Colonel Baker’s Field Revisited: Bakersfield Welcome New Biography

She’s Bacccckkkkkkk! That’s how it feels to be seeing friends and supporters in Bakersfield.

May 15th was Chapter 2 in the COLONEL BAKER’S FIELD: AN AMERICAN PIONEER STORY saga. Just as Chris Brewer dedicated a lifetime researching the biography of his great-great grandfather, Colonel Thomas Baker, and then graciously shared his insights with Sandy Mittelsteadt, Jody Salamacha-Hollier and I, I want to chronicle our journey as we offer our interpretation of the life and times of Colonel Baker and Chris Brewer to Bakersfield, Visalia, maybe Iowa, America and my hometown Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo County.

Mayor Harvey Hall encouraged us to present at the Bakersfield City Council Meeting. First I learned Bakersfield has changed their council meeting times since I moved away. They start early….probably so they can end at a decent time for all concerned…so we were there at 4:30 to be sure we were on time at 5:30 to present at public comment. We provided a signed copy for each of the council members and in 3 minutes I read from Chapter 1 where Chris at 10 years old is asking his dad why Bakersfield has a large statue of his great-great grandfather in front of City Hall. It is the dedication scene after the 1952 earthquake and Chris remembered it well. Sandy then told the reality of California going bankrupt in the 1860s due to the flooding, which is why it was critical for our state that Colonel Baker focused on draining the swampland. Did you know he traveled from Visalia to Bakersfield the very first time by boat…that’s how much water was soaking our future ag land. The council members were gracious and welcoming and Mayor Hall couldn’t have been more positive about the quality of the book and supportive encouraging great sales for our future. Thank you, one and all.

Earlier in the day we had a chance to meet with Kern County Museum Board Member and co-chair of the upcoming Nut Festival on June 15 at the museum. We had a wonderful reunion visit and an invitation to do a book signing in the Museum store…where our book is currently on sale!…during the Nut Festival. Hope you will all join us there.

We also delivered 6 copies of our book to Bakersfield Rubber Stamp. Robert McKelvey was a classmate of mine at Garces High and called to say he’d just returned from vacationing and had learned all about the history of the place they visited (sorry, Robert, I forgot where you went!) and when he heard about our book he thought he should be learning more about his own home town…so for his own birthday, he bought himself and all his siblings a copy of our book…signed, of course. Thanks, so much Robert.

Sandy and I went by KGET-TV 17 to thank John Pelios and Michael Trihey for their terrific coverage when we came to Bakersfield the first time. They were busy uncovering news about the Sheriff Dept. and a shooting incident..and cell phone photos.

We also met with Steve Sanders at the Kern County Superintendents office…he’s chief of staff now and incoming Bakersfield Downtown Rotary president. Previous research said one thing about Colonel Baker and Sandy and Chris have proven otherwise. Steve was very receptive to adapt the website version to the correct information. We’re also looking at a future date to present to Rotary.

We’ll be at West Rotary, however, June 26. Thanks, guys and gals.

And Sandy and I just had to visit Tony at Russo’s and see how he was showcasing our book with the posters Jody has designed and provided….WOW…billboard outside the store, front window display and front of store display….Thank you sooooo much.

And thanks all who have purchased so far…would love your feedback, questions, comments, insights…..

Next up is May 31 for another edition of the Scott Cox Show, lunch with the winner of our book give-away from the Cal State 60+ presentation, meetings with numerous people and BIG, BIG day on June 1….11am is presentation and book signing at the Beale Memorial Library Tejon Room…then 1-3pm is book signing at Russo’s. Hope to see you all at both or at least one of our events.

And my goal was just to get us on the shelf at the Beale!!! We’re already there! Thanks, Bakersfield. pixSandy&IatMarketplaceRussosBakerPoster





Meet Morro Bay’s Jack Smith….

…Starring Jack Smith

               In 1978 professional skateboarder Jack Smith squeezed stomach-first into the domed Vetter streamline skatecar designed by Cal Poly’s Mechanical Engineering students to race in the World Speed Championships at Signal Hill in Long Beach, CA. Would his 60-mph downhill run win? Amazing he was one of the lucky one’s to survive the run. The movie Signal Hill Speed Run was featured during the SLO Film Festival in March, 2013 and is available at the Morro Bay Skate Museum.

Thirty-five years later, Smith can’t believe he did it, yet the 90-minute documentary demonstrates his survival during the wild, early years of skateboarding before safety was a consideration. Now an icon in the sport, Smith hopes Craig Vetter and Professor Steve Blair will join him and director, Mike Horelick at Saturday’s showing. Immediately following, Smith invites all to the official opening of his newest exhibit “Anything But Wood” at the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum in Marina Square with skateboards on loan from Stephen Pizzo’s collection.

The museum opened in November, 2010. “I wanted to share the history and culture of skateboarding.”  Smith documents the evolution of skateboarding showing boards from the era. His first board was made by his dad. He shows the steel wheels of the 1960’s and sophisticated modifieds like the skatecar. He talks about his boards used in Skateboarding Across America. Many are autographed by notables.

In the 1960s skateboarding began as a kid’s toy “steel wheels stolen from your sister’s roller skates.” In the 1970s Urethane boards morfed skateboarding from a fad to risky recreation. Once skaters discovered empty swimming pools to challenge their skills, today’s extreme sport was born.

“The coolest is Stacy Peralta’s trophy when he won Skateboarder Magazine’s poll as “Skateboarder of the Year.” He’s an award winning film director now,” said Smith. “My favorite board pictures my son, Jack Marshall Smith, who died of Lowe Syndrome. We dedicated our 2003 Skateboarding Across America in his memory.”

