Steve Flores column mug

Californian community columnist Steve Flores.

As with most of us, this time of year is one of reflection. Few regard the dawning of a New Year with indifference. Many count it as an opportunity to remember the good, bad and ugly of opportunities gained or missed.

With that, I share with you columns I wrote in 2018 that seemed to garner the most interesting responses.

Media Music Jam

It has turned into an annual event at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. The Media Music Jam helps raise money to financially assist Kern County Cancer patients while on their cancer journey. Live performances with local TV, radio, newspaper personalities and community leaders draw a sold-out crowd to the Crystal Palace each June.

Although sold-out, table 23 deliberately remains empty. It’s called “Susie’s table” because that is where my wife sat for the first and only time attending the benefit concert. Susie was beautiful and courageous in her two year battle with cancer.

Responses to my MMJ column were not only in email, text or personally. Some were made via videos during live news shows. Several media people who were leaving Bakersfield for a bigger market, recalled during their last broadcast how MMJ was one of the highlights of their tenure in our community.

Beach Boys

I met him on the tarmac at LAX as we were waiting to board our flight to Bakersfield. He was standing in front of me with a duffel bag strapped across his shoulder. His bag was zipped closed except for a pair of drum sticks poking out of his carry-on. I took a closer look and strapped to his duffel bag was a “Beach Boys Band” laminated pass. The Beach Boys were playing at the Kern County Fair that night many years ago. Except for his long flowing black hair, there was nothing about him that screamed “I am a rock star and play for one of the most legendary bands in musical history.” In fact Bobbie Figueroa was just the opposite. His quite demeanor and welcoming approach gave no sense of the grandeur of his epic musical journey.

Although my time with Bobbie was brief, his kindness and openness to sharing his story with me was unforgettable. The last time I had contact with Bobbie was that night at the Beach Boys concert where he provided me a back stage pass and introduced me to the “Boys.” The Beach Boys concert this summer at the Kern County Fair reminded me of my brief encounter with Bobbie. After my column I was stunned that Bobby’s wife contacted me to let me know someone from the Beach Boys organization forwarded my column to him. She wrote, “As the wife of Bobby thank you for such a sweet write up.” Bobby forwarded a Facebook message to me to contact him so we could “catch-up.” What a nice guy.

South High’s 50th High School Reunion

I devoted an unprecedented three columns to my journey back to “happier days.” As I wrote in my columns, my graduating class of 1968 high school reunion was a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to go back in time and set my emotional record straight. Would Carol, a.k.a. Charlie Wibble Skiddi Wah Wah, remember dancing 53 years ago with me at her house party? That night at was one of many firsts for me. It was my first official party without my older brother Willie chaperoning me, my first dance with a female who wasn’t my sister, cousin, Aunt or Grandmother and the first of many seminal moments that shaped my young heart. Charlie broke my heart at the 50th reunion when we danced and I asked her if she remembered “the life-changing” moment with me so many years ago. Her lips may have whispered “no” to me but my heart felt a “yes.” I am such a romantic klutz.

I am happy to report Charlie and I have stayed in touch since the reunion. She is living proof there is an easiness to reconnecting with a old friends.

Thank you to my readers who have been so kind, generous and honest with me in 2018. Best wishes for a healthy and emotionally prosperous 2019.

Happy New Year from my family to yours.

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