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Stories by Bill Manson

The Case for the Port Chicago 50

When 50 African-American U.S. sailors were arrested for mutiny 53 years ago, assistant U.S. Attorney Randy K. Jones wasn't even born. Yet Jones, 39, a San Diego federal prosecutor since 1987, wants President Clinton to ...