Smith started skateboarding seriously after graduating from Morro Bay High School. “We used to do it after dark, because we were embarrassed it was still considered a kid’s thing.” He made the finals in his first competition at the Del Mar Nationals in 1975. That summer he produced the first of ten competitions for Morro Bay, several World and National Championships. Taking time off in 1976 as Sun Bulletin Circulation Manager/Sports Writer, Smith, Jeff French and Mike Filben completed Smith’s first Skateboarding Across America. In 1984 it benefitted Multiple Sclerosis. In 2003 it memorialized his son. Coming up in 2013, the tour raises funds for Alzheimer’s.

Smith, the consummate entrepreneur, publishes skateboarder’s Journal and had a small part in Lords of Dog Town with Heath Ledger.

Jack would love a visit from locals and visitors at the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum and he’s looking for sponsorship for his next cross country adventure to benefit Alzheimer’s. He leaving July 4th and information can be found on his Facebook page for the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum.

And speaking of Morro Bay 4th….BIG – Delish – annual event that helps fund fireworks in Morro Bay…Tognazzini’s Dockside 2 does an Oysters & Beer Event this Saturday May 18, Six huge barbecued oysters and a pitch of beer for only $20…lots of fun people and good food…all for fireworks in Morro Bay.

Bakersfield Welcomes Authors of New Book COLONEL BAKER’S FIELD, AN AMERICAN PIONEER by Judy Salamacha & Sandra Mittelsteadt with Chris Brewer and illustrated by Jody Salamacha-Hollier 

Col Bakers Field CoverApril2013FinalPrintWhat a wonderful reception we had everywhere in Bakersfield for our book, COLONEL BAKER’S FIELD. We started with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, since he and Judy provided a comment about the importance of Colonel Baker to Bakersfield. We also met with others who gave us a comment. They are actually featured in the book with a comment, bio and pictures…so thanks to Kevin, Mayor Hall, George Martin, Morgan Clayton, Holly Culhane, Blanca Cavozos, and Ken Carter.

I’ve been part of many wonderful things both in Bakersfield and Morro Bay, but I have to see this was a wow! Launching our book with my good friend and co-author Sandra Mittelsteadt, our new best friend and publisher (Bear State Books) Chris Brewer, and our talented illustrator/graphic artist who just happens to be my daughter…was totally amazing. I just wanted to see our book in the Kern County Library….but it was so much more.

Chris said it is the first book in 40 years about Colonel Baker! Wow! He also said it was the only book out there that corrected some of the inaccuracies that have been told about his great-great grandfather, Colonel Thomas Baker. He also said it was a fun read. So high praise from our publisher.

We had a great receoption in Bakersfield and I want to thank and document it here on my blog even though I did a huge post…Jody hates that!…on Facebook. Let me recount the other people we met with.

We met Roger Perez at the Kern County Museum and yeah!!! our book is in the book store. We loved Roger’s positive attitude about the museum and creating living histoy…and a motorsports room, too!

We met with Christopher Livingston at the Beale and our book will be in the research room and history room and Chris set up a presentation and book signing at the Beale for June 1 at 11am in the Tejon Room.

Morgan Clayton and family was jetting to Hawaii for their annual family trip but he was excited to get our book with 6 hours of reading time ahead of him. He also bought 10 more to send to teachers…

Over and over we heard this book needs to get to our children and in the schools…We sure would love that.

George Martin told us a wonderful story about he would always put his children to bed with a night time story….or go on trips with stories…he would make sure they were true stories sprinkled with fiction so they had to fact check and ask questions…well, he is not only the best promoter we know of Bakersfield but he certainly understands that history is fluid and it all depends on who is telling the story and how they remember the facts. We have provided Chapter notes so you can check us on the facts and the fiction in the book!! We had to interpret some missing pieces!!

Scott Cox…wow…how gracious…yes, I said Scott Cox was gracious and interested and always fun and we had a great interview with him and Jeff Lemucchi on First Look and he asked us back for May 31…

Camille Gavin wrote a more than fair review of the book. We are so pleased she would do the article and provide as much information as she did. Thanks, Camille!

The catalyst for coming to Bakersfield May 1-2 was to talk about our book with Cal State’s 60+ Club…how much fun that was…Chris Brewer already had a program scheduled and he shared it with Sandy, Jody and I. What a gracious, interesting group. We loved presenting to them and they seemed to love us because they bought lots of books we got to autograph.

We needed to set up our bank account to deposit all our sales, but we also wanted to link with Ben Hanson of Wells Fargo because 1860s was the era of the stage coach and Wells Fargo owned the stage coach market with the Cadillac of stage coaches, the Concord. We have two chapters that reference stage coaching and loved meeting with Ben and our new customer service rep at Wells Fargo Heynner Garcia. He got us to the museum on time!! And our bank account opened, too.

And Mike Trihey!! your reporter was more than nice…what a gentleman and he got the story, too! 5,6, and 11 wow!! KGET gave us terrific coverage. Thank you so much.

Bakersfield Rotary was my original club and meets onThursday so Jody and I had lunch with my fellow Rotarians and they even let me pitch the book. Thanks, President Paul. They have a fund raising lunch, May 16, coming up and we donated a book and lunch with the authors for the cause!!

And my good friend, Chamber Exec Cindy Pollard took time to empty her marketing brain of all the places we should be taking our book for sales and promos. We’ll get there Cindy…and thanks for your help. If you want to see the book…the Chamber has a couple copies for preview, but you have to buy them at Russo’s Books or Kern County Museum.

I’ve been gone almost 12 years and who would have thunk-it…the city council meets at 5:15 not 7pm….so I missed a golden opportunity….but guess, what, Mayor Hall invited me back on May 15…so see you again Bakersfield City Council on May 15 at 5:15….or even earlier!!

Thanks, Bakersfield for such a warm reception.