Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good riddance 2010 and hello 2011, and the Padre faces another hurdle

 * ... NEW YEAR: By all accounts 2010 was another tough year in this prolonged Great Recession, so let's all hope the new year ushers in better times. I compiled my own list of hopes for our community for the new year. Here's a sampling:
  1) Let's hope we can go a full year without a single case of child abuse or animal cruelty in our community.
  2) I pray for the recovery of our real estate market and better times for  our hard working local Realtors.
  3) I hope for more of a civil discourse in our nation, and that all sides - liberals and conservatives - learn to work together for the common good.
  4) For all those out of work, here's hoping there are paychecks and health insurance on the horizon.
  5) For all those ailing and battling sickness, both physically and emotionally, here's to a rapid recovery and good health.
 6) If just a few of those come to pass, it will be a good year.

 * ... PADRE: Local risk management consultant John Pryor shared with me a letter, penned on old Padre Hotel stationery, that was written to him when he was just six days old. It was written by R.L. Hendrickson, who was an insurance company "special agent" who worked with Pryor's insurance broker father. "I was six days old when he wrote this letter," Pryor wrote to Brett Miller, the Padre's new owner. "The Padre Hotel was just four years old. Bakersfield's population was about 27,000. Our family's phone number at the time was 89 - without any dial until later. The Padre's phone number wasn't listed on its letterhead. It wasn't needed. Callers simply picked up the phone and asked for the Padre Hotel. The friendly operator complied and made the connection." The original owners were Roy Cummings and Fred Widmer. The letter gave Pryor some advice about obeying his mother and father and ended with the line, "A Merry Christmas to you and the OLD people."

 * ... MORE PADRE: Speaking of the Padre, I'm also hoping the historic hotel emerges from its latest round of worries and successfully renegotiates a $8.4 million loan to keep the old girl open. The Padre's dilemma is a metaphor for the  long-tail effect of this recession: a loan taken out two years ago by a La Jolla bank that no longer exists and now called by a new bank (OneWest) that has no ties to our community. The irony is that the Padre is doing well - sold out rooms for New Year's and cash flow positive. I work and live downtown and spend a lot of time at the Padre and know its owners well, so I am not unbiased here. But these are folks who put their own capital at risk to bring life back into downtown, and it serves absolutely no one to see this venture fail. It's in all of our interests that the Padre stays open and under its current ownership.

 * ... MORE MIGS: Yet another person has come forward to recall, with great fondness, former East High teacher and football coach Migs Apsit. This time it was John Brock who wrote to recall when he joined the group of kids who Migs took across the country every summer. "Others will know more about him than I  but I happened to go with him on one of the trips for high school kids he organized during summer vacations. It was called the USA Tour and it essentially circumvented the U.S. over a period of about six weeks. I recall that there were about 70 kids and we traveled in two buses. We stayed in hotels, motels and camped out occasionally. It was a fantastic experience." And so it sounds.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Some of the rumored Chinese tunnels downtown actually do still exist. During the retrofitting and renovations to the basement of the Hay Building (soon to be 1612 City Lofts) workers uncovered and then resealed tunnels leading out under Eye Street and also 19th Street.

  * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember when almost every doctor in town had an office in the Haberfelde Building."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Readers weigh in with a walk down memory lane. And a history lesson on the old Nile Theater

 * ...  MIGS: I've heard from a lot of folks who remember Migs Apsit, the former East High football coach who made a positive imprint on thousands of kids' lives. Here's one response from reader Don Black: " I was one of the fortunate kids that got to go on one of Migs Apsit's (we called him, Coach) tours around the U.S.  It was in 1967 (I think) and there were three of us from Taft on that trip. Myself, my cousin Mike, and Roger Miller joined the rest of the kids from Bakersfield. Looking back, I can't believe Coach and his wife, Tiny, took a bus load of kids on such a long tour.  It was just the two of them and a bus driver to keep track of us all.  We took sleeping bags and slept on the ground about every other night.  The other nights we had motel rooms... We hit all the important spots along the Southern Coast, up the East Coast, and back through the Midwest. We got a great overview of the U.S. and Tiny would give us a history lesson on every stop. We swam at Miami Beach, had 'shoo fly pie' in Amish country, saw a show at the 'Copa' in New York, visited Williamsburg, saw Niagara Falls.... Along the way, we saw and did tons more (and a few things we weren't supposed to!).  It was a great experience.
 * ... HUNGER: Make sure you remember to "vote" for Bakersfield in the Wal-Mart Foundation's Fighting Hunger contest. All you have to do is visit Facebook and "like" Bakersfield to cast your vote. The website is Bakersfield is currently in ninth place and must finish sixth or higher to win $100,000 to fight hunger. Fresno is ranked No. 1 and the voting ends Dec. 31.

* ... FONTANA'S PIE: Gene Bonas wrote to sound off on an earlier post about the long lines outside of Fontana's Pie Shop on Niles Street. Turns out Gene graduated from Garces Memorial High School with Dorothy Fontana, daughter of the owner. "Dorothy was one of the most popular and generous kids at St. Joseph's, not only because she supplied our classes with every kind of pie Fontana's  made but because she was an excellent student and friend. It was always a treat to hang out with Chuck Dawson, who lived next door to Dorothy... There was always a gang of kids at either Dorothy's or Chuck's house... Dorothy, Chuck and I, along with other St. Joseph's and Garces alumni, keep in touch because of Mass, reunions, Garces activities and running into one another while shopping. It never fails to amaze me how small Bakersfield has remained in spite of its growth."

 * ... DUSTIN'S DINER: The totals are in and this year, the Haggin Oaks hot cocoa stand named Dustin's Diner raised $12,609 for the Bakersfield Homeless Center. The diner was started more than a decade ago by Dustin Kilpatrick and his parents as a way to raise a few bucks for the needy. It's now become a staple of the Haggin Oaks holiday light show, staffed by dozens of neighborhood kids who keep the tradition alive. Dustin, meanwhile, graduated with an engineering degree from USC and is back in Bakersfield working. 

* ... KAIBAB: Regular contributor Al Guitierrez dropped me a note about the pronunciation of Kaibab Avenue in northeast Bakersfield. "I liken the pronunciation of Kaibab to mai tai, jai alai, lanai etc. Everyone I know, including the Kaibab mailman, pronounces its 'kaybab' not 'ky-bab' like mai tai, jai alai etc."

