Tag Archives: central valley

Come Hear My Song

Aaron Gilbreath | Longreads | June 2015 | 18 minutes (4,437 words)

I came here looking for something

I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Hey, I’m not tryin’ to be nobody

I just want a chance to be myself.

 ─Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens, “Streets of Bakersfield”

***

On North Chester Avenue in Oildale, California, an 83-year-old honky-tonk named Trout’s stands down the block from a saloon with an aged western facade, and across the street from a liquor store that sells booze and Mexican candy.

Trout’s opened in 1931 to give hard-working locals a place to dance and drink and unwind to live music.  During the 1950s and ’60s, local country music legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard played Trout’s, in their own bands and others, and kept people dancing while helping popularize the raw, propulsive style known as the Bakersfield Sound. Read more…

After Water

Susie Cagle | Longreads | June 2015 | 21 minutes (5,160 words)

 

The sun was going down in East Porterville, California, diffusing gold through a thick and creamy fog, as Donna Johnson pulled into the parking lot in front of the Family Dollar.

porterville-2-donna-truck_1200

Since the valley started running dry, this has become Johnson’s favorite store. The responsibilities were getting overwhelming for the 70-year-old: doctors visits and scans for a shoulder she injured while lifting too-heavy cases of water; a trip to the mechanic to fix the truck door busted by an overeager film crew; a stop at the bank to deposit another generous check that’s still not enough to cover the costs of everything she gives away; a million other small tasks and expenses. But at the Family Dollar she was singularly focused, in her element. Read more…