“Sorry as hell about your family. You okay?” “Sure.” “Miracle you made it. Listen, we pulled up a piece of your radar. Caught in our nets off Eureka."
  • “Sorry as hell about your family. You okay?” “Sure.” “Miracle you made it. Listen, we pulled up a piece of your radar. Caught in our nets off Eureka."
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Geist wrote for the Reader in the late 1980s and returned to write a feature story in 2016.

Editor's picks of stories Geist wrote for the Reader:

  • The San Diego-San Ysidro trolley, late at night

  • On the San Diego Trolley, the decision to buy a ticket or not is up to you. It's called the honor system. When I first heard about the trolley in 1981, the implications of honor and trust delighted me, spoke of softer, more innocent times, of study halls and homework and cookies. (June 25, 1987)

The security guard slipped out his can of mace, but in the struggle he sprayed his partner’s face, the whole rear of the car, and at last his opponent.

The security guard slipped out his can of mace, but in the struggle he sprayed his partner’s face, the whole rear of the car, and at last his opponent.

  • Firemen on Southeast San Diego's Engine 12

  • Fire Station 12 is in that part of San Diego where edgy cops travel in pairs and the boom and crackle of gunfire is common to the night pulse. South of Highway 94 and east of Interstate 5, in this old part of the city, you'll see more people on the streets at midnight than at noon. (October 22, 1987)

At this station, you got thirteen divorces out of nine guys, and one of them hasn't even been married.”

At this station, you got thirteen divorces out of nine guys, and one of them hasn't even been married.”

  • The smell of the hardwood, the feel of the grain

  • The place sits on lower Market Street, remnant of a different time. In the first half of this century, “lumberyard row” lined the harborside railroad tracks. A sawmill operated where the convention center is now. Back then, a breeze off the bay must have carried the clean, sharp smell of cut wood. (Nov. 17, 1988)

Mike Mansfield: “You’ve seen pictures of the Serengeti Plain," he says, stroking a chunk of black wood. “Miles of emptiness with one little tree standing by itself. That’s probably ebony.”

Mike Mansfield: “You’ve seen pictures of the Serengeti Plain," he says, stroking a chunk of black wood. “Miles of emptiness with one little tree standing by itself. That’s probably ebony.”

  • Will they go the way of abalone?

  • Not long ago, sea urchins were considered a nuisance, a weed in the kelp gardens off Point Loma and the Channel Islands. “People used to be amused that anyone would bother with them," Mac says. Now they are the number-one seafood export from California. (March 9, 1989)

Mac Connell: “Had a spine in my hand for two years. It finally worked its way out the other side."

Mac Connell: “Had a spine in my hand for two years. It finally worked its way out the other side."

  • The biggest thing you can do is be calm

  • Early on a foggy morning in the mid 1950s, Jim “Mouse” Robb stopped by the Ocean Beach lifeguard station. The men on duty were his friends. Until the year before, he had worked beside them on this same stretch of beach. As he helped his buddies set up beach signs and roll out the dory, everyone paused to listen. (Aug. 17, 2016)

From left: John Cole, Mouse (with the shortest surfboard), Buddy Lewis, Sonny Maggiora, 1944

From left: John Cole, Mouse (with the shortest surfboard), Buddy Lewis, Sonny Maggiora, 1944

  • San Diego's New Hope went down with all hands. Except one.

  • For an instant, Benny heard them again, those last shouts. He saw the sea leaping. He’d survived. Benny sat on the straight-backed chair under the single light at his desk. The shotgun stared at him, its barrel steady except for the slight rocking of his pulse. Again, in his mind he heard the roar of the waves and the shouts. His finger tested the trigger. (March 19, 1987)
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