I have a few updates for you.
First, mark your calendars for Friday at 10:30 a.m. if you’d like to attend the dedication of a gravestone for a long forgotten, larger-than-life Kern County lawman at Union Cemetery.
Harry W. Bludworth was a Sheriff’s deputy here from about 1875 to 1882.
Even at the time, his exploits were so outsized they regularly made the papers.
He chased and captured stagecoach robbers, horse thieves and murderers up and down the state.
In one of his most noted escapades, Bludworth trailed James Hayes over the coastal range after Hayes had killed a Tehachapi constable.
Bludworth caught him in a shack overlooking the ocean where a ship had just arrived that Hayes was moments from boarding to make his escape.
He was a fascinating character.
And I don’t have room to get into how he wriggled out of a murder charge, ran a saloon in San Francisco, ran fences for the Kern County Land Company and was a major player in the Sunset oilfield water wars. Oh, plus his tragic love life.
The guy was a true western legend.
It was Tehachapi resident David Dyas who alerted me to Bludworth.
Dyas had been researching Hayes and kept coming across Bludworth in old papers.
He discovered that Bludworth was buried in Union Cemetery, but when he visited the grave he was disappointed that it was unmarked.
Bludworth, who died in 1913 after years working as a miner, had no family in Kern. His drinking buddies and fellow miners held a funeral for him, according to news reports.
“But they apparently didn’t have enough money for a marker,” Dyas said.
Dyas started a collection for a marker, which was ultimately paid for entirely by the Mish family, owners of Mission Family Mortuary.
And a full ceremony, including a color guard and remarks by Sheriff Donny Youngblood, will be held Friday at 10:30.
The grave is near the entrance to the cemetery at Potomac Avenue and South King Street.
Good for everyone involved.
Now to the Alvarez family, which suffered a terrible car wreck in mid-February on Highway 58 on their way to a new life in Indiana.
Stephanie and Norberto Alvarez, plus their five children (and one on the way), made it out of the wreck OK.
But their two dogs, Sally and Penelope, and two cats, Boots and Boston, were lost.
Stephanie Alvarez believed they were alive as witnesses saw them running from the wreck so she contacted The Californian and we did a story with some photos.
A good Samaritan found Penelope seven weeks after the crash, which I wrote about as well.
Despite looking high and low, along with a few false sightings, the other animals have, sadly, not been found.
But the good news is, our community has really pulled together for Penelope.
She’s set to be spayed (the Alvarezes couldn’t afford the surgery before leaving Fresno for Indiana) on Monday.
When the good Samaritan asked Critters Without Litters owner Larry Keller if he could possibly donate a portion of the cost of the surgery, he said, “NO.”
“No, he wouldn’t donate part of it, he’d donate all of it, plus her vaccinations,” related the good Samaritan, who wishes to remain anonymous. (Larry Keller is an amazing guy, so I’m not surprised.)
After she recovers, Penelope will be flown by American Airlines pilot Fred Webster to Chicago.
Webster, who was alerted to this story by former Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Jess Baker, has then committed to renting a car in Chicago and driving Penelope to the Alvarez’s door in Logansport, Ind.
The good Samaritan has been collecting donations to buy the proper airline crate for Penelope and then it’s just a matter of coordinating schedules with the pilot.
This town, when it comes to animals, sometimes it’ll break your heart.
Other times it brings tears of pride to your eyes.
Speaking of animals and airplanes, Wings of Rescue is satisfied that the Kern County Animal Services shelter has addressed its health issues and will again fly county shelter animals to new homes starting next month.
Last May, Wings staffers discovered several sick dogs had been OK’d for transport by then-Kern County Animal Services Veterinarian Cynthia Martinez-Dahlgren and stopped taking animals from the county shelter.
It continued taking animals from the Bakersfield Animal Care Center, Shafter Animal Control and the nonprofit Unity Thrift Outreach & Rescue. But not from the county.
Martinez-Dahlgren has since left the county and Animal Services Director Nick Cullen has incorporated several safety protocols to ensure animals sent on Wings’ flights are well and healthy.
“Wings of Rescue is pleased to see that Kern County Animal Services has made huge strides in the past year,” said co-founder Ric Browde.
That’s great news as Wings regularly takes 60 animals, or more, at a time out of local shelters to organizations in other parts of the country where they are rehomed.
Over the past year, Wings has saved thousands of animals from high-kill valley shelters.
The cost to fly dogs out is about $100 per dog, which is much less than the cost of housing and, ultimately, killing a dog in a local shelter.
So, it’s a win for taxpayers as well as dogs.
Wow. That’s an awful lot of good news all at once.
I’ll try not to let it happen again.
Read archived columns by Lois Henry at Bakersfield.com/henry.
Lois Henry appears on “First Look with Scott Cox” every Wednesday on KERN 1180 AM and 96.1 FM from 9 to 10 a.m. The show is also broadcast live on www.bakersfield.com. You can get your 2 cents in by calling 842-KERN.