SHACKING UP

So guess which age group is leading the pack in terms of living together out of wedlock? It turns out it is the same group that invented the term "shacking up," the Baby Boomers. That's according to the New York Times, which reports that the number of people over 50 who are living with a single partner jumped 75 percent from 2007 to 2016, the highest increase of any age group. The reason? "People who've divorced have a more expansive view of what relationships are like," said Deborah Carr, a Rutgers University sociologist. "The whole idea of marriage as the ideal starts to fade, and personal happiness becomes more important."

GOOD FORM

Here's a missive from a reader named Patty Sue that should lift your spirits: "Richard, on Friday I had to pull my car over when I had an issue, corner of Merle Haggard Drive and Wings Way. It was 1:30 p.m. and hot, put the hood up, rolled down the windows with lights blinking. Within about three minutes the cars started stopping and checking with me if I needed help. This kept up until the tow truck arrived. All ages, women and men. Officer Baurer pulled in behind me and protected me from traffic, young men from the airport checked on me and brought me a bottle of cold water. I don't think it had anything to do with my white hair but just goes to show what kind of people live here."

SPOTTED ON TWITTER

"It may look like I’m having really deep thoughts but 99 percent of the time I’m just thinking about what food I’m going to eat later."

MOTHER'S DAY

Here is a tip for all you men who are waiting until the last minute to purchase that present for Mother's Day: Head over to Wire and Pearl on 17th and F streets, a charming little boutique where owner Susan Ruppel makes some of the most unique, beautiful and affordable jewelry you will find anywhere. Make sure you check their Facebook for store hours.

MYSTERY

A reader wrote: "Who remembers the name of the mountain lion who lived in the penthouse of the Oak Park Towers on Oak and 21st Street?"

HIDDEN GEMS

Here is my list of some underrated hidden gems on the local dining scene, places that operate largely under the radar but serve consistently great food with friendly service: Nuestro Mexico on 21st Street, Casa Munoz on Union Avenue, Juicy Burger on 24th and Q streets, Locale Farm to Table across from the downtown post office, Red Pepper (an eastside favorite), Little Italy, Village Grill and Centro 18.

MEMORIES

Mike Varela, an East High graduate, remembers going to a place called the Rainbow Gardens that later became the Crystal Inn on Union Avenue. "I saw Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown and other groups there ... those were good times."

MORE MEMORIES

And finally, thanks to Ralph Dennis for this note: "Listening to the radio, the name Cousin Herb was commonplace. But, I don't remember his name being mentioned without the name of his band, The Ozark Squirrel Shooters. How come? Not politically correct? I returned to Bakersfield a few years ago and subscribed to The Californian at the four days a week level. I glance over Bakersfield Observed to see if anything catches my eye and was glad to see the names of two restaurants, previously unmentioned, appear. If you wanted to impress or be impressed those were the places, Maison Jaussaud and The Saddle and Sirloin."

Robert Price, whose book, "The Bakersfield Sound," is still selling briskly at Barnes & Noble and elsewhere, has the answer: "That's because he has his cousins mixed up: Cousin Ebb's Squirrel Shooters was the house band at the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance. Cousin Herb Henson's band was the Trading Post Gang."

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at rsbeene@yahoo.com. His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.

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