), or a Brookside deli and gas, a Trader Joe's (Greenfrog left a good location), a clean, modern sports bar, would be wonderful. Why isn't somebody (city of Bakersfield) doing something (incentives) to bring commercial development to the northeast? … I've lived in the northeast for eight years. In that time, very little has changed, except for government projects." (photo by Fred Castillo)

 * … SQUATTERS: It looks like squatters are taking over some of the homes on the north side of 24th Street that have been purchased by the city for the eventual widening process. Neighbors said that one house that was recently vacated had been taken over by a homeless couple and their dog but were chased away. As the project drags on, we can likely expect more of this.

 * … LIBRARY: For all you old timers out there, the Baker Street branch library will celebrate its 100th birthday this May, and the Friends of the Baker Library will be holding an open house. Susan Bennett told me the group is putting together a scrapbook of memories and family pictures of the library. If you want to share, bring your pictures to the library where they will be copied and returned to you. The celebration is set for Saturday, May 9, from noon to 3 p.m. The email for the group is

 * … EAST HIGH: There is an impressive group of high achievers who will be inducted into the East Bakersfield High School hall of fame next month. Among those to be honored are Superior Court Judge David Lampe, oilman Chad Hathaway, Jack Randolph, Michael Dellostritto, Dr. David Smith, Terry Maddux, Carl Bryan and Steve Gradowitz. The event will be held at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 28. Tickets are available at the EBHS finance office.

 * … CAR DEALERS: A few readers added to the conversation about old auto dealers. Said Marilyn Kendig: "What about Leo Meek Automobiles? I hear that little ditty over and over in my head and can still sing it ---- '2 - 7 - 1 -1 Chester Avenue, Leo Meek Automobiles.' I miss that." And Bobbi Womack added: "Don't forget the Packard and foreign car dealership at 23rd and H street (northeast corner) and
Haberfelde Ford on Eye Street."

 * … MEMORIES: This memory from a reader reacting to a recent post on the old Vincent's bicycle shop. "Well my first Schwinn came from Snider's. Wheeling in the backdoor in the alley off Baker for service (early 1960s). Still there, on Union Avenue now, selling bikes and best locksmiths in town."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The inspirational climb of El Capitan's Dawn Wall, the dynamic growth of the Southwest and Northwest in Bakersfield, and a moving story about a family in need, and those who came to their aid

 * … DAWN WALL: The 19-day ascent of El Capitan up the Dawn Wall certainly captured our 
attention, but I was more impressed with how climber Kevin Jorgeson described it in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. “Tommy (Caldwell) and I have been thinking a lot about what is it about this climb that is capturing everyone’s attention. I think the opportunity is for everyone to find their own Dawn Wall, if you will. We had our project that we saw through to the end. What’s yours?” (photo courtesy of Time Magazine)

* … GROWTH: Bakersfield is a city of quadrants: most of us identify ourselves as living in the Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast or downtown. For the most part we spend our non working hours shopping, playing and driving in areas close to where we live. I was a Southwest resident for years and for the last five have lived downtown. Which is why I was stunned (that is not an exaggeration) when I spent some time in the Northwest earlier this week, amazed at the growth, the number of new businesses and restaurants and yes, traffic. Likewise, I returned from the coast the other day and entered the intersection of Gosford Road at Panama Lane precisely at rush hour. And once again, the sheer volume of new businesses, housing, schools (and yes, traffic) was amazing. We may feel like a small town, but that's now a nostalgic memory from the past.

* … KINDNESS: This note from reader Jacqui Sickles will be a tad long but it moved me in a powerful way. I will let her speak: "This past Monday afternoon I was coming home from town and turned off at Goodmanville Road and there was a young couple with a flat tire along side the road.  I saw the young mommy with child in her arms trying to get cell reception. I stopped to ask if she was successful and if someone would be a long soon. She and her husband said they had left messages and hoped for the best. The young father had recently changed the tire and had no spare or anything to jack up the car with. I told them I would go get my husband and some tools. It was beginning to get cold outside, but they also had an infant in the car and wanted to stay with the vehicle. We were able to jack up the car and decided instead of waiting to see if anyone would show up to help we made the decision to drive to the tire store and buy a tire. Having nine grandchildren ourselves it was hard to see those babies out in the cold. My Husband said we might be closer to Oildale, but I said let's go to Clerou’s.  We left the family about 3 p.m. We arrived at Clerou’s and Louie came out to meet us. My husband informed him that we were helping some kids out off Alfred Harrell Highway and they were waiting on us with babies too. Louie came out within minutes and said I found a tire for you.  My husband went to pay for the tire and Louie said, no if you are doing a good deed for someone, then I can do it too! Moments later a young man at the tire shop brings out the newly mounted tire and off we went to deliver to the kids. I looked over and my husband had been crying. I'ts amazing how many wonderful people we have right here in our community. Thank you Clerou Tire Company. We will send all our business your way. The young family could hardly believe it either! They were all smiles as they drove away. Not too bad at all."

 * … RETIREMENT: Hats off to Donna Hollingsworth, who is retiring after 23 years with the AltaOne Federal Credit Union. Donna has been active in a number of local organizations, including the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the American Lung Association. She is being replaced by two people, Christopher Lowe and Jessica Davidson at the Ming Avenue and Riverwalk locations.

