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 www.facebook.com/Walmart. 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."

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