El Cajon Smack Talk

I grew up here in El Cajon my whole life, and upon reading the March 12 edition of your paper, “El Cajon: We’re No More Redneck than Chula Vista, Oceanside, or Escondido” (Cover Story), number one, El Cajon is proud of the fact — proud of the fact — of our heritage and that we are rednecks. Number two, you can go to any city in San Diego County and talk crap about them, okay. You can find faults and flaws in every single city in San Diego, and for Manson to come out to El Cajon to write an article about our city — our city — where we live, eat, breathe, love, and everything else, it was an insult, a complete insult to the people of El Cajon, to the city of El Cajon.

Near the end of the article, I understand, you’re going through and you put in a bunch of stuff about, you know, the heritage and everything else and blah, blah, blah, but you know what, the bottom line is, half the people — half the people — that I’ve talked to this morning, which is over 30 people who I’ve talked to, who’ve called and let me know about this article, you know, I read this article, and I’m telling you, it was hard to get past the first half of it. All the smack talk and everything else, you know, it’s bull, it’s bull. And I truly believe that Manson owes the city of El Cajon an apology.

My mother worked for the CDC here in El Cajon for a few years. She worked alongside police officers, alongside storeowners in downtown El Cajon, dealt with the homeless, graffiti, gangs, everything else. We love this city. We love this city. And damn you for coming here, writing this article, when you really don’t have a f***ing clue what our town is about. You think you do. But you can only do so much research. You don’t live here, Mr. Manson.

I would like an apology, and so would the people of El Cajon. Other than that, I love the Reader. I read it religiously. What can I say — this was wrong.

James McBroom
El Cajon

Warm Fuzzies

Just finished reading “El Cajon” (Cover Story, March 12). The author caught the flavor of the city I have always had warm, fuzzy feelings about; I’ve lived there twice in my life.

As I remember it when I first moved into the area in 1956, El Cajon had a population of 5000, and 1000 of those souls lived in a trailer (not a mobile home) park. The biggest retail business in town was W.D. Hall’s hardware and lumber; in front of the store was a covered wooden sidewalk, and the customers were real cowboys. No homes were air-conditioned in those days.

Today, El Cajon is an enigma; it is a cosmopolitan city of cowboys, rednecks, Hispanics, Africans, Arabs, and duke’s-mixture Americans, a most delightful atmosphere to dwell in. A person can find excellent diverse ethnic cuisine and culture downtown on Main Street in such places as Ali Baba’s and Victoria’s, along with good beer, company, and conversation at the Grand Bar (the old colorful location, now defunct) with authentic good ol’ rednecks and cowboys.

The Parkway Plaza shopping center, an alternative El Cajon, offers convenient air-conditioned shopping in contrast to the character and culture of Main Street.

El Cajon is a beautiful, hot (temperature) city.

Dick Blankenburg
La Mesa

Downtown Is Not Enough

I read Mr. Manson’s article on El Cajon recently, with fascination (“El Cajon: We’re No More Redneck Than Chula Vista, Oceanside, or Escondido,” Cover Story, March 12). I have lived in East County (El Cajon, Santee, and Lakeside) for most of my life and did not know some of the interesting things that he brought up, such as the history of the art in the town and the waste-management deal. I was very impressed that he made his point, for the most part, that the title of the article claimed.

However, I was disappointed to see that each time he talked with a small-business owner, they mentioned how badly they thought of the mayor, and yet Mr. Manson did not inquire as to why those proprietors felt that way when he interviewed Mr. Lewis in his office. There seems to be quite a duality in the article when Mr. Lewis says he welcomes families, especially foreign ones, but does not seem to be supportive of the family-owned businesses that are already there.

I’ve driven through El Cajon proper many, many times in the recent months and have seen the big changes they have made to downtown — but at what cost to the other parts of El Cajon? Besides the redneck stigma, what about the crime-ridden areas? I know the corrupt El Cajon Police Department can hardly handle the town’s wasted areas, unlike the mayor who says there is a “zero waste” policy in effect, so why doesn’t the mayor help to change that? Making two or three blocks of the center of the city look pretty does not a rebuilt community make.

Mrs. D.
El Cajon, unincorporated

Help Our Bridges, Not Buses

Re “Waste time. Save money. Ride the bus!” Cover Story, March 5.

Good article.

Ollie and all San Diego bus riders should be aware that it costs in excess of $4.50 on the average to provide each passenger’s ride. That is a far cry from the $2.25 fare paid into the fare box. The remainder is taken, without consent of most of us, out of the pockets of those workers who do not have the time to waste waiting for a form of transportation that doesn’t go where we need or want to go, when we need or want to go.

A good portion of the gasoline taxes paid to support and maintain our highway system have been diverted to “transportation,” i.e., bus and rail operations far from their original intent, which while Ollie and the like save money, our roadways and bridges deteriorate.

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