Thursday, October 10, 2013

Longtime Luigi's waitress Nancy Mickelberry, known for giving her customers shoulder massages, died this week, and CSUB basketball team opens its door for a scrimmage on Saturday

 * ... HAPPY ENDING: My earlier blog about packages being stolen from your front porch brought this note from reader Peter Wollesen. "In 2008, my brother-in-law was married in Oslo, Norway. Since he and his new bride were to visit California after the wedding, they instructed the wedding photographer to ship the photos to his parents' house here in Bakersfield. Several weeks later, the
shipment hadn't arrived. The photographer reprinted the order, but the mystery about the original order remained. That is, until months later, when my in-laws received an anonymous call. Apparently the box containing the photographs was too tempting for a wanna-be thief, who poached it off of my in-laws' doorstep. The caller explained that an unidentified relative of theirs had stolen the box, hoping for something of value. When they opened it and found only photos, they were disappointed, but apparently felt too guilty to simply throw them away. Instead, they held onto the photos until their conscience got the better of them, and they confessed to the mystery caller. An arrangement was made to retrieve the photos and I, presumably due to my size, was designated as the gofer. I drove to an area in Oildale that reminded me very much of Dorothea Lange's images of the dust bowl; I suspect that most of Bakersfield has no idea that such areas exist just a few miles away. Anyway, there I met the caller, who handed over the entire box of photos, undamaged,  with no words exchanged."

 * ... RIP NANCY: I was saddened to hear that longtime Luigi's "backrub lady" Nancy Mickelberry died this week. Mickelberry left Luigi's some years ago but while there was known for giving her customers a back and shoulder massage before they ordered. She was 78.

 * ... RUNNERS: The men's CSUB Roadrunners basketball team will hold a blue-gold scrimmage this Saturday. The university is opening the doors and inviting the public to meet the team and watch the Runners in action. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the first 100 fans will receive a free T-shirt.

 * ... SENIOR QUEENS: Hats off to two "queens" of the recent senior games out at Rosewood Senior Living Community. They are both 100 years old and more spry than people half their ages. One queen is Ruth DeKay, a Rosewood resident who will turn 101 on Thanksgiving Day. The other is Opal Lovett who turned 100 on August 18. A little background on Opal from her granddaughter Kelly Charles: she plays Bingo as often as she can, lives at Pinewood Glenn, attends church at Pinewood and is affectionately called "gram" by her six grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and one great, great grand child. (family photo of Queen Opal)

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: It looks like the movement that began First Friday five years ago is morphing into something that will give the monthly celebration of downtown more muscle and definition. Those behind First Friday are incorporating it into a non profit and will soon announce a board of directors. The new organization will focus on marketing, promotions and building the arts district and First Friday. It is no surprise that the founder of First Friday, Don Martin of Metro Galleries on 19th Street, is also the driving force behind the new nonprofit. His aim: focus First Friday on getting people into downtown businesses and try to avoid food vendors and others that take away from the theme of arts and local businesses. More on this to come.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cal State Bakersfield cancels its annual fall barbecue citing conflicts with the new Western Athletic Conference, and Rick Kreiser ties the knot

 * ... CSUB BARBECUE: For the first time in many years the annual fall Cal State Bakersfield barbecue has been canceled and replaced with another event. CSUB Athletic Director Jeff Konya told me that conflicts with the schedule of the new Western Athletic Conference and with women's volleyball competition meant he had to cancel the annual October fund raiser. (In addition NCAA rules now
allow both basketball teams practice opportunities in early October) Instead, CSUB is looking at a concert at the Fox Theater as a possible replacement in early December. Konya said the fall barbecue could come back next year if the schedule is better and interest remains in the event. As a side note, the folks over at St. Vincent's de Paul set their first annual barbecue fund raiser for this Thursday when they learned the Cal State event had been canceled. Tickets for that are $25 at the door. The event will feature steaks grilled by Gary Icardo, who usually cooks at the Cal State event.

