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Thirty Years Ago County tax assessors assess boats as personal property, unless they are a taxpayer's principal residence, and then the boat owner can file for a homeowner's exemption. If taxes are unbearable, you can move to Mexico or Australia without going out the front door of your home. It is possible to rent a boat to live on, at least in Commercial Basin. In Sausalito, Amsterdam, and London, the houseboats hitch up by the sides of canals, rivers, or docks. Not in Commercial Basin, where you can anchor, but not dock, for free. -- "HOME, HOME ON THE BOAT," Jacquelynne Garner, February 19, 1976

Twenty-Five Years Ago We're standing on the corrugated steel decking six floors above Columbia Street, and Joe Silva, the welding supervisor, is shouting. "There's no heroes here!" he yells over the clattering of an impact wrench. "Don't dramatize this!" Around us, above and below, ironworkers are erecting what will be the tallest high-rise building in San Diego. Behind Silva orange droplets of hot metal shoot down in a shower, and the buzz of frying steel descends from a welder perched on a beam two floors up. -- "27 STORIES: THE RISE OF COLUMBIA CENTRE," Neal Matthews, February 26, 1981

Twenty Years Ago Once in a while Ryan receives mail addressed only to "The Oak Lady, Escondido, California" -- confirmation of her status as a defender and propagator of Engelmann oaks. In her refrigerator she keeps a jar of ground Engelmann oak acorns that she uses to make weewish, a gruel that sustained the local Indians. "You can make a drink out of the larger ground pieces," she said. "You boil up a few of them in water and add honey. It's nutritious." -- "THE OAK LADY," Gordon Smith, February 27, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago When Union-Tribune publisher Helen Copley was fingered by a story in the Los Angeles Times last Friday as the city's biggest residential water user, her response was simple. "I don't doubt for one minute that I might be the biggest user. How many people have 9-1/2 acres?"The next morning, Copley's Union took another approach, shrinking the size of the estate from the Tribune 's previously reported 9 1/2 to 7 1/2 acres. "This place supports 15 people," the publisher revealed. "It has 10 gardeners. I am not living here all by myself." -- CITY LIGHTS: "FLOOD OF APOLOGIES," Matt Potter, February 28, 1991

Ten Years Ago Spiderman and Dodger Blue are hanging with cholo socios at their father's upper-middle-class house, not far from Southwestern College. Both have tattoos on their shoulders denoting their neighborhood or barrio affiliation. They may be sets or tha boyz or crews or just homeys, but "gang" is gabacho newsman talk. The closest they might come is calling each other "G," stolen from their dreaded black counterparts. -- "I'LL GIVE YOU A SHOULDER TO CRY ON,"

Junior Garcia, February 22, 1996

Five Years Ago When my mother was pregnant with me, her eyes became light sensitive. Sunlight off our bright white garage gave her vertigo. Eggs, she says, fried sunny-side up, barely firm, soothed her stomach. All summer long she sat in the dark kitchen, eating eggs, their yolks shining like little suns on her plate. While she was carrying me, she says, the kitchen smelled always of fried butter.

My mother's job was to care for my brother, father, and me. My mother made my bed, washed the sheets and pillowcases. She woke me in the morning. I put on clothes she had bought, washed, and ironed. She never complained. Once when I was very young she was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. I said I wanted to go outside and play. She said, "I'm lonely. Please stay with me and talk." I didn't. -- TIP OF MY TONGUE: "EGGS," Max Nash, February 22, 2001

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