Photo by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Home Depot parking lot, Encinitas. Laureano Díaz Velazco is 70 years old. None of the groups want him in their midst. An old one is unlikely to get hired, and the others distance themselves.
"Let's say you have a banquet. Chicken Kiev and vegetables and potatoes, 600 people. An hour before the banquet starts, you find out it's down to 500. You've got 100 leftover half-cooked chickens, blanched at noon — that means partially cooked — to be served at 6:00. A whole reach-in refrigerator of blanched chickens. If you owned the company, what would you do? You'd serve the damn chicken to the employees."
By Sue Greenberg, May 8, 1997 | Read full article
Joe Strickland: "She used to read to me and buy me books. I wouldn't read 'em though."
Mothers of homelessness.
"She was on social security, see. She wasn't working or anything, we just lived there. She liked to be by the ocean. I lived 21 years with her there, and then we went to Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, we stayed, oh, maybe 15 more years. And then she was put in a retirement home, see? I left because I couldn't pay any rent and I came out here. But as far as my mom goes, she was pretty caring and loving, but then I found out that there had been other mothers. It's wild."
By Patrick Daugherty, May 8, 1997 | Read full article
Heather Hanson memorial, Montiel Road, San Marcos. Heather's mother, Patricia Draggaman, tells me her friends thought she was unconscious after the car went down an embankment and hit a pepper tree at 35 mph.
I have become a hunter of "shrines," "roadside memorials, "highway memento mori," "crash site" (as J.G. Ballard and MADD activists call them) — stark white crosses or bright upbeat efflorescences at the base of telephone poles — commemoratives erected by the passing living to the slaughtered dead. Outlets for grief, warnings, attempts to deal with death in a society that shuns it, they are also a curious means of communal bonding.
By William Luvaas, May 21, 1998 | Read full article
Jennifer and Greg. "I just can't imagine being with anybody but him."
The standard line these days is that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Given those odds and the trauma of pulling the threads of your life free of the marital tapestry, why would any woman marry? Even if the couple hangs on and guts it out, lousy husbands and dysfunctional families have become commonplace, an almost expected tragedy. And yet, brides still dream of a glorious wedding.
By Matthew Lickona, November 20, 1997 | Read full article
Condos along Highway 163, just south of Genesee. "You get used to it, and we've got double-pane windows."
Ennis says she enjoys where she lives and doesn't think about the freeway raging 50 yards from her front door. "My general thought about this neighborhood is I really like it because we do care for each other. The freeway is just like a little stream over there — unless you have the big semis going by."
By Ernie Grimm, July 31, 1997 | Read full article
Keith Harold Ruston at University Ave. near Vermont: "I have two blankets and I also have a coat."
If you think of the homeless at all — aside from how to avoid them or that mini moral crisis as to whether to give them spare change or not — it may strike you that these people must have certain ingenious secrets as to how to keep warm on the streets at night. Yes, it is San Diego, not Buffalo, but it can get cold. During the rainy season, the combination of wet and chill can prove deadly to the old, the sick, and those with the alcoholic circulation of dried pickled beets.
By John Brizzolara, Jan. 9, 1997 | Read full article
Pre-prom arcade fun. My friend would give us a bag of free tokens for pinball and could snap pictures of us while he worked.
Prom night: That special evening with someone you don't even know.
I read your letter at Off the Record — it looks enticing. I would love it if you and your friend Steve would escort my friend Leana and I to our Coronado High prom. It would be a wonderful fest — kinda like 90210. My name is Kirstin and I’m 17 years of age. Here is a brief description of me and Leana. Our prom is on May 29. Call me soon. Are you a smooth dresser?
By Larry Harmon, May 25, 1995 | Read full article
Corner of I-5 off-ramp and Encinitas Boulevard. When it comes to patience, these guys are like monks compared to most Americans.
Photo by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
At the far end of the Home Depot parking lot, just off Leucadia Boulevard, as many as 30 men will be gathered along a fence, squatting, leaning, milling, and eating. Occasionally a vehicle rolls slowly past — usually a pickup truck or a van with the name of a landscaping company, cement contractor, or nursery (though more often, the van, SUV, whatever, will bear no commercial markings) — and the driver will extend a hand displaying fingers for the number of workers he needs.
By John Brizzolara, July 18, 2002 | Read full article