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that the Nile Theater was once the Bakersfield Opera House? It's the same structure but has been radically altered over the years. It was built at the turn of the century.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Robbie Horton: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer "if you remember going to a Merle Haggard concert for free! It was outside of Young's grocery story on south Chester. The stage was built with wide boards. This was around the early 1960s."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who remembers Migs Apsit? And a newcomer gives his approval of Bakersfield

 * ... GOOD IMPRESSION: Always encouraging to hear how much newcomers enjoy our community, which is why I enjoyed the email from Jeff Pickering, the new head of the Kern Community Foundation. Jeff, his wife Stephanie and their two children moved to Haggin Oaks from Florida earlier this year.  This was their first year stopping by Dustin's  Diner, the Haggin Oaks hot cocoa stand that yearly raises more than $10,000 for the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter. "As newcomers, this tradition is one of the many reasons we have come to love our new hometown of Bakersfield," he said. "Thanks to your efforts to shine a light on some of the 'bright spots' in our community." Their children are Colin, 6, and  Olivia, 5.

 * ... NEW GIG: For you fans of Rachel Legan and her brother Dustin, longtime morning anchors on 101.5 KGFM, they have now moved over to Hot Hits 93.1, a sister station of American General Media. The "Rachel and Dustin in the Morning" show has become a community staple, featuring such hilarious takes as "Missed Connections," a laugh-out-loud gig where the hosts pull the most outlandish romantic missed connections off Craigslist and read them on the air. AGM says Tony Manes will take over mornings on KGFM.

 * ... WHERE'S MIGS? Reader Joe Boone dropped me a note wondering if anyone remembered a former East High teacher named Migs Apsit. "He would take a bus load of students, on summer vacation, around the U.S. The Californian would print photos of the group at well know sites, such as on the Capitol steps, Yellowstone etc. Perhaps there might be a reader who was lucky enough to participate? I almost made the trip in 1959 but at the last minute a family health issue made me and a buddy back out."

 * ... MERCY GRANTS: The Friends of Mercy Foundation has given out $20,000 to local charities, another boost in the arm to so many deserving non-profits during this economic downturn. The grants came from the endowment in honor of Sister Phyllis Hughes, who was hospital president from 1982 to 1987. Among those receiving grants were BARC, Community Action Partnership of Kern, food bank; Kern Comprehensive Cancer Awareness Partnership, the Special Olympics and St. John's Missionary Baptist Church.

 * ... MORE GRANTS: Speaking of grants, the Catholic Healthcare West Community Grants Program also announced a total of $217,767 in awards. This money comes from both Memorial and Mercy hospitals. Among those non profits who were awarded grants were Alliance Against Family Violence, Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County, Bakersfield Police Activities League, California Veterans Assistance Foundation, CASA of Kern County, Golden Empire Gleaners, Henrietta Weill Child Guidance Clinic, MARE, the MS Society and the West Side Community Resource Center.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Reader Dennis Horack says you know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the big slide at Valley Plaza, owned by my good friend Don Carter, a former Bakersfield Californian newspaper distributor. Also, if you remember the Dove Restaurant in east Bakersfield and the House of Don restaurant on Union Avenue. Thanks for the good old days."

Friday, December 24, 2010

McCarthy: lame duck session is over, time to roll up the sleeves and get to work

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) presents his year-end blog. In his words:

 "This week, the House marked the end of a chaotic lame duck session with the passing of a Continuing Resolution (CR) which will keep the federal government operating through March 4, 2011.  On January 5, 2011, the 112th Congress will be sworn in and immediately following I will join my newly elected colleagues on implementing legislation that will provide the common sense solutions our country needs. We have to get America’s economy thriving again so Americans can get back to work.

 "On Monday, I announced my nominations for the United States Service Academies.  Each of the nominees went through a competitive selection process, including an individual interview by the Academy Interview Committee (a committee comprised of local leaders like Monique Rogers, the Corporate Administration and Marketing Director for AARC Technologies and Richard Beene, President and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian).  All of the students nominated displayed the focus, honor and courage necessary to serve our country as future leaders; I commend them for their accomplishments thus far, and wish them well in their future endeavors. From Bakersfield, Mark Van Kopp was nominated to attend the United States Military Academy, in West Point, NY.  Van Kopp is a senior at Bakersfield High School and plans to double major in History and English.  He will also be following in the footsteps of his older brother, 2nd Lt. Samuel Van Kopp, a 2010 West Point graduate.
 "At my office today, I presented Leonard Corwin, a Bakersfield World War II veteran, with an early Christmas gift.   Mr. Corwin served with the 1st Marine Division in the Asia-Pacific on Okinawa, and following his discharge, he never received the proper recognition and medals for his service.  After a request from his family, my office worked hard to ensure Mr. Corwin’s sacrifices were recognized and today I presented him with these prestigious awards. All in all, Mr. Corwin received 7 awards including: the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, China Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.  Moments like this are priceless, and I am happy my office was able to assist Mr. Corwin in securing this much deserved recognition.  As we celebrate Leonard Corwin’s dedication to our nation, let’s not forgot the men and women around the globe who daily give up so much to defend our nation and our way of life.

 "Thank you for reading my update this week and I hope each of you have time to enjoy this Christmas holiday with your family and friends.  Until next week, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mourning the loss of the disappearing community bank and wondering why sprinklers are running in the middle of a flood

 * ... FLOODING: With half our town flooded, don't you think we should be shutting off the sprinklers? Apparently not, at least over at Sing Lum School in Campus Park. According to reader Kevin Ammann, he was walking his dog near the school, in an area that had been closed due to flooding, and noticed the school sprinklers on full blast. "Heck, the city was still running two pumps trying to lower the sump at the park next to the school. And, I know it isn't just the school that is clueless. I've seen some houses with sprinklers running while it was raining. Heck, during the winter months, once a week can be too much." Well noted, Kevin. (photos by Henry Barrios)

 * ... WONDERFUL LIFE?: This is the time of year to catch up "It's a Wonderful Life," the inspirational Jimmy Stewart classic in which he portrays a small town banker in the fictitious town of Bedford Falls. So it was interesting to read a Reuters story noting that while Stewart's character (George Bailey) "remains emblematic of a benign banking system, most Americans probably don't realize he's the most endangered species in finance." Why? The news service noted that hundreds of community banks, including our own San Joaquin Bank, have failed or sold out in the last few years, "a consequence, unintended or otherwise, of government and regulatory decisions codifying the biggest banks as infallible." Some 300 banks will fail this year, and Reuters said another 860 banks remains on its "troubled bank" list.

