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Thirty Years Ago On separate nights 16-year-old Danny stole a Mercury in Logan Heights and zigzagged down the street, ricocheting off parked cars; Jimmy, 17, beat up "some white cat," robbed him, and rode off on his ten-speed bike into Shell Town in Encanto; "whiteboy" Randy Evans whipped his nunchaku down on a black stranger's head; and in Escondido a Diegeno Indian broke into a house to steal a load of M1's and M16's. -- "WHERE THE BAD BOYS ARE," Richard Louv, August 5, 1976

Twenty-Five Years Ago The arson suspect was 19 years old and had short black hair, brown-yellow eyes, and a wide, plump face. He was sitting in the visiting room of the Imperial County jail, a hundred miles east of San Diego. It was a Sunday morning in January 1977 and the weather was clear and still.

Driving down the rock-pile mountain from the west, I had seen the Chocolate Mountains across the valley, and had felt as though I could draw my finger on the line where the desert ended and the fields began. -- "FIRE IN THE VALLEY," Joe Applegate, August 6, 1981

Twenty Years Ago First of all, everybody should know that Halley's comet is definitely out in New York. The real upper crust will admit nothing but Tuttle's comet. There are a few pockets of fanatics in Forest Hills who scorn all of these in favor of the Giacobini-Zinner comet, the Pons-Winnecke comet, and the Whipple-Fedtke-Tevzadze comet. These are cults and not respectable. -- "AUGUST SHOWERS," Ben Sira, August 7, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago I'm from New York, where ferret owners routinely parade up and down the avenue with the perky little critters perched on their shoulders. So I know how to frolic with the beasts. I played bullfighter, using a crinkly plastic bag for the cape, and then let Harry scamper up my shoulders and kiss me, tentatively, on the lips.I picked him up in both hands and we rubbed noses. Flick, flick, flick, flick, flick.

Then -- snap -- his little cat-jaws clamped shut on my nostril. "Let go!" I screamed. I tossed my head, swinging the ferret from side to side like a purse.

In a moment it was over and blood was spurting from my nose. -- "THE FERRET UNDERGROUND," Margot Sheehan, August 8, 1991

Ten Years Ago Sources at the Union-Tribune peg the cost of Helen and David Copley's big GOP convention media party August 10 at between $500,000 and $2 million. Even so, the publisher has sent a memo to her employees asking for volunteers to help staff the "International Media Event," giving up their time from 2:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. to serve as a "nonpaid host/hostess." Takers are asked to sign forms stating they "understand there is no expectation or requirement that I volunteer and that not doing so will not reflect on my position at the Union-Tribune." -- CITY LIGHTS: "WILL DAVID CLEAN THE GRILL?" Thomas K. Arnold, August 1, 1996

Five Years Ago "What is it, Mom?" Rebecca began to tremble. "Do you hear a snake?" "No. Please let go of my shirt."

"But I'm scared. I want to go back."

"Me, too," Lucy looked at me with big, round eyes.

"I want to go all the way to the pond," Angela shouted back.

"Me, too," Johnny said. "I want to see the pond."

The stroller's front wheels stuck in the sand. I stopped. "What is it, Mom?" Rebecca's voice rose with panic.

"We're going back, Angela," I called. "The trail's too rough."

"No-o-o-o," Angela complained.

"No-o-o-o," Johnny echoed.

"What is it, Mom?" Rebecca and Lucy asked together.

"We're going home."

"No-o-o-o," they cried.

At least they agreed on something. -- KID STUFF: "RATS IN A CAGE," Anne Albright, August 2, 2001

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