* ... AUDREY: One of our community's most tireless volunteers, Audrey Chavez, is hospitalized with a bleeding disorder and is in need of blood donations. Audrey is the founder and leader of the Bakersfield AIDS Project and Ricky’s Retreat AIDS Hospice. Her blood type is A positive and you can donate in her behalf at Houchin Community Blood Bank (her account is under the number 779). The blood drive goes until February 9. Please keep Audrey and her family in your thoughts.
* ... FIRST FRIDAY: There are a lot of reasons to head downtown for First Friday, including getting a bite to eat at one of the growing number of downtown restaurants (Uricchio's Trattoria, Muertos, Mama Roomba, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, The Mark, Mexicali among them). One of the more impressive openings will be held at The Metro Galleries (19th and Eye streets) where the work of Betty Leonor will be featured. This is some really stunning stuff that makes Metro a must stop during your walk around downtown. Also at 6 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting for Al Mendez's remarkable mural on the side of Front Porch Music next to The Padre Hotel.
* ... BURGLARY: There have been a rash of burglaries and break-ins in the neighborhoods up near Bakersfield College. I am told homes on Princeton, Radcliffe and Shattuck have been hit and neighbors are now alert and reporting any suspicious activity.
* ... MEMORIES: Bernice Johnson wrote me a nice note sharing with me some of her old Bakersfield memories. The first time she had a Mexican meal, for example, was at Sinaloa when it was located in the current Wood Grower's building. It was the night before one of her girlfriends was getting married, some time in 1951. She also shopped at the Green Frog Market when it was located at California and Chester avenue, and later in the 1980s used to drive from Shafter to eat at Banducci's Corner.
* ... TEA ROOM: And finally, Jackie Ardell wrote to with the answer to the name of the old tea room that was located on Truxtun Avenue. "I used to worked there in the 1940s. It was Betty Lee's Tea Room." Another reader, Jean Gillian, remembers Betty Lee's as a large home with a wrap around porch. "The owner served fabulous meals but also had rooms to let for single women for it was difficult to find housing in the 1940s. Still remember the owner for she bought her meat from a butcher and owner of Stephens Market on Chester and Fourth Street. She was a large well dressed woman and knew what she wanted when placing her orders and watched that the butcher didn’t place his fingers on the scale when weighing the meat!"