Thursday, April 14, 2016

A local attorney rides 224 miles over a 24-hour period just because he could, yet another memory of Merle Haggard and white glove service at the Craft Tap House

 * ... THOMAS MORGAN: Do you ever wonder what drives people to excel, or achieve feats of physical pain and endurance that would make most of us shrink from the challenge? I posed that
question to my friend Thomas Morgan, who just punched his bucket list on a quest to climb on his bike the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, some 29,000 feet. Morgan, deputy county counsel with a fascinating personal story (years ago as a young deputy sheriff he was shot in the neck at point blank range and left for dead) took his bike to the base of Round Mountain and put in 224 miles over a 24-hour period, climbing 29,137 feet in some nasty and wet conditions. Why? Morgan told me it would be easy to answer "because it is there," but more deeply said he was moved at what it brought out in his friends who rallied to help by bringing food, shoveling mud off the road and riding alongside to help him stay awake. "Why indeed?" he told me. "At first it was the idea that I could, even at an age far beyond most great athletes, do something extraordinary. I wouldn't need any support or fanfare or a pile of money. All I would need is a mountain and a bike and a little free time. However, in the end what was really extraordinary was all of the people that came out to support me... At times it seemed they willed me back up that climb when all I wanted to do was go home and sleep."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When life throws me a curveball, I try to duck so it hits someone else."

 * ... BILL MURRAY: And there was this quote floating around social media attributed to comedian Bill Murray: "I don't trust people who don't like dogs, but I trust dogs who don't like people."

 * ... FOODIE: After hearing friends rave about its bar food, I finally stopped by the Craft Tap House on Truxtun the other day and settled into one of their custom hamburgers. The bacon burger was outstanding, but more impressive was the white glove service provided by on site manager Robert Reyna.

 * ... MERLE: Reader A.S. McClaren has this memory of Merle Haggard when McClaren was a young deputy sheriff back in 1972: "I was working as a reserve deputy sheriff in 1972 when we got a call to meet the man at the Hart Park offices regarding a possible assault with a deadly weapon. Upon arriving we found a very wet Merle Haggard. He had been across the river at Shell Beach with a female friend when her significant other showed up. According to Merle, he had a very large gun and told Merle he could save his skin if he swam the Kern River, which he did. A few years later I was working in Los Angeles when I heard a new song by Merle Haggard entitled 'I'll Never Swim Kern River Again.' I just about fell out of my truck. I don't know how many know the story behind songs but this is one that only a true song writer could write because he had been there. And I was a witness. Sad to have lost him."

 * ... CALM: The California Living Museum (CALM) is putting on a fancy dinner and musical evening on Saturday, May 7, to expose more folks to the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in the southern San Joaquin Valley. It's called the Beastly Ball and it will feature a gourmet dinner, music, and auction and an opportunity to walk the grounds around the CALM zoo. Tickets are $125 or $900 a table.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Monday Bako bits: Fifty years ago Merle Haggard kept a promise, some random acts of kindness and more on former weather caster Marge Stiles

 * ... MERLE: We have read a lot of tributes to the late Merle Haggard recently, but I couldn't resist sharing this one from reader Pete Parson: "It was spring break of my first year at Cal Poly just over 50 years ago when I went to one of the local honky tonks that didn't check many IDs, especially if
one was over 6 foot tall and was wearing a cowboy hat, boots and a white T shirt. I sat down at the bar next to Merle and asked if he'd heard of the band that had played at the Western dance at Cal Poly a few weeks back. He affirmed that he had and said they had one really good picker. At length I asked if he'd be interested in playing for the next dance a year hence. He said they'd probably need about $200 more than I was authorized since they would have to rent some rooms in San Luis Obispo for the night. I assured him I could swing it and we shook hands. Within the next six months some of his records (many of which had been out for a while) were at the top of the country charts and after an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry he and the band were on network TV.  By the time the date came around a lot of my fellow students were expressing doubt that he would show up but they were there as promised and played from 7 p.m. until past midnight.  The old Crandall Gym floor and bleachers were filled to capacity. It was a blast! The club treasurer expressed his relief and admitted his previous doubt when we didn't even have a written contract.  Merle simply said, 'I gave him my hand on it, that's contract enough for me' and stuffed the $500 check into his pocket."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know what I like about people? Their dogs."

 * ... MAILBAG: This handwritten note from Lela and Rodney Nahama showed up at my office, and it speaks for itself: "Kudos, accolades and many thanks to the emergency room staff at Mercy Southwest Hospital. We are grateful for their attention, kindness and knowledge that was given to us on April 2-3, 2016."

 * ... GOOD FORM: And Vicki Utt added this: "My husband and I were having lunch at downtown Mexicali this week, and he was wearing a Vietnam combat veterans cap. Two gentlemen at a nearby table stopped as they were leaving to shake his hand and thank him for his service. This is not an uncommon, but always appreciated gesture since 9-11. But we were taken completely by surprise when we were informed they had paid our lunch tab. We would like to publicly thank them and let them know just how much we appreciate it. Bakersfield is truly filled with good people."

 * ... ST. FRANCIS: Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 28, when the St. Francis Parish will holds its 14th annual barbecue in the church parking lot. The menu features a New York steak, green beans, salad and all for $30, with proceeds going to the 63 parish ministries.

 * ... MEMORIES: Retired social studies teacher Harry Love shared a few memories about former KERO TV weather caster Marge Stiles and others: "I came to Bakersfield in 1967 to teach at Foothill High School. I was born in Los Angeles and went to college there. Of course , TV station personalities were rarely seen. Well I had to go to the KHSD office, then on 24th Street, to the audio-visual department, to get a 16mm film (pre DVD times) to use in class. There was Marge Stiles. She was the head of the department. Her day job. This meant that a TV personality was waiting on me! Maybe that is why I stayed here for the remainder of my teaching career."