A true, homegrown Bakersfieldian can demonstrate his or her authenticity in any number of ways. Hang around the Pyrenees Cafe and talk about Frank Gifford. Sidle up to the bar at The Padre and tell your favorite yarn about the Towne Casino’s mannequin on the flying trapeze. Give us your best Buck Owens impersonation. Flash around your collection of personally excavated shark teeth.
Some of you may not be given to such displays, however, and we get that. You may still want to flex your local chops, however.
We’re happy to provide the ideal venue.
Spare us the impersonations and take the written exam instead.
Take our 50-question quiz about Bakersfield and prove your cred as a local historian. The answers follow on the jump page.
1. Q: What was the name of the legendary, longtime proprietor of the Padre Hotel who supposedly pointed a rooftop U.S. Army missile at Bakersfield City Hall?
2. Q: Who came up with the name for Buck Owens’ band, the Buckaroos?
3. Q: Who was the owner of The Bakersfield Californian during the first half of the 20th century — a man for whom a well-traveled local highway is named?
4. Q. Who is the longest-serving mayor in Bakersfield history?
5. Q: Who is Bakersfield’s longest-serving City Council representative?
6. Q: What unlikely collaboration has won Bakersfield national acclaim for civic cleanliness?
7. Q: What heartwarming Bakersfield rescue went viral last year, immortalizing a little ball of fur?
8. Q: Who were known as the Godfathers in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s?
9. Q: What was Kern’s original county seat before Bakersfield took the honor in 1872?
10. Q: Where does Bakersfield rank among California’s most populous cities?
11. Q: Name the pitcher and the catcher who played for the Bakersfield Dodgers in 1991 and are now considered likely eventual inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
12. Q. In what year was the city of Bakersfield first incorporated?
13. Q: When did California State University, Bakersfield, first open to students? How many California State University campuses came before it?
14. Q: What is the Levan Institute, and who is this Levan guy anyway?
15. Q: Where in Kern County can you find a planetarium?
16. Q: Who set the world record for the mile run at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium in 1967 — a mark that lasted almost eight years?
17. Q: On one historic occasion, the Mick, the Duke and the Rhinestone Cowboy came to Bakersfield the same day. Why?
18. Q: On May 1, 1955, someone even more famous than Kevin Harvick raced in Bakersfield. Who was it?
19. Q: What was the name of one of the social/sports landmarks on the east side of town that featured a 32-lane bowling alley and great lounge?
20. Q: Who was the Bakersfield band leader whose theme song was “Y’all Come”?
21. Q: Who was the longest serving state senator from Bakersfield?
22. Q: Who is thought to have been the first white man to cross the Kern River?
23. Q: Which is the largest elementary school district in the state?
24. Q: In 1972, one of the stars of the TV show “Laugh-In” recorded a country album in Buck Owens’ North Chester Avenue studio, a place later occupied by KoЯn. Who is it? Hint: She recently turned 70.
25. Q: Who is the longest serving city manager in Bakersfield history?
26. Q: Who was the first woman mayor of Bakersfield?
27. Q: Who holds the record for attending the most consecutive Bakersfield City Council meetings by a council member?
28. Q: What furniture store chain that eventually grew to 72 stores in four Western states began with a single store in Bakersfield?
29. Q: Who was the first permanent settler in the Bakersfield area (hint: it was not Col. Baker).
30. Q: What was the original background color of the Bakersfield arch when it spanned Union Avenue (hint: it was not yellow).
31. Q: What national retailer used to operate in the building that now houses Stinson Stationers, 1108 Baker St.?
32. Q: What national retailer used to operate in the building that now houses Kern Community College District, 2100 Chester Ave.?
33. Q: What Bakersfield park was built on land donated by Kern County Land Co. and named after that company’s manager?
34. Q: Who was this Hart fellow for whom Hart Park was named?
35. Q: How many football state championships has Bakersfield High School won?
36. Q: What was the name of the river that flows through Bakersfield immediately prior to it being dubbed the Kern River?
37. Q: What was Colonel Thomas Baker's solution to get farm goods to market sans railroads?
38. Q: Bakersfield High's campus was also home to a hospital on what part of campus?
39. Q: What was the site of Bakersfield High's original football field before Griffith Field was built in 1923?
40. Q: When was oil officially discovered in the Bakersfield area?
41. Q: The Kern River oilfield would have been shut down in the 1950s without what innovative technology to keep the pumps going?
42. Q: What was the original name of the Bakersfield Condors professional hockey franchise?
43. Q: Bakersfield College, established in 1913, is California's second oldest junior college. What is the oldest (by only a matter of months)?
44. Q: When the Yowlumne branch of the Yokuts tribe lived on the Kern River Delta they piled up large amounts of shells from freshwater clams and mussels near what is now Bakersfield High. What industry in the 1870s built flat road beds using these clamshells, whose fragments can still be seen along some of these roads if you dig deep enough?