* ... GARCES POOL: The new competition swimming pool at Garces Memorial High School has now been filled with water and will officially open on January 7. The new facility has been named the Salvucci Aquatics Center and represents just the latest in a long line of capital improvements at the private Catholic school. Following the ribbon cutting, the pool will host the first swim practice of the year. The school has now set its sights on building eight tennis courts on campus.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation writer and poet who influenced a generation with his novel "On the Road," stayed in Bakersfield at the old Padre Hotel several times during his cross country jaunts? Bakersfield is mentioned in "On the Road" and the late Spartacus Miller, the Padre's owner, told folks that Kerouac stayed at the Padre for several days at a time.

 * ... LOCAL LAD: Sometimes you are just born with good genes. And that seems to be the case with Jeffery Mulock, who at 24 seems to be on the verge of becoming the next great male model. A 2004 graduate of Liberty High School, Mulock was enrolled in college in San Diego when he was discovered by a fashion scout drawn to his rugged All American good looks. He has since adorned the cover of the Turkish fashion magazine 'Cosmoman," appeared in a BLK Jeans brochure and modeled in Germany and Greece in addition to Turkey. His parents are Roberta Pearce and Ellery Mulock.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know  you're from  Bakersfield when "it's not unusual to see oil derricks adorned with Christmas lights."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smoking rates decline in California and Memorial Hospital gives Ed Shuler a proper send off

  * ... SMOKING RATES: It looks like Californians are slowly kicking the smoking habit. A new state department of public health survey shows the percentage of residents who smoke in California is 13.1 percent, well below the national average of 21 percent. Here in Kern County, 17.1 percent of us smoke but really, we can do better than that. Other counties weighing in were Los Angeles at 10.4 percent, Ventura at 11.8 percent, Santa Barbara at 11.6 percent, Fresno at 11.2 percent and Orange at 10.9 percent. According to the Los Angeles Times, as of last year California had seen a 38 percent decrease in smokers since 1990. Now that's progress.

 * ... MILITARY ACADEMY: I had the privilege recently of serving on a committee, appointed by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, that selected candidates for the military academies from the 22nd Congressional District. Each member of Congress gets to appoint four principal nominees to attend the Air Force Academy, West Point, the Naval Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. We interviewed 32 kids, all high achieving and terrific youngsters, from McCarthy's congressional district. It was inspiring to see these kids walk through the door, one after the other, each one impressive in his or her own way. Those chosen were Mark Van Kopp, 18, of Bakersfield High School, headed to West Point; Spencer Marsh, 18, of Paso Robles, headed to the Naval Academy; Courtney Bishop, 18, of Desert High School in Edwards, headed to the Air Force Academy; and Travis Farewell, 17, of Tehachapi High School, headed to the Merchant Marine Academy.  (pictured below are Courtney Bishop, Travis Farewell, Mark Van Kopp and Spencer Marsh)

 * ... SHULER'S FAREWELL: Ed Shuler stepped down from the Board of Directors of Memorial Hospital this week, wrapping up a full 26 years on the board. Shuler, who is 88 and looks maybe 60, helped guide Memorial through its affiliation with Catholic Healthcare West, ensuring the hospital remained an affiliate of Mercy Bakersfield and CHW while retaining governance and ownership here in Bakersfield. Hospital president Jon Van Boening told me Shuler was "an invaluable asset" during the tricky affiliation process. "He's given so much time and so much of his life to this hospital," Van Boening said. During Shuler's term the hospital added 238 beds with the addition of the East Tower in 1988 and the West Tower in 2009. Shuler is a geologist, former president of the downtown Rotary Club and former employee of Getty Oil.

 * ... SEXTANT WINES: Ran into Craig and Nancy Stoler at a Christmas party the other night and they brought me up to date on their family business, Sextant Wines. The winery is doing well and the Stolers said business is steady and getting  better. Craig is a graduate of Bakersfield High School and later Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He joined the family business in 1991 and is now CEO of Sunridge Nurseries. Nancy is a proud Scot from Highland High School. The couple has four girls, own a home in Avila Beach and visit friends and relatives on the weekends here.

 * ... MINIATURE GOLF: Local architect Bruce Biggar dropped me a note to recall yet another miniature golf course, this one on Oak Street where Barnett's Tire Center now stands. "My father's office and construction yard was next door to the north. During the summer, one of my jobs was to trim the bushes along the property line and to clean up the mess." 

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember driving to Stockdale Country Club from Oak Street to Fairway Drive on a two-lane road and the only building in view was a small Shell Oil Company building on the south. It was Joe Shell's oil company, not the 'other' Shell Oil Co." Thanks to John Pryor for this contribution.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Karen Goh's rookie mistakes, celebrating the big tipper around town and unions denounce Scrivner as the 'devil'

* ... JUST EMAIL ME: By all accounts Karen Goh, who went from director of a religious-based non-profit to an appointment to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, appears to be a good choice. I know Goh from the downtown Rotary club and can tell you she is both smart and articulate. But to most of the residents of the Fifth District, she's a virtual stranger. Which is why it's so puzzling that she consistently declines to speak in depth to reporters, choosing instead to communicate via sound bites or email, as in "just email me your questions and I'll send you a statement."  What keeps Goh so busy that she can't share her views with her constituents? Posting pictures to her Facebook profile? Playing Guitar Hero? I doubt it. Going silent is a rookie mistake for a public official, particularly a freshman like Goh whose views are unknown. It only leads to idle speculation, which in this case has her taking orders from local political power broker Mark Abernathy. I have no doubt Goh is qualified for the job, but I couldn't tell you where she stands on a single substantive issue. (She did tell KGET TV that she supports jobs, but gosh, who doesn't?) Eventually Goh will need to prove she is not anybody's puppet and can stand on her own. (photo by Felix Adamo)

 * ... THE DEVIL? The other newcomer to the Board of Supervisors is Zack Scrivner, whose past and positions - unlike Goh's - have been picked apart and dissected like a lab rat. Scrivner led the much-needed pension reform while on the Bakersfield City Council, incurring the wrath of the powerful police and fire unions. And they haven't forgotten him. On the California Professional Firefighters website, 2nd District, Scrivner is likened to "the devil" for daring to rein in pension costs. "The supervisor race that we  lost will have a greater impact then the two city council seats we won," said firefighter Derek Robinson. "The devil now sits on the Board of Supervisors and pension reform is coming, like it or not." Scrivner told me the remark was "unfortunate" and "inflammatory" and added this: "I think it's interesting and perhaps telling that he characterizes the election of Rudy Salas and Russell Johnson to the Council as wins for the unions, but goes on to say that my election trumps those victories. I guess time will tell."

