Sharon Thomas

Sharon Thomas took this shot in January from her home in east Bakersfield after one of the mountain snows. Of it, she writes: "I was jolted awake by the view. I said to (my husband,) Bill, 'My God, I must be in church.'"

Who knows what sort of column gets purchase?

Usually, it’s the animal stories, the ones on grandchildren or the pieces that allude to romance.

The recent column on the joys and strengths of east Bakersfield reminded me how many people love that part of town. It was as if east Bakersfield, never dead, but sometimes forgotten, rose from the ashes and proclaimed, “I am alive and doing very well.”

Pat Smith, a former city councilwoman and the essence of graciousness and elegance, reminded me to include Rio Bravo. Mention the homes, condos and view of the mountains and the canyon.

(Imagine how differently Bakersfield would have been had Rio Bravo been chosen for the Cal State campus rather than the southwest.)

Other fans of east Bakersfield weighed in on the discussion. The following notes have been edited for brevity’s sake.

Sabrina De La Cruz: “There is much to love about the east side. Less congestion, people tend not to be in a hurry, certain gas stations have lower gas prices, people seem nicer than here in the southwest. Mercado Latino is cool to peruse and has the best churros.”

Deborah Martel Rogers: “Years ago, I taught students in grades 6-8 at Walter Stiern on Morning Drive. The families I met were hard-working and involved in their kids’ education. My students made me proud every day. East Bakersfield is home to many outstanding families.”

Bitsy Ming: “I grew up on the east side of town, in a house on Claremont Drive, a very hilly street. Every street is hilly so when Halloween rolls around, you have to work for that candy.

“We rode our bikes EVERYWHERE and had the strongest darn legs in the world. I never suffered respiratory ailments living on the east side. The winds blow that stuff out to the flatter areas. I didn't acquire the lovely Bakersfield allergies until I moved to the southwest after getting married in 1987.

“We had the best restaurants: Mexicali on Niles Street, JC Scott’s, Tam O'Shanter and Coachlight. We had the French shop, a toy store called Richard's, Rufener's and Pipkins Hillcrest Pharmacy, Fidler's Hardware, and several Smith's Bakeries (what else does anyone need?). The Thrifty drug store had scoops of ice cream for 5 cents. We went to the movies at Tejon Theater.

Cathy White: “While we live on fairly busy Wenatchee, it is still quieter and less frantic than the west side of town.”

Wendy Hale: “I bought my first home in 2004, a cute little thing, off of Niles and Fairfax. One morning I woke up and saw that my front door was wide open! My BFF and her daughter (my goddaughter) lived with me so I was terrified someone had broken in.

“Everything was OK. I came home later that evening to some gangster-looking guys crossing the street to talk to me. They told me that my door was open but they didn't want to shut it because they thought they'd scare us young women so they sat in the front yard and watched our door all night, making sure no one came in the house! I'll never forget that! Sweetest neighbors ever!”

Valerie Hashim: “In 1953, my dad (we were the Papasergias) built our family home — two bedrooms, one bathroom, formal dining room, a den and kitchen — on University Avenue. Seven kids grew up there! It was fun growing up in that neighborhood. Lots of memories of shopping at College Center at Thriftimart, Dunlap’s, Penney’s and Woolworth’s.”

Susan Stanis Castro: ”The homes, both small and quaint and large and grandiose, are beautiful. The topography is unlike the rest of Bakersfield, which is flat and flatter.”

Cayla Furgason: “Rosa's Italian restaurant, City Sandwich and City in the Hills development."

Orlando Subia: “Taco trucks on almost every corner!”

Stephanie Rodriguez: “The hills are great for running.”

Sharon Mills: “I’ve lived in East Hills since I moved here in 1981.

"We get less fog up here. From our front yard, on a clear day, we can see the headlights and tail lights on the Grapevine (when our neighbors mulberry trees are not in leaf). And Bear Mountain from our backyard. The other day, heading to town on 178, the sun shining on Bakersfield turned all the white buildings to silver — quite spectacular.

"Finally, if the Isabella Dam collapses, we’ll be high and dry while downtown is under 5-10 feet of water.”

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

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