Ginger Moorhouse

Ginger, thanks. You’ve been a good owner. Good owner and a better person.

Yes, you underpaid me, underpaid me forever, and you didn’t let me ride your horse, but my parting gift, along with this column, is that I forgive you.

Ginger and her family are selling The Bakersfield Californian to Sound News Media. This ends 122 years of family ownership. Rather than wallow in sadness — I can wallow with the best of them — it’s amazing one family can own anything this long.

Kongo Gumi, the construction firm in Osaka, Japan, founded in the year 578 and on its 40th generation, was starting to get nervous.

I don’t know much about the new owners. The new owners, their plans or whether I’ll be in their plans. To paraphrase Leslie Gore, ‘It’s their party and they can invite whoever they want.’

Before Monday and news of the sale, it was Ginger’s party. The party was good. There were a few anxious moments, but we had fun, too.

Like everybody, I’ve had some bosses in my time. They’ve ranged from brilliant to how did you get in this position?

One boss would stand over my shoulder while I was writing, look at my screen and said, “Can you funny that up a little bit?”

I’d like to, I want to but right now, I can’t to. I’m feeling unfunny and as long as you are standing over my shoulder and putting your unfunny magic spell on me, I may never be funny again.

Ginger was a different breed. Gentle to her soul. She was supportive even if you had laid a dozen eggs in a row and you were on your way to No. 13.

One time, we were walking to the parking lot on 18th Street. We stopped at her Subaru. It seems like she had a string of them.

She was talking about the paper. Being the publisher. Being first on the masthead.

“You know I was just lucky to be born into this family.”

There wasn’t a whisper of conceit or privilege. She had inherited the family business, she valued it and she wanted to take care of it the best she could.

If she stood over your shoulder, she would encourage you. If she saw you in the hallway, she would compliment you. If she asked about your family, she’d listen to your answer.

I think she was especially proud of the women at the paper. Proud without making the men feel bad. There were many, but Lois Henry was a favorite because she admired her guts.

The press release talked about Ginger’s family still having a role in the community. That’s not surprising. They’ve given millions over the years, quietly, not looking for any fanfare or recognition.

The giving list is long and varied: M.A.R.E, Therapeutic Riding Center, the Kern Literacy Council,

CASA, CALM, Stars Dinner Theater, CSUB, CSUB Scholarship Fund, Boys and Girls Club, Tree Foundation of Kern, a bunch of cat and dog rescue organizations, Kern County Museum and the archive building they built and the Golden Empire Gleaners.

Ginger helped found the Kern County Community Reading Project dedicated to improving reading proficiency in local classrooms for seven- and eight-year-olds.

Her biggest gift to the community may have been keeping the paper going. Standing behind it when everything changed and Google, Facebook and Twitter began ruling the day. She believed in the mission of the paper long past when it was fashionable to do so. Towns, institutions and people need watchdogs. Watch Dogs with teeth.

Ginger did this while facing challenges in her own life. Many appreciate that. Thanks, Ginger. I’ll see if I can funny-up the next column.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

(1) comment


Another cool read, Herb. I've been waiting and hoping to hear a few of you guys address the sale of the paper. I didn't think it would be appropriate to shoot off emails and hope someone responds, and was also sure I wouldn't get the real scoop! Maybe I'll bump into you guys around town and hit you up for the info. I do hope you and everyone there fit into the plans for the new owners. Write on !!

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