 * ... BIG TIP: Remember that generous patron who tipped his server a sweet $5,000 last week at Cafe Med? Well now I learn that after leaving Cafe Med, he went to the Padre Hotel where he tipped a bartender $2,000. That's right. Seven thousand dollars in tips. Merry Christmas.

 * ... THE BUZZ: Everyone is talking about the rain, which has made our bone dry community appear more like Seattle, albeit for a brief few days.  It's been non-stop for days and let's hope it fills the reservoirs and means we'll have water in the river again next summer. One thing is for certain: if you have a leaky roof, you know it by now. 

  * ... DUSTIN'S DINER: Folks over in Haggin Oaks are continuing the long tradition of Dustin's Diner, a hot cocoa and cookie stand that collects money for the homeless through the holidays. This all started years ago on St. Cloud Lane when Dustin Kilpatrick, son of Dave and Danielle Kilpatrick, started the stand with the help of neighborhood kids. It has since grown huge, regularly collecting more than $10,000 a year for the Bakersfield Homeless Center. So if you want to enjoy the Christmas lights and help the homeless, drop by the dinner now located at 2301 Haggin Oaks Boulevard. It runs through December 23.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Robert E. Holland: You know you're an East Bakersfield old timer if "your mom sent you to the Green Frog Market for an item and reminded you to pick up the new copies of Women's Day and Family Circle at the check stand that were given out at no charge."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

MCarthy: After tax compromise, time to start curtailing spending in a big way

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives his view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Last week I gave you an update on how the House calendar will be different next year to create more certainty in members’ schedules, and increase efficiency in the legislative process.  This week was case in point for the needed changes as last minute, late night legislating usually does not produce the best results.

  "Even though Congress had two years to work on a package to keep taxes at current levels for all Americans, Thursday night the current majority had to schedule a vote after 11 pm because they were having
trouble agreeing on whether or not they would raise taxes in 14 days or just keep them the same thereby preventing a $3.8 trillion tax hike from taking place on January 1st.

  "Throughout the debate on taxes this year, I have long advocated for a permanent extension of current tax law to provide certainty for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow and create jobs, which is especially needed as unemployment continues to be above 9%.  That said, on Thursday, the House passed legislation to extend current tax law for 2 years.

  "I supported this bill because voting “no” would have guaranteed that average middle-class families would have been hit with a $1,540 tax increase.  Rejecting this bill would also have saddled 88 million Americans in the lowest income bracket with a minimum tax increase of $503.  Though I did not agree with all the provisions in the bill—I believed that the extension of unemployment insurance included in the legislation should have been offset as to not contribute to our burgeoning deficit.  Unfortunately, House Democratic leaders denied members the opportunity to amend the bill to address this issue.  That said, when the new Congress comes into session on January 5, 2011, my colleagues and I will immediately work to cut unnecessary spending to pay for what the current majority chose to not offset.  Fortunately, we prevented a major tax increase, and now we need to focus on long-term solutions that will lead our nation to prosperity and make it more competitive.

  "America spoke loud and clear in November, and one of the primary messages to Congress was to stop the out-of-control spending that will hurt future generations.  This was one of the principles that my colleagues and I committed to uphold in the Pledge to America, along with reducing the size of government.  However, instead of listening, the Senate majority leaders decided to introduce and try and pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill that included over 6,000 earmarks in a last minute end-of-the-year effort.  Fortunately, common sense
prevailed and the bill was abandoned.   A short-term, stop-gap funding measure passed the House to keep government running through next week and I anticipate the Senate will approve it as well.  Next year, we
will continue to fight for a responsible spending plan that cuts waste and reduces the size of government.

  "Congratulations to Tehachapi High School, whose football team won the
Central Section Division 2 Championship week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Luigi's opening second location at Bakersfield Racquet Club and a big tip at Cafe Med

 * ... LUIGI'S WEST: Now here's some welcome news: Luigi's Delicatessen, the popular Italian eatery on 19th Street that has some of the best food in town not to mention a loyal following in the thousands,  is opening a second outlet at the Bakersfield Racquet Club. The club has been looking for a new restaurant manager to replace Big Popy's Deli, which is moving out at the end of this month. But no one expected Luigi's the fill the void. And, I am told that Darci Atkinson, a local caterer, has been hired to run the place for Gino Valpredo, one of Luigi's owners. This marriage of two Bakersfield institutions is a win-win for everyone: Luigi's gets a second location that is small enough to handle with ease, Atkinson gets a solid gig, the Racquet Club gets exposure to folks who would not otherwise visit, and Luigi's fans get a alternate venue for its famous half and half pasta and beans.

 * ... CITIZENS ARREST: Everyone needs a neighbor like Wayne, a friend of mine who just happens to be a long-distance cyclist at peak fitness. He was returning to his Westpark neighborhood about 1 p.m. Sunday, with his bike in his truck, when he and his wife noticed two young men leaving their neighbor's home on a BMX bike, with a black garbage bag sitting on the handlebars. "My wife said 'that's not right' since our neighbors are not home," he said. After noticing his neighbor's gate was broken, Wayne quickly unloaded his bike from the truck and sped off after the young men. "I caught up to them about two blocks later and said 'you just left my neighbor's house. What's in the bag?'" The BMX rider then tried to race away from Wayne, a futile move under any circumstance. " I found incredibly funny ... (I) said 'is that really your plan? Because I can do this all day,'" he said. Finally realizing they couldn't shake Wayne, the lads dropped the bag, which was full of Christmas presents from the neighbor's home, and sped off. Wayne called the police and later identified one of the youths who "was a county (jail) guest at least for a night." Nice to have a Lance Armstrong-like neighbor there in the time of need.

 * ... THE BUZZ: Meir Brown, owner of the popular restaurant Cafe Med over on Stockdale Highway, contacted me with this incredible story. "I thought you would be interested, last night a generous patron tipped one of my servers $5,000 on a $1,760 tab. When the server verified the intent with the patron he just said, 'Yes, Merry Christmas!' There are great generous people in our midst." Wow.

* ... WACKER TOWING: Robbie Horton of Mayflower, Arkansas, wrote to remember and recommend Tallywacker towing service. She said it was owned by Louie Tally and possibly Kenny Eggenberg, who still owns the property.

