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Felix Adamo

Bakersfield Californian CEO Richard Beene.

CANYONS: Some of the best news in years came recently with the decision by the Metropolitan Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Trust Group to acquire the "crown jewel" of our area, the nearly 850 acres of bluffs out near Hart Park and the Kern River.

Ever since the scheme to develop the property went bust, the rolling hills have been used by joggers, hikers, bicyclists and off-road motorcyclists. It is a beautiful area and certainly worth the investment as a new "grand park."

But once the land is turned over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there will no doubt be restrictions on the off-road motorcyclists who are destroying habitat and carving their own trails in the area. Stay tuned for the inevitable dust-up.

We lost another member of the Greatest Generation the other day with the passing of Ed Barnet, 90. My friend Angelo Haddad told me that Ed, who lived in the northeast near the old Green Frog Market, received a Purple Heart for his D-Day wound, the Bronze Star, the European Theater Combat medal, a Presidential Unit Citation medal, and numerous campaign ribbons including the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944 as a 19-year-old from Memphis. May he rest in peace.

OVERHEARD: A local businessman whose wife is Jewish is telling a friend at lunch: "When we moved here we were surprised at how many meetings start off thanking 'our savior Jesus Christ.' It doesn't bother me but that would never have happened back where we used to live."

SPOTTED: On a friend's Facebook wall: "NBA commissioner rules that Donald Sterling cannot bring a white person -- namely, himself -- to any NBA games."

OLPH: Don't forget that the annual Our Lady of Perpetual Help spring barbecue is Thursday at the parish ground on Columbus. A $25 ticket gets you a delicious Harris Ranch steak or teriyaki chicken grilled by Gary and Adam Icardo.

The doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner service from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Call Deborah Leary for tickets at 872-1543 or buy them at the door.

MEMORIES: Local architect Tom Jannino added to the discussion of the old downtown. In his words: "If memory serves me correctly, and it is getting a little foggier, Tiny's was originally on the southeast corner of 18th and Chester, across 18th from the building in question. It later moved across 18th when its former location was demolished for the construction of what was originally Bakersfield Savings and Loan, a structure presently housing Caesar's and several other tenants.

"As a child, I had many trips downtown with my mother, often stopping for lunch at Tiny's, the tea room at Brock's, or the lunch counter at Newberry's or Woolworth's. A personal favorite was a small doughnut shop located on the east side of Chester Avenue just across the alley from the building that was originally the Californian Theater.

"Of course, all of this happened before the existence of Valley Plaza, when downtown Bakersfield was the center of shopping and banking."

MORE MEMORIES: Jack Pasek reached out to remind me that a Sambo's restaurant once occupied the building on Ming Avenue that is now Bob's Big Boy. And Rollie Moore reminded me that the Salad Bowl on Chester and 18th Street (northeast corner) was his favorite eatery.

"They had a 'door open toaster' sitting on every table along with a small cereal-shaped box listing all the current songs. For a nickel you could select your favorite song and it would signal the big jukebox in the corner to play your request as you visited and ate. The food was great!"

Email Richard Beene , Californian president and CEO, at His column appears here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at