Thursday, June 9, 2011

One woman's account of the meltdown at Meadows Field and a personal testimonial to Five Guys Burger and Fries

 * ... MEADOWS FIELD: One of the passengers who nearly missed her flight at Meadows Field when the TSA baggage screening machine broke wrote with her version of that nightmare. Judy Lopez said it happened last Tuesday, May 31, as she tried to board the 6:20 a.m. flight to Phoenix aboard US Airways. She had high praise for the airline, which delayed the flight to try to wait on as many passengers as possible, but not for the TSA or airport management. "I was approximately 25th in the security line" an hour before her flight was scheduled to leave," she said. "After a half hour, I was still about 20th in line because the TSA agents were bringing people from the back of the line to the front. This included all passengers with special needs and there was no effort whatsoever to have a dedicated line for them, nor was there a dedicated line for those who had checked passage." She later learned it was the second day the machine had been down, and she wondered why airport director Jack Gotcher was not informed about it, and didn't move quicker to resolve the problem. "His comment that 'this is a TSA issue' is rather hollow." Some 30 people were left stranded at the Bill Thomas Terminal when the flight took off without them. These included passengers who arrived more than an hour early but failed to make it through security.

 * ... FIVE GUYS: My recent post that Five Guys Burger and Fries may be coming to Bakersfield triggered some mail from some rabid fans. Said Charlie Powell: "Richard, my wife and I got back Sunday after a two week trip to Virginia. While in Williamsburg we went to a Five Guys Burger place, after seeing a story about them on TV. We were more than impressed. We've always been In-N-Out fans, but Five Guys wins, hands down. The burgers reminded us of the homemade, grilled burgers from our youth. And, the fries are totally unique. The employees were very gregarious, and challenged us to compare them to In-N-Out. Clearly, Five Guys has a great business model, including employee devotion and loyalty. Bring it on!"

 * ... BAKO SUMMER: It was Wednesday afternoon when I got the first taste that our long spring was about to end. I was downtown and could almost taste the heat as I inhaled, a sure signal that the breezy porch days of spring are giving way to a Bakersfield summer. Valley heat has its own unique taste and smell, so different than other areas I have lived, and aside from the punishment I'll suffer from the utility's SmartMeter, I enjoy the long days of summer. Bring it on.

* ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that in 1950 an architect named Wilson Call built the Oildale Post Office on a lot he had purchased from Justes Sheen for $3,500? Around the same time Call's uncle, Ralph Trout, sold his Twin Pepper's Beer Bar which was later demolished. Trout then purchased a lot across the street and Call designed and built the building that houses Trout's bar at Chester Avenue and Lincoln Avenue. At one time Trout owned the famous Black Board bar, the Highland Bar and Trout's. Thanks to retired architect Wilson Call, now 95, who submitted this bit of history.

 * ... MAYFAIR MARKET: Longtime contributor Don Kurtz responded to an earlier post about the old Mayfair Market in Oildale.  "My father, Frank Kurtz, was the manager for many years. I won't say it was the center of Oildale but close. Almost all of the employee's resided in Oildale. The ice cream parlor was owned by Jim Harris and his family. They produced just about everything you needed for a party from ice cream to punch.  I was 14 at the time and remember they had the cutest daughter!  In the Mayfair there was also a lunch counter were everyone hung around. I  remember the ranchers coming down from Woody and adjoining areas for their weekly load of groceries. Had my first real job setting up and selling Christmas tress in the parking lot. Was only 15 and it took me months to get the sap off of my hands!  At that time anything you needed could be purchased in Oildale."

 * ... HISTORY DAY: Fruitvale Junior High School has a long and distinguished tradition of achievement in the History Day competition, and they are at it once again.Writes Dan Jenson: "I thought you might be interested to learn that six students from Fruitvale won California State History Day championships and are leaving this weekend to participate in the National History Day contest at the University of Maryland. Our friends' son, Christopher Trickey, will be competing in the individual documentary category, while Julie Marie Castro, Morgan Kaess, MaKay Moss, Grace Yaesel Park and Brooke Richter will be competing in the group performance category. In addition, two other children from the district, Jessica Jensen, (my daughter) and Cassidy Porter, both from Endeavour Elementary School, won state championships but won't be competing as the elementary division is not eligible for nationals. The Fruitvale district has been extremely successful in this competition over the years, and it's no accident. With coaches like Mrs. Rowena Moore at Endeavour, the kids do things most of us could never even dream about. I mean, what do you say when President Carter's chief-of-staff calls your house and asks to speak to your ten-year-old daughter? It's absolutely amazing!" Hats off to these high achieving kids.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield "if you ever snuck friends into the Crest Drive-in in the trunk of your car."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is now the time to purchase real estate? And Five Guys Burger and Fries may be headed to Bakersfield

 * ... TIME TO BUY? Is now the right time to buy a new home? The Wall Street Journal argues it may be, despite the fact that prices continue to decline and the nation may be facing a "double dip" in the housing market. Why? Interest rates are at historic lows, a glut of homes has created a classic "buyer's market" and prices may begin to rise sooner than we think. "While we might not see rapid growth in the next couple of years, there are a tremendous number of positive signs that could lead to a rebound," said Anthony Sanders, a real estate finance professor at George Mason University. "So what might the next five years look like?" the story added. "Once the foreclosure mess begins to clear up... the traditional drivers of the housing market - demographics, affordability, loan availability, employment and psychology- should take over."