 * ... SICK BAY: Californian columnist Herb Benham is recuperating from his hip surgery and doing well. He's happy to report that his surgeon remarked that he has "good bones," a comment that we no doubt will soon be reading about. Also Sending out best wishes to regular reader and contributor Jack Kelley who is recovering from knee replacement surgery. His wife, Sidney, tells me Jack entertains her by reciting "Bakersfieldisms" while they drive around town. "We'll be driving by somewhere and he'll say, 'I used to shoot pheasants right here,' pointing to the Jim Burke Ford lot on Oak Street."Get well, Jack.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader John Martin: "You are truly a Bakersfield old timer if you remember ordering the Blue Plate business man's lunch ($1.29) at Martin's Malt Shop, on the corner of Baker and Lake Streets."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gaggles of ex cons put downtown residents on edge, and solving the mystery of the internment camps

 * ... ANIMAL ABUSE: Am glad to see prosecutors going after the 43-year-old man accused of taking a golf club to a small dog and then spraying bleach into its eyes. It's a case of almost unimaginable cruelty, but things like this also bring out the best in our community. Folks at the Coffee Road Animal Hospital say they have been overwhelmed with donations to help the dog, named Lacey. And a rescue home has already stepped forward to care for Lacey, whose long-term prognosis remains uncertain. Meanwhile, prosecutors are filing felony animal cruelty charges against Robert Gonzales, the alleged abuser.

* ... GRAPEVINE: Larry Miller, a retired battalion commander with the Kern County Fire Department, wrote to recall the hot summer days before air conditioning when trucks would navigate the Grapevine. "I marveled at the truck drivers who would stand on the running board of their trucks trying to escape the hellish, mind-bending engine and pavement heat coming up through the floorboards of their rigs as they were creeping over the Grapevine at 10 miles per hour. With a brick propped on the accelerator to keep the rigs moving, they would reach through the open cab door with their right hand on the steering wheel while clinging to the open door frame with their left arm. No seat belts on those days." 

 * ... EX CONS: If you live or work downtown, you're accustomed to seeing groups of freshly paroled prisoners hanging out in front of the Greyhound Bus Station. They're unmistakable in their khaki pants, black slippers with no laces, white T-shirts and prison-issued manila envelopes. These are people who have served their time, but their presence has put some downtown business people on edge. Don Martin, the tireless advocate for downtown and himself owner of Metro Galleries on 19th Street, lives downtown and routinely enjoys his walk to and from work. But not always. He was outside the downtown Rite Aid the other day when he was "stopped by a guy saying he just got released from prison. He wanted me to fill a prescription for him. I told management at Rite Aid." The previous day, he was stopped on 19th Street by another man who also had just been released who was trying to sell him stamps. Martin politely declined. With the recession deepening and the state on the verge of releasing thousands more inmates because of overcrowding chances are this kind of thing will continue for a while. Meanwhile, Martin is one of a group of downtown business owners who have been working - unsuccessfully so far - to get the bus station moved.

* ... INTERNMENT CAMP:  I may have learned what happened to the couple who ran a produce stand in 1943 but were sent to a Japanese internment camp. A reader, who did not want her name published, said the name of the produce stand and market was Sogo's Produce, and it was owned an operated by Utaro and Koye Sogo and their son-in-law, Kingo Nakamoto. Their families, longtime Bakersfield residents, were relocated to Poston, Arizona where there was a Japanese internment camp. Apparently, according to this source, the business was turned over to the Lum family who successfully ran a produce business in town for many years. The produce stand was located at the intersection of Golden State Highway and Union Avenue.

 * ... OVERHEARD: Reader Becky Williams: shared her encounter with a young lady at a local sandwich store recently.  "I'd like a turkey sandwich please,"  she said. The young lady replied, "I'm sorry. I can't make you a sandwich because our lettuce hasn't come yet."  Hold the lettuce then, Williams answered.  "I can't do that," the clerk said, "because I don't have any lettuce and it has to look like the picture."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer "if you've taken part in the soap box derby races held in the late 1930s on River Boulevard between Columbus and Greenlawn Cemetery." Thanks to F. Valentich for that one.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Air Pollution Control District takes more heat and BC looks for an athletic director

 * ... AIR DISTRICT: More criticism for the Valley Air Pollution Control District. This time it comes from Stephen Montgomery, a retired railroad employee and former union legislative representative who worked to improve working conditions. He called the air board's move to shut down the Thanksgiving Day Pie Run bonfire "an overreaction to small potatoes. It's apparent they enforce the things that are easiest to enforce and in at least one case avoid messing with the ones that may be more difficult." He cited, in his capacity with the union, numerous letters he wrote - including one to the air district - to complain about hazardous dust at the Traver truck stop 30 miles south of Fresno. He said trucks are routinely driven off the road to an unpaved portion of railroad right of way "raising dust in the dry seasons. In wet conditions water runoff from the fuel dock aprons puddles up in this area and along with all the runoff containing fuel and brake dust soaks into the water table." In short, it's a mess and certainly creates more pollution, day in and day out, than a simple once-a-year bonfire at a public park. And what happened? According to Montgomery, absolutely nothing. (photo courtesy of Stephen Montgomery)

* ... THE BUZZ: The announcement that Jan Stuebbe will be stepping down as athletic director at Bakersfield College has some folks speculating that BC may look to Cal State Bakersfield for a successor. CSUB of course just named its new athletic director, Jeff Konya, and in so doing  passed over Roger Fessler, who was outgoing AD Rudy Carvajal's No. 2 person in the department. In fact, not only was Fessler passed over but he also wasn't given the courtesy to interview for the job, a slight that did not go unnoticed both inside and outside the campus. All this is speculation of course, but BC could do a lot worse than Fessler, who has deep roots in the community and who also spent time as athletic director at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania.

* ... MINIATURE GOLF: Reader Pam Mahan wrote to say she "had to laugh when I read Jimmie D. Hill's comment about the miniature golf course just north of Green Frog Market. I remember when I was playing there with a group of friends who included Arnold Kirschenmann. Arnold, who even at that time was a really good golfer, had a terrible round at the miniature course and proceeded to terrorize his golf club by bending it over his knee and throwing it into outer space. I don't know how Arnold's knee turned out, but it was a rough day for the golf club."

 * ... MARATHON: Heard from reader Pat Chaffin who wanted to share the news that her sons, their wives and two grand daughters walked and ran 13 miles in the Zappo's Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon. "What a spectacle," she said. "Thirty two thousand competed and 18,000 were first timers. Many dressed in costumes and there must have been 50 Elvis impersonators... What's amazing is the majority of them are just ordinary working stiffs squeezing  in the time from their jobs and families to train for this race. Next year maybe they'll do the 26 miler!" The group includes Steve and Sara Chaffin, Doug and Connie Chaffin and Jenni Chaffin.

