Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bako Bits: giving thanks and remembering days gone by

 * ... GIVING THANKS: While you are giving thanks this week, keep in mind all those who are struggling with illness and other challenges. My thoughts go to Wendy Wayne, one of our community's great leaders who is down at City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

* ... BAD FORM: Harry Love wrote to lament some of the bad driving habits seen around our town. "It is time to remind Bakersfield drivers about California law that requires driving to have headlights on even during the day. Today while driving on Rosedale Highway only one out of ten cars had the headlights on. Please spread the word." Will do, Harry, and I'll also issue a polite remind that using turn signals is also a good idea.

 * ... SPOTTED: And speaking of suspect driving, a pit pull is spotted hanging by its leash off the side of a yellow pickup truck getting on east-bound Highway 178 at Fairfax Road, its feet scrambling on the pavement to keep up with the accelerating vehicle. Alerted by the honking of others, the driver pulled to the side of the on-ramp and put the dog back in the bed of the truck.

 * ... PIES: This seasonal tidbit from reader Ken Barnes: "Never a better time to remember my long-gone friend and hunting partner Leroy Fontana. He and his whole family would produce hundreds of pumpkin and pecan pies Thanksgiving week at their shop on Niles Street. And, not just to sell but to give to local shelters around town. Best piece ever made in the city, bar none!"

 * ... IRONMAN: Hats off to John Zaninovich, who at 41 completed his first Ironman triathlon. Proud mother Priscilla Kelly said family and friends where there in Tempe, Arizona, when John competed with 2,600 other triathletes in the grueling event. "We are all proud of him and feel he sets a great example for all of us when we have to talk ourselves into our daily exercise regime!"

 * ... MORE THANKS: Gordon Wickersham wrote to thank the folks over at The Rehabilitation Center of Bakersfield for their kindness in helping his wife Betty, who is suffering from Parkinson's disease. He said the center sponsored a day trip to Eagle Mountain Casino for more than  30 patients "and it was precision at its finest. The smiles will last forever."

 * ... FLOUROSCOPE: Remember the old Flouroscope machines that X-rayed your feet at local shoe stores? Shirley Essman believes the first in town was at Leed's Shoes at 19th Street and Chester Avenue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heading into a day of giving thanks and reeling from the idea that Bakersfield is a top "sex happy" city

 * ... THANKS: Thanksgiving is a time to acknowledge the blessings in our lives, so here's my list of some of the things for which I am thankful.
 - I am thankful for a job that keeps me motivated and feeling appreciated.
  - I am thankful for my family and all the women in my life, including two wonderful daughters and a gray tabby named Latte who welcomes me home each and every night.
  - I am thankful for my health and for Dr. Raj Patel and all the good folks over at Preferred Family Physicians who take a genuine interest in my well being.
  -  I am thankful to live in a vibrant and free nation that, despite our challenges, remains the most dynamic country in the world.
 - I am blessed to have a cadre of wonderful friends who never cease to amaze me with their kindness and understanding.
 - And finally, I am lucky to live in a community like Bakersfield that - while quirky at times - is a wonderful place to call home.

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: I'm looking forward to next week's First Friday when our downtown arts district will once again come alive. I'm particularly keen to see the new Keith Wicks exhibit at The Metro Galleries on 19th Street. Wicks is one of my favorite artists  (I own two of his paintings) and he's worth checking out if you are not familiar with his work. Wicks lives in Sonoma but has strong local ties, including many cousins who live in Bakersfield.

 * ... FOUNDATION: Yet another wonderful thing about our community is its generosity, in ways small and large. I am fortunate to work for a family that believes in giving back, which it did last week via the family's Bakersfield Californian Foundation. The Foundation gave away $111,748.22 in its fall grant cycle, which concentrated on beautifying downtown. Among the recipients were the Arts Council of Kern, the Bakersfield Museum of Art, the Tree Foundation of Kern County, the Fox Theater Foundation, the Spotlight Theater, the Boy Scouts of Kern County, the Boys and Girls Club and the Kern County Museum Foundation.

 * ... SEX HAPPY: Bakersfield made the top ten among American cities deemed to be the most "sex happy." That's right, at least according to Men's Health magazine which based the survey on condom sales, birth rates and STD rates. The top five? Austin, Dallas, Columbus, Ohio, Durham, N.C., and Denver.

 * ... PIE RUN: Remember the annual Pie Run at Hart Park Thanksgiving morning. The fun starts at sun up when more than a 100 runners and walkers head into the hills for a chilly start to the day. Follow the cars to the bonfire and make sure you bring a pie or something to share.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when the two most common bumper stickers deal with Jesus Christ or the Oakland Raiders.

If it's Thanksgiving week, it's time for the annual Pie Run and to welcome the returning college kids

 * ... JOE GOTTLIEB: Long-time Bakersfield businessman and pilot Joe Gottlieb passed away recently, prompting this note from reader Kathy Scott. "Not only did he own 'Gottlieb's Seat Cover City' for many years b ut he was once thought to be dead after not being seen for several days (or perhaps it was weeks, I am not sure) and then he remarkably showed up in Mexico after surviving an accident that put him, his airplane and a friend underwater. Then there is the fact that he had his own private airstrip in his back yard in northwest Bakersfield." 

* ... PIE RUN: One of Bakersfield's great traditions will happen at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving out at Hart Park. It's the annual "Pie Run" where a hundred or so runners and walkers brave the early morning chill and run through the hills and return to a fire and freshly cooked trip-tip and plenty of pies, cookies and breads. It's the brain child of John Rous and has grown into one of our community's signature events, a can't miss way to start the holiday. It starts at dawn and make sure you bring warm gloves, the pie of your choice and your favorite dog.

 * ... COLLEGE KIDS: If it's Thanksgiving week then prepare for the annual influx of college kids home for the holiday. You'll spot them at Luigi's, Uricchio's, Woolgrowers and all the other favorite haunts that serve up Bakersfield home cooking. 

 * ... SPOTTED: Thirty-something mother screaming at her young daughter in the shoe department at a local Target, loudly berating her in front of others. Said one reader: "I could hear this mother clear across the store. She's screaming at this poor little girl,  'You're rude and an embarrassing child!'"

 * ... FEDWAY: Reader Patti Imes remembers her first real job as a Santa's helper at the old Fedway where she helped with the photos. "This was long before digital cameras and I had to remove the exposed film from the camera box under a zipped black bag with arm holes for your hands to go through. Then the film was placed in a mail bag, all while still not looking at what you are doing so you did not get light on the exposed film. Then the package was mailed every night and the families would get the pictures of their kids with Santa in the mail a week later. And who cannot forget the red pixie elf jacket I had to wear every night."

* ... BROCK'S: Kym Vliem wrote to recall the Campus Debs at Brock's Department Store. "In the mid 1960s I participated in Operation Quick Stitch: Brock's 7th Annual Spring Fashion show with Anne Meyers as the Campus Deb director. We were required to sew our own outfits (mine was a mini dress with matching shorts) and write a little bit of dialogue to be read as we did our runway walk."

 * ... LOIS HENRY: Californian columnist Lois Henry will join me Monday at 9 a.m. on Californian Radio (KERN 1180) to talk about investigative journalism and what drives her. Have something you want her to look into? Call the show. We'll be on until 10 a.m.