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Thirty Years Ago The one guy dragging along his backpack on the floor has an Ocean Beach look about him -- disheveled, sleepy eyes, blissful expression. It turns out that the O.B. guy has spent most of his time scamming in front of the Spreckels Theatre. Both guys are from Canada, and the other one is going back home soon but is staying for the Rod Stewart-Faces concert. -- "BLOOD MONEY," Randy Luce, September 10, 1975

Twenty-Five Years Ago Sure, I was the one what done it. I was the one what started all this gee whiz watch 'em splash rough water swim bisness. I'd been shut out and a damned near thumb-sucker when the farm was repossessed and I had to hit the road. Barely had clothes. But what I did have was a cock. A rooster, that is. Name was Jack, after Jack Johnson the fighter.

Me and Jack hopped freights headin' west. The Great Northern, the Southern Pacific, the B&B, we rode 'em all. Jack became a helluva fighter, and he 'specially liked fighting men. I got tired'a throwing guys out of box cars, the ones that didn't jump out, all scratched and cut and shredded like old pant legs. -- "THE LA JOLLA ROUGH WATER FABLE," Neal Matthews, September 4, 1980

Twenty Years Ago "You sad to see it close?" asks a man whose scuffed roller skates are thrown over one shoulder. The round-faced woman pushes his ticket between the iron bars guarding the Palisade Gardens box office. "Can't you see the tears?" she says, her finger tip tracing the wet trail down her cheek. A hot Sunday afternoon, three o'clock, July 7. Inside the two-story skating rink, the lightboard flashes: "TODAY IS THE END-ALL SKATE." Sixty-six-year-old Johnnie Wright, Palisade Gardens Roller Skating Rink manager and executive vice president of his family's corporation, which owns the rink, is retiring. "Going fishing," he says. -- "THE LAST SKATE," Judith Moore, September 5, 1985

Fifteen Years Ago I decided to live for three days on food that I bought in my supermarket labeled "Fat free and no cholesterol" or "Reduced fat, low cholesterol." I spent $40 on these products and read the labels with the care of a scientist, but I managed to finish only two items from my stockpile. The rest were inedible. -- "OF PUMP AND PACKAGE," Eleanor Widmer, September 6, 1990

Ten Years Ago I moved in with a streetwise woman named Brenda who lived in a crackerbox apartment on Ulric Street in Linda Vista. She was a petite blonde who worked as a cocktail waitress at the Showboat nightclub on Broadway. Brenda's husband, a man I knew before I went to prison, no more deranged than anybody else I knew in Linda Vista, had been to Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane.

Brenda was opposed to drugs. One time we were at a party, and someone she knew fired up a fatty in front of her. She made a comment about never associating with that person again, then demanded we leave. -- "SLIMEBALL," John Olson, August 31, 1995

Five Years Ago On Tuesday, June 19, 1999, the San Diego City Council went into secret session to consider concessions demanded by San Diego Padres owner John Moores. Although the closed-door meeting had been billed as a discussion about "real property interests in the East Village area of downtown San Diego," the topic was the granting to Moores of almost $5 million worth of "modifications" to the Padres lease at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley. Confidential minutes of the meeting show that all councilmembers except Juan Vargas attended, including Valerie Stallings, who, later disclosures reveal, had 90 days earlier, on March 31, reaped thousands of dollars by selling stock in Neon Systems, a Texas company controlled by Moores. In November 1999, four days before the council again secretly considered granting the Moores concessions, Stallings again purchased stock in Neon. -- "MASTERS OF DECEIT," Matt Potter, August 31, 2000

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