 * ... RETIREMENT: Hats of to one of our city's most valuable and beloved employees who recently retired. That would be Louie Peralez, who retired after 42 years, serving most recently as the street superintendent. Mark Salvaggio, former city councilman, described Louie as "a city of Bakersfield institution. His service is second longest in the history of the city... He is the finest public servant one can find anywhere. His shoes will never be filed." Good luck, Louie.

  * ... OVERHEARD: "A local electronics story now sells a key chain breathalyzer ... the perfect gift for that 'special' relative."

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the long lines outside of Fontana's Pie Shop on Niles Street the day before Thanksgiving with people wanting fresh pumpkin or pecan pies." Thanks to Ken Barnes for this one.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

McCarthy: Now is not the time to raise taxes

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) submits his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

"In legislative business this week, the House continued to try and finish end-of-the-year work before Congress adjourns.  Still on the agenda is extending the current tax law so American families and small
businesses are not hit with tax increases on January 1, 2011. Raising taxes while our economy continues to struggle is the last thing Americans need from congress. Currently there is  a lot of discussion
happening on this issue, and I am waiting to review the details. I hope to report specifics soon.

  "Also this week, the House came together to pass a year-long fix to the Medicare physician reimbursement system so doctors and other medical professionals can continue serving Medicare patients. This year-long
fix was entirely paid for by repealing provisions of the recently enacted health reform law that would have resulted in wasteful government overspending.   Next Congress, I intend to work with my
colleagues for a more permanent solution, focused on fiscally responsible legislation that does not add to the debt, and ensures our seniors continue to have access to the medical service they need.
  "You might remember that over the last year I spent time working on a project to gather Americans ideas and concerns called America Speaking Out (ASO). That projected resulted in new governing agenda for
congress called the Pledge to America.  One of the priorities in the Pledge is for Congress to work harder to communicate with the constituents they serve.

 " This week we released the new Congressional schedule for the next Congress.  One of the new changes in the schedule allows Members next year to spend an entire week each month in their district. This increased time at home will allow members more time to listen to their constituents’ and their ideas.  Another change
that was made was allocating more time for committee meetings to allow more time for oversight as legislation is reviewed and debated.
  "Though these changes may seem small, I believe they will help get Congress back to the principles our Founding Fathers envisioned. Thomas Jefferson once said, congress needs to have “direct and
constant control by the citizens,” and I believe these changes are a step in that direction.

  "Last December, the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club implemented a project through the Wreaths Across America (WAA) organization to place wreaths on graves in the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  WAA is a
national organization that works to honor our nation’s Veterans who are now gone by placing a wreath on every grave in national cemeteries across the country.  If you would like to help with this project, you
can do so this Saturday at the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  For more information please visit:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One man's success story in the middle of a recession, and more bad form involving people and their cell phones

* ... SUCCESS: Here's my feel-good story of the day. This one comes from Tom Myers, a 1996 graduate of Cal State Bakersfield who has certainly had his share of ups and downs in this economy. After graduating, Myers worked for 10 years with First American Title Co. before leaving to try his hand at real estate development. He got caught up in the real estate crash and "ended up shooting myself in the foot after the project failed. A month after I left the land development firm, I went to an interview with Farmers Insurance to look into becoming an independent self-employed agent. Needless to say, I will have finished my fourth year at the beginning of March 2011 and even though it has been a struggle, I have managed to start a business in a down economy without so much as taking a single penny from unemployment or charity. This is not to say that both have value and there are people deserving of it, but to point out if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. Perhaps it's time that we start teaching others to fish." And by he way, Myers was named 2008 Career Agent of the Year at Farmers.

 * ... BAD FORM: What is it about cell phones that turns people into such inconsiderate dolts? Anthony Meeks, lease manager for Lamar Advertising, was at Russo's Books the other night to hear former Secret Service agent Clint Hill talk when a man in the audience received a call on his cell phone. "Apparently he felt the call was important enough to take, but he didn't have the common courtesy to excuse himself so the others could hear Agent Hill. I am no longer amazed at people's disrespect of others, especially on their phones, but even this surprised me. I would assume that to be sitting in the front means he arrived early and has a genuine interest in the subject, but even that wasn't enough for him to go a few minutes without contact from the outside world." Good grief.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A man in my peer group casually mentioning that he was diagnosed with a "mega colon" following his first colonoscopy. What does it say when men of a certain age in Bakersfield all know gastroenterologist Dr. Rabinder Bhogal on a first name basis?

 * ... KELEHER'S COOKIES: Received a nice note the other day from local artist Barbara Reid, who wanted to share a story about a special brand of holiday cookies. Turns out the family that owns and operates Keleher Shorthand Reporters makes cookies for its clients every holiday season. "Every year my family has looked forward to a plate of home-baked deliciousness from the Keleher kitchen," Reid said. Jean Keleher is a graduate of North High and now a member of East Rotary. Reid described her as "one of the hardest working and nicest home grown ladies I know."

 * ... BIG-TIME SPORTS: Now that Cal State Bakersfield has gone Division 1 in sports, we're starting to see some big-time schools put Bakersfield on their travel schedules. The University of Colorado will be in town on Jan. 2 to play the Runners in basketball, and in March the Runners will host The Ohio State University baseball team at Hardt Field.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Another one from reader Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "remember when the Bakersfield Hospital was located at the northwest corner of 19th and R Street, by Central Park. I had my tonsils removed there by Dr. Joe Smith in 1935."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More feedback on the Valley Air Pollution Control District and doing a good deed to others just to do it...


* ...PIE RUN: My recent rant against the Valley Air Pollution Control District for being heavy handed with the Thanksgiving Pie Run bonfire elicited a string of positive responses, with the exception of this one. "Sounds like the staff of the air district is just doing their job, in response to a report of illegal activity," said one reader who asked that I withhold her name. "It's the law that bonfires can't be held.... You owe them an apology. I for one enjoy clean air, and think fouling it with a bonfire is idiotic. Stop whining."

 * ... KARPE HONOR: Nice to hear that Lisa Karpe has been honored as the 2010 Volunteer of the Year for the Southern California chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is a big honor for such a large chapter that reaches from San Diego north to Fresno and east to Las Vegas. The award noted that she created a program called Caring Connection, which involves visiting MS patients in skilled nursing facilities. Her husband is Ray Karpe, chief operating officer of Terrio Therapy and Fitness, who also volunteers with the MS Society. Their eldest son, Robert, is a freshman at the University of South Carolina while brother Adam is a senior at Garces Memorial High School.

