Thursday, August 13, 2020

Brace yourself for a long heat wave with temperatures nearing 110 degrees, the Starlite Silver Fox lounge unveils its new classic neon sign, and who remembers Peacock Ice Cream from back in the day?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HEAT WEEK: Remember those balmy evenings last week when the wind was soft and it was perfect to dine outside? Well enjoy that memory because that cooling trend is now officially over, and if there were ever a doubt about what month we are in, just check out the calendar. For the next week, we will see
temperatures around 105 and above, true to the dog days of August that we all know too well here in the valley.

 * ... REGISTERED FIREARMS: Ever wonder where your state stands in terms of how many guns are owned by residents? Well, a recent survey based on registered firearms had the answers, and here are the top states with the highest numbers of registered firearms, starting with No. 9 and counting down: Wyoming, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, Virginia, Idaho, Alabama, Nevada, Alaska and Louisiana.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Common sense is like deodorant; those who need it most don’t use it."

 * ... SILVER FOX: Well look who is back! The classic Silver Fox sign is back at the iconic watering hole across from Mexicali downtown. Owner Rod Crawford said the original sign was donated to the Kern County Museum and is now on display, so he was forced to have a replicate sign made by a local artist. Crawford and his wife, Julie, also own Pyrenees Cafe, which they have restored to its original grandeur.

 * ... PEACOCK ICE CREAM: Who remembers Peacock Ice Cream? A banner featuring the ice cream showed up in an old picture of a picnic for Standard Oil Co. employees here in Kern County. This picture dates from 1924. Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page for this gem. Word has it that the ice cream company was owned by Wayne Peacock, who also owned Wayne's Dairy back in the day.

 * ... MEMORIES: Courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page comes this classic old photo from 1938.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Public distrust will be a challenge for any Covid-19 vaccine, a study show asymptomatic people carry just as much of the virus as others, and a local lad turns out stunning custom made knives in Old River

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... COVID VACCINE: Public distrust, or at the least public skepticism, could turn out the greatest challenge when a vaccine is eventually rolled out for Covid-19. That's the word from Dr. Brij Bhambi of
Centric Health who noted that in some surveys, up to half of all adult Americans say they will be reluctant to take a vaccine for the coronavirus. "Even the best vaccine can be undermined by the lack of trust," Bhambi told me during a chat on The Richard Beene Show. And given the political nature of this year as we head into the Nov. 3 presidential elections, it seems certain that public distrust may only grow. Stay tuned.

 * ... MORE COVID: One of the curious things about Covid-19 is how many people carry the virus but remain asymptomatic. But new research shows that even among those who show no symptoms carry just as much virus as those who become gravely ill. That's the word from a new study in South Korea that offers definitive proof that those without symptoms carry just as much virus in their nose, throat and lungs and those with symptoms, and for almost as long. According to a story on the study in The New York Times, experts believe "that asymptomatic people are unwitting broadcasters of the virus." Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated that about 40 percent of the population have no symptoms when they get infected. And yet, they spread the virus like all others.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The guy I use for odd jobs around the house is amazing; in the last month alone he’s repaired a leaky roof, fixed a broken gate, retiled the bathroom and according to the wife it was him that somehow reversed my vasectomy, too!"

 * ... CRAFTSMEN: Darin Buoni grew up on a farm in Old River, played in a rock band, shot skeet and dabbled in a number of hobbies like most young people. His latest hobby, if you can call it that, has taken off by storm: he is making custom chef's knives and cleavers by hand, lovingly sharpening the carbon steel blades to a razors edge and attaching beautiful wood handles that are stunning to the eye. While he can't sell them fast enough, Buoni cautions this remains a "hobby" and he has no intention of quitting his day job to devote his life to handmade knives. To hear his story, catch Darin Buoni on The Richard Beene Show this Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.1180 AM. A small sample of some of his knives are below.

 * ... NEW INFINITI: Congratulations to Chuck Mackey of Bakersfield who won a 2019 Infiniti Q50 in a raffle to support the CSUB wrestling team. The drawing was held at the Infiniti of Bakersfield showroom before most of the wrestling team and local supporters, include Craig Tobin, Janis and Vern Varner and others. This is the third year that Infiniti has partnered to help support CSUB wrestling.

