Back When

San Diego immigrants

Somalians, Cambodians, Palestinians, Samoans, Mexicans, Afghans, Okies, and Indians from India

Home Before Dark “Part of the procedure before praying is washing their feet in the sinks. That was another problem. This was going on in the restrooms, creating water on the floor. It was not ...

San Diego college students

Law students, SDSU frat boys, UCSD’s Marxists, USD students on sex and religion, the UCSD watermelon drop, will SDSU students go to war?

I Don’t Need This Aggregation Reggae (the music played by impoverished Jamaican blacks, often revolutionary in nature) blasts from the back yard of a nearby fraternity party. Young men holler, wiggle their behinds, and wave ...

SD institutions: small business

Lakeside Hotel, Fidel’s, Black Frog, Big Kitchen, Wahrenbrock’s Chino’s, Antique Row, Rancho la Puerta

Don’t Bust That Bottle on My Account “The last real trouble he had was when bikers — predominately members of the Mongols, a particularly tough East County outfit — would frequent the hotel and often ...

Gentler sports

In love with a Laser, the birth of racquetball, San Diego pickup basketball history, cricket at UCSD, Frisbee, and disc golf

SD’s Tennis Curse San Diego has played its own role. Great weather, ample facilities, and the region’s heavily middle-class economy depolarize tennis, blunting country club snobbery, and turning tennis instead into just another California outdoor ...

Trump’s new trade appointee Peter Navarro wrote four long Reader cover stories

Navarro gave inside details on everyone: O’Connor, Hedgecock, Filner, Golding

Part 1: San Diego Confidential It’s clear that I came on far too strong and too early with Bilbray on this primary election night. It was still eight months before the general election, and I ...

Architecture as covered by Peter Jensen

San Diego’s towers, bridges, courtyards, ranch houses, libraries, alleys and Jack in the Box’s architect

Read about San Diego architecture by Susan Vaughn. Tower Envy San Diego’s least successful tower aesthetically is Sea World’s 320-foot Skytower. Unlike the 984-foot Eiffel or many other towers throughout the world, where you ascend ...

Stories from the South Bay

Chicanos in National City, Imperial Beach pride, cowboys off Hollister Road, Sweetwater Valley love, Coronado prepares for crisis, the racial make-up of Otay

National City Confidential DeForest pointed out that 90% of NC businessmen, who are primarily Anglo, live outside the city and “therefore don’t elect city officials and don’t contribute to officials’ campaigns.'’ He asserted that he ...

Moments in time from the Gaslamp

Horton Plaza before it was a mall, Hollywood Theater, ABC Club, Horton Grand Hotel

South of Broadway: The Pigeons in Horton Plaza He used to own the Off-Broadway Theater next door, the last burlesque house on the West Coast, “I paid $5 a week rent, and I took in ...

The Reader's longest stories

Abbe Wolfsheimer finds a brother, the Chinese of northern Baja, bamboozled by a poor person, San Diego audiophiles, county bird survey, San Diego's top ten high schools, San Diego River homeless camps

The Derek, Frieda, and Abbe Chronicles At the corner of Magnolia, the only area on Renette Avenue where apartment buildings now stood, I spoke with the managers of each of the four apartment complexes, all ...

San Diego in the late 1800s

Kate Sessions, Ah Quin, love letters, first schools, horse rustlers, trash in Mission Hills, San Diego’s boy mayor

This is a Test Sketch briefly the condition of the country at the close of the Revolutionary War until the inauguration of Washington. 2. What officers constitute the cabinet of the President? Sketch the history ...

SD Neighborhoods: Downtown

Inside the Golden West, Symphony Towers, Luther Tower, public library, where to park, why it’s First Avenue and not First Street

On Top of the City Higgs is seventy-four, has been practicing law since 1934, and was president of the San Diego County Bar Association in 1940. His voice is raspy but his sentences are clear ...

Exceptional writing — editor’s choice

Why plays must be read, what’s in a face, a real Chinese-American, he-man cuisine, the O.J. trial, inside crossword puzzles, inside a lunchbox

How to Read a Mug Adolf Hitler's strained smile was frightful, it gave away too much, even embarrassed him, and he always brought a hand up like a claw to cover it. No one has ...

Family ties

My older mother in New York, cut your mother some slack, sister rivalry, home as bedlam, Alex Theroux's wise father, his famous brothers, my mother's bad boyfriend, death of my baby brother

Seventy-five When I was a child, my mother took me to Central Park and spread a blanket for me to sit and play on, and if I strayed onto bare grass she would pick me ...

San Diego immigrants

Japanese, British, Iranians, Mixtec, Hmong, Chinese, Koreans, Africans, Iraquis, Egyptians, Filipinos

Prodigals They speak better English, with better intonations and slang. They listen to American music and Japanese groups like Lunatic Lion or Ayumi Nakamura, whose album covers and song titles burst with English, who slip ...

Gringos in Tijuana

Tijuana orphanage, books about TJ, torture, the dump, Zona Norte, the bus from Mexico City, origin of margarita, shoe stores, dentists, La Mesa prison

Tijuana Mi Amor Marcos lived for months at the Hotel San Francisco, on Calle Primera, across from La Funeraria San Martin. His room was littered with Argentine novels and Communist literature from Latin America. The ...

Small and wild animal friends

Tarantulas, pelicans on Coronado Islands, least terns, lizards, weasels, squirrels, worms, rats, and the Quino butterfly in Marron Valley

A 180-million-year-old Friend It was sheer proximity that charmed me. His claws were as thin as embroidery floss unraveled, and he had a wisp of grass on his head, which gave him an agreeably foolish ...

San Diego characters: common but colorful

Tree man of San Diego, the last vaquero, C.A. Smith’s repairman, when you win the lottery, largest rancher in San Diego

The Last Vaquero I’d tell Mollie where I was gonna camp, and she’d pack the ol’ mule and drag him around till I got to that camp, and she’d have it all set up. The ...

Richard Meltzer essays

From Santa Claus to housepets to Arnold, OJ, and the brain

The Tubes of My Life 1966, home from college. Nothing better to do than sit around with mom and dad and watch some wretched WW2 thingie with Jack Warden held captive in the South Pacific. ...

Large mammals in captivity

Early look at Wild Animal Park, troubled elephants come to the zoo, China’s panda hunter and pandas end up in San Diego, the morality of SeaWorld’s dolphins

The Tale of an Elephant The worst of Jouett’s problems were yet to come. Media representatives wanted to be present when Cindy arrived in mid-December. The elephant trainer and keepers wanted no one there. They ...

Landmarks you thought you knew

Harbor Drive and Coronado bridges, folly of the Trolley, behind the lens at Palomar Observatory, thinking behind Mission Bay, Carlsbad flower fields, who gets into Ft. Rosecrans, how fares the Coaster

Magical Dwarf’s Sad Orbit Maybe it’s premature to call someone an astronomer while they’re still in graduate school, but it would probably be okay in Ben Oppenheimer’s case because he and another graduate student had ...

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!

Close