 * ... GOOD DEED: Here's something you don't expect every day: Destiny Jimenez, a Bakersfield College student, was at a Jack in the Box drive through near Oswell and Highway 58 recently when the cashier told her that her bill - $13 - was paid by the customer before her. Apparently it was "Pay if Forward Day" and folks were out there doing one good deed after another. "There's really nice people out there," Jimenez said. "I want to do it for someone so they can do it for someone else."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: A good one from reader Jimmie D. Hill: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you played at the miniature golf course that was a tad north of the little Green Frog Market at Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive in the late 1940s and early 1950s."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board out of control? One businessman thinks it is ...

 * ... AIR BOARD: The backlash against the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District continues. If you recall, the air district came down hard on the annual Thanksgiving Day "Pie Run" because - brace yourself here - the runners had the audacity to have a small bonfire to warm themselves after the run. I am now beginning to hear from others, business people, who share similar stories. Gordon Cantrell, manager of Electrical Motor Works off 21st Street, wrote in with another story that smacks of heavy-handed APCD tactics. "We were recently fined (actually, it was just a request for funds) for 'violations' of our permits to operate. In the so-called violations, it indicated that we used spray cans to paint our motors. In our permits, it indicates that we may use non approved methods of painting only for touch up and repair items. This means small areas that need to be touched. This is exactly what we have done in the past. In the 'violation' there was no proof of any date, no color, no amount sprayed, nothing to indicate that anyone had seen anything at all, just a simple fact that we purchase spray paint was the only evidence submitted.... We are very careful to comply with the laws and rules set forth legally.... It's very difficult to fight the government, but when it comes to the government misusing its authority, I believe we should all stand up together and just say NO." Bonfires and spray cans. In this economy, and at a time when we should be helping small business, this is what the Air District does with its time?

 * ... BRAINPOWER: Bakersfield showed up on another listof dubious distinction the other day, and it's not the kind of publicity we need. According to the Huffington Post, Portfolio ranked 200 cities in terms of "brain power," calculated by earnings and educational achievement. And you guessed it, we made the list of the ten "least brainy" cities in America. Merced topped the list, followed  by McAllen, Tx., Brownsville, Tx., Visalia, Bakersfield, Yakima, Wash., Laredo, Tx., Hickory, N.C., Fort Smith, Ark., and Modesto. Not surprisingly the top five smartest cities in America were all college towns: Boulder, Ann Arbor, Washington, D.C., Durham, N.C. and Fort Collins, Co.

 *  CIOPPINO: It was good to hear from Barry Rosenfeld that the we have a date for the Bakersfield West Rotary's 18th annual Cioppino Feed: Saturday, March 26. I attend a lot of fund raisers in town and without a doubt this is my favorite. (The St. Frances Parish School's Crabfest is a close second) Cioppino feed combines an informal night of catching up with your friends while enjoying a hearty meal of clams and cioppino over at Garces High's Leddy Hall. If you haven't been, this is the time to start. Ticket prices will remain at $75 and West Rotary is looking for sponsorships and auction items. For more information call chairperson Angie Paquette at 661-617-3217.


* ... MEMORIES: Carl Bryan wrote to remember 1953, the year after the great earthquake. "We lived in a two-story house at 1724 Camino Primavera (near East High), and I turned eight that June (between my second and third grade years at Horace Mann School). Several times that spring and summer my father woke me up in the very early morning hours so that we could sit in what we called the sun room to wait for a big flash in the east. We now know these as the Operation Upshot-Knothole, U.S. Nuclear Tests at the Nevada Proving Ground, and they were apparently well publicized. The other event of that year that I remember very clearly was the first test pattern broadcast on KAFY-TV, which became KBAK-TV soon after. Our family had often visited Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally on Ray Street in Oildale to watch Los Angeles KTLA-TV (the Spade Cooley show, Roller Derby, and wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium) via a huge antenna on a very tall roof tower that blew over several times each year.  I seem to remember that the test pattern included a drawing of the Father Garces Statue."

 * ... INTERNMENT CAMP: Joyce M. Collins dropped me a nice note about a dark green produce stand that stood near the intersection of Golden State Highway and Union Avenue. "It suddenly became empty in 1943 when the couple that ran it were sent to a Japanese internment camp." Anyone recall their names?

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "recall the days of very small kitchen ovens when people used to have their turkeys roasted at bakeries like Cottage Bakery across from the old Williams School on Niles Street.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

McCarthy: BHS senior Darien Key wins Earl Warren Cup competition

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, submits his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

 "This week Bakersfield High School (BHS) held their annual Earl Warren Cup competition.  Jeremy Adams, a civics teacher at BHS created the competition to offer students a fun way to learn about the
Constitution and American government. This year, prior to the competition, Mr. Adams contacted me and requested that I participate in the competition by submitting video clips of myself and other members of Congress by asking questions for the students. I jumped at the opportunity and so did a number of my colleagues including: Sen. John Thune (SD), Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Georgia Rep. John Lewis and Republican Whip Eric Cantor.
  "The winner of this year’s cup was Darien Key, a senior at BHS. Darien won the competition after he correctly identified which constitutional amendment empowers the federal government to collect income taxes.
Darien said the 16th amendment, which was the correct answer. Congratulations to Darien on a job well done!

  "In the House this week the major issue of focus was whether or not Congress should extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Recently, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reported that if the current
tax cuts were allowed to expire, 50% of all small businesses with an annual income above $250,000 would experience higher taxes. Since small businesses create over 70% of all new jobs, an increase of that
size could have a significant negative impact on businesses ability to maintain their current payroll or hire new employees.

  "On Thursday, the Democratic majority passed a bill that failed to extend the current tax rate for all Americans. Instead, what they did do is send a bill to the Senate that if passed in current form, would
create the single largest tax increase in our nation’s history.  At a time when Americans are surrounded by so much economic uncertainty, the last thing Congress should be doing is raising taxes.

  "On another note, I am always looking for ways to improve the lines of communication between constituents and my office.  On Thursday my office announced that we now have an iPhone Application available for
free on iTunes. This new app offers constituents access to all of the services available through my website on their cell phone.  If you  would like to download this service, please visit the iTunes store

‪ "Also, this week my office in Washington was moved to a different building. Our new location is suite 326 in the Cannon House Office Building.  The new office is on the 3rd floor of the Cannon building,
which sits on the east side of the Longworth building. If you are planning to make a trip to Washington D.C. sometime soon and would like to take a tour of the Capitol, please contact my office via the
website ( for more information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bako Bits: A terrific First Friday is upon us, the Garces pool is set to open and Memorial gets $100,000 for its children's center

 * ... GARCES POOL: It looks like the new competition swimming pool at Garces Memorial High School is on schedule to be completed. Gordon Wetshoff, a Garces development officer, said water will go into the pool on Tuesday, December 7. It will have 12 practice lanes and 10 competition lanes and a diving area with a depth of 14 feet. It will also have two one-meter diving boards and one three-meter board. Garces is on a building spree that will soon include other projects as well. Said Gordon: "The next project is to try and have the new tennis courts ready for the start of school 2011. We need to raise an additional $400,000 plus and we are working hard at doing this. The Board wants very badly to have all our athletic teams be able to participate on our campus (except golf of course). The Garces girls team wants the courts ready for their season in August."

