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Thirty Years Ago San Diego's University Hospital cafeteria is similar to an army mess hall. Costumes point up rank. Nurses are all in white -- either pant suits or dresses -- while female physicians wear the same coats as their male colleagues. Interns' uniforms consist of white pants and jacket. Residents wear only the jacket; the faculty sports knee-length coats. Lest any confusion arise, name and rank are clearly imprinted on plastic name tags: So-and-so, RN, Clinical Nurse III; So-and-so, LVN; So-and-so, M.D., Dept. of Surgery. -- "UP STETHOSCOPE," Seth Tulsi, April 8, 1976

Twenty-Five Years AgoFor the last five years Ben White has been on contract to about twenty-five grocery stores for the recovery of shopping carts. Safeway, Vons, Food Basket, and Mayfair pay White fifteen dollars every time he swings through their area to collect carts. Some routes, like the one for the San Ysidro Safeway, he prowls every day. Others, like the one he's on now for the Linda Vista Safeway, he hits three times a week. He completes between ten and fifteen routes a day, six days a week, dawn to dusk, and on a good day he can haul back 500 carts. -- CITY LIGHTS: "THE CART SHARKS," Neal Matthews, April 9, 1981

Twenty Years Ago You'd think with all the spinning in circles Earth does, we'd be losing weight. But all that exercise doesn't keep us in shape, and I'm afraid our planet needs to go on a diet. Not only are we spinning more slowly in our old age -- our days are getting longer by about a millisecond per century -- but we're gaining weight as well. Earth currently tips the scales at 6,585,600,000,000,000,000,000 tons. -- STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, April 10, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago A freeway runs through it. The freeway starts in San Diego. God and Rand McNally know where it ends. If you want to go to Rainbow, you have to get off either before you get there or after you've passed it by. There are no exits in between. The highway used to run right through town. It was U.S. 395 then. Rainbow was the center point in the stretch from state 76 to the county line that they used to call the Bloody Gap. Drunks, tourists, high school kids, Mexicans, Marines, locals, whole families all crashed and burned on the Gap. -- "INSOMNIA IS THE NUMBER ONE KILLER," Jamo Jackson, April 11, 1991

Ten Years Ago Two campaign aides to Juan Vargas are wasting no time returning to their city hall jobs in the wake of the city councilman's unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Congressman Bob Filner in the Democratic primary. Larry Cohn, who was in charge of fundraising, and Paul O'Sullivan, who walked precincts and manned phone banks, go back to their jobs as council reps on April 15. Campaign manager Ralph Inzunza, however, won't be returning as chief of staff. A Vargas staffer says Inzunza is considering going back to college, either law school or graduate school, until his boss decides which higher office to try for next. "This race was just round one," the staffer says. "Juan is very young, he's very formidable, and he'll be back." -- CITY LIGHTS: "REVOLVING DOOR," Thomas K. Arnold, April 4, 1996

Five Years Ago Holding a Cup of Noodles in one hand, a rosary in the other, a woman crawls on her knees down the center aisle. Kneeling before the Sacred Heart, clutching a white Stetson to his chest, a white-haired gentleman sobs quietly. Outside Tijuana's cathedral, vendors erect their blue-tarpaulin stalls. Their tables are filled with fancy crucifixes and chalices made of straw. There are bowls heaped with scapulars. There are dozens of jars of "miracle cream." There are hundreds of pendants of Juan Soldado, Tijuana's unofficial saint. -- SHEEP AND GOATS, Abe Opincar, April 5, 2001

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