45. Q: Why does home plate at Sam Lynn Ball Park face the setting sun instead of a more traditional direction?
46. Q: How did Bakersfield College get its nickname Renegades?
47. Q: At the time Father Francisco Garces explored along the Kern River, he intended to establish a mission where?
48: Q: Early Bakersfield had a benefactor who donated needed services to the people of Bakersfield. He was also known for giving the clothes off his back to the chief of the Tejon Rancheria to keep the peace. Some, however, maintain he exploited the native tribes for their land. Who was it?
49: Q: What odd, dangerous and damaging weather event occurred Dec. 19-21, 1977?
50. Q: On Jan. 25, 1999, Bakersfield experienced a very rare weather phenomenon. What was it?
1. A: Milton "Spartacus" Miller. The missile was a recruiting-office prop and Miller never actually pointed it anywhere.
2. A: Merle Haggard, while he was serving, briefly, as the band's bass player.
3. A: Alfred Harrell, whose highway takes motorists from Bakersfield College to Hart Park and points east. His family still owns his company, TBC Media.
4. A: The current mayor, Harvey Hall, who has not yet indicated whether he will seek a fifth term in 2016.
5. A: Jacquie Sullivan is the longest-serving council representative in Bakersfield history. Previously that honor was held by Mark Salvaggio. Sullivan, who represents part of the southwest, was first elected in 1995 and has already declared she'll seek re-election in 2016.
6. A: The city's hiring of Bakersfield Homeless Center clients to staff part-time jobs at minimum wage sorting greenwaste, working at the animal shelter and collecting highway trash has attracted notice from cities around the U.S. Recently, in fact, Homeless Center CEO Louis Gill and city Solid Waste Superintendent Sal Moretti visited Harvard to discuss the relationship.
7. A: That would be Tara the Hero Cat's rescue of the Triantafilo family's son Jeremy from being attacked by a dog. Tara practically flew across her southwest front yard to jump at the dog with all four feet, then literally chased it off
Jeremy, then 4, needed stitches for a bite wound to his calf, but Tara's tale brought the tabby and her family global acclaim, including a trip to Germany to tell their story, a stint for Tara as grand marshal of last year's Bakersfield Christmas parade, and a chance to throw out the first pitch at a Bakersfield Blaze game.
8. A: A group of retired civic leaders who used to meet at the Padre Coffee Shop for breakfast. They kept their own jelly and peanut butter in the back room. Notoriously cheap, they'd play a game to see who covered the bill, a bill which for eight people, would be below $20. Among the members were Manual Carnakis, Don Hart and Ken Vetter.
9. A: Havilah, the former gold mining center near Miracle Hot Springs and not far from Lake Isabella.
10. A: Ninth, based on a 2014 population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau. With about 368,759 residents, Bakersfield ranked just after Oakland and before Anaheim.
11. A: Catcher Mike Piazza and pitcher Pedro Martinez.
12. A. In 1873. Three years later the town decided to disincorporate. The community incorporated again in 1898.
13. A: The campus opened in September 1970 as the 19th campus of the California State University system.
14. A. The Levan Institute at Bakersfield College came about through a gift from the late Dr. Norman Levan, a Bakersfield dermatologist. The full name of the institute is the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning. It aims to offer classes and leaning opportunities especially of interest to people age 55 or older.
15. A: At the William M. Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College.
16. A: On June 23, 1967, Jim Ryun ran the mile in 3:51.1, shaving two-tenths of a second off his record run the previous summer in Berkeley. The following summer Ryun won a silver medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in the 1,500 meter run. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1996–2007, representing Kansas's 2nd congressional district.
17. A: On Nov. 3, 1973, Mickey Mantle, John Wayne and Glenn Campbell visited Bakersfield Country Club for the third Buck Owens Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament. Also there were Don Rich, Johnny Mann, Telly Savalas, Roy Clark, Max Baer Jr., Dennis James, Charley Pride, Foster Brooks, Buddy Alan, Alvy Moore, Monte Hall, Rafer Johnson, Joe Rudi, Don Sutton, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Joey Bishop.
18. A: James Dean. In March 1955, Dean traded his MG for a new 1955 Porsche Super Speedster purchased from Competition Motors in Hollywood. Just before filming began on “Rebel Without a Cause,” Dean entered the Palm Springs Road Races with the Speedster on March 26–27, and he then raced the Speedster at Minter Field near Bakersfield on May 1–2, finishing first in class and third overall. He was killed in an auto wreck four months later, on Sept. 30, 1955, at age 24, near Cholame, just west of the Kern-San Luis Obispo County border.
