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HERB BENHAM: Kindness, purebreds and secrets to a long marriage

Chuck Wall's "Random Acts of Kindness" had legs. Wall, who died June 8 at age 80, came up with the one-sentence philosophy "Today, I will commit one random act of senseless kindness  ... Will you?" in 1993.

Wall, who taught business at BC, was listening to the morning radio when the newscaster reported on "another random act of senseless violence." Wall, who had had it with violence, inserted "kindness" in its place and launched an international movement.

Wall lectured all over the world, talked to kings and presidents and appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Random acts of kindness became part of the vocabulary and many have forgotten it came from a guy in Bakersfield.

Be nice. Even when you don't feel like being nice, and don't be choosy to whom you're being nice. Every scrap of nice helps.


Great weekend of sports. The finals of the French Open, the NBA playoffs, baseball in full swing — tell me we're not on the comeback trail.

One of the highlights may have been the 145th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It's impossible to watch that, entertaining in its own right, without thinking about the movie "Best in Show."

You almost have to have a stuffy Englishman announcing, which this year's event did not, but didn't stop one of the announcers from going blissfully over the top. Several of the dogs were described as great athletes as if they were canine equivalents of Novak Djokovic.

How do they get the dogs to prance like that? If my dog did that, we'd have a serious sit-down that wouldn't involve a treat at the end. As son Thomas said, "Why don't they have a class for mutts because if they did half of Bakersfield could enter."


Hank Webb responded to the column on skunks (and rats too) as did Lori Hale who sent a photo of a skunk in a flowerbed downtown:

"I smelled the scent of skunkies as I drove around Bako, but thought it was an unpleasant form of pot. Now, after your column, I will cease wrinkling my nose and feel indignant and superior at the degradation of our society by them skunkweed smokers, and think of the Disney character Flower.

"I have a huge old grapefruit tree that produces the sweetest grapefruit I've ever had. I peel and eat them like oranges. The rats love them too. They gnaw a perfect round hole in the side, eat the pulp and leave nothing but the skin still hanging from the tree. Efficient, those rats."


Friends reported they'd eaten at Dot x Ott recently, the restaurant on 18th Street close to Cafe Smitten, and it was terrific. That's good news because the place had been shuttered for months during COVID.

I'm betting on a resurgence of restaurants in Bakersfield, specifically downtown with a new generation of restaurateurs, most likely younger because it helps to have fresh (experienced helps too) legs to run that marathon.

I met Molly Sowers and Willie Rivera at a goodbye party last week and they told me they were opening a wine bar, Campo Bar + Bottle, on G Street close to the post office and around the corner from the Nile Theater.

Great idea, especially a wine bar where women can also feel comfortable. This quadrant, which includes Happy Jack's, the Padre and Better Bowls, could get even more interesting once the Greyhound Bus Station relocates and the owners of the property put up a mixed-use building — housing, retail and maybe a restaurant or two.


John and Bev Merrill (Sue's folks and my in-laws) celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Saturday.

"Patience," answered Bev, when one of her grandchildren asked her the secret of a long marriage.

They have a 50-year-running gin game and Bev's second secret is to let your husband win occasionally and don't count all the games you win.

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