Friday, February 6, 2015

More photos from the day in 1965 when the Hell's Angels roared into Bakersfield ….

Billy Ray, a photographer on assignment for Life Magazine, accompanied Hell's Angels from various chapters when they visited Bakersfield in 1965. Here they are at the iconic Blackboard Cafe, in Gorman, on North Chester and at Hart Park.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Drought, falling oil prices hit hard in Kern County, and remembering the day the Hell's Angels roared into Bakersfield and visited the Blackboard Cafe

 * … DOUBLE WHAMMY: If you aren't following the twin threats of the ongoing drought coupled with falling oil prices, you should. Michael Turnipseed, head of the Kern County Taxpayer's
Association, said Kern County is at the epicenter of a fiscal "double whammy" as oil prices fall and the drought drags on. "People are looking at this and saying, 'You know, these clouds are pretty dark," he said. "The worst-case scenario is that Kern County is in a very deep hole, especially if the drought continues." The Board of Supervisors has already declared a fiscal emergency on the heels of news that the drop in oil prices will translate into a $61 million loss in property tax revenue. That led to Standard and poor's rating Services to revised the outlopok for Kern County to negative, never a good thing.

 * … HELL'S ANGELS: Reader Gene Linkhorn shared with me some historic and classic photos taken when the San Bernardino chapter of the Hell's Angels visited Bakersfield back in 1965. The photos, taken by Billy Ray on assignment for Life Magazine, showed the Angels in Hart Park, at The Blackboard on Chester and roaring through town as wary Kern County Sheriff's deputies looked on. For some reason, Life Magazine never printed the photos.

 * … WENDY: The late Wendy Wayne would have turned 67 this week, and her contributions were acknowledged when a charter school in Modesto christened two Wendy's Words Little Libraries. The Aspire Summit Charter Academy will soon officially open the "libraries" on its campus, encouraging children to read during recess. The neighborhood "libraries" started in Bakersfield as a way of honoring  Wendy's commitment to education, reading and community invovlement.

 * … ART: There is an interesting new collection of Southern California desert wild animals on display at The Metro Galleries on 19th Street. Metro owner Don Martin told me the artist is Karene Swenson, whose last show two years ago was one of the best selling shows ever. The exhibit opens Friday at 5 p.m. and will run until 9 a.m.

 * … BAD FORM: A reader, who did not want to be identified, wrote to complain about the trash along Rudd Road between Highway 58 and Palm, a short six to eight blocks. "I walk this area regularly about once or twice a month and I take a few plastic shopping bags with me to collect all the junk and debris discarded by those travelling this short section of street. No one maintains
the trash pickup. Today, again, I walked the street and picked up trash.  Included in the items collected
were a toilet seat, heavy duty home door mat, glass and plastic bottles, liquor bottles of multiple brands and  types, used condoms, 52 cigarettes, a pair of women’s socks, a pair of men’s underwear, one tennis shoe, a water pump for a car, 12 assorted plastic bags (I didn’t need to bring any from home), chewing tobacco pouches, multiple soft drink containers both paper, plastic and Styrofoam. I was so loaded down that I gave up prior to finishing the job of walking the center turn area of the street where there is substantial  debris. And, so it goes, again and again and again. I’m happy to do it to keep my part of town from  degradation. No need to adopt a street, just use of common sense. The truth be told, who raised these folks that trash our streets? The problem as I see it is lack of respectful upbringing."

 * … MEMORIES: "One more offering regarding local miniature golf courses," wrote Mike Huston. "Let's not forget the Alta Vista Miniature Golf Course located next to the Shakey's Pizza and the Green Frog Market. Lee Sullivan was the owner, opened the business in the afternoons and evenings as he was a postman by day. Regulars David Wilkerson and Greg Hanson mastered the five cent pinball machines, i.e. River Boat and Sweethearts, all while sipping on Dr Peppers and AW Root Beer. My, how times have changed!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Remembering the 'Hooverville' that existied outside of Bakersfield during the Great Depression and celebrating Tony's Pizza and Uricchio's Trattoria for some good eats

 * … HOOVERVILLE: Here's a history question from reader Bryan Kelly: "In the Grapes of Wrath there is a scene where the Joad family first arrives in Bakersfield and go through a 'Hooverville.' Does anyone remember if that was the real thing?" Brian: we know that the term 'Hooverville' was a
name for the shanty towns built by the homeless during the Great Depression (named after President Herbert Hoover) and that one existed outside of town, but I cannot be more definitive than that. Any history buffs out there who can add to the dialogue?

 * … FOODIE: A friend knows that I don't often order pizza out (I make a mean pie at home) but he treated me to Tony's Pizza recently and it was simply mouth watering. Add that to the special salad occasionally offered at Uricchio's Trattoria downtown (fried chicken strips over a salad with lettuce, black beans and avocado) and it's enough to keep me out of my own kitchen.

* … GOOD CAUSE: Remember to mark Saturday, February 14, on your calendar for the annual reverse raffle and dinner for Our Lady of Guadalupe School. The event will be held on the new church grounds at 4600 East Brundage with cocktails at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. The grand prize is $8,000 and there will also be a live auction. This year the Monsignor Craig Harrison award will go to the Dhanens and Nieto families. For more information call the school office at (661) 323-6059.