 * … CAR DEALERS: Geraldine Sproul wrote to add some names to the list of long gone car dealers. "If you really are an old timer you would think ofAdams Motor Co. (Pontiac) on 24th Street, S. A. Camp Motor (Dodge and Plymouth) on G Street, Kitchen-Boyd (Lincoln and Mercury) on Chester, Morris Motor Co. (Studebaker) on 24th, Motor Center (Chevy. Buick and Cadillac( on Chester, Thrasher Motors (DeSoto) on Chester. The Nash dealer was Kitchen and something on H Street."

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you"picked out your first Schwinn bicycle in the basement at Vincent's."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are the tax increases designated for public schools going to teacher pensions instead? And lots of news on the local restaurant front as two new eateries get ready to open

 * … PENSIONS: I probably shouldn't be surprised by this, but half of that $6 billion tax increase sold to us by Gov. Jerry Brown to support public schools is instead being diverted to bolster the teacher pension system. That's according to a column inThe Wall Street Journal which quoted a taxpayer advocate as saying that no matter what local politicians tell voters, "when you see tax increases, think pensions." The piece concluded: "Remember that 'temporary' tax hike for California schools? Most is now going to public worker retirements."

* … FOODIE: Lots of things going on on the food front. PizzaRev, a Southern California-based chain of more than 21 make-your-own pizza parlors, opens this week next to Buffalo Wild Wings on Gosford Road. For a flat fee of $8.25, you can enjoy an 11-inch pizza with all the toppings you want. The chain also offers salads, desserts and eventually beer and wine.  A second PizzaRev will open soon at the Park at River Walk. Meanwhile Sprouts Farmers Market, which bills itself a mini Whole Foods, will also open at the Park at River Walk on February 25.

* … TABBY: With a move recently I was forced to change veterinarians, and thanks to some recommendations from friends, I ended up seeing Dr. Eric Boiller at Stierns Veterinary Hospital. When your pet is like family (and aren't they all?) you set some high expectations for their care. Minus a few teeth, my 9-year-old grey tabby came through with flying colors thanks to Boiller and his attentive staff.

 * … SPOTTED: On social media was this chuckle: "The phrase 'don’t take this the wrong way' has a zero percent success rate."

* … RICKOVER: Proud U.S. Navy and submarine veteran Gene Bonas passed this along: "Thought your readers would like to know that a nuclear attack submarine will be named after the father of the nuclear Navy, Admiral Hyman Rickover.  The Virginia class attack submarine will bear the name USS Hyman G. Rickover SSN 795. Previous to SSN 795, the service named a Los Angeles class attack boat, SSN 709, after Rickover  Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated Virginia class subs will  provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century because of their enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements."

* … BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield "if you have ever offered someone a Dewar's chew from a bowl on your coffee table."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Former Bakersfield High Driller and Seattle Super Sonic Robert Swift arrested on robbery charges in Seattle, and my pick eatery of the week goes to the newly remodeled Pyrenees Cafe

 * … SWIFT: It's hard to think of things getting worse for former NBA star Robert Swift, but they have. In case you missed it Swift, who graduated from Bakersfield High and went to the NBA straight out of high school, was arrested in Seattle on charges of attempted robbery. In November, was busted on drugs and weapons charges and lost his home to foreclosure. Seattle media reported that Swift, who stands at 7 foot 1 inch, admitted he was a heroin addict. Swift played for the Seattle Super Sonics and the Oklahoma Thunder before his life went into a downward spiral.

 * … PYRENEES: My restaurant of the week goes to the Pyrenees Cafe, which has been smartly remodeled by new owners Julie and Rod Crawford, who also own Narducci's just a block away. The bar has been spruced up without losing its Basque character and the dining room is adorned with some wonderful photos of Bakersfield from the 1890s, including a huge photo of a parade at the intersection of Chester Avenue and 19th Street. The food, classic Basque, is excellent. By the way, I goofed last week in saying that the new eatery Narducci's North Beach downtown was owned by the Crawfords. Different ownership.

 * … SPOTTED:  On Twitter there was this bit of wisdom: "I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person."

* … PHOTO: Gene Thome, owner of Bear Mountain Sports, spotted a yard sale sign on a local telephone pole in the Northeast and posted the picture on social media. The sign read: "Going to Jail Yard Sale… Coke 50 cents." Only in Bakersfield.

 * … GOOD FORM: This note came from a woman who only wanted to be identified as "an impressed senior citizen." She said: "Kudos to Serena Perez for her good deed today. The Highland High School freshman walked her bike through University Park after school today until she found the owner of the parked car with its door wide open and lights on. The owner was with her children at the play structure. I'm sure Serena prevented a theft and a dead battery. Good citizenship at work!"

 * … SERVICE: I experienced some top flight customer service this weekend when a technician named Brian from J. Noble Binns Plumbing took care of a cranky tankless hot water heater. He was  efficient and patient enough to give me a clinic in how these things work.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: You might be from Bakersfield if you "bought your first car from Wally Tucker Datsun, Bill Wright Toyota or Haberfeld Ford."