 * ... LAKE ISABELLA: Here's an old photo of the Kern River Valley in 1927 before Lake Isabella was added in 1953. Paradise Cove/Southlake at the Base of the Mountain. Kissack Cove would be to the left just out of view. The photo would have been taken around Rabbit Island near the back road to Kernville.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

McLintock's Saloon in Paso Robles closes due to the coronavirus, a local pastor takes on the "woke" culture, Rachelle Murcia celebrates the remission of her cancer and book burning comes back into style

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... MCLINTOCK'S SALOON: There is more bad news on the coronavirus front. McLintock's Saloon in Paso Robles, one of four McLintock's locations, is closing permanently, yet another victim of our long pandemic. On its Facebook page, the owners posted this: "It is with heavy hearts we announce
F.McLintocks Saloon, Paso Robles has closed permanently. Sadly, the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been too much for us to undertake. F. McLintocks Saloon, Paso Robles was our fourth location and we were so proud to extend our footprint into North County. For 23 years 1234 Park Street was a Paso Robles tradition, serving up a taste of the Great American West in our signature saloon-style setting. We’ve slung a lot of joy across our historical bar to our loyal locals and tourists alike...those were great years! We’d like to thank all of our customers and neighbors who have supported us and accepted us into the community. Some truly wonderful people have walked through those doors. We celebrated many birthdays and milestones with so many folks. Thank you for blessing us with your company…those memories will always remain with us. We wish you all happy and healthy days ahead and hope you continue to support us at one of our three other Central Coast locations. Bruce and Toney Breault"

 * ... ANGELO FRAZIER: Angelo Frazier is a pastor at Riverlakes Community Church, a chaplain at the Bakersfield Police Department and a civic activist. On his Facebook page, he posted a picture of a man slugging a woman during a protest. In his words: "A woke society will find justification for this.. An awake society will say, "We've had enough!" A woke society will tolerate mob rule. An awake society will trust in the rule of law. In the end, a woke society is godless, lawless, truthless and aimless. This is where God is powerless, man is deified, sin is emboldened and any speech that is not progressively sanctioned, inclusively validated, morally subjective is considered hate speech and thus, must be shouted down and/or exterminated.  No, this is not us. An "awake" society will say, "We've had enough!" We are about God, family, country and friends. In fact,, God allows people to not believe in Him, however, it is not His desire. Nevertheless, we are neighbors and strangers from sea to shining sea..... We will rise, we will have a revivel-- spiritual, economic and patriotic. It will be one of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. Evil has a shelf life. It can stand only on the willful agenda of those wishing to be disobedient to the founding principles and values of our nation and God.

 *... WELCOME BACK: Rachelle Murcia, local anchor for KBAK TV who has been battling breast cancer, is now in remission and will return to the anchor desk soon. Murcia posted a video on her progress this week in which she reported she is returning to work soon to continue her recovery. And the best news: her oncologist Dr. Ravi Patel reported she is now officially in remission.

 * ... SHARLET BRIGGS: Sharlet Briggs, president of Adventist Health Hospital since 2016, has resigned from her position. Briggs has spent three decades in hospital administration and will be succeeded by Jeff Eller, former president of Adventist Health’s Northern California region.

Sharlet Briggs

* ... STEPHON CARTER: Stephon Carter was one of the smoothest shooting guards in the history of Garces Memorial High School, and he continued that at CSUB where he ended his career as the Runners' highest all-time score. Now after six years of semi-pro ball in places like Mexico and Spain, Carter is returning home to serve as head coach at Centennial High School.

 * ... BOOK BURNING: Did you see the protesters in Portland have taken to burning Bibles along with the U.S. flag as well as other books they find offensive? Eerily reminiscent of Hitler's Nazi party that embraced book burning during its rise to power in the early 1940s.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: This about says it all.

 * ... RIP MONSIGNOR SWETT: Monsignor Ronald J. Swett, one of the longtime Catholic leaders in town, has died at the age of 78. Swett had been in hospice as he battled a lengthy illness when he died earlier this week. A native of Taft, Swett was a mainstay at St. Philip the Apostle since 1987, and he also filled in at St. Francis after Monsignor Craig Harrison was suspended after he was accused of sexually abusing several young men over the years.

