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Thirty-Five Years Ago

In San Diego, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield...when there were sock hops and kids went steady, there was also Gorgeous George, Mister Moto, the Destroyer, and Tricky Ricky Star. For thousands they were as familiar as Dobie Gillis and Sugar Pops. They were athletes, and they were actors. And they came into countless homes each week along with locker room interviews, grunge matches, screaming car salesmen, mysterious death grips, and unpredictable ringside mobs politely known as fans. It was the Golden Age of professional wrestling.

“WRESTLING,” Jim Mullen, April 15, 1976

Thirty Years Ago

When it became known recently that I intended, with an incisive and revealing comment or two, to wrap up the 1980-81 season of the San Diego Clippers for the benefit of the truth-starved basketball fans of our town, I was approached by a fellow whose manner reminded me of how John Hinkley greeted Ronald Reagan the other day.... [T]his vocal gent offered his advice on what form my final basketball word should take. “Ya gotta say that it takes time ta get people goin’ on a team. Like the Chargers. They usta be nothin’ an’ now they draw.... Tell ’em this is a basketball town. We just need a team.”

“Free Verse Hath No Rhyme,” Stephen Heffner, April 16, 1981

Twenty-Five Years Ago

[Ed Giusti] just became one of the 199 local retailers who have quit selling lottery tickets in the six months since the California lottery began. “Two months ago eight couples came in from the Hotel San Diego bowling convention,” Giusti explains, citing one example of why he quit the lottery, “and each one bought one [lottery] ticket and handed me a twenty-dollar bill. We get five cents for each ticket sold, but that’s way too little for the amount of hassle it brings.”

CITY LIGHTS: “WHEN SCRATCHING BECOMES A PAIN,” Neal Matthews, April 17, 1986

Twenty Years Ago

“It’s a very violent neighborhood,” says Diane Collins, the nurse at East San Diego’s Horace Mann Middle School. “I know this type of stuff goes on all the time.... I don’t have any records or statistics on how often things like that happen.”

Things like that: girls walking to school — Mann or Crawford High, two blocks away — being followed by men, harassed, approached, grabbed, enticed into cars, wrestled into bushes at Colina del Sol Park, a vacant lot, an empty house, sometimes raped, even murdered.

CITY LIGHTS: “YOU ARE THE KNIFE, I AM THE MEAT,” Mary Lang, April 18, 1991

Fifteen Years Ago

In the Western world, anti-semitism is an accurate barometer of a given society’s level of tolerance of its minorities. Since Jews don’t generally look different from anyone else, hatred of them is something that must be fostered. Once it’s been made possible to hate Jews — the invisible minority — it becomes much easier to encourage hatred of people who actually do look different.

AS SEEN ON TV: “FAT-BOY TV,” Abe Opincar, April 18, 1996

Ten Years Ago

Valerie Stallings’s guilty plea in late January to two state misdemeanors for not reporting gifts from Padres owner John Moores resulted in her resignation from the city council and a $10,000 fine. And yet the revelations of Moores’s four-year gift-bounty to Stallings have some San Diegans in disbelief — fuming, really — as to why Stallings took the fall and Moores was exonerated and why neither was charged with a federal offense after being investigated by the FBI.

“THE JOHN MOORES EXEMPTION,” Thomas Larson, April 12, 2001

Five Years Ago

Kevin Brockmeier: “I had one boy ask me if I would put his name in my next book. And his name is Jesse Wren. Wren like the bird. It’s a great name so I told him I would. And wrote it down and he was very excited, but it was a mistake because 50 hands shoot up in the air and everybody [wanted] to tell me their name so that I can write it down and put it in the next book.”

READING: “THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD,” Jerry Miller, April 13, 2006

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