Sunday, April 12, 2020

A compassionate and empathetic nation comes together on Easter, a local convenience store to give away gas to doctors and nurses, and Pyrenees Cafe closes to wait out the pandemic

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... EASTER AND THE VIRUS: Easter could not have come at a better time, a full month into the nation's lockdown. At a time of sacrifice and illness and death, Easter brings us hope and a sense of context that suffering is universal, just as is hope. One of my favorite essayists, former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this crisis has brought out the best in us, if only we look for it. Wrote Noonan: "As a nation we've learned that as a corporate entity of
330 million diverse souls we could quickly absorb, adapt and adjust to widespread disruption. I'm not sure we knew that. Crazy cowboy nation cooperated with the authorities. America has comported itself as exactly what you thought it was or hoped it was but weren't sure: compassionate, empathetic, committed, hard-working, creative and, as a friend said, funny as hell. Under great and immediate stress there's been broad peacefulness and civility. So far we done ourselves proud."

 * ... GRATEFUL: Rami Batikh is the gregarious, no nonsense owner of the Ramco Express gas station at the corner of 23rd and F streets downtown. He knows most of his regulars by name, is diligent about shooing away the homeless to keep his customers safe, and always greets you with a smile. To show his appreciation for our first responders, Batikh is offering free gas to hospital doctors and nurses two days this week. "I will have someone outside in gloves so they don't have to get out of their cars," he told me. "I am just so grateful for all they do." To qualify just show the attendant a valid ID and enjoy some gas compliments of Rami.

 * .., PYRENEES: Rod and Julie Crawford are owners of the iconic Pyrenees Cafe, and when the virus hit, they pledged to to it the old way: stay open, endure, remain focused on the customer and live up to the proud history of the old saloon and eatery adjacent to the railroad tracks in historic east Kern. For a while it worked. Then the orders came to shut its doors, and that was followed by a brisk take-out service welcomed by its legions of fans. In the end, it was just too much, and Pyrenees will shut down until the pandemic passes. On Facebook, Rod shared this: "Julie and I would like to thank everyone who came to support our family at Pyrenees Cafe, it means the world to us. After crunching the numbers and working with a shoe string staff we have been forced to make a decision that we are not happy with but I hope you will understand. We have decided that we have no choice but to close the doors until this Covid - 19 thing is over. We have had regular customers come every single day and have had the opportunity to meet so many new faces that never even knew Old Town Kern existed until this unfortunate event happened. Since this has happened we have been using the time to remodel and get things done in the restaurant and bar, new seats and booths in the dinning room, fresh paint ... Please accept our deepest apologies for closing the doors, but to reopen, this is something we must do so all our family has a home to come back to and we mean all of you. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Sincerely Julie and Rod and the staff."

 * ... AUTHOR AUTHOR! Jeremy Adams, longtime history and political science teacher at Bakersfield High School, has authored a book that has hit the market. Called "Riding the Wave," the book is available on Amazon and offers Adams' views on teaching, relationships and how professional teachers and repurpose their classroom strategies. Said Amazon: "Deftly navigate the constant cycles of change and reform with the support of this actionable resource. Author Jeremy S. Adams identifies five key teacher relationships--the self, students, colleagues, administrators, and the community--and outlines how change impacts each. Discover concrete strategies for not only strengthening these relationships but also rediscovering professional purpose and truly thriving in the classroom."

 * ... LOW ACHIEVERS: Are we really one of the worst counties in the nation when it comes to social distancing? That's what a new website says based on "app partners" that record how well we are doing keeping a safe distance from one another. Our grade? According to UNACAST we have inched up to a "C" grade after previously earning an "F" and then a "D." A week ago, UNACAST rate nine counties in California, Kern being one of them, an "F" grade.

 * ... THE BEST, AND WORST, OF US: The pandemic and accompanying lockdown has brought the best, and worst, out of some people. As evidence check out these photos, the first one shot by Peter Wolleson in Seven Oaksand the second by Lois Henry.

* ... GAS ENVY: Check out this photo of a gas station in New Orleans. No commentary necessary.

 * .... MEMORIES: Courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County History Fans, check out this picture of Union and 21st Street in the 1940s and how it looks today.

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