Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bakersfield's Valley Republic Bank makes the list of the top "safe banks" in the country and readers recall the old "haunted house" that was used as a priest rectory after the 1952 earthquakes

 * ... SAFE BANKS: Hats off to the folks over at Valley Republic Bank, which has made a list of the 359 safest banks in America. This is all according to MSN.Com which used a financial analysis called The Texas Ratio to determine which banks are truly the safest. Said the story: "The Texas Ratio was developed by a financial wizard at RBC Capital Markets named Gerard Cassidy, who used it to correctly predict bank failures in Texas during the 1980s recession, and again in New England during the recession of the early 1990s." Valley Republic is the only locally based bank to make the list. Valley Republic was founded in 2008. Bruce Jay currently serves as its president and chief executive officer.

* ... SPOTTED: Craig Holland spotted this seasonal oddity at Brimhall and Jewetta roads: "A large red SUV with two snowboards, complete with boots, attached to the rack on the roof.  In July in Bakersfield?"

 * ... MESZAROS: Rob Meszaros, head of communications for Cal State Bakersfield, is leaving the campus to take a similar position with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools. His last day at CSUB will be Aug. 23 and he'll start his new position a few days later.

* ... HAUNTED HOUSE: My earlier post about an imposing old home near Beale Park brought a flood of responses from folks who remember it as a rectory for priests at St. Francis Church while a new church was being built. Steve Merlo grew up across the street from "the house on the hill" on Dracena Street. "When the new church was built and the priests moved out, the old three or four story house remained empty and became a fun house for most of the kids on our bloom.... The house's silhouette was so tall, gloomy and frightening to look at that on one ever ventured there after dark." (file photo of the original St. Francis Church)

 * ... HOUSE: Another reader, Sharon Henderson, grew up on Cypress Street and also remembers the "O'Hare house... As a child I dreamed of being able to live there. I loved that house and passed by it on my way to and from St. Francis school, Beale Park, my best friend's house, and finally, BHS.  After the 1952 earthquake destroyed the lovely St. Francis church downtown, the O'Hare family donated that house to the parish and it was used as the rectory for many years. (I attended St. Francis with Judy O'Hare, her younger sister, Inez, and brother, Mike.)  I have memories of walking to that house from school with my class each December, standing on the sidewalk in front, and singing Christmas carols to the priests."

* ... MORE HOUSE: Lynne Brooks Woodward recalls a slumber party in 1958 when she and her friends went to the house for a late night "exploring mission... I remember climbing inside a window and seeing an old grand piano at the foot of a stairway. The house was otherwise empty. We had heard it used to be a home for the nuns or priests from St. Francis. Anyway- we got spooked and ran back to our party site. What a fun memory to recall!"

  * ... JUDGE CLARK: Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Clark went to grade school at St. Francis and remembers that a classmate, Mike O'Hare, lived in the house with his mother and sister. "I don't remember the details as far as how long they lived there or what his mother's name was... might have been something other than O'Hare."

* ... QUAKE: One more memory of the horrible 1952 Bakersfield earthquake, this one from local Realtor and world champion skeet shooter Ken Barnes. "During the August quake my parents had friends from Oklahoma visiting and their son and I were both 13 years old at the time.  We were sitting in an aisle seat at the California theater between 18th and 19th streets that afternoon a little after 3 p.m. when the quake hit.  After going through the morning quake in July I knew exactly what was happening, and I yelled for him to run up the aisle and out into the middle of Chester Avenue. All around us was dust and debris from falling bricks and store frontages that had collapsed. Next door the roof of Lerner's dress shop caved in and killed a woman.  It was hours before we finally caught a bus back to Oildale and my very worried parents.  It was really, really scary."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More memories of the devastating 1952 Kern County earthquakes, and lamenting about those motorcycle lane splitters

* ... QUAKES: Christy McGuire was just an infant when the 1952 earthquake hit but she has a vivid memory of that day. She was living in Taft where her father, Tom Gross, was a young exploration geologist working for Standard Oil (now Chevron).  "I have a vivid memory of dad quickly coming into my room to take me out of my crib, calmly saying there was an earthquake, and carrying me into the living room to stand in a doorway with my mom. In looking back at the dates of the quakes, I was amazed to realize I was less than a year old, my birthday being in October 1951. Christy grew up with a love of geology, and remembers her father "dancing excitedly into the house, when we had later moved to Bakersfield, with Scientific American's iconic cover story on plate tectonics in his hands.  It was like he was carrying the Holy Grail, and it felt more momentous to me than experiencing the earthquakes themselves!"

* .... MORE EARTHQUAKE: Another memory of the 1952 earthquakes, this one from Harry Love. "I was an eight year old, living in Los Angeles (Westchester, by the airport). I remember waking up as my bed was hitting the wall. I thought my sister was shaking it to get her little brother upset (her usual ploy). I starting living in Bakersfield in 1967 and still remember the other ones that hit here. In 1970, my wife of one year and from Minnesota, experienced her first earthquake."

 * ... SPOTTED: A younger woman driving a black BMW is busy texting on her cell phone as she blows through a red light at Brimhall and Calloway, narrowly missing a white SUV that wisely slowed to allow her to pass.

