Tuesday, April 23, 2013

RIP Graham Downes, an architect whose vision helped restore Bakersfield's Padre Hotel, and here comes the Kern County Nut Festival

 * ... RIP: I was devastated to learn of the death of Graham Downes, one of the original investors and chief architect of the recently renovated Padre Hotel downtown. Downes died in San Diego after he suffered a severe beating in front of his historic Bankers Hill home. Police have arrested a 31-year-old man who worked for Graham in connection with the death. I met Graham more than three years ago
when he and partner Brett Miller were refurbishing The Padre, now one of the jewels of our downtown. He was South African by birth and was a visionary architect, known for projects like The Padre where historic old buildings are brought back to life. I remember asking him if there was any doubt the Padre could get a second chance at greatness. He gave me an incredulous look, motioned his hands toward the then-gutted interior and said - if I remember his words correctly - "Are you kidding? This is the type of project I live for." He was 55 years old. (photo of Graham Downes (right) along with Brett Miller, owner of The Padre Hotel)

 * ... NUT FESTIVAL: The inaugural Kern County Nut Festival is just two months away, and I am a bit surprised there hasn't been more chatter about it. Organizers have high hopes that the June 15 event will put Bakersfield on the map, in a positive way. The idea: a full day celebrating local food products (centered on nuts) that will brand Kern County as a nut capital in the way that Gilroy has its garlic. Among the more than 40 food vendors are Valentien's, Village Grill, Cafe Med, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar and the Delano Elks Club. Tickets are available at the Kern County Museum, Valley Republic Bank, Farm Credit Bank and Vallitix locations.

 * .... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison won some praise recently when he offered the invocation and blessing at a recent meeting of the Kern County Bar Association's charitable foundation. Said local attorney Patrick Jennison: "In addition to the uplifting comments, invocation and blessing from Father Craig, he challenged those there to help our foundation fulfill its mission to encourage, assist and educate students with an appreciation and respect for the legal and judicial system. Without fanfare, Craig wrote a check to our foundation for five hundred dollars, and encouraged all those judges, attorneys and others in attendance to contribute for the good work of our foundation. What a terrific example he is for all of us."

 * ... GOOD FORM: This happy note from local food critic Pete Tittl: "This morning while driving to work on Jewetta Avenue I saw an older couple walking south from Brimhall who had plastic bags. They were picking up trash as they went along, trying to clean up the neighborhood. Didn’t get their names, but it’s another cool way of citizens taking action to keep Bakersfield clean."

 * ... FAN MAIL: Occasionally I receive a nice hand written note from a reader, sharing some memory or concern about our community. And occasionally I receive an embittered anonymous mail like the letter from a woman who only identified herself as a "vintage wife of a career Navy pilot." Clearly no fan of this blog, she described me as a "toofy-faced doofus, and a peculiar male yenta." Yikes. Apparently she felt that I was angling for a free meal when I mentioned how delightful Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessen is on a spring Saturday. Sorry "vintage wife," but my late departed mother frowned on that kind of behavior, and I suspect Gino and Tonia do as well.

* ... MEMORIES: Reader Sigrid Peasha wrote that she grew up in Bakersfield in the early 1970s and fondly remembers shopping with her mother at Dunlap's department store in the College Center Shopping Center on Columbus Street. "Dunlap's was a wonderful department store, and had a beautiful bridal section, which was very impressive to a little girl!  My mom has since passed away, but I have very fond memories of our shopping trips there together."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She probably meant "toothy-faced doofus."