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Thirty Years Ago In San Diego, even the big agencies are having their share of troubles. The local Pinkerton Agency hires only two full-time detectives, while Wackenhut supplements investigative work with security guard service and the sale of electronic gear. -- "THE DEMISE OF THE SMALL-TIME DICK," Bruce Gibney, July 1, 1976

Twenty-Five Years Ago Your sentimental piece about Oakwood Gardens East (June 17) drew a warm, romantic picture of a close-knit community thriving in this apartment complex. Unfortunately, you did not draw a sharply focused, in-depth picture of the realities of life for the permanent tenants here. I am speaking of the 200 of us who are over 62 years of age and the 100 of us who are disabled in various ways. We are now paying from $350 to $550 a month for a range of apartment accommodations which, at this time in San Diego, must be considered a moderate rent. -- LETTERS: "THERE'S LESS WHERE THAT CAME FROM," Lupe M. Jiménez, July 2, 1981

Twenty Years Ago What follows are [Raymond] Chandler's own words. "What do I do with myself from day to day? I write when I can and don't when I can't; always in the morning or the early part of the day. You get very gaudy ideas at night but they don't stand up. I have no theories about writing; I just write. If it doesn't seem good to me, I throw it away. I hate studied writing, the kind of thing that stands off and admires itself." -- "CHANDLER STYLE," Jeff Smith, July 3, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago January 10. My father, in a red American Motors 440, drives north through the Sonora desert, ticking off towns as the sun rises to his right. Santa Ana, Caborca, Tajito. He is on his way to Tijuana, to his mother's house, where he has lived since my mother threw him out of our home. He left Culiacán yesterday, in the morning. He's been driving alone, nonstop, pausing for gas and two terrible roadside meals. The cheap tape recorder nestled among packs of cigarettes on the seat beside him has been playing Mexican songs that call forth all his ghosts and memories. Miguel Prado, Agustin Lara, Pedro Infante, Lola Beltran. Mile upon mile, the car has gradually filled with the dead and forgotten. The back seat is crowded with 100 girlfriends, lovers, and wives. Time swirls around him like smoke. -- "I WILL TAKE SPIT ON THE TIPS OF MY FINGERS AND DRAW TEARS DOWN MY CHEEKS," Luis Urrea, July 3, 1991

Ten Years Ago Daniel Duane hooked me. Perhaps it's his precise descriptions of natural life. "Otters can live their whole lives without coming to land, with fur four times as insulating as fat keeping them warm, buoyant, and waterproof." Duane's history of the surfboard I recommend to anyone who imagines himself uninterested in surfing.One of Caught Inside's dedicatees is Duane's uncle, Jim Duane, a San Diego resident for two decades. Jim Duane introduced Daniel to surfing. "My first time ever on a surfboard," said Duane, "was at San Onofre when I was about 12. San Diego is really the surf landscape of my dreams. It looked like California was supposed to look. Water was warm. There were actually people on the beaches in swimsuits instead of people in wool sweaters walking their sheepdogs." -- READING: "CAUGHT INSIDE," Judith Moore, June 27, 1996

Five Years Ago The Sacramento Bee reports that Steve Peace, the state senator from Chula Vista blamed for that 1996 utility-deregulation bill, is making big money out of the ensuing power shortage. His media company, Four Square Productions, whose clients have included SDG&E and other power companies, has made a video offering tips on how to cope with blackouts this summer. -- CITY LIGHTS: "POWER POLITICS," Matt Potter, June 28, 2001

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