* … PSYCHO: Jerome Kleinsasser wrote with these thoughts on the Hitchcock classic Psycho, part of which was filmed in Bakersfield. "Here's something anyone with a Psycho DVD, and their finger on the pause button can prove to themselves. After her encounter with a CHP officer, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) continues driving until she faces exit signs to Los Angeles and Bakersfield respectively. She opts for the latter, which clearly infers that what follows happens in Bakersfield (regardless of where the scenes were actually filmed). As she enters our fair city, I'm assuming it is on Union Avenue, one may clearly see a sign reading 'Bakersfield, population (whatever)' on the right side of the frame. She then, for some unspecified reason, acquires another car even though the CHP officer is watching her from across the street, a sequence that may well have been filmed down south."

* … MORE PSYCHO: More on Psycho from Bob Abshier: "I always enjoy your section of the paper. When I saw Friday's piece, two things really stood out. In the movie Psycho, Janet Leigh was going north on Union Avenue  (then the old 99), and when she passed California Avenue she veered off on a side street at a 45 degree angle. Very familiar to me, as I used that turn off going home after leaving my girlfriend's house. The Social Security office is now standing where the street was. You also see the Gorman signs when she is in the mountains. The used car dealer was either on Union (99) or Chester Avenue. When I lived in East Bako at the time, I spent a lot of time at that miniature golf course ( a lot of time) !  It was always the place to take a date. You can still see the empty hill behind the Sizzler where the course was. Even now in my mid 60s I still miss it!"

 * … MEMORIES: And finally, this from Joe Scott: "I just wanted to say that I was extremely familiar with the miniature golf course just north of the corner of Brundage and Oak mentioned by Dennis Claxton. There are at least two reasons I remember it so well. First, because I lived at 15 Wible Road, now part of Freeway 99, barely a block away. And the other reason is because along with my friends Warren Pechin and Dallis Higdon we competed in "VERY SERIOUS" miniature golf tournaments just among the three of us! Sometimes the tournaments even included $5 in prize money, big bucks!  Later on the miniature golf course was removed and at that exact same location a privately owned swimming pool was built where they gave swimming lessons, and you could also rent out the facility for private swim parties."

Monday, February 2, 2015

The day in 1965 when the Hell's Angels visited Bakersfield and stopped by the storied Blackboard Cafe on Chester Avenue

 These historic photos, taken by photographer Billy Ray (shown in the first picture) capture the day in 1965 when the Hell's Angels of San Bernadino visited Bakersfield. Locals will notice the Blackboard Cafe on Chester Avenue as well as Hart Park. Billy Ray traveled with the Hell's Angels for a month on assignment for Life magazine (the photos are owned by Time/Life) but apparently they were never published, which is a shame. The photos are available in the book 'Hells Angels of San Berdoo ’65 | Inside the Mother Charter.' Enjoy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An online petition seeks to have crosswalks placed on 24th Street and readers speculate on how Bakersfield played in the filming of the Hitchcock classic Psycho

* … CROSSWALKS: There is a grass roots effort to convince our City Council to install two
pedestrian crosswalks on 24th Street as part of the widening project. The online petition asks the Council to consider putting crosswalks at both A and Beech streets, allowing residents on the north side to access Franklin Elementary School and Jastro Park on the south side. Personally, I think crossing 24th on foot is a suicide mission in the best of circumstances, but the only other ways to resolve this - a pedestrian tunnel or bridge - may be cost prohitited. More on this to come.

* … PSYCHO: An anonymous reader wrote that one of the scenes in the movie Psycho (where actress Janet Leigh was buying a car) was filmed at the northeast corner of Union and California avenues. Another speculated it was filmed on Truxtun Avenue in front of the courthouse. And still a third, Mona Martin, added: "We so enjoy your blog, upon doing a little 'Psycho' research, I discovered that the used car lot scene was actually filmed a bit to the north of the Universal Studios at an existing used car lot. I believe it was portrayed to have been in Mojave though."

 * … OLD TIMES: A reader mentioned an old miniature golf course in town, leading Dennis Claxton to add this: "Let’s not forget the miniature golf course located on Oak Sreet. just north of Brundage Lane where Barnett’s Tire shop stands now. About eight of us would spend many of the hot summer nights playing pinball and getting the soft drinks out of the water cooler ."

 * … HORSES IN BARS: Bill Deaver wrote to say downtown Bakersfield wasn't the only place where folks rode their horses into local bars. "Back during a Gold Rush Days celebration in Mojave in the 1950s, George Hodges, the then-constable, rode his horse into one of the bars that lined Sierra Highway. When I was constable during the 1970s I didn't have a horse but I levied on a couple local bars to satisfy judgments. From a bunch of bars in the 1950s we are down to two now, and one of those is in the Elks Lodge. In think TV did them in, giving folks something to do at home rather than in the local pubs. By the way, there are few places that smell as bad as a bar in the morning."

 * … CAR DEALERS: One more trip down memory lane, this one compliments of reader Kala Stuebbe: "My dad, Kenny Loewen, loves the walks down memory lane you so often provide especially in this case the car dealerships of the past. He began his career as a car salesman in 1950, and interestingly in 1959 on the first day it was mandated that car salesmen had to be licensed he happened to be at the DMV registering a car for a customer, so he filled out the form for his license and received the license number 157 in the entire state which he kept for over 50 years. Can you imagine the numbers of licenses now? He remembers Thrasher Motors who carried DeSoto (27th and Chester); Kitchen and Hodges who carried Nash (H and 23rd); Bakersfield Garage who carried Dodge; and Ed Fant Buick (at the west end of the now crosstown freeway) who was the first one to carry Fiat in 1957. He said that Plymouth was the lowest priced car of the time and carried by Bakersfield Garage, Thrasher Motors, and Strickland Motors. Leo Meek had a large used car sales business and the only new car they carried was the Edsel (for a short time). Tom Gillum Used Cars, located in Oildale, was almost as busy as Leo Meek."