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Thirty Years Ago Dear Matthew:

Would you be able to find out what our city officials get paid?

The members of our city council did indeed get a raise, from $5,000 to $12,000 annually. Our mayor's salary was raised proportionately, from $12,000 to $20,000.

The city manager...makes a healthy $40,403. The chief fiscal officer of the city is the auditor and comptroller...he earns $29,702...the treasurer, who pulls in $20,802 per year.... Our golf and lakes superintendent makes $17,760. Our ocean lifeguard captain makes $16,162.

-- STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, February 13, 1975

Twenty-Five Years Ago I'd like to work with large animals or exotic animals. I'd like to be able to be the kind of veterinarian that goes up in a helicopter in Timbuktu and fixes a rhinoceros's leg or pulls a rhino's tooth.

Valentina Attle, Accountant, El Cajon

-- OFF THE CUFF: "WHAT HIDDEN TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR?" Lin Jakary, February 14, 1980

Twenty Years Ago When Perettie arrived at the dealership, salesmen at Frank Lincoln Mercury were not allowed to sell cars off the adjoining Frank Toyota lot. But Perettie got a customer one day who wanted a Toyota truck, so he sold him one. "I was breaking the rule," he admits. "So they changed the rule."

But nothing shook up Frank Motors like Perettie's "numbers." Before he arrived, no salesman at Frank had ever sold more than 16 cars in a month, Perettie sold 25. A few months later he sold 33.

-- "LIFE IS A TEST DRIVE," Stephen Meyer, February 14, 1985

Fifteen Years Ago Richard Schaefer...was one of 14 Southern California finalists in the January 26 "clerk's helper" contest held by the Ralphs supermarket chain in L.A. Schaefer agreed to reveal some of his techniques.

Produce should be layered according to its bruising ability. For example, apples go in first, then oranges, and on the top, tomatoes.

Soap, detergent, and other cleaning products are never bagged with food. "What if something breaks?" Schaefer asks.

A single grocery bag should weigh no more than 15 pounds.

-- CITY LIGHTS: "I LOVE IT WHEN YOU BAG," Brae Canlen, February 15, 1990

Ten Years Ago But hey, I'll confess. It's not as if I never cared about O.J.'s, um, celebrity being, that I never paid direct attention to it. I never saw Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, or Steve Van Buren -- I'm not that old. The greatest running backs I've seen are 1. Gale Sayers; 2. Jim Brown; 3. O.J. If he'd played for a better team than the Buffalo Bills of the early '70s, his career would've had more statistical ballast, but in terms of basic field moves and such he would still be number three. Don't wanna fall in the tabloid trap of shit-for-logic, shit-for-evidence, but PERHAPS Jim Brown was some kind of role model (Sayers's career was too short to emulate). Jim went Hollywood, he was in his share of crummy movies, and fuggit, used to beat women. But one thing he never was was bland.

Let's face it: as football commentator, film actor, star of high-visibility commercials, O.J. was my-t-bland. You wanna take it a step further, he was exactly the sort of bland BLACK ex-jock TV is always hiring to be unoutspoken, undangerous.

-- "BIGGEST TWEAK SINCE THE IRAQ WAR," Richard Meltzer, February 9, 1995

Five Years Ago The thing is, duct tape was once called duck tape, so who's an idiot now? It could very well be that that honor goes to Tim and Jim, the Duct Tape Guys, who bring you Duct Tape on the Web (www.ducttapeguys.com). Jim and Tim, who are brothers-in-law and look like supporting cast members on an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, came up with their idea for a federation of duct-tape enterprises one Christmas Eve when the power went out in the small Wisconsin town where they were having a family gathering. Jim said, "I bet I could fix this power outage with duct tape." The Duct Tape Guys have since authored three books documenting hundreds of uses for duct tape and launched this vast website. (By the way, Jim rips right, flattens left, and Tim rips left, flattens back-handed right.)

-- SIGHTSEER: "HUNDREDS OF USES FOR DUCT TAPE," Justin Wolff, February 10, 2000

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