Thirty Years Ago
George Marston thought the Nolen plan presented sound concepts for developing the city, but not everyone in San Diego agreed with him, as he found out when he ran for mayor in 1913.
“The people who were critical of the Nolen plan called themselves the smokestack group, and their motto was ‘Smokestacks versus Geraniums.’ And they called my grandfather ‘Geranium George.’”
— “WE’VE ALWAYS LOOKED AFTER OUR CITY,” Gordon Smith, February 7, 1980
Twenty-Five Years Ago
On the northern side of Mt. Soledad, just off Torrey Pines Road, one can hear Bob Freppel screaming. He screams until he becomes hoarse, until he can scream no more, at any time of the day, even late into the evening. What he yells are the two words “slow down.”
One neighbor, who declined to be named, said of Freppel’s months-long crusade, “His yelling can be disquieting at times, especially in the morning, but shortly after Christmas there was an accident not far from his house and I’m sure he felt vindicated.
— CITY LIGHTS: “SOLEDAD BROTHER,” Abe Opincar, February 7, 1985
Twenty Years Ago
Life may be short for the four baby mustangs about to be foaled in the herd of wild horses running around Jacumba. They’ve also discovered that domestic lawns make for good eating, and while they’re in town, they might as well fill up on the food and water that a few kindly town folk leave out for them at night. But the horses, especially the young colts, haven’t quite gotten the hang of running back and forth across the two-lane highway, and several of them have been struck and killed by motor vehicles in recent years.
— CITY LIGHTS: “COLT CROSSING,” Colin Flaherty, February 8, 1990
Fifteen Years Ago
The unedited letters printed below were written by students.
My name is __. I am a student from the San Diego High School. I am in the 11 grade. I am a resident of this county. I have viled here 3 years. I came from Mexico and I be proud of my country. I write this letter because I read flyer. It said really bad things the people writing that don’t have feelings, for us. They only care about money. What they forget is the fruit they eat and vegetable they eat are grown and cut by the same people they want to deport.
— “YOU DON’T KNOW US,” Victor Esquer, February 2, 1995
Ten Years Ago
Talk off-the-record with other Chinese about the Chinese Historical Society Museum and you are lickety-split down the rabbit hole of what “Chinese” means. You hear talk of a power struggle. Taiwanese, you are told, aren’t much interested in the immigrant experience and want to turn the museum into a showcase of Chinese culture.
Moreover, the question of Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland is the central question to all Chinese — to all Chinese, that is, other than the American descendants of immigrants who, like Murray Lee, stand outside the fray with an amused calm.
— “WIND, WATER, A RICE FIELD,” Abe Opincar, February 3, 2000
Five Years Ago
On the day that we talked, Mr. McClatchy was in his office in Manhattan and I was at home in California. An interview with Professor McClatchy, for me, is like an afternoon in one’s favorite seminar. I have spoken with him many more times than are seemly. But I can’t help myself. In this newest book, the professor refers to the “American isolato.”
“A theme reflecting the deep American need to move, to be on one’s own. Take some of our greatest books. Huckleberry Finn wanting to leave home, Jim escaping from circumstances in the book. All of our books have to do with this American sense of wanting to move. The Great Gatsby, as instance.”
— READING: “AMERICAN WRITERS AT HOME,” Judith Moore, February 3, 2005