 * ... SPOTTED: From the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, broken down on Highway 99 in 1919.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Bakersfield real estate market is on fire, reflecting a national trend, Stephon Carter returns home to coach the Centennial High men's squad and another local favorite son - Thomas Benham - also returns home.

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... REAL ESTATE: There is no doubt that our local real estate market is healthy. So healthy, in fact, that sellers are receiving multiple offers and many times well over the asking price. Apparently, according to The New York Times, that is part of a national trend that is seeing sales of homes in the suburbs and mid-size cities taking off. The Times said real home prices, adjusted for inflation, rose 45 percent from February 2010 through May 2020, but experts are warning nothing lasts forever. "It
would be easy to assume that the boom times for housing will go on forever, but that would require ignoring the disaster that led to the most recent great financial crisis, a little more than a decade ago," the paper said. Locally, people like Ronda Newport (president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors) notes that mortgage rates remain near all-time lows and that Bakersfield is starting to see folks from other areas move here to work remotely while getting more house for their buck.

 * ... THOMAS BENHAM: And speaking of those who see the bargain that Bakersfield is, it was heartening to read Herb Benham's column in the Sunday Californian indicating that his youngest son - Thomas - and his fiancĂ© were moving back to Bakersfield. A world-class chef who attended Cal-Berkeley, Thomas is bringing Alicia, his east-coast born fiancĂ©, with him and they are negotiating to buy a home downtown. Now tell me where two young kids could afford to buy a home other than here? This is the kind of happy ending story we all need for a Sunday.

 * ... STEPHON CARTER: Stephon Carter, the former Garces and CSUB basketball player who wooed crowds with this athleticism, has been named the head coach of the Centennial High School men's squad. Carter led Garces to three consecutive CIF Central Section titles (2007-2009) before continuing at CSUB where he ended his collegiate career as the program's all-time leading scorer. He played semi-professional basketball in Spain, Mexico and Canada for six years.

 * ... MORE STEPHON: If you want to hear Stephon Carter's story, tune into KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. when I will interview him on The Richard Beene Show.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My son is wearing a MAGA cap and a Vote Trump 2020 button. He’s been spat on, punched and verbally abused.  I hate to think what will happen when he leaves the house."

 * ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to Megan McCarthy, daughter of Judy McCarthy and Congressman Kevin McCarthy. The young lady, who grew up a political child with rare access to national politics, turned 24 years old.

 * ... MEMORIES: Take a look of this old building on 34th Street that I spotted on the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Pressure is on for the San Diego Padres to drop the "Swinging Padre," the sheriff warns us about hundreds of prisoners being dumped on our streets and Bakersfield is one of the USA's top coronavirus metro areas

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... OFFENSIVE NAMES: First came the Washington Redskins, then the Cleveland Indians and then Confederate statues honoring Civil War dead were targeted because of their offensive nature, but the cleansing is not done. It now looks like the San Diego Padres have been targeted by a group that
demands major league baseball stop using all "Catholic names and depictions" and in particular "cease all papist caricatures." Dozens of Catholic leaders are pressuring baseball to drop the Padres nickname, and they are also asking the Los Angeles Angels to "cease using the halo." Where will it all end? Well, late word has yet another group is pressuring the New Orleans Saints to rename its team.

 * ... PRISON DUMP: Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood is warning us about yet another move to dump release hundreds of prisoners onto the streets of Bakersfield. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has signaled it will release some 600 inmates from four Kern County facilities: North Kern State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, the California Correctional Institution and Wasco State Prison. Said Youngblood: "You must be an overachiever at committing crimes to be in (a state prison)," he said. "These are reoffenders and they're going to go out and reoffend."

 * ... COVID: We made another list and this one is as bad as it gets According to Fox News, Bakersfield ranks No 2 on the list of metro areas with the fastest growth in the coronavirus, second only to McAllen, Texas. Rounding out the top five are the Texas cities of Brownsville and San Antonio and then Boise City, Idaho.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Be careful allowing someone to take your temperature before entering a supermarket. It erases your memory and instead of leaving with a dozen eggs you return with two cases of beer."

