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Best Reader stories from 1981

A San Diego bookie, Jacquelyn Littlefield, Fidel's and Prophet restaurants, Jerry Herrera, cystic fibrosis, Gustavo Romero, San Diego's biggest cattleman

“See that skinny cow there? There’s something wrong with her — probably ate some nails or wire or something." - Image by Robert Burroughs
“See that skinny cow there? There’s something wrong with her — probably ate some nails or wire or something."
I told him he could sleep in my apartment until the first of the month but that afterward he'd be on his own.
  • Postcards From Western Civilization

  • Some years ago at Christmastime, when I was a teller at a bank downtown, I came to know Wayne Boyer, who was then an apprentice bum. I met him in the Jack-in-the-Box on Broadway, where I had stepped inside for a Coke; he was in the next line over, standing on crutches, his right leg in a cast from ankle to hip. I was twenty-two then and he looked about my age, but different in other ways. He had black hair, pale skin, and narrow, startling blue eyes. His face was like a weasel’s.
  • By Joe Applegate, Dec. 10, 1981
  • When San Diego gambled by phone

  • James Arthur Thomas is a San Diego institution. And he's done time in most of them. You don’t see too many listings for his former line of work in the classifieds, though. Until his retirement three years ago, the seventy-five-year-old man was a bookie in this city for more than thirty years. He made book — and we aren’t talking the leather-bound variety here. He had it thrown at him more times than he can remember.
  • By Jeff Smith, Dec. 3, 1981
Thomas managed a Richfield service station at the corner of Kensington Drive and Adams Avenue. The bookies behind the station offered him a job as a runner.
  • The difficult woman

  • It probably would require a book to tell why Jacquelyn Littlefield has come to view herself as an alien here in San Diego, how she has managed to become known as “the difficult woman’’ who owns the Spreckels Building with its magnificent but often empty Spreckels Theatre
  • By Bob Dorn, Nov. 19, 1981
C. Arnholt Smith says he doesn’t recall what he offered for Littlefield’s block and building other than “some cash, around one million dollars, and some securities [stock in his U.S. National Bank]. She seemed interested at first, then it seemed like she didn’t want to sell.”
  • The man who made it

  • The residents of Eden Gardens watch from the roadside as the cars wind their way around the potholes and up the main street. The nightly procession — gilded with Mercedes and BMWs from Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, and La Jolla — leads to four restaurants, and the greatest portion of cars will stop at the one owned by Fidel Montanez. Customers wait here two or more hours for a meal on a busy Friday or Saturday night.
  • By Steven Shepherd, Oct. 1, 1981
Fidel Montanez: “I like my privacy, that’s why I never moved out of Eden Gardens. I could go to Rancho, but who the hell wants to be living up there with all those highlights?"
  • He brought punk rock to San Diego

  • The patrons heading into the Spirit club shortly before nine on a recent Saturday night might have thought it peculiar that a large, paint-splattered wooden stepladder would be propped up against the roof just to the side of the front entrance, almost blocking the doorway.
  • By Thomas K. Arnold, Aug. 20, 1981
“The only time Jerry ever gave us a cut off the bar was when he bought the band a six-pack.”
  • No time to dream

  • It is one of CF’s more unnecessary tragedies that the type of callous (and often ignorant) welcome to the medical world which Judy Longfellow received is far from uncommon. And though families have had the amazing luck of having a child correctly diagnosed the very first time he got sick, the stories of wrong diagnoses, missed diagnoses, and refused diagnoses are legion among the CF community.
  • By Steven Shepherd, June 11, 1981
Intensive chest therapy involves physically beating on the patient’s chest.
  • Prophet sharing

  • I won’t say that this isn’t any way to run a restaurant. Maybe it is. But I’m sure this isn’t the way most restaurants are run. I’m in the lobby of the Prophet International Vegetarian Restaurant at 4:13 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. The front door is locked; it won’t reopen until about 5:30. All over the floor of this antechamber are Prophet employees as well as Marianne Makeda Cheatom. the Prophet's founder, sole owner, Supreme Matriarch.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, May 21, 1981
“Reggae Fever” is sponsored by the Prophet, hosted by Cheatom, and aired Sundays on XHRM radio.
  • Prelude for a young pianist

  • Even if you don’t have the slightest interest in classical music, would you turn down the chance to meet Mozart? Say you could go back in time and talk to the young Mozart, nine years old, just beginning to shine. Even if his music bored you, you realize that you could tell your kids in thirty years, “Hey, you know I met Mozart.”
  • By Jeannette DeWyze , Jan. 29, 1981
Gustavo Romero. Creston and his wife Louise: ”We’d never heard playing like that. He brought tears to our eyes.”
  • Jim Kemp – San Diego's largest cattle rancher

