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Best Reader stories from 1987

Bennington explosion, Carl Rogers and Bill Coulson, Chocolate Mountains, U.S. border vet, undercover klansman, Dorman Owens, Avenida Revolucion, kelp forests, Jerry Schad

It was a sharp descent off the ridge, over rotten scree, but Schad soon found a sheep trail to the bottom. As he bounded down the canyon side, he shouted back to me Schad’s Rule of Thumb: “I figure I can go anywhere a sheep can go!”
It was a sharp descent off the ridge, over rotten scree, but Schad soon found a sheep trail to the bottom. As he bounded down the canyon side, he shouted back to me Schad’s Rule of Thumb: “I figure I can go anywhere a sheep can go!”
  • Explosion!

  • The sighting of San Diego was a welcome event for the crew of the GSS Bennington on a sunny July 19,1905. The patrol gunboat had just completed a rough, seventeen-day journey from Hawaii, and the bluejackets, as sailors were called at the turn of the century, were looking forward to the weekend ahead and some much-needed liberty in the saloons and restaurants of the city.
  • By Mark Linsky, Nov. 12, 1987
The gunboat, gutted by fire and scalding steam, lists beside a downtown dock. The sudden influx of sea water increased the list to starboard and alarmed Gauthier and the other sailors who had survived the blast but were trapped in compartments of the ship.
  • Navy bombs Chocolate Mountains – Reader sends first journalist to visit

  • The night before I entered the Chocolate Mountains, I saw them in a dream. Their profile against a luminous horizon was dark and twisted, their canyons deep and hidden in shadows. The mountains seemed beautiful and intriguing to me, but there was another quality about them, too. Hanging in the air over the mountains, I saw in my sleep, was some unknown danger, a black pall, like a curse in a child's fairy tale.
  • By Steve Sorensen, Oct. 29, 1987
One of the military’s most insistent arguments for renewing the military reservation in the Chocolates is that the area could never be made safe for the public.
  • Bill Coulson believed in his mentor, pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers

  • Once upon a time, Coulson was one of Rogers’s most shining proteges. As a graduate student, Coulson sought out Rogers, studied with him, and twenty-four years ago, when the great man moved from Wisconsin to San Diego, Coulson packed up his wife and children and moved too.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Aug. 20, 1987
Carl Rogers, Richard Farson; January 1984
  • No Mexican steers entering U.S. will have hard ticks

  • The cattle trucks are disgorging their hoofed cargo into the dusty corrals, Mexican cowhands on horseback are whistling and hollering at the leery beasts, prodding them with electric rods, and Mexican cattle brokers are shaking hands with their American counterparts. Frank Enders, veterinary doctor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, slips on his boots and ventures once again into the parched confines of cow shit diplomacy.
  • By Neal Matthews, July 23, 1987
The USDA controls the movement of horses through the backstretch stalls at Caliente.
  • Undercover Klansman

  • Metzger charged the police department with engaging in illegal political activity and sending Seymour undercover into the Klan’s innermost circles to disrupt Metzger’s 1980 bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 43rd Congressional District. Seymour claims that the chief of police “disavowed” him by denying that he had worked as a police reservist when he infiltrated the Klan.
  • By Jim Berns, June 25, 1987
Klan members greeted by hecklers on their march to San Pasqual monument, January 20, 1980. Metzger staged a commemoration of Kit Carson, a man he praised for his valor against Mexican soldiers.
  • Our new garden up on Fire Mountain, in Oceanside, looked like hell

  • I grew up in Southern California suburbia and hated gardening. It was called yard work, which pretty much explains why any kid would feel about it as I did. The brunt of the work was in the form of mowing the lawn, edging the lawn, trimming around trees in the lawn, and weeding. Ours was a big lawn, as was every lawn in the neighborhood, and to be kept green, it had to be periodically reseeded, fertilized frequently, and watered continually.
  • By Scott Sadil, June 11, 1987
Author's garden. For those of a certain bent, a garden defines home in a way that nothing else can.
  • The Bible tells me so

  • “A redneck who loves America, he’ll be excited about the things I say about standing up and loving America and being patriotic and standing against evil. But when I start standing against his booze, he is not going to like that. Then there are people whom the world has programmed to believe that all religion is good, so when I preach against the doctrine of Roman Catholicism or Unitarianism, they are offended."
  • By Judith Moore, May 14, 1987
Reverend Dorman Owens in May, 1984
  • Gringo street

  • Avenida Revolucion, where two great civilizations collide to form a Himalayan range of apposite images and attitudes, has made business geniuses out of men like Hector Santillan. Starting as a shoeshine boy in the 1940s, then working his way up from curio salesman to curio shop owner to landlord in the busiest tourist block on a street of tourist blocks, fifty-one-year-old Santillan has succeeded because he figured out why Americans need an Avenida Revolucion.
  • By Neal Matthews, April 23, 1987
“Too many balcony bars will open up, and in five years, sooner or later, they’ll all be in the cocaine business.”
  • In the forests of the sea

  • One of the eeriest forests in the world is located just a mile or two from the center of San Diego. Very few people enter it, though there is one safe, and convenient way to glimpse what it’s like. If you go to the Natural History Museum and descend to the dimly lit basement, you will find an exhibit that tries to depict a very small section of the wilds of giant kelp.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Jan. 8, 1987
Scuba gear necessary for the study of underwater biology was invented just forty-five years ago.
  • Life on the crest

  • Trying to find someplace in San Diego County where Jerry Schad hasn’t been is like trying to find a parking place downtown: if you like adventure and wildlife and don’t mind walking for three days, you might find one sooner or later. I would venture to say he’s been to more out-of-the-way places in San Diego County than anyone ever has.
  • By Steve Sorensen, April 2, 1987
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It was a sharp descent off the ridge, over rotten scree, but Schad soon found a sheep trail to the bottom. As he bounded down the canyon side, he shouted back to me Schad’s Rule of Thumb: “I figure I can go anywhere a sheep can go!”
It was a sharp descent off the ridge, over rotten scree, but Schad soon found a sheep trail to the bottom. As he bounded down the canyon side, he shouted back to me Schad’s Rule of Thumb: “I figure I can go anywhere a sheep can go!”
  • Explosion!

  • The sighting of San Diego was a welcome event for the crew of the GSS Bennington on a sunny July 19,1905. The patrol gunboat had just completed a rough, seventeen-day journey from Hawaii, and the bluejackets, as sailors were called at the turn of the century, were looking forward to the weekend ahead and some much-needed liberty in the saloons and restaurants of the city.
  • By Mark Linsky, Nov. 12, 1987
The gunboat, gutted by fire and scalding steam, lists beside a downtown dock. The sudden influx of sea water increased the list to starboard and alarmed Gauthier and the other sailors who had survived the blast but were trapped in compartments of the ship.
  • Navy bombs Chocolate Mountains – Reader sends first journalist to visit

  • The night before I entered the Chocolate Mountains, I saw them in a dream. Their profile against a luminous horizon was dark and twisted, their canyons deep and hidden in shadows. The mountains seemed beautiful and intriguing to me, but there was another quality about them, too. Hanging in the air over the mountains, I saw in my sleep, was some unknown danger, a black pall, like a curse in a child's fairy tale.
  • By Steve Sorensen, Oct. 29, 1987
One of the military’s most insistent arguments for renewing the military reservation in the Chocolates is that the area could never be made safe for the public.
  • Bill Coulson believed in his mentor, pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers

  • Once upon a time, Coulson was one of Rogers’s most shining proteges. As a graduate student, Coulson sought out Rogers, studied with him, and twenty-four years ago, when the great man moved from Wisconsin to San Diego, Coulson packed up his wife and children and moved too.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Aug. 20, 1987
Carl Rogers, Richard Farson; January 1984
  • No Mexican steers entering U.S. will have hard ticks

  • The cattle trucks are disgorging their hoofed cargo into the dusty corrals, Mexican cowhands on horseback are whistling and hollering at the leery beasts, prodding them with electric rods, and Mexican cattle brokers are shaking hands with their American counterparts. Frank Enders, veterinary doctor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, slips on his boots and ventures once again into the parched confines of cow shit diplomacy.
  • By Neal Matthews, July 23, 1987
The USDA controls the movement of horses through the backstretch stalls at Caliente.
  • Undercover Klansman

  • Metzger charged the police department with engaging in illegal political activity and sending Seymour undercover into the Klan’s innermost circles to disrupt Metzger’s 1980 bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 43rd Congressional District. Seymour claims that the chief of police “disavowed” him by denying that he had worked as a police reservist when he infiltrated the Klan.
  • By Jim Berns, June 25, 1987
Klan members greeted by hecklers on their march to San Pasqual monument, January 20, 1980. Metzger staged a commemoration of Kit Carson, a man he praised for his valor against Mexican soldiers.
  • Our new garden up on Fire Mountain, in Oceanside, looked like hell

  • I grew up in Southern California suburbia and hated gardening. It was called yard work, which pretty much explains why any kid would feel about it as I did. The brunt of the work was in the form of mowing the lawn, edging the lawn, trimming around trees in the lawn, and weeding. Ours was a big lawn, as was every lawn in the neighborhood, and to be kept green, it had to be periodically reseeded, fertilized frequently, and watered continually.
  • By Scott Sadil, June 11, 1987
Author's garden. For those of a certain bent, a garden defines home in a way that nothing else can.
  • The Bible tells me so

  • “A redneck who loves America, he’ll be excited about the things I say about standing up and loving America and being patriotic and standing against evil. But when I start standing against his booze, he is not going to like that. Then there are people whom the world has programmed to believe that all religion is good, so when I preach against the doctrine of Roman Catholicism or Unitarianism, they are offended."
  • By Judith Moore, May 14, 1987
Reverend Dorman Owens in May, 1984
  • Gringo street

  • Avenida Revolucion, where two great civilizations collide to form a Himalayan range of apposite images and attitudes, has made business geniuses out of men like Hector Santillan. Starting as a shoeshine boy in the 1940s, then working his way up from curio salesman to curio shop owner to landlord in the busiest tourist block on a street of tourist blocks, fifty-one-year-old Santillan has succeeded because he figured out why Americans need an Avenida Revolucion.
  • By Neal Matthews, April 23, 1987
“Too many balcony bars will open up, and in five years, sooner or later, they’ll all be in the cocaine business.”
  • In the forests of the sea

  • One of the eeriest forests in the world is located just a mile or two from the center of San Diego. Very few people enter it, though there is one safe, and convenient way to glimpse what it’s like. If you go to the Natural History Museum and descend to the dimly lit basement, you will find an exhibit that tries to depict a very small section of the wilds of giant kelp.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Jan. 8, 1987
Scuba gear necessary for the study of underwater biology was invented just forty-five years ago.
  • Life on the crest

  • Trying to find someplace in San Diego County where Jerry Schad hasn’t been is like trying to find a parking place downtown: if you like adventure and wildlife and don’t mind walking for three days, you might find one sooner or later. I would venture to say he’s been to more out-of-the-way places in San Diego County than anyone ever has.
  • By Steve Sorensen, April 2, 1987
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