 * ... SURGE TESTING: A new federally funded Covid-19 testing site is up and running at the Kern County Fairgrounds, where officials hope to test as many as 60,000 people over 12 days. Rep. Kevin McCarthy announced the federal surge program, which is being replicated in other metro areas. There is no cost for the testing but reservations are recommended.

* ... TEJON PASS: Consider these remarkable pictures of Tejon Pass circa 1870 and a more recent shot. The caption read: Civil War photographer, Alexander Gardner, took this photo of Tejon Pass prior to his retirement in 1870.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Research shows as many has half of adult Americans may eschew a vaccine for the coronavirus, new research shows children may be more at risk than we think and Traco Matthews lands a new gig at CAPK

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

* ... COVID VACCINE: Here's a quick quiz for you: what percentage of the U.S. population would be reluctant to take a vaccine for Covid-19? Well if you listen to the experts, it could be as high as half the population. That's right, Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health is among those who believe there are a lot of "anti vaccine" people out there, cities surveys that report that 20-25 percent of the
population is fully anti-vaccine, and another 30 percent is not sure if they would take the vaccine. Those numbers, he said, would make attaining "herd immunity" difficult given so many people who opt out of the vaccinations. In addition, Bhambi said it is not yet known just how long a vaccinations may last. If it lasts for six months, then we would all need a booster shot to retain immunity.

 * ... KIDS AND COVID: The earlier wisdom was that children were largely out of danger with the Covid-19 virus, but now we are learning otherwise. Valley Children’s Hospital is now warning that 69 kids have been hospitalized and the infection rate for children is around 8 percent. CEO Todd Suntrapak said many people assume children don’t have as much to fear about COVID-19. “When we see a dialogue, a narrative that is focused on how small the risk is numerically to children, it is particularly objectionable and we feel a miscarriage,” he said.

 * ... TRACO MATTHEWS: Congratulations to Traco Matthews, who announced this weekend he was leaving his position as Human Resources managers for the Kern Superintendent of Schools and is headed too CAPK as its chief program officer. Said Matthews: "This new position will allow me to work in a role that fully aligns with my life purpose and to contribute to the growth and success of our community at a higher level... God’s plans are always best, and I know He’s called me to this next chapter. I’m excited for the opportunity and looking forward to continuing to serve and lead in this wonderful community."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Seriously would like to read a piece that described what it would look like if we put more priority on teachers returning to work safely than professional athletes."

* ... MYSTERY WOMAN: You just have to love this 1940s-era photo of a woman working the fields near Edison, according to the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Lois Henry wrote this: "Does she bear a resemblance to anyone's grandma or great grandma? This is near Edison in 1940 according to the info on Kern County of Old. Is that a derrick in the background? I love her feisty, 'Whaddaya lookin' at' attitude in this photo! She's a true beauty! If anyone has ideas of who she is, be sure and post on Kern County of Old!"

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Leave it to the state of California to define what constitutes a "meal," is public education on the verge of a major overhaul in how it provides education, and Dylan Ryan makes the pages of an equestrian magazine

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... FISH 'N CHIPS: The next time you belly up to your local bar, you better be ready to order dinner if you expect to be served that cold brew. That's the word from Gov. Gavin Newsom's office which has issued guidelines saying that drinks can only be served if they are accompanied by a full
dinner. And what is a full dinner? Well, according to the state, here are some items that fall short of being considered dinner: pretzels, nuts, popcorn, chips, appetizers (cheese sticks, fried calamari, chicken wings, egg rolls and cups of soup) and side dishes such as French fries, onion rings and small salads. Here, in all its wisdom, is the state's take on what constitutes a full meal: "... although multiple courses are not required to constitute a meal, in order for the patron to be served a meal there should be a sufficient quantity that would constitute the main course in a multiple-course dinner." Can you say nanny state?

