By Richard Beene
Normally the only reward people get from picking up litter along the side of the road is the satisfaction of knowing they've done a good deed for their city. Franklin "Woody" Allen of Bakersfield got that and more on a recent cleanup patrol with members of his Kiwanis Club. The crew was tidying up an area near Calloway Drive and Hageman Road when Allen spotted a crumpled piece of green paper. Yep, a $100 bill. Nice volunteer work if you can get it.
College fraternities earn their own negative attention sometimes, but they can also do a lot of good and provide kids with lasting memories and a full college experience. Local attorney Dan Clifford was a Greek (Chi Psi) himself at the University of Oregon, and he passed on this bit of good behavior involving the Kappa Sigma fraternity out at Cal State Bakersfield. Turns out Clifford and his wife, Jennifer, went to Deer Peak Park to hold a birthday party for their daughter but learned the park had already been reserved by the Kappa Sigs. James Wilson, one of the fraternity brothers, responded by helping the Cliffords carry tables to another area so both groups could enjoy the park.
"Jennifer and I could not have been more relieved and appreciative. Shortly thereafter the playground was filled with screaming kids and the party went off without a hitch. For the fraternity's part, they looked like they were having fun and were complete gentlemen. Although my encounter with the guys was brief, it was an extremely positive one. It is refreshing to know that the Greek system continues to turn out well-rounded, good-natured adults. Many thanks to James and the rest of the Kappa Sigs."
My earlier note on the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne drew yet another local connection, this one from KNZR radio host Ralph Bailey. Turns out Ralph went to high school with LaLanne's son, Jon Allen, in Sherman Oaks, where they both played baseball, soccer and football.
"And we were coached by Gary Fowler, former Highland, Centennial and Golden Valley coach and athletic director. Gary recently retired from Golden Valley, and Jon Allen is playing in a band and is a pool cleaner in Brentwood. His parents came to all of his games, and one of my great thrills came after one of our football games in which I ran back a punt for a touchdown. Mr. LaLanne came up to me and said, 'That was a great run, Ralph.' Thought I was gonna die! I don't know what impressed me more: the fact that he admired my run or the fact that he actually knew my name!"
Hats off to local human resources consultant Holly Culhane for coming up with a creative and generous way to recognize her company's 25 years in business. Instead of holding an anniversary party, Culhane sent out small, pre-stamped post cards asking folks to choose from three charities that would receive a $25 donation in their name. The nonprofits are Youth for Christ/USA, the Bakersfield Rescue Mission and the Houchin Blood Bank capital campaign. Kudos to Holly and her colleagues over at PAS Associates.
If you are a history buff, you might consider taking in the annual "Dust Bowl Festival" at the Sunset School in Weedpatch this Saturday. It's always an interesting look back at our past, and the festival will feature the usual wealth of comfort food (biscuits, gravy, cornbread, etc.) and classic cars. It runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This nugget comes compliments of longtime reader Linda Welch: You might be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember "when the freedom train came to town on Baker Street carrying the Constitution and Bill of Rights ... Also the other train that carried Harry S. Truman when he was running for president. He came out on the landing of the last car. What a thrill those trains were to a very small child."