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Stories by Jangchup Phelgyal

My first day in school was really my second day

It was September 1950, and that first day of school my brown uniform shirt scratched, the heavy corduroy pants were stiff with newness, my suspenders would not stay up, and my new shoes (bought a ...

Leontyne and Me

I met Joseph when I was 25 and he was 52, eight years younger than I am now. I shared my one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side in New York City with night-crawling cockroaches ...

Dear People: Remembering Jonestown

“A child who had just gotten to Jonestown, writing back to a friend, ended his letter with a request: ‘Please send me gum.’”

What Happens After a Kid Goes Bad?

These are accounts of ten angry young men with nothing to lose. Mayhem at home, drugs and alcohol, gang warfare, drive-by shootings, armed robbery — even murder — and always stints behind bars with a ...

The Black Memory Market

Collectors snap up the African-American past.

When public television’s Antiques Roadshow rolled into the convention center the last weekend in June 2001, local collectors crowed. Suddenly San Diego seemed invested, artifact-wise, with the status of a major metropolitan center like Chicago ...

Atrocious Act

Black Muslims react with horror to September 11

Given their numbers, Mahdi said he was surprised when Oprah Winfrey interviewed Muslims for her show, a program called "Islam 101," and did not speak with one African-American.

Their Hair Was Huge, Their Speech Was Loud, and Their Message Was Simple: Revolution Now!

Where are the black activists now?

June 16, 1966: The Solution Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is released from jail this afternoon. Continuing a voter registration march begun by James Meredith, who was recently shot along a ...

Generations

Introduction to a secret brother

My mother parked the truck on my foot three hours after my father told me that he loved me. It was March 1965, I was 20 years old, and that was the first time my ...

A House and a Tree Spell Contentment to Me

Olive Street residents can't get much closer.

In 1957 an earth-fill bridge replaced the old wood-and-iron one, which had been the center of controversy for many years. San Diego youths had seen the bridge timbers as a challenge and had often made the climb.

You Might Not Think a Cat Could Hog a Whole Bed

Erica Krimmel lives with her parents in a little jewel of a home in Normal heights. Her mother, Cynthia Krimmel, is a photo archivist for the San Diego Historical Society; David, her father, is a ...

A Quiet Cul-De-Sac in North Park

Neighborly life on Olive Street

Between 1903 and 1909, the trolley expanded into the area east of Balboa Park. Thirtieth Street became the route, and a bridge was built to extend the street across Switzer Canyon, from Laurel to Olive.

Bird Talk

When she walks along Pacific Beach in the warm evenings of summer, Renee Lowe turns heads. The 38-year-old has long brown hair and the good looks that once made her a teen model, but it ...

Sugar Jones

For a whole year — beginning in 1959 — I stole from my father and I never got caught. I was 14 years old, a freshman at Saint Augustine’s High School on Nutmeg Street in ...

Raised Not to Hope Too Hard

Sherley and I were the same age, both of us writers, both of us descendants of slaves. In 1966 we became the first in our respective families to graduate from college.

Marriage is Temporary, Dogs are Forever

Love loss and dog loss

Terry Wilson has won five Emmys for his television directing, producing, and on-camera hosting; he’s been a national martial arts champion; and his 1998 article on the Marine dogs of World War II won best-short ...

What is beauty to the blind?

Pleasures of the sightless.

They were being murdered by the light. I watched and said nothing. When we began our lunch, the sun was just burnishing the windowsill. It was a hot day and Linda had left the window ...

Stan and Ollie

Gary Sassaman is elusive. The 43-year-old enjoys his work as a news graphic designer for KUSI-TV; he also has good friends and likes to spend time with them. But like many artists, he seems best ...

The One-Legged Professional Firefighter

He goes by both. Whether “Buddy,” the two-syllable synonym for pal, or the more mature-sounding “Bud,” the single-syllable term for what is young and unfinished, both fit. Bud McElroy, at 39, seems easygoing and uncomplicated. ...

I'm Done With the States

Brothers below the border.

The restaurant was a rambling wood affair with families crammed together and happily intent over their plates until that rumba line of black men – a half dozen of them – began to snake between ...

Cell Phone Visitation

Otay Mesa is part of a vast sweep of scrub that stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border as far as Texas. Donovan State Prison State Prison is located there, a huge complex of buildings 25 miles ...

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