 * ... BAD FORM: Karen Odle suffered a bit of bad luck recently when someone stole a large package off her front porch that was left there by her postal carrier. It was a package full of her son's personal belongings as he awaited orders to report to a new base with the Navy. "It was supposed to be signed for upon delivery but the mailman left it without a signature and someone stole it off of my front porch. I was not home as I was visiting with my daughter-in-law and grandson from Florida - her husband is stationed at Jacksonville -  and when I arrived home there was no package but the Post Office website showed that it was delivered. I have lived her a long time and have never had this happen. This was a large heavy box that someone decided they needed more than my son, it makes me so mad on so many levels. Why do people think it is okay to take things that do not belong to them."

 * ... TRASH: From my regular pen pal Linda Welch. "We just came back from a two week trip to Colorado and we did not see one used diaper or discarded beer can. All the way through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada ... I guess you know the story of when we entered our beautiful state, or at least what could be our beautiful state."

 * ... ROMANCE: Congratulations to Rick Kreiser and Lorie Tovar-Stites who were married this past weekend at their home in the Tuscany area of Bakersfield. Kreiser is the owner of Carney's Business Technology Center and a longtime West Rotarian. The couple has been dating for three years. Kreiser's surprise to Lorie on their wedding day? He imported a ukelele singer they both discovered in Hawaii to sing at the wedding.

 * ... NAVY: Hats off to Chief Petty Officer Eli W. Hollis, a Bakersfield man who has found his calling in the U.S. Navy. A North High graduate, Hollis has been in the Navy for nine years and is now one of the Navy's youngest sailors to rise to the rank of chief.  His mother, Cheryl Hollis, and aunt and uncle were able to attend the September 13 promotional ceremony aboard the USS Missouri, moored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Remembering the kindness and friendship of the late postal carrier John Howlett, and some good and bad form around town

 * ... TRIBUTE: Many of us didn't know the late postal carrier John Howlett, but he left a legacy of kindness as he went about his life and job. Jane Cothern wrote that Howlett was her postman in Quailwood for more than 20 years, and she left this tribute to his life. "He wasn't a politician or a
business owner but a great community member a truly great man. He was a retired Marine staff sergeant, a retired U.S. mail postman, a wonderful husband, father, friend, neighbor and community member. He knew no strangers. All who came into contact with him thought of him as a friend... He never had anything bad to say about anyone. He always lived his life by setting examples for others, even though he didn't know he was doing so... All of these traits he has instilled in his kids. Each of his children were very fortunate to have such a wonderful parent."

* ... BAD FORM: A caller to the newsroom left this message about some really bad form at Wendy's on Rosedale Highway. Turned out a huge line had formed because two men, a woman and two young children were harassing the Wendy's employees, demanding free food on the premise that their orders had been messed up on previous visits. Again and again these customers demanded more free food, at one point insisting on speaking to the manager, who was off work that day. "They just kept giving them food," the woman caller said. Later, after gathering up the food, the group went into the parking lot and dumped the trash (possibly also some of the food) onto the ground and drove off, forcing an employee to come out and pick it all up."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Local banker Chris Lowe wrote to praise local businessman Steve Cozzetto of Century Rubber. "Century Rubber started in the LA area and relocated to Bakersfield a while back.  What impressed me most was how Steve spoke of his employees, never once calling them employees but calling them his coworkers. He also praised each and every one, individually, for their contributions to the success of the business.  It seems rare when you meet a business owner who values his employees so much and appreciates their dedication."

 * ... BOCK: Matthew Bock, a graduate of Garces Memorial High and UC Davis, is in his last year of residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. He has now accepted a position as a heart transplant fellow at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.    

 * ... MARE: MARE Riding Center (Mastering Abilities Riding Equines) is having its "Under the Harvest Moon" fund raiser on Saturday, October 19, out at its facilities at 18200 Johnson Road. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner, catered by Hodel's, is at 6:30 p.m. There will be dancing, music and activities for kids. There also will be a drawing for a $5,000 cash prize. Tickets for dinner are $25 and $100 for dinner and the drawing.  Call Diane Hopkins at (661) 589-1877 or email