Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mosquitoes, snakes and other critters are flourishing after the heavy winter rains, Bruce Freeman picks up more endorsements in the Ward 5 race and remembering the mountain lion of the Oak Street towers

* ... MOSQUITOES: When was the last time you had to deal with mosquitoes in Bakersfield? It's likely been a while, but the tiny pests are back - along with any number of bugs and critters - thanks
to our record winter rains. My friend Harry Starkey, manager of the West Kern Water District, said we all can expect an explosion of bugs, snakes and other assorted insects and small animals thanks to the massive plant growth that provides a fresh source of food for all kinds of bugs and animals.

* ... FREEMAN: The endorsements for Bruce Freeman in the Ward 5 City Council race are piling up. The former Castle and Cooke CEO has won support from homebuilder Matt Towery, Supervisor Zack Scrivner, Mercy Hospital president Bruce Peters, Taft businessman Bruce Hampton, former assemblywoman Shannon Grove and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee. Meanwhile, his primary opponent Ryan Nance counts the Bakersfield Police Officers Association among those who have endorsed him.

 * ... NEW BUSINESS: Congratulations to Katie and Nick Panici who have opened a salon and boutique named Campici at the corner of 19th and F streets in the old Green Thumb space. Some 200 people showed up for an open house last Sunday. Katie is the daughter of Clayton Camp of Kern Machinery.

 * ... PARISH BBQ: Make sure you calendar Thursday, May 25, for a new barbecue to raise money for the youth ministry at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Master griller Gary Icardo and Deborah Leary are joining Monsignor Perry Kavookjian to host the event, featuring the traditional Icardo Harris Ranch New York steak or teriyaki chicken along with Casa Munoz beans, Pyrenees rolls, Dewar's ice cream and salad. Tickets are $30 and available at the church office or at the door. Doors open at 5 p.m.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Teach your kids about taxes. Eat 30 percent of their ice cream."

 * ... MYSTERY: There was a lot of feedback on folks remembering the mountain lion that once lived in the penthouse of the high rise at Oak and 21st streets. This one, from Allyson Livesay, puts the mystery to rest. "I work for Mr. James R. Smeed, and Mrs. Claire J. Smeed, owners of the Oak Park Tower.  Mr. Smeed owned 'Marusa'  the mountain lion referred to in the article. So there you go!
The name was 'Marusa' pronounced 'Marusha.' He a photo hanging in his office; himself sitting at the desk, with the mountion lion  sitting next to his desk with its paws on the desk.  Mr. Smeed is an avid animal lover and  supports several wildlife causes. He was tickled to see the article in the paper."

  * ... MOUNTAIN LION: And Ty Bryson added this: "My grandather managed the Oak Park Tower early on when it was initially owned by Gene 'Old Man' Reed and later his son Bud Reed. My grandparents lived in a modest caretaker home situated in the northeast corner of the property. At that time, the building was managed and marketed as luxury apartments. The Reeds lived in the penthouse. Pretty swanky digs for Bakersfield at the time. I spent many a weekend and summer roaming the property as a child, when I visited my grandparents. It had a great swimming pool and spa that provided great fun during the hot summers...The Reed family sold the building to J. R. Smeed who converted the apartments into spaces that were marketed for business uses, but continued to maintain the penthouse as his family's personal residence. J.R. had a pet mountain lion that he kept up there in the penthouse. She was known for walking on the thin railing that enclosed the top of the building. That was often a traffic stopper for Oak Street travelers... I remember going up to the penthouse and playing with Marusa many times, but one time in particular stands out. I was a young boy and was very impressed with the big cat. We were all outside on the penthouse patio area and I was playing with Marusa. However, when the group moved indoors, Marusa wasn't quite done playing with me and she firmly grabbed my skinny little wrist in her jaws and pulled me back, away from the door.  It scared me and Mr. Smeed had to intervene. No harm done, but I can still see my wrist in that lion's mouth! Marusa, more than a few times, made the long plunge to earth from that penthouse and went roaming into Westchester and the surrounding area. Those instances made quite a stir."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The group that invented the term "shacking up" - the Baby Boomers - are at it again in their post divorce 50s and 60s, and head to Wire and Pearl for a unique Mother's Day gift

 * ... SHACKING UP: So guess which age group is leading the pack in terms of living together out of wedlock? It turns out it is the same group that invented the term "shacking up," the Baby Boomers. That's according to the New York Times which reports that the number of people over 50 who are
living with a single partner jumped 75 percent from 2007 to 2016, the highest increase of any age group. The reason? "People who've divorced have a more expansive view of what relationships are like," said Deborah Carr, a Rutgers University sociologist. "The whole idea of marriage as the ideal starts to fade, and personal happiness becomes more important."

* ... GOOD FORM: Here's a missive from a reader named Patty Sue that should lift your spirits: "Richard, on Friday had to pull my car over when I had an issue, corner of Merle Haggard Drive and Wings Way. It was 1:30 p.m. and hot, put the hood up, rolled down the windows with lights blinking.
Within about three minutes the cars started stopping and checking with me if I needed help. This kept up until the tow truck arrived. All ages, women and men. Officer Baurer pulled in behind me and protected me from traffic, young men from the airport checked on me and brought me a bottle of cold water.  I don't think it had anything to do with my white hair put just goes to show what kind of people live here."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It may look like I’m having really deep thoughts but 99 percent of the time I’m just thinking about what food I’m going to eat later."

 * ... MOTHER'S DAY: Here is a tip for all you men who are waiting until the last minute to purchase that present for Mother's Day: head over to Wire and Pearl on 17th and F streets, a charming little boutique where owner Susan Ruppel makes some of the most unique, beautiful and affordable jewelry you will find anywhere. Make sure you check their Facebook for store hours.

 * ... MYSTERY: A reader wrote: "Who remembers the name of the mountain lion who lived in the penthouse of the Oak Park Towers on Oak and 21st Street?

* ... HIDDEN GEMS: Here is my list of some underrated hidden gems on the local dining scene, places that operate largely under the radar but serve consistently great food with friendly service: Nuestro Mexico on 21st Street, Casa Munoz on Union Avenue, Juicy Burger on 24th and Q streets, Locale Farm to Table (previously known as Union Deli) across from the downtown post office, Red Pepper (an eastside favorite), Little Italy, Village Grill and Centro 18.

* ... MEMORIES: Mike Varela, an East High graduate, remembers going to a place called the Rainbow Gardens that later became the Crystal Inn on Union Avenue. "I saw Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown and other groups there... those were good times."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, thanks to Ralph Dennis for this note: "Listening to the radio the name Cousin Herb was common place. But, I don't remember his name being mentioned without the name of his band, The Ozark Squirrel Shooters. How come? Not politically correct?  I returned to Bakersfield a few years ago and subscribed to the Californian at the four days a week level. I glance over Bakersfield Observed to see if anything catches my eye and was glad to see the names of two restaurants, previously unmentioned, appear. If you wanted to impress or be impressed those were the places, Maison Jaussaud and The Saddle and Sirloin."