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Thirty Years Ago While San Diego County has grown sharply, this desert community of 1200 people has stood still. Today Borrego Springs has one auto mechanic, one air-conditioning expert, one plumber, one electrician. If a General Electric dishwasher breaks down, the local parts store can fix it. But Westinghouse and Maytag owners often face a months-long wait. -- CITY LIGHTS: "BORREGO, BORROW, OR STEAL,"Paul Krueger, December 8, 1977

Twenty-Five Years Ago All he knows for sure is that he woke up beside Otay Reservoir, north of the Mexican border, on a Friday evening in early November, and that now he's in the county's emergency mental hospital. He doesn't know if he was knocked unconscious or was sleeping. When he came to, he was wearing dress slacks (with a rip in one knee), a white shirt, a black vest, a green military raincoat, and running shoes. He hadn't a cent to his name; even his name had eluded him. He walked to Brown Field, a man without a self, without a past, and from there an ambulance took him to a Chula Vista hospital. -- "VOICES IN THE DARK," Neal Matthews, December 9, 1982

Twenty Years Ago I knew Oscar and I were headed for a showdown when he refused to whistle the UCLA fight song. He had had no trouble with the Woody Woodpecker song or with the first bars of Beethoven's Fifth, but when it was rah-rah-rah time, the mule-headed bag of feathers shut his beak in a huff. The ingrate. After all, hadn't I saved his worthless little tail from the jaws of death? There he was, a poor lost soul flying aimlessly around Mission Bay, when he decided to try to fly through a hotel window. -- "BIRDS ON THE BLOCK," Violet Rosenblum, December 10, 1987

Fifteen Years Ago In the seven years since divorce, I have made several attempts to draw Jason out on the subject of his parents' dissolved marriage. When his mother and I were discussing the separation one night all those years ago, and the volume rose on the recriminations and tears, Jason, then eight, woke up, himself crying. This was unusual; Jason was a sound sleeper. His mother and I, at a momentary truce, went upstairs to see to him. "What's wrong, Honey?" His mother cradled his head.

"Don't do it," he sobbed. Mom and Dad looked at each other, then, feigning innocence, back at Jason.

"Do what, Honey?"

His answer was between sobs and around a hole where, until recently, two front teeth had been. "The theperation!" -- "FLESH OF MY FLESH," John Brizzolara,December 10, 1992

Ten Years Ago We discovered the rat on the Wednesday before Mother's Day, when the Rhodos lilies were blooming a murderous, lovesick red, a red so sweetly poisonous that it seemed to belong in Rappaccini's garden. "Rappaccini's Daughter," you may remember from American Lit, is an allegory by Nathaniel Hawthorne that concerns the fate of Beatrice, who has been raised among her father's supernaturally potent flowers to be as deadly as she is beautiful. -- "RATS AND LILIES," Laura McNeal, December 11, 1997

Five Years Ago Just before the city council elections last month, Monsignor "Father Joe" Carroll, the homeless-housing czar, dispatched a letter to his charity mailing list. "I am writing -- for once -- not to ask for a donation, but for a favor," the letter began. "I have wasted too much time in recent years fighting politicians who fail to recognize the causes I believe in. I fought a valiant and successful battle to be placed in City Council District 2. Now that the District 2 seat has come up for election, I believe Kevin Faulconer will provide the most balanced, realistic, and compassionate support for the causes to which I have dedicated my life." -- CITY LIGHTS: "FATHERLY INTERVENTION," Matt Potter, December 8, 2002

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