Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cafe Smitten and the renovated Silver Fox Starlite Lounge open on 18th Street, Cathy Butler retires from the Downtown Business Association and remembering when Truman's whistle stop tour came to Bakersfield

* ... CAFE SMITTEN: The downtown area is getting an upscale new coffee and pastry house east of Chester on 18th Street. It is called Cafe Smitten and it is run by the daughter of Ward 4 City
Councilman Bob Smith and her husband, Stasie and Shai Bitton. Not coincidentally, Smith is a principal investor in the 17th Place Luxury Townhomes just a couple blocks away. Cafe Smitten opens on Monday. Meanwhile, down the street we are about a month away from the opening of Qwikcafe, the new venture by Sequoia Sandwich Co. that will feature a full array of "to go" sandwiches and salads.

 * ... STARLITE LOUNGE: Meanwhile a bit farther east on 18th Street the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge opens Friday after an extensive remodel and facelift by new owners Rod and Julie Crawford, who also own the popular Pyrenees Cafe in east Bakersfield. Both the Starlite and Cafe Smitten are important chapters in the renaissance of the 18th Street corridor.

 * ... CATHY BUTLER: Congratulations to Cathy Butler who recently retired as president of the Downtown Business Association after more than 40 years. Butler was a tireless advocate for downtown, but the passage of time has rendered the DBA as something of a nostalgic relic of the past. Whatever largely ceremonial work the DBA is now engaged in could likely be performed by a committee at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, at a fraction of the cost.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Don't be surprised when your tax refund arrives as store credit toward the purchase of Ivanka's Spring line of fashions."

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this memory from east Kern's Bill Deaver? "About your item on president Harry Truman visiting Kern County during his 'whistle-stop' tour in 1948. My brother Mike (later deputy chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan) and I were attending Mojave Elementary School and walked to the Standard Pacific station in Mojave to see Mr. Truman. He walked onto the back platform of the heavily-armored Ferdinand Magellan, the presidential car. About that time one of the new jet fighters from Muroc Army Air Base flew over and Margaret Truman ran onto the platform to see it and almost knocked her dad down, to the great entertainment of the large crowd. Fast-forward to 1984 and guess who was riding in that car as a top aide to President Ronald Reagan during another presidential campaign? That kid from Mojave, Michael K. Deaver! One of those “only in America” moments!"

  * ... MORE TRUMAN: Jim D. Smith also remembers the whistle stop tour of Harry Truman. "As an 11-year-old I was on the Beardsley School playground as the train slowly rolled into Bakersfield, powered by a steam engine and pulling a caboose. Teachers had us all outside, knowing the train was due to pass by. "    

 * .... BAKERSFIELDISM: According to Ronal Reynier, you may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember two of Bakersfield's auto thrill rides: "the 'Seven Sisters' outside of Oildale and when the road down the Bluff's was two-lane. I think almost everyone when they got a car had to try the Seven Sisters. There were other places outside the city were you could 'fly' with four wheels up but they were a lot further out then the Sisters. A trip in the spring on Round Mountain Road to South Granite Road can be quite interesting at times. At times you can still see pieces of cars at the bottom of 100 foot gullies who did not make the complete trip. It gets interesting when oil trucks are coming at you 50 mph and you think your 25 mph is too fast."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

City Councilman Bob Smith steps in to help residents of a neighboring ward, Monsignor Craig Harrison holds forth at another successful CrabFest and remembering the late Trice Harvey

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here's an example of really good form from Campus Park resident Kevin Cornelius. Campus Park is in Ward 5, represented by the late Jeff Tkac, and was having issues with trees being cut and hauled away. So with no current city council representative, residents turned to
Ward 4 Council Bob Smith for help. "Last Monday the city cut down five trees in one day! We the neighbors of North Campus Park decided enough already. We also had complaints with the sump or pond which was formerly a nice ecosystem a few years back. In this pond area or sump as the city calls it... everything from kit fox to ducks, cranes and falcons thrived before the city brought in heavy earth moving equipment and cleaned out all the reeds and vegetation. My wife (Sabrina) contacted Bob on Tuesday about the situation and he responded right back with a meeting three days later. Councilman Smith brought along with him city officials ( Dianne Hoover with Parks and Recreation,   Jason Meadows theWater Resources Director, and Arthur Chianello the Water Resources Manager).  We would like to thank Bob and these three city officials who showed up in the pouring rain at the park to listen to all of our concerns. They were all very courteous and promised to get back to us with some hopeful solutions."

* ... CRABFEST: Monsignor Craig Harrison held court at the annual CrabFest this weekend, the hugely popular fund raiser for St. Francis School that brings together a few hundred like minded people under one roof for a dinner of ribs and crab. Angeline Mason and Rick and Cindy Jones were honored for their service, and longtime St. Francis principal Cindy Meek learned the school will build a new wing and cafeteria named in her honor. I had the chance to break bread and chat with the remarkable Kathy and John Ritter, both longtime educators and St. Francis supporters. Events like this bring our community together, and it was good to spot so many people giving their time (and money) to a good cause.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Relationship status: getting a back rub from a tennis ball wedged against the wall."

 * ... TRICE HARVEY: Ronal Reynier shared with memory about our late Assemblyman Trice Harvey, which speaks to his good character. "About 20 years ago my wife Mary and I, on the way back from the coast, stopped at the White Elephant in Taft for lunch. A Iowa football game had just started. Trice was there and said Iowa had no chance against his team. My wife could not let that pass and so bet him $5 Iowa would win. Our quick 30 minute lunch turned into a three hour game. Iowa won and Trice reached into his wallet ... he had to borrow $5 from a friend, his wallet by that time was empty."

 * ... CHARTER SCHOOLS: My piece on charter schools triggered this response from my friend Louis Widman out at Cal State Bakersfield: "Public schools are good for our democracy, because no other institution brings so many children together and, very importantly, teaches them how to get along with people of different faiths, races, and wealth. Since we are only free to make choices among the alternatives we know, a democracy needs public schools to provide everyone with an education that prepares people to make choices as citizens. I don’t want corporations or churches running charter schools to control what choices people realize they have."

 * ... MEMORIES: Anthony Bernal says you know your are from Bakersfield "if you remember the days presidential candidates traveled by rail and both Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey made campaign stops at the Southern Pacific Depot at Baker and Sumner in 1948."