Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CSU Bakersfield, a blue collar team with its eye on the prize, heads to the NCAA tournament and Bakersfield loses a local titan with the passing of Ray Dezember

 * ... CSU BAKERSFIELD: I had the chance to sit down with Coach Rod Barnes to chat about the Roadrunners heading to Oklahoma City to play in the NCAA Tournament. After beating New Mexico State to win the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament, Bakersfield goes into the game again the University of Oklahoma a 14.5 point underdog. The key to Bakersfield's success: Barnes
looks for hungry, blue collar players with something to prove, players who never give up and players believe in themselves and their teammates. Fifteen years ago Barnes took Ole Miss to the Sweet Sixteen, but it is this Bakersfield team that has won his heart. "We (his family) made a commitment to come here, to live and to build this program," he said. "We (the team) never talk about losing. We don't do that." One thing for sure: at 1 p.m. Friday everyone in town will be glued to the TV or radio when Bakersfield squares off against Oklahoma.

* ... RIP RAY: It's almost a cliche to refer to someone as "Mr. Bakersfield," but it was never an exaggeration when the term applied to Ray Dezember, the former banker and philanthropist who died Monday evening. I met Ray when I moved here in 1994 and he was on the Board of Directors of The Bakersfield Californian. He was unfailingly supportive and wise, and I was smart enough to take him up on his offer to have a weekly breakfast where he shared with me his knowledge of business and his love for this community. The philanthropy of Ray and wife Joan was impressive and widespread, but their giving was always done quietly and without fanfare. Deeply religious, Ray epitomized a life of servant leadership.

 * ... BOWLING ALLEY: No fewer than two dozen readers weighed in a reader's question about the name of the old bowling alley that once existed on the east side. And clearly there is still come confusion between two old businesses; the Bakersfield Bowling Academy and the San Joaquin Bowling Alley.  Said Richard Cardiel: "I believe the bowling alley was the Bakersfield Bowling Academy. It was located next to 7-Up Bottling, which was at the corner of 18th and Sonora Street kitty corner from the old Bakersfield Sandstone store yard. Also located in the same area was a pedestrian underpass under (Highway 99) now Union Avenue. The underpass was either on  the south side of 18th or 17th street. It was used by kids who lived on the west side of Highway 99 to get to Fremont School."

 * ... MORE BOWLING:  Others, including Frank Alvarez, remembered the venue as being the  San Joaquin Bowling Alley "and the proprietor was Joe Karam. I can remember that this is where the professional bowler Don Glover used to bowl." And Dave "Doc" Rangel, retired athletic trainer at Stockade High School, agreed: "The bowling alley that Mary Durham was thinking of was San Joaquin Bowl. It was a Brunswick bowling alley. The other bowling alley on 18th, across from the Rice Bowl, was called, The Bakersfield Bowling Academy."

 * ... MORE BOWLING: Lastly, there was this memory from Barbara Kilbreth Pederson: "The bowling alley mentioned in your column today, I believe to be San Joaquin Bowling Alley. My brother (Bill Kilbreth) was the manager there for a while. As an old timer, I have seen many changes in Bakersfield. Been here over 70 years, so lot of water under the bridge. I have always said that Bakersfield has the worst weather ( hot or foggy) but the greatest people in the world live here.  Go East High Blades!"

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