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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Herb Benham

Sequoia is serving my signature sandwich in December. Say hello to the chopped roasted tri-tip of beef mixed with diced mild green chilies, served on grilled sourdough, with Gruyere and American Swiss cheese, topped with homemade salsa.

This is the tastiest sandwich in Bakersfield.


This comes from Don Fletcher.

"We have a neighbor named Betsy who does something remarkable every Christmas.

"The day after Thanksgiving she spends hundreds of dollars on material to make blankets.

"On Christmas, she takes the blankets along with dozens of sandwiches she makes and toiletries to a park in town where she distributes the blankets and food to the homeless; she has been doing this for at least five and maybe 10 years.

"Betsy is a fifty-something mother of five (adult) children. She is divorced and has two jobs, so the expenditures of both time and money are considerable for her."


Wyatt Ross emailed in regards to the column in which I had eaten Herb's Chili Fries from Jake's prior to singing in the Christmas concert. Given the pleasant fire of the dish, I might have endangered my fellow singers had I aimed the "Hallelujah" chorus at their heads. I referred to the dish as having real meat chili.

Wyatt suggested that real chili does not have chili beans in it. "About the only place in town that has "meat" chili is Zingo's.

Wyatt signed off by saying,

"Enjoy most/some of your stuff."


Reader Barbara Stevens called with a story about the late singer Ray Price, a frequent visitor at the Crystal Palace.

Barbara makes pillows for friends and made Ray Price four pillows. Awhile back, Price invited the 83-year-old Bakersfield native on his bus and showed Barbara her four pillows, which he had arranged on his couch.

Barbara was making a fifth pillow for him before he died last week.


The column on buying a fancy electric toothbrush with good hand feel from my dentist triggered several suggestions on dental care from readers.

Friend Dolly Hei (Dolly has great teeth) from Shafter wrote:

"A couple of decades ago I discovered a way to fight gum disease from my microbiologist tech at a dentist's office. She tracked my bacterial count, and I followed her instructions, using the baking soda/peroxide mix in a paste form at first, and then in a Waterpik basin.

"I whipped those bugs. Never direct the jet into the gum pockets, but at the teeth themselves, so it deflects into those areas where the bacteria hide."


Chris Bardet lost the fight to ALS recently, but not the respect of his family and friends.

Bardet rode his bike to work for most of his 16 years at Chevron. Eight miles each way. Sixteen miles a day like clockwork.

Before being diagnosed with ALS, Bardet had only taken two sick days. He continued to ride his bike. Bardet seemed the perfect embodiment of the ALS motto, "Never give up."


Recently subscribers had difficulties receiving their newspaper. They emailed me because they know I'm a big shot.

After their delivery problems were solved (I had nothing to do with it), I sent them one of my best-selling books (I still have boxes of them left at home).

They sent this email:

"Dear Herb,

Thank you for sending the book. Back in the 1970s and '80s my husband and I lived in Orange County. Our neighborhood was having problems with the delivery of the LA Times. One Sunday morning as I went out to get the paper, the "adult" delivery man threw the paper in the gutter, filled with water.

"I sat down and wrote letters to every columnist I read, the editor and everyone else at the Times that I could think of.

"One person answered my letter -- Jack Smith (Jack was from Bakersfield). He said there would be changes, and there were. Our neighborhood got a new carrier. I was the hero of the block!"

See the power columnists have?