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: It's time for another First Friday in our emerging downtown arts district. What better way to support our downtown merchants than by taking in some art and dining at one of our wonderful downtown restaurants? Or, as a friend of mine does, start the evening at Cafe Med on Stockdale Highway and then migrate over to downtown. As usual, Don Martin over at Metro Galleries on 19th Street promises a terrific show. He'll feature the art of Gita Loyd, celebrating a decade of painting in Kern County, as well as something called "smallworks 2010" which will feature paintings, pottery, sculpture and other art by a slew of local artists. There is also some stunning (and affordable) small wood works from local artist Tom Christenson, the retired oil executive and husband of Realtor Mary Christenson. And while you're there, head over the Uricchios Trattoria for its classic Italian fare or Mama Roomba for some splendid Caribbean eats. There won't be a First Friday in January so don't miss this one.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I owe an apology to Donna McGuire, the owner of Serenity salon off Coffee Road. I reported that her salon was to be the subject of Bravo TV's "Salon Takeover" but McGuire says that is news to her. "We'd love any tips from anyone but we are really proud of our salon and business is good," she said. "We have a wonderful group of people here and we're involved in a number of community activities." McGuire is one of those local success stories. A product of South High School, she opened the salon four years ago and this year was it won the coveted "Best Of" award in the annual Californian reader poll.

 * ... TBC FOUNDATION: Seven local non-profits have been selected by The Bakersfield Californian Foundation for monetary grants. Among those receiving funds were the Ready to Start reading program, $15,000; Here's Life Inner City Bakersfield, $5,945.90; Society for Disabled Children, $5,000; Arts Council of Kern, $5,000; Garden Pathways, $5,068; Community Action Partnership, $6,012, and the Kern County Library, $3,000. The Foundation is not part of the newspaper but is run by publisher Ginger Moorhouse and her daughter Tracey Cowenhoven, who serves as director. It is operated as a separate entity and focuses on early childhood education.

 * ... MEMORIAL: Had a chance to attend the end of the year dinner and meeting of the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board at Luigi's this week. Memorial President Jon Van Boening and chief development officer Sue Benham always run a crisp meeting and this one included some good news for the new children's pediatric hospital at Memorial. Turns out the Waterman Foundation of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, the downtown club, is donating $100,000 over three years to help the children's hospital grow. The donations cover the terms of past Rotary president Duane Keathley, current president Harry Starkey and 2011 president Tracy Walker-Kiser.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the passenger trains running from Bakersfield to Los Angeles from the depot on Baker Street."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Retailers happy with Black Friday sales and remembering when city cops rode red motorcycles

 * ... BLACK FRIDAY: The early reports from local retailers after Black Friday were encouraging. The crowds were out and folks were spending again like the good old days. It's clear our economy cannot get back on track until consumers have the confidence to spend, so while this is early, it is certainly encouraging. And I was amazed to learn of one woman's sojourn on Black Friday. Shanan Mallard, a Human Resources specialist at The Californian, began her shopping at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and didn't end until 4:30 p.m. Friday. That's a 21-hour grind that took her to Wal-Mart, Best Buy, ToysRUs, Target (every one in town) and multiple trips to Valley Plaza. Now that's commitment.

 * ... KUDOS: Congratulations to Sam Ames, the popular and super-fit manager of Action Sports over on Brimhall and Calloway. Ames won the state cyclocross championship in the Master's Elite Division (40-44 age group) in Glendale last weekend. His next challenge will come at Hart Park in the Northern versus Southern California Cyclocross Championships on Sunday, January 16. This event is hosted by Ames and the Kern Wheelmen Bicycle Club. Ames and his wife Andrea have two children and live on the east side of town. She is a teacher at Old River Elementary. (Ames shown below along with wife Andrea (right) and friend Betsy Ramsey.)

 * ... OVERHEARD: A local runner commenting on the move by the Air Pollution Control District to shut down the warming fire at the annual Hart Park Thanksgiving Pie Run: "They do it because they can. The truckers have their lobby, the farmers have their lobby, the oil guys have their lobby, so they pick on all of us who have no lobby. It's beyond ridiculous."

* ... RED CYCLES: Heard from several readers who answered Evelyn Johnson's query if anyone  remembered when Bakersfield police motorcycles were painted red. Said Bob Schilly: "As a student at KCUHS (Kern County Union High School) in the mid to late 1940s we observed the Bakersfield police cruising the streets around the campus on their red motorcycles.  We later saw that they were missing for a few days and then when we next saw them they were painted black and white. We later learned that this was due to a local attorney being cited for speeding who contested the ticket and won because the California Vehicle Code required that vehicles used primarily to enforce the Vehicle Code must be painted black and white.  It is interesting to note that he did not say he was not speeding however."

 * ... MORE CYCLES: And reader Jack Kelley added this: "Sheriff Tom Kelley rode a red motorcycle when he stopped me and chewed me out for not stopping at a stop sign at Baker and Flower Street in 1945... I was a student at East Bakersfield High School. My mother was a resident of the great town of Fellows and her father was John Going... thanks Evelyn Johnson for the memories."

 * ... RILEY'S TAKE: And finally, Riley Parker affirmed that "Evelyn’s memory is quite clear... The officers wore khaki tan shirts and medium brown trousers, soft caps and communicated with the dispatcher using call boxes that were located throughout the city. When I walked the foot beat on Baker Street in 1969, I used the call boxes that were mounted on the north side of the McMahan’s furniture on Baker Street, and in the alley south of Sumner Street, east of Baker Street on the wall of what is now the Arizona CafĂ©. It was the Chinese Kitchen at that time and was operated by Raymond Louie."

 * ... 4-H: One group that never gets enough publicity is the 4-H Club, so I am happy to pass this along from Teri Filkins, community service project lead for the Stockdale West 4-H Club. The club is partnering with Houchin Community Blood Bank and holding a blood drive on Thursday, December 9, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. There will be light appetizers and other refreshments for donors. Interested? Call 661-588-8321 for details.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you complain when it's hot, complain when it's cold, wish it'd stay somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees year round but hope it snows on Christmas!"