It’s easy to get mad at John Sweetser because he’s tuned up about every reporter and columnist for the paper over the last 30 years. Just when you think you’re hitting a lick, John will unceremoniously rip the Pulitzer Prize from your sweaty grip by informing you that you have not done your homework.

What’s good about the John Sweetsers of the world is they read the paper carefully and believe that the information that lies within should be accurate.

You can get mad but it probably makes more sense, after you surrender your cool, to take the introspective route. Especially when he’s right most of the time.

John wrote, in reference to the column on buying a sheet of the beautiful new train stamps from the post office:

“Actually, there are 18 stamps per sheet for the Transcontinental Railroad stamps (the smaller images in the center of the sheets are also stamps. Please pass along to Benham).”

I had written, “I bought two sheets, 12 stamps per sheet.” I was only off by 33 percent, a ways away from an acceptable margin of error.

More than anything, I was glad to know the smaller stamps with “Olde Pike, 1869,” on them were actually stamps rather than stamp garnish. Thanks John for saving me $3.30 per sheet or $6.60 overall.


Note from Robert S Tafoya on the column about Ginger Moorhouse and her family selling the paper after 122 years:

“Thank you, on behalf of this community, for your kind words about Ginger. She is the closest thing to royalty in Kern County. All class.

“I have been a faithful reader of the Californian for 41 years. It exemplifies quality and professionalism at the highest level. That is Ginger.”

That is true, but it is also true that Robert Tafoya is as close to legal and personal royalty as you will find in Bakersfield.


Recently, I wrote a column about the Taft Union High Garden Club and its battle with a pesky gopher.

Reader Steven Napier has some advice.

“I learned on the Today Show 17 years ago a surefire way to kill gophers and it has worked (3) times for me.

“Buy a pack of Juicy Fruit gum (has to be Juicy Fruit). Chew a stick gently. Ball it up and drop it down the most recent appearing hole/mound. The gopher will eat the gum and it gums (sic) up their intestines and they starve to death.”

Gruesome, I know but with some critters, it’s us or them.


A note from farmer and Edison area historian Dick Porter about the pecking order in restaurants among its regulars (not unlike surfing with locals at their home break).

“We are spring cleaning at our house. We tackled the garage for the first time in twenty-five years. Becky found a column of yours from February, 1992 about the different "appointed" tables at the Scotsman Restaurant, where farmers from the Edison area gathered for coffee every morning.

“We frequented Banducci's Corner, the precursor to the Scotsman. At Banducci's, each farmer group had their table or a seat at the counter "reserved". The biggest table was along a side wall in the back of the restaurant. That table was "owned" by the Giumarra Family and their consiglieres. Papa Kundert and his two sons, Larry and Ron always sat at the counter. They looked like the Three Blind Mice (grizzly mice at that) sitting all in a row with their dark, dark glasses on.

“My dad and I and our sales staff sat in a booth by the window - we could watch people getting TBC (The Bakersfield Californian) out of the vending machine outside the window. No one was allowed to get close to the Giumarra table as they would discuss VERY IMPORTANT things. Becky used to work for Mrs. Virginia Guidera who had a packing shed in Edison. One day Becky and Mrs. Guidera had sat down at a table next to the Giumarras and their consiglieres. One of the Giumarras asked Mrs. Guidera to move because they were discussing VERY important things. This slight was not soon forgotten by Mrs. Guidera.”

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

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.