* ... FUTURE OF EDUCATION: Is this pandemic triggering a potential rethinking of the way we look at public education? That's what Russell Johnson thinks as school systems grapple with the best way to provide quality education to children in the midst of Covid-19. Johnson, a former Bakersfield city councilman and planning commissioner who now runs Common Sense Consulting, predicted school systems may eventually evolve to a true hybrid system where students can decide what they want: online distance learning or in class learning, or a combination of the two. The technology is here and this would also appease parents who are fearful of violence or bullying at school or simply feel a more home schooling environment is best for their children. (file photo of Russell Johnson)

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m not shy, I’m just really good at figuring out who’s worth talking to."

 * ... DYLAN RYAN: Congratulations to Bakersfield's own Dylan Ryan, an Occidental College senior who has been featured in Sidelines magazine, a publication devoted to horse enthusiasts and equestrian competition. The daughter of Action Sports owner Kerry Ryan, Dylan has ridden competitively since she was a child and now is a regular on the show circuit along with her thoroughbred, Bart. She is one of the few mixed race riders on the circuit, and credits her strong family and good genes (the Ryan family is full of fierce competitors in various sports) with her success. What was her motivation to keep riding? It was simple, she says. Dad Kerry Ryan told her she had to earn straight A's to compete, and that is exactly what she did.

 * ... SLO PROTEST: Did you hear about the Black Lives Matter protest in San Luis Obispo this week? The police allowed it after being assured by the organizer it would be peaceful, but that didn't turn out to be the case. The crowd marched straight to Highway 101 where they blocked traffic, and along the way smashed out the back window of a car that carried a toddler. The protest organizer was arrested. What would you do if you confronted a crowd like this?

 * ... MEMORIES: Just take a look at this picture of the Fox Theater under construction back in the day. Photo complements of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The coronavirus comes roaring back and we brace for another disrupted fall, we lose an icon in Herb Walker, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy notes the passing of the great John Lewis

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... COVID: A few things seem increasingly true as we head into the late summer and fall in the season of Covid: kids won't be returning to classes anytime soon, forget about fall college football,
there will be no live music shows and even the Kern County Fair is in jeopardy of being canceled. In April we had a cautious sense that we had this thing under control, and yet now hospitals across the country have reached capacity. More than two dozen states have halted or rolled back their reopening plans, and some cities have been hit so hard (Los Angeles, for one) that they be facing another total lock down. And to make matters worse: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say at least 40 percent of people who get the virus could show no symptoms, meaning thousands of Americans could be unknowingly still infecting others.

 * ... RIP HERB WALKER: Our community lost a local icon when Herb Walker passed away over the weekend. Walker was the tall, dapper founder of H. Walker's men's clothing, which has been clothing men in Kern County since 1971. His daughter Tracy, who now runs the store, said her father was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and he later contracted pneumonia. To make matters worse, toward the end he contracted Covid-19 and in the end it was just too much. Walker and his close friends were known for their love of golf, high spirited jokes and afternoon cocktails, and they would lighten a room by their presence. For years you could find Herb in the store, always looking sharp in his pressed golf shirts and casual leather loafers, the picture of the perfect host, greeting everyone with a warm smile and joyful twinkle that became his personal trademark.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Facebook is a place that reminds you that everyone disappoints you."

 * ... JOHN LEWIS: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined the national outcry mourning the death of Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, telling Twitter that Lewis "was an extraordinary man—a patriot in the truest sense. And he was my friend. One of the greatest honors of my life was to join him for multiple trips to Selma to march across the bridge. His life and legacy as a civil rights icon will endure for as long as America does."

 * ... DROWNING: There has been yet another drowning in the Kern River, this time in the relatively calm waters off Hart Park. Kern County Sheriff's officials say the latest victim was a 14-year-old girl who fell in the Kern River and did not survived. A helicopter located the girl after she was reported missing. She was located in the water but died at a local hospital.

 * ... MEMORIES:
I spotted this old picture of a traveling salesman on the Kern County of Old Facebook page with this caption: "This is my grandpa, Ira J Springer. He was a sewing machine salesman in the 20s, 30s and 40s. He would load his car with machines and sell them in the desert as far as Bishop. Notice the Padre Hotel in the background. If you inherited a treadle machine that was bought locally, chances are my grandpa was the dealer."