 * ... EINSTEIN:  Bakersfield Memorial Hospital will hold a ground breaking for the Einstein Front Entrance Pavilion Thursday, honoring Dr. Hans E. Einstein. Memorial is undergoing a growth surge and this latest addition is a well deserved honor for Dr. Einstein, who has been one of the nation's leading experts in looking for a cure for Valley Fever. Construction will include a new exterior, an interior hospital entrance with canopied areas for patients and visitors, enlarged and enhanced lobby area and improved parking and circular drive for patient drop off. The ground breaking will be held at 5 p.m.

 * ... THE BUZZ: Word on the street is that a Five Guys Burger and Fries restaurant may soon be headed to Bakersfield. This Virginia-based company is big in the South and apparently a franchisee has purchased the rights to open a Five Guys both in Los Angeles and Kern counties. Five Guys is strikingly similar to In-N-Out Burger but usually does not have drive through service.

 * .... NEW PRINCIPAL: It looks like M.T. Merickel, principal at Seibert Elementary, will be moving to Stockdale Elementary School to replace longtime principal Ron Madding. Madding is retiring from the Panama-Buena Vista School District this year after serving for years as principal at Stockdale. (photo of M.T. Merickel courtesy of Panama-Buena Vista School District)

* ... EPILEPSY: There are a lot of deserving charities in our community, all competing for our attention, and one that needs our help in the Kern County Epilepsy Society. It is holding its annual Mud Volleyball tournament in Stramler Park on Saturday, June 25. The cost is $350 for a team of six to ten people. "Like our city, our organization has seen its ups and downs, but the participation of the community in our yearly event has always allowed us to raise enough funds to continue to provide services to those affected by brain injuries and epilepsy," said Julie Gragg. If interested, call (661) 634-9810 to sign up.

 * ... SPOTTED: Young couple with three children and two dogs, parked off Panorama Drive adjacent to the walking park, casually toss their Taco Bell wrappers and empty soda cups in the gutter while getting into their SUV.

* ... WHO KNEW? In 1973, Bakersfield had its own comic book in the tradition of the underground comics coming out of the Bay Area. Titled "Bakersfield Kountry Komics," the comic book was written and illustrated by Larry Welz and Larry Sutherland, who was from Bakersfield. The adult themed magazine is now considered a collector's item .

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Bako weekend full of events and Doug and Adele Davis get some well deserved recognition

 * .... WEEKEND: It was a big weekend for events of all kinds, starting with the First Friday celebration downtown to a big cycling road race that drew more than a 100 riders from across Southern California. The First Friday event in the arts district was held under perfect conditions and the streets were packed. It was encouraging to see so many businesses doing well as folks mingled in the streets and took in the art galleries. Out at the Golden Empire Classic road race championships, there were several nasty crashes and at least one rider suffered a broken ankle when he failed to negotiate a turn going over Round Mountain. But the conditions were ideal and riders seemed to love the challenge of the 32-mile loop over Round  Mountain. Among the local riders participating in the race were Tyler Williams, Mike Marotta, Mike Noel, Gareth Feldstein, Tom Morgan, Glenn Hammett, Matt Clark, Mike Hutson, Brian Monroe, Sam Ames, Greg Walker, Matt Thompson David Rous, Zane Adamo and Mike Perry, and many others.

 * ... PRESIDENT'S AWARD: So nice to hear that CSUB music professor Doug Davis and his wife, Adele, received the President's Award on the 25th anniversary of the Bakersfield Jazz Festival. This is a wonderful event that would not be possible without the efforts of Doug and Adele. But what some folks don't know is that the jazz festival has also raised more than $500,000 for scholarships for deserving CSUB students. The festival is a wonderful thing, but these scholarships add a new dimension to the annual event out at the CSUB  campus. 

 * .... SPOTTED: Christine Thornburgh, a partner in the firm of  Brown Armstrong, Accountancy Corp.,  was seen at at the outdoor Prairie Fire lounge at The Padre Hotel with an entourage of friends celebrating her 40th birthday. Accompanying  Thornburg in her limo were fellow Brown Armstrong employees Connie Perez, Ariadne Cimental and Diane White. Anker Fanoe, regional president of the local Rabobank office, joined in the celebration at the outdoor bar.

 * .... CUSTOMER SERVICE: Hats off the Hoggz Surf Shop over at the Town and Country Center at the corner of Gosford Road and Stockdale Highway. I was there looking for board shorts and experienced a brand of customer service I had not seen in a very long time. You can credit that to owner Chad Hoggard who has created a culture where customer satisfaction is the standard.

 * ... MEMORY: Reader Pam Martinez wrote to say she remembers an old ice cream shop "next to the Mayfair Market on North Chester. My mom worked at Mayfair, next to Standard School. It was a real treat to get ice cream there. Also remember a tiny burger stand on Ferguson, had the best fries. Thanks for the memories."

 * ... WHO KNEW? Two brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio, are planning to open a restaurant called “Bakersfield.” The restaurant pays homage to the Bakersfield Sound and the genre’s “rebel, outlaw” feel. They’ll serve tacos burritos and other Mexican-inspired dishes.