19. A: Originally, it was called Paola’s College Lanes after the owner, well-known eastside developer Pat Paola. Later, it transitioned to Freddie Giovanetti, and was re-named Freddie’s Top of the Hill. The lounge occasionally booked some solid entertainment, and served up pretty decent steak and (very dry) martinis. Incidentally, Freddie also owned the Meadows Field restaurant/motel called the Skyway House.
20. A: Cousin Herb Henson of the Trading Post Gang, which aired on KERO-TV.
21. A: Senator Water Stiern.
22. A: Father Garces.
23. A: The Bakersfield City School District, with 43 schools.
24. A: Goldie Hawn, whose album was title “Goldie.” Tracks included Dolly Parton’s “My Blue Tears,” Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” and the Robert Bannard-Noel Paul Stookey tune “The House Song.” The latter two featured the Buckaroos.
25. A: The current City Manager Alan Tandy who has served 22 years surpassing the late, former City Manager Harold Bergen.
26. A: Mary K. Shell, who later became a Kern County Supervisor.
27. A: Mark Salvaggio, who never missed a regular council meeting — 576.
28. A: McMahan’s Furniture began with one store in downtown Bakersfield in 1919. Its second store was on Baker Street in East Bakersfield.
29. A: A historical marker on West Columbus Street near Isla Verde Street marks the location of the last home of Elisha Stephens (sometimes spelled Stevens), who was the first permanent settler in this area. Stephens was notable as the first person to bring a wagon train through what would later be called Stephens Pass in the Sierra Nevada. It was through that same pass years later that the famous Donner Party perished, and Stephens Pass would become known as Donner Pass.
30. A: White.
31. A: J.C. Penney.
32. A: Fedway.
33. A: Jastro Park, one of the city’s oldest parks, was named after Henry Jastro.
34. A: Kern River Park was renamed in 1947 for Kern County Supervisor John O. Hart.
35. A: Depends on whom you ask. The California Interscholastic Federation and Cal Hi Sports, which keeps the state's only comprehensive record book, both say the Drillers have won seven, the first in 1920 and the last in 2013 under the CIF's state bowl championship system. But Bakersfield High backers and other historians claim BHS won its eighth title two years ago. The dispute concerns 1916, when Bakersfield (then Kern County Union High School) was 6-0 and was to play San Diego in the state championship game. San Diego opted not to play, leading The Los Angeles Times and others to declare the Drillers unofficial state champions. But it never went into the record books as such.
36. A: Rio de San Felipe (so named by Father Francisco Garces). The Tubatulabal tribe, which lived along the river long before Americans of European descent even knew it existed, called the area around the north fork of the Kern, Palegewanap or “place of the big river.”
37. A: Build a transportation canal between Bakersfield to the San Joaquin River. (That tells us how much water used to be all over the valley floor.)
38. A: The Elm Grove, where amputated and dismembered limbs are still rumored to be buried.
39. A: The current location of the science building.
40. A: 1899, along Round Mountain Road at the Kern River.
41. A: Steam injection.
42. A: The Bakersfield Fog.
43. A: Santa Barbara City College.
44. A: The railroads.
45. A: To make it fit inside a horse racing track at what was then the county fairgrounds.
46. A: From a "renegade" group of students who created their own football team and scheduled games on their own in the 1920s.
47. A: At the present site of Garces Memorial High School. Had Garces not been murdered by Mohave Indians in Yuma, Ariz., upon his return from what is now Bakersfield, the name of this fair city would likely be San Felipe — set up with an encomienda system that would have made the settlement established by Baker unlikely and unneeded. Baker would likely have stayed put in another city he had helped lay out. That city, named for his friend Henry Vise, was ... Visalia. But that’s a different quiz.
48: A: The legendary, and sometimes controversial, Gen. Edward Beale.
49: A: The Great Bakersfield Dust Storm of 1977 (also known as the Southern San Joaquin Valley Dust Storm) started in the late evening of Dec. 19, 1977 and ended in the afternoon of Dec. 21. It resulted in three deaths and $40 million in damages, not including the resulting, subsequent agricultural losses.
50. A: Rare for Bakersfield, anyway: It snowed!
Scoring: 0 to 20 correct: Move back to ... wherever you moved here from last week. 21 to 30 correct: OK, you can stay, but please pay more attention. 31 to 40 correct: You’re a productive member of society and probably a faithful reader of this company’s news products. 41 to 49 correct: You have our permission to brag about your performance on this quiz. All 50 correct: Please consider helping us with next year’s quiz. Your knowledge is valuable!
Questions compiled from suggestions by David Lyman, Brian Landis, Bob Mitchell, John Cox, Rick Kreiser, Mark Salvaggio, Theo Douglas, Christine Peterson, Herb Benham, Zach Ewing, Ray Gonzales, Jim Shaw and Robert Price.