* ... PR GROUP: Marlene Morales is head of communications for the law firm of Chain, Cohn, Stiles and dropped me a note to tell me about a group of local executives (most of them in public relations) that meet quarterly to discuss issues in our community. "Not only are they leaders in the community, they participate in many non-profit organizations to raise money for Kern County," she said. "Members of the PR group include: Susan Hersberger, Jarrod McNaughton, Amber Chiang, Marlene Morales, Rob Meszaros, Carla Musser, Darlene Mohlke, Steve Gabbitas, Michele Bresso, Barry Zoeller, Colleen Dillaway, Brent Rush, Beth Pandol, Cal Rossi, Rob Duchow, Selena Ingram, Gina Hayden, Jim Varley, Katie Harlan Allen, Leslie Golich, Rhonda Smiley and Susie Geiger. "

* ... LANE SPLITTERS:  How do you feel about motorcycle riders who ride between the car lanes, a maneuver that is perfectly legal (at least in California) if executed correctly? Reader Phyllis Smith was recently stopped at a double left turn with a motorcyclist rode up next to her. "He hit my side mirror forcing it backwards.  He pushed the mirror back into position and took off doing his left turn, again between the two car lanes. When I got home I checked the mirror and the paint was chipped off where he hit it. I have never understood why they have this privilege of driving between the lanes."

 * ... MEMORY: Reader Wyatt Ross is looking for a little help from old timers who remember an old house on Myrtle Street. "Around 1961, at about the age of 4, I would walk with my very young Aunt Molly and Uncle Todd from 308 Cypress to Beale Park for a day of swim and play. Walking on Palm, we could look north on Myrtle and see what I remember as a huge, weathered old mansion, sitting ominously on a raised lot, at least 15 feet higher than the surrounding grade. To me, it was the 'House on Haunted Hill' from the 1959 Vincent Price movie.  I clearly recall covering my eyes as we walked by it!  Ironically, 15 years later I would live across the street from the still-elevated vacant lot, which still had remnants of the red brick foundation.  It was soon thereafter excavated and subdivided with several new homes. Any old timers out there recall the history of that place?   Seems I've heard it may have housed nuns or orphans at times........or am I confusing it with Sinaloa?"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A woman recalls the horrific 1952 Bakersfield earthquakes and the Colorado shootings revive the issue of gun control in our society

 * ... EARTHQUAKES: The stories on the anniversary of the devastating 1952 Bakersfield earthquakes triggered this response from a reader: "People say that as an infant you may remember traumatic experiences. In August 1952 I was 18 months old. We lived just west of Kern Medical Center on Flower Street. When the earthquake hit I was in my crib in the living room. My mother and sister were piano players and we had a low top piano in the living room also. I, to this day, can vividly remember the piano bouncing two to three feet off the floor and moving past my crib which was moving the other way across the room. My sister, 9 years old, and her girlfriend were on the front porch and were thrown out into the front yard. I am sure there are others with lasting memories but this is one I can truly say was a memory that I have not forgot." (photo courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian)

 * ... SHOOTING: The horrific shooting at the Colorado theater that killed so many innocent moviegoers has renewed the debate over gun control. Would outlawing assault rifles prevent a recurrence of these tragedies? What about limiting the amount of ammunition that can be bought at one time on the internet? We will talk gun control on Californian Radio KERN 1180 on Monday at 9 a.m. We will also be talking to a vice president of Campbell's Soup company which recently paid $1.5 billion for locally owned Bolthouse Farms. Join us for the discussion.

* ... HITCHING POSTS: Harold Tyner wrote to say he and wife Elaine have one of the old, classic hitching posts erected in his front yard. "I have owned and ridden horses for several years," he wrote. "Hal Wygant's daughter Laurie is married to our son Steven Holcomb. Hal had acquired one of the original hitching posts  that was once in front of the court house.  He offered it to us, and it is now in our front yard, waiting for any would be rider and horse to tie up! " (file photo of hitching posts)

 * ... SPOTTED:  Longtime reader Terry Andrews shared this bit of bad form when he was eating breakfast at the Knotty Pine Cafe. "It was a delicious breakfast (but) there was a man facing us, with three ladies at his table, and he flossed over his plate for 10 minutes after the meal. Ugh!:"

* ... OVERHEARD: A young woman is telling her friend about running into group of city firemen at a downtown woman's boutique. "So we are there talking and in walk a dozen of these young firemen who are inspecting the building and asking questions about the crawl space. They were so nice and polite and these guys were hot! Every woman in the place just stood there in a trance! It was quite a show!"

* ... PAINTER: My post last week on Rich Johnson's crew who painted by downtown home brought this note from reader Karen Kandarian. "Richard Johnson has been doing my painting for at least 25 years.  Richard has a vast knowledge of all the current colors and products on the market.  He is always right on in helping make decisions.  He is fair, honest, trustworthy and reliable.  He always finishes the job and does it well. He is a true professional.  As you stated, he gets all his work by word of mouth. What better recommendation can a person receive than to have so many satisfied customers giving you a referral?  He’s the best in my book."