  • Dawn: clouds press down low over the Campo Valley, and rain seems imminent. In one corner of Jim Kemp’s cattle pens, five cowboys and one cattle broker are already hard at work, trying to get 240 head weighed and ready for shipment to the feedlot. From all sides comes the lowing and bellowing of cattle; pointing their noses toward the sunless sky, they offer up mournful, hornlike cries.
  • By Gordon Smith, Jan. 8, 1981
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“See that skinny cow there? There’s something wrong with her — probably ate some nails or wire or something." - Image by Robert Burroughs
“See that skinny cow there? There’s something wrong with her — probably ate some nails or wire or something."
I told him he could sleep in my apartment until the first of the month but that afterward he'd be on his own.
  • Postcards From Western Civilization

  • Some years ago at Christmastime, when I was a teller at a bank downtown, I came to know Wayne Boyer, who was then an apprentice bum. I met him in the Jack-in-the-Box on Broadway, where I had stepped inside for a Coke; he was in the next line over, standing on crutches, his right leg in a cast from ankle to hip. I was twenty-two then and he looked about my age, but different in other ways. He had black hair, pale skin, and narrow, startling blue eyes. His face was like a weasel’s.
  • By Joe Applegate, Dec. 10, 1981
  • When San Diego gambled by phone

  • James Arthur Thomas is a San Diego institution. And he's done time in most of them. You don’t see too many listings for his former line of work in the classifieds, though. Until his retirement three years ago, the seventy-five-year-old man was a bookie in this city for more than thirty years. He made book — and we aren’t talking the leather-bound variety here. He had it thrown at him more times than he can remember.
  • By Jeff Smith, Dec. 3, 1981
Thomas managed a Richfield service station at the corner of Kensington Drive and Adams Avenue. The bookies behind the station offered him a job as a runner.
  • The difficult woman

  • It probably would require a book to tell why Jacquelyn Littlefield has come to view herself as an alien here in San Diego, how she has managed to become known as “the difficult woman’’ who owns the Spreckels Building with its magnificent but often empty Spreckels Theatre
  • By Bob Dorn, Nov. 19, 1981
C. Arnholt Smith says he doesn’t recall what he offered for Littlefield’s block and building other than “some cash, around one million dollars, and some securities [stock in his U.S. National Bank]. She seemed interested at first, then it seemed like she didn’t want to sell.”
  • The man who made it

  • The residents of Eden Gardens watch from the roadside as the cars wind their way around the potholes and up the main street. The nightly procession — gilded with Mercedes and BMWs from Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, and La Jolla — leads to four restaurants, and the greatest portion of cars will stop at the one owned by Fidel Montanez. Customers wait here two or more hours for a meal on a busy Friday or Saturday night.
  • By Steven Shepherd, Oct. 1, 1981
Fidel Montanez: “I like my privacy, that’s why I never moved out of Eden Gardens. I could go to Rancho, but who the hell wants to be living up there with all those highlights?"
  • He brought punk rock to San Diego

  • The patrons heading into the Spirit club shortly before nine on a recent Saturday night might have thought it peculiar that a large, paint-splattered wooden stepladder would be propped up against the roof just to the side of the front entrance, almost blocking the doorway.
  • By Thomas K. Arnold, Aug. 20, 1981
“The only time Jerry ever gave us a cut off the bar was when he bought the band a six-pack.”
  • No time to dream

  • It is one of CF’s more unnecessary tragedies that the type of callous (and often ignorant) welcome to the medical world which Judy Longfellow received is far from uncommon. And though families have had the amazing luck of having a child correctly diagnosed the very first time he got sick, the stories of wrong diagnoses, missed diagnoses, and refused diagnoses are legion among the CF community.
  • By Steven Shepherd, June 11, 1981
Intensive chest therapy involves physically beating on the patient’s chest.
  • Prophet sharing

  • I won’t say that this isn’t any way to run a restaurant. Maybe it is. But I’m sure this isn’t the way most restaurants are run. I’m in the lobby of the Prophet International Vegetarian Restaurant at 4:13 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. The front door is locked; it won’t reopen until about 5:30. All over the floor of this antechamber are Prophet employees as well as Marianne Makeda Cheatom. the Prophet's founder, sole owner, Supreme Matriarch.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, May 21, 1981
“Reggae Fever” is sponsored by the Prophet, hosted by Cheatom, and aired Sundays on XHRM radio.
  • Prelude for a young pianist

  • Even if you don’t have the slightest interest in classical music, would you turn down the chance to meet Mozart? Say you could go back in time and talk to the young Mozart, nine years old, just beginning to shine. Even if his music bored you, you realize that you could tell your kids in thirty years, “Hey, you know I met Mozart.”
  • By Jeannette DeWyze , Jan. 29, 1981
Gustavo Romero. Creston and his wife Louise: ”We’d never heard playing like that. He brought tears to our eyes.”
  • Jim Kemp – San Diego's largest cattle rancher

  • Dawn: clouds press down low over the Campo Valley, and rain seems imminent. In one corner of Jim Kemp’s cattle pens, five cowboys and one cattle broker are already hard at work, trying to get 240 head weighed and ready for shipment to the feedlot. From all sides comes the lowing and bellowing of cattle; pointing their noses toward the sunless sky, they offer up mournful, hornlike cries.
  • By Gordon Smith, Jan. 8, 1981
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