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Best Reader stories from 1980

Del Mar Man, Guadalupe Island, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Harry Partch

Gregg sees the Baja peninsula as the only frontier he’s ever known, in the sense of being a land that still attracts frontiersmen, people with nothing to lose. - Image by Catherine Kanner
Gregg sees the Baja peninsula as the only frontier he’s ever known, in the sense of being a land that still attracts frontiersmen, people with nothing to lose.
Bada determined the Del Mar skull to be 48,000 years old. The oldest previously discovered bones in North America were radiocarbon dated at 23,600 years.
  • On the path of the old ones

  • It’s now ten years, almost to the day, since an amateur archaeologist discovered what seemed to be extraordinarily old stone tools in a canyon above Mission Valley, and six years since a chemistry professor from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, using a new amino-acid dating technique, seemed to correlate that discovery when he determined the Del Mar skull to be 48,000 years old.
  • By Gordon Smith, March 13, 1980
  • In Baja I learned the secrets of fording streams, digging clams, growing pot

  • A couple of months ago a friend of mine named Gregg wrote from North County asking if I could spare a week to camp and fish with him in Baja. Gregg is a teacher, thirty-seven years old, with a capillary-red nose and a beard more white than black, and with a head of gray-brown hair at just that point of thinness that he likes the way he looks in a hat.
  • By Joe Applegate, Feb. 28, 1980
  • Punch hard, but don't get hit

  • “Four months ago he knew nothing about boxing,” says Dan Hamel, Marchand’s manager and architect of the twenty-five-year-old Canadian’s career. Hamel, Mission Beach skate-rental czar, is short and powerfully built. In the gym today, he wears a yellow Mickey Mouse T-shirt. “I met him at the Perfect Racquet in Mission Valley,” Hamel continues.
  • By Bill Owens, Sept. 11, 1980
Pierre Marchand. “A white heavyweight — every manager and trainer’s dream."
  • Harry Partch – San Diego's most famous musical rebel

  • Each instrument looks more like a piece of sculpture, yet each is capable of producing the sounds inside of a normal musical sound. They are made from all sorts of unlikely, though carefully tested objects, such as Pyrex containers lopped in half, eucalyptus boughs, artillery shell casings, and empty bottles of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry.
  • By Jeff Smith, Sept. 25, 1980
Harry Partch was a hell-raiser, an iconoclast, a hobo, a visionary, a Bacchic monk, a schizophrenic (some say), a mass of complexities (or contradictions, some say), a dove and a great white shark.
  • From 5 to 9

  • Felipe is new in the business. He has been in Tijuana's streets selling gum — or rather, pretending to sell gum — for only a week. He stands on a corner of Calle Quinta a couple of blocks east of Avenida Revolucion, his back against a wire fence, his face turned away from the traffic. He tries to be inconspicuous, and he succeeds quite well; his small, grayish figure blends in with the fence behind him. He seems very uncomfortable with his new profession. It’s not that the job is such a big one; it is Felipe who is too small for the job. He is only five years old.
  • By Maria Schnabel, Oct. 9, 1980
Felipe peeks around the corner of the fence to make sure his family is still sitting half a block down the street.
  • Tales of an airline

  • In the third-floor lobby of the Pacific Southwest Airlines headquarters at Lindbergh Field, there is a photograph that recalls better days. It pictures five gorgeous stewardesses wearing micro-minidress/hot pants outfit, circa 1972, lounging in a flora-filled lanai. It was a time when PSA was expanding rapidly. The airline itself had become just one cog in a corporate wheel that included hotels, radio stations, a sportfishing business, a rent-a-car firm, and two jet-leasing corporations. PSA had gained a nickname that was at once endearing and mordant: PSA was the Go-Go Airline.
  • By Mark Orwoll, Oct. 30, 1980
PSA had gained a nickname that was at once endearing and mordant: PSA was the go-go-airline.
Bill Everett: “It’s like a little Galapagos, right in our back yard. ”
  • Guadalupe, 250 miles south of San Diego, eaten away by goats

  • It is nearly eleven o’clock before Guadalupe Island comes into view, its steep sides silhouetted in the distant fog. Suddenly, the two albatrosses that have been trailing our wake all morning disappear. We hold steadily to our course, and soon we can see rather than sense the island’s twenty-mile length, and the cloud bank hanging low along the ridgetop. Even the ship’s crew members seem excited, and come out on deck to watch.
  • By Gordon Smith, July 10, 1980
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Gregg sees the Baja peninsula as the only frontier he’s ever known, in the sense of being a land that still attracts frontiersmen, people with nothing to lose. - Image by Catherine Kanner
Gregg sees the Baja peninsula as the only frontier he’s ever known, in the sense of being a land that still attracts frontiersmen, people with nothing to lose.
Bada determined the Del Mar skull to be 48,000 years old. The oldest previously discovered bones in North America were radiocarbon dated at 23,600 years.
  • On the path of the old ones

  • It’s now ten years, almost to the day, since an amateur archaeologist discovered what seemed to be extraordinarily old stone tools in a canyon above Mission Valley, and six years since a chemistry professor from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, using a new amino-acid dating technique, seemed to correlate that discovery when he determined the Del Mar skull to be 48,000 years old.
  • By Gordon Smith, March 13, 1980
  • In Baja I learned the secrets of fording streams, digging clams, growing pot

  • A couple of months ago a friend of mine named Gregg wrote from North County asking if I could spare a week to camp and fish with him in Baja. Gregg is a teacher, thirty-seven years old, with a capillary-red nose and a beard more white than black, and with a head of gray-brown hair at just that point of thinness that he likes the way he looks in a hat.
  • By Joe Applegate, Feb. 28, 1980
  • Punch hard, but don't get hit

  • “Four months ago he knew nothing about boxing,” says Dan Hamel, Marchand’s manager and architect of the twenty-five-year-old Canadian’s career. Hamel, Mission Beach skate-rental czar, is short and powerfully built. In the gym today, he wears a yellow Mickey Mouse T-shirt. “I met him at the Perfect Racquet in Mission Valley,” Hamel continues.
  • By Bill Owens, Sept. 11, 1980
Pierre Marchand. “A white heavyweight — every manager and trainer’s dream."
  • Harry Partch – San Diego's most famous musical rebel

  • Each instrument looks more like a piece of sculpture, yet each is capable of producing the sounds inside of a normal musical sound. They are made from all sorts of unlikely, though carefully tested objects, such as Pyrex containers lopped in half, eucalyptus boughs, artillery shell casings, and empty bottles of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry.
  • By Jeff Smith, Sept. 25, 1980
Harry Partch was a hell-raiser, an iconoclast, a hobo, a visionary, a Bacchic monk, a schizophrenic (some say), a mass of complexities (or contradictions, some say), a dove and a great white shark.
  • From 5 to 9

  • Felipe is new in the business. He has been in Tijuana's streets selling gum — or rather, pretending to sell gum — for only a week. He stands on a corner of Calle Quinta a couple of blocks east of Avenida Revolucion, his back against a wire fence, his face turned away from the traffic. He tries to be inconspicuous, and he succeeds quite well; his small, grayish figure blends in with the fence behind him. He seems very uncomfortable with his new profession. It’s not that the job is such a big one; it is Felipe who is too small for the job. He is only five years old.
  • By Maria Schnabel, Oct. 9, 1980
Felipe peeks around the corner of the fence to make sure his family is still sitting half a block down the street.
  • Tales of an airline

  • In the third-floor lobby of the Pacific Southwest Airlines headquarters at Lindbergh Field, there is a photograph that recalls better days. It pictures five gorgeous stewardesses wearing micro-minidress/hot pants outfit, circa 1972, lounging in a flora-filled lanai. It was a time when PSA was expanding rapidly. The airline itself had become just one cog in a corporate wheel that included hotels, radio stations, a sportfishing business, a rent-a-car firm, and two jet-leasing corporations. PSA had gained a nickname that was at once endearing and mordant: PSA was the Go-Go Airline.
  • By Mark Orwoll, Oct. 30, 1980
PSA had gained a nickname that was at once endearing and mordant: PSA was the go-go-airline.
Bill Everett: “It’s like a little Galapagos, right in our back yard. ”
  • Guadalupe, 250 miles south of San Diego, eaten away by goats

  • It is nearly eleven o’clock before Guadalupe Island comes into view, its steep sides silhouetted in the distant fog. Suddenly, the two albatrosses that have been trailing our wake all morning disappear. We hold steadily to our course, and soon we can see rather than sense the island’s twenty-mile length, and the cloud bank hanging low along the ridgetop. Even the ship’s crew members seem excited, and come out on deck to watch.
  • By Gordon Smith, July 10, 1980
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