Richard Beene

Sunday, Feb 16 2014 09:57 PM

BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

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    By Felix Adamo

    Bakersfield Californian CEO Richard Beene.

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By Richard Beene

Janis: If you know Janis and Vernon Varner this post will not surprise you, because their generosity here is well known. It turns out Janis held her annual birthday bunco party at Stockdale Country Club, where Vernon picked up the check. Janis' friends then chipped in to donate to one of her favorite charities, Honor Flight Kern County, which sends veterans to Washington, D.C., to view the war memorials. According to Honor Flight coordinator Lili Crommett-Marsh, Janis' friends donated $6,900 to Honor Flight. Janis herself has paid for five veterans to make the trip.

Retail: It looks like Joseph A. Bank, a men's retailer, is coming to The Marketplace in the Southwest. The national chain has hung its signage in the space once occupied by Russo's Books.

Memories: It looks like we solved the question about the name of the old drug store in Valley Plaza when it opened in 1967. But it triggered a lot of memories, and I will share some here. As Kevin Cornelius said: "The name of the drug store was Payless Drug Store; you could enter from the south side of the building or from inside the Valley Plaza. I remember this because I bought my girlfriend a $19 going steady ring from the jewelry counter located at the inside entrance. That girlfriend became my wife of 40 years. WOW, has time flown by."

More memories: But another reader, Janice Dillingham, also recalled a candy store in the mall called McFarland Candy Store. "John and Nancy White (my aunt and uncle) managed it when I was a little girl, and we always received wonderful candy treats and leftover doughnuts when we visited them in Bakersfield. I love your blog and look forward to reading it along with the rest of the Californian." Thanks, Janice.

... And more: And there was this in my mail box from reader Joe Stormont: "The drug store in Valley Plaza was Payless Drug Store. It was eventually moved to the old Mayfair Market building south of the mall (near where the theater is now located). Other Valley Plaza old-timers might remember Pickwick Books, Toy World and Jolly Roger restaurant. Another great memory was when they had a Japanese Zero airplane on display in the center of the mall for a short time in the 1970s. A local had shot it down during WWII and recovered it from the bottom of the ocean many years later. I believe the Zero ended up in a San Diego air museum and was destroyed in a fire a few years later."

... And more: Linda Meadows Polston remembers when her then 18-month-old daughter, Cathy, "knocked over a 3-foot-tall display of Maalox in the old glass bottles" at the drug store. "Fortunately for me, my husband, Eddie, was with her and had to suffer the embarrassment. What a mess!"

Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at www.bakersfieldobserved.com. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at rsbeene@yahoo.com.

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