Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A blood drive for David Price and lots of memories of old Bako and Oklahoma Roy's Grocery Store

 * ... VERN WALCK: Bakersfield lost another legend recently with the death of Vern Walck, who served as an equipment manager and trainer for more than 40 years. Walck started in Bakersfield at Foothill High  School, moved on to East High and then worked for the San Francisco Giants AA team in Texas. He later worked at Cal Berkeley, Taft College, Bakersfield College and USC, where he was  part of four Rose Bowl championships. He  returned to North High where he retired in 2005. Dave Rangel, equipment manager at Stockdale High, said Walck was a role model for the 16 equipment managers at local high schools. "He told me a good equipment manager was the first one on the job and the last to leave," Rangel said. "He was a mentor to all of us." Walck passed away on April 26.

 * ... TAKE FLIGHT: Reader Doug Winston wrote to say he enjoyed some of my earlier posts on the old airfields that existed around town.  "I don’t recall you writing about the Rio Bravo airport that is now long gone built by the Rio Bravo Resort. I’ll never forget seeing local, living legend Janice Brown (now Sullivan) flying a six seat Beechcraft A36 out of there one day in 1986. She is known for piloting the first solar powered airplane back in the early 1980s out at Edward’s Air Force Base’s Dryden Research Center. She is also rather petite. I could see passengers in the plane as it took off but no pilot due to her stature. One of those memories of days past. Janice did my flight review last year and is still as active as ever on the aviation scene. Bakersfield has many notable women pilots including our local examiner Donna Webster and many instructors such as Dee Bloom at Kern Charter at Bakersfield Municipal Airport (L45). This is a really good time for folks to get their pilot’s licenses because many excellent instructors and planes are in good supply."

 * ... BLOOD DRIVE: There is an effort under  way to honor former Bakersfield resident David Price III with a blood drive. Price, if you remember, is the former head of the county resource management agency who has undergone four major surgeries in seven weeks because of a spinal condition. His recovery at the  University of Virginia medical center has been touch and go. His wife, Liz, suggested that family and friends could donate blood to honor Dave. "She promised to share the news with him which would bring a smile and maybe a tear to his face," said Carola Enriquez, community development director at Houchin Community Blood Bank. Kern County Public Services will hold a drive on Wednesday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 2700 M Street. You can call Stephanie Wood at (661) 862-8677 to participate or stop in at the blood bank at 5901 Truxtun Avenue to donate in Dave's honor. Be sure to mention his name of Fund 418 so Houchin can get word of donations to his family. To make an appointment at the blood bank, call (661) 322-6415.

 * ... GO NAVY: Not too many kids have the grades, discipline and will to get into a service academy, and it's even rarer for two sisters to attend the same academy. But that's the case with Kristen Ewert, who will be joining big sister Carolyn and the United States Naval Academy in July. Proud father Dave Ewert told me his Centennial High graduate "will be majoring in engineering and playing volleyball for the Midshipmen. Go Navy!" 

* ... OLPH BBQ: The annual Our Lady of Perpetual Help Spring BBQ is coming up Thursday, May 5 on the church campus on Columbus Street. Gary and Adam Icardo and their crew will be serving Harris Ranch New York steaks and chicken, along with the traditional favorites like Woolgrower's salad, French rolls from Pyrenees Bakery, Fred's BBQ beans and Dewar's ice cream. Proceeds will assist Monsignor Michael Braun in making upgrades to the 60-year-old facility. Tickets are $25 and are available at church and school offices, (661) 327-7741 or at the door.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Paul Miller: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if you remember, as a youngster, "sitting on the railroad tracks along Edison Highway, east of Mount Vernon, where a wagon with three or four bales of hay sat in front of Oklahoma Roy's Grocery and Fruit Stand and listening to The Maddox  Brothers and Rose, picking and singing."


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Housing values drop for sixth consecutive month, and bidding farewell to Gordon Johnson and Gaylen Young

* ... HOUSING: More sober news on the  housing front showing new home construction is nearing all-time lows and more than half of existing mortgages are now under water. The lack of new construction is good news for sellers, who no longer have to compete with new homes on the market, but terrible for the overall economy in the loss of jobs. Gary Crabtree, a local appraiser and one of the foremost experts on housing, told me on SmartTalk 1230 Californian Radio that a home should no longer be considered an investment where the asset always rises in value. "It's an emotional decision," he said, noting that the average house has lost value each of the last six months. My take: I love the idea of walking into my 100-year-old bungalow knowing I own it and don't have to answer to a landlord, and am cognizant that its value can go down, as well as up.

 * ... PADRE: From my mailbag: Reader Ginny Espinoza wrote to say she too heard the false report that Padre Hotel was going out business and is glad it isn't true. "We went to the Padre to celebrate our 45th anniversary, our first time at their restaurant. We had a wonderful time! The food was absolutely first class, our waiter (Pedro) was outstanding and we just happened to visit on Wednesday when bottles of wine were half price!" She later heard the rumor that the Padre was going out of business (it started with a brief on "Kern's Past" in The Californian noting that the hotel went out of business a half century ago) and was thrilled to hear it was not true. "Thanks for correcting the record!"

 * ... PERMENTER: Marlene Morales, head of marketing over at Chain, Cohn and Stiles law office, ran into legendary Foothill Coach Ned Permenter the other day. "I never realized how long he and Bob Ezell coached together," she told me. "They coached together for 37 years of varsity football, and that might be a record for two coaches at the same high school! Ned stated that you will never find a more loyal and dedicated guy than Bob Ezell, and he was so blessed to have him all that time. What is even more amazing is the fact, he never missed one day of school during his entire career at Foothill. Coach Permenter is a legend himself too."

 * ... RIP GORDON: Was sorry to hear of the death of Gordon Johnson, a retired orthodontist who truly was one of our community's kind souls. I met Gordon more than a decade ago when I joined the downtown Rotary Club, where he never missed a meeting. Always engaging and smiling, he was one of the first to welcome me into the club and always had a kind word to say. Condolences to his family.

 * ... GOODBYE GAYLEN: We lost another good soul when former KGET anchor Gaylen Young was killed in a Utah traffic accident. Turns out Gaylen was in town and at the downtown Post Office just two days before his death, chatting up the postal workers as he always did. He had moved to Utah but was still doing work for local companies at the time of his death. Gaylen endeared himself to audiences with his  upbeat attitude and his constant cheer leading for local businesses.

* ... OLD TIMER: Realtor Patsy Sadler wrote to say you know you're from Bakersfield "if you were in the first four-year graduating class at Foothill High School."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More kids select their colleges, Chancellor Oil celebrates an anniversary and pulling for a recovery for David Price

 * ... COLLEGE BOUND: Alexis Bailey, who is 12th in her class at Liberty High School, is heading to Dominican University in San Rafael on an academic scholarship. Proud mother Lynn Bailey told me her daughter was awarded a merit scholarship along with the Luther G. Smith Scholarship to allow her to attend Dominican, where she will major in international business. She hopes to work overseas and plans on earning her MBA as well. Alexis has an unweighted GPA of 3.9 and a weighted GPA of 4.88, impressive on any level. "Thanks for letting me 'sound her horn' as my dad used to say," her mother wrote.

 * ... ANNIVERSARY: Hats off to Chancellor Oil Tool Inc. that is celebrating its 50th anniversary in business. The company was incorporated in 1960 and in 1980 was purchased by the Townsend family. Tom and Mitch Townsend are the current owners. There are 28 employees involved in the manufacturing of Liner Hanger Tools and other products for oil production. Currently, some 30 percent of Chancellor's business is international. Helen Bown, office manager, noted that "we came from humble beginnings benefiting and learning from the ups and downs of the past... Our growth has been at a controlled 15 to 20 percent a year and a promising future lies ahead for Chancellor."

 * ... SMARTTALK1230: Gary Crabtree is a local appraiser and may be one of the leading authorities in town on the local housing market. He's a straight shooter and tells it like it is, which is why he will be my guest on Californian Radio on SmartTalk1230 on Tuesday at 10 a.m. We'll be talking about the local market, when we might see signs of a recovery and  what went wrong.

 * ... SICK BAY: David Price III, the former head of the county resource management agency, continues to struggle after a series of operations in Virginia. Price retired from the county and moved back to Tennessee but has since undergone four operations in seven weeks. He's currently at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. His family is asking for our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.


 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: This nugget comes from reader Al Gutierrez: "You can claim a real Bakersfield old timer moniker when you recall having attended Fremont School during the mid 1940s when it was located at the southeast corner of Highway 99 (now Union Avenue) and Eureka Street. If you lived west of '99' you had to use an under-ground, east/west tunnel in order to get to and from school. Fremont School was re-located to Texas Street (SE) during 1954, probably another consequence of the 1952 earthquake. A motel now occupies the old Fremont School properties, just south of Casa Munoz."

 * ... WHO KNEW?  Cal State Bakersfield’s six residence halls are named after places in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” such as Rivendell, Entwood and Numenor.