Thursday, December 26, 2019

Harold Meek, a giant among local car dealers, dies at the age of 83, snowfall creates a traffic nightmare after Christmas and cancer takes the life of Shelly Rodriguez

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company.

 * ... RIP HAROLD MEEK: Harold Meek, one of the giants of the local car industry who headed
Three-Way Chevrolet for years, died Christmas Eve, his family said. He was 83. His wife of almost 50 years, Kay Meek, told The Californian that Meek's family was with him when he died. Meek joined Three-Way in 1971 and served as the dealer-operator until his retirement in 2008. In recent years Meek struggled with near blindness but he soldiered on and never lost faith. His wife, Kay, is a force to be reckoned with herself and has served on the Kern Community College District board for the past 20 years. Together, the Meeks gave generously to various local charities while staying deeply involved in civic affairs.

 * ... LEGAL CANNABIS: Questions are being raised about how California set up its program to tax legal marijuana, and it appears we got something wrong. In fact, things are so bad that regulators are suggesting the state may have to go back to the voters, with an initiative, to correct the problem. The issue: tax revenue from the sale of legal cannabis is about a third of what was expected, and a huge illegal market has arisen to fill the gap. Regulators say taxes are simply too high, leading to a flood of illegal pot sales that now account for as much as 80 percent of the entire market. Statewide, California is expected to earn some $3.1 billion from pot sales, but that is far short of the original estimate of $8.7 billion.

 * ... SNOW CLOSURES: The storm that swept through California left a heavy blanket of snow across the Kern Count highlands, forcing the closure of both the Grapevine and Highway 8 and disrupting the travel plans of thousands of motorists. People were forced to sleep in their cars on the Grapevine while thousands of others used Highway 166 or Highway 46 to divert to the coast. How bad was the traffic on 46? Just take a look at this picture. Other pictures show conditions on Highway Highway 166 and the Grapevine.

 * ... SHELLY: Our community lost a wonderful spirit recently when Shelly Rodriguez, known for her megawatt smile and good cheer, died after a brief battle with cancer. She was just 42. I first met Shelly when she worked at Seven Oaks Country Club and she later migrated to The Petroleum Club where she was reunited with her longtime mentor and friend, Lili Marsh. I learned of Shelly's passing from Lili on Facebook, where she wrote: "I can’t believe I will never talk to you again. My heart is broken. You were quite simply the most kind, thoughtful, generous and upbeat person I ever knew. I never saw u in a bad mood in 26 years. I will say again that every professional and personal success that I have experienced has been because of YOU. The absolute best assistant - but really we were a team - your daily efforts made me look good and every time I had a crazy idea from Honor Flight to Bakersfield Unites festivals- YOU were all in! I couldn’t, wouldn’t or have wanted to do any of it without you. I love u sooooooo Much and I am truly broken...."

 * ... VINCENT'S: I spotted this wonderful old picture on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Who remember's Vincent's?

 * ... OLD BAKERSFIELD: Gilbert Gia is a local historian, and he posted an excerpt from a 1915 book in which the author traveled across America. Enjoy: "At Bakersfield we stopped at the New Southern Hotel, which is, like most Western hotels, European in plan. We found a delightful cafeteria known as the Clock Tower Cafeteria, kept by two women, and with most appetizing home cooking. Bakersfield is one of the most Western of California towns. Something in the swing of its citizens as they walk along, something in the wide sombreros and high boots which the visiting cowboys wear imparts a general breeziness and Western atmosphere. It is a little town with the clothes of a big town. It has very wide streets and is laid out on a generous scale. Its fine Courthouse, its beautiful new schoolhouse, its pretty homes, its residence streets with their rows of blooming oleanders, pink and white, make it an attractive town. But it must be confessed that it is very hot in Bakersfield, as it is in most towns of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. The most interesting thing to me in Bakersfield was a leather shop, where I saw handsome Mexican saddles, very intricately and ornately stamped. When we left Bakersfield we saw just outside the town a perfect forest of oil derricks towering into the air, some of the wells being new ones, others having been abandoned. Bakersfield is the center of a rich oil territory, from which much wealth has flowed. In leaving the town we turned by mistake to the right instead of to the left, and found ourselves traveling toward a Grand Canyon on a miniature scale. We were driving over lonely country where the water had worn the hills into fantastic shapes and where the whole country was a series of terraces. Sometimes small tablelands stood up boldly before us, sometimes cone-shaped pieces of plateau, like small volcanoes, appeared in long rows beyond us. Beautiful purple mists and shadows hung over these carvings of nature as the sun began to decline.”
(Effie Price Gladding, Across The Continent by the Lincoln Highway, 1915)

 * ... MEMORIES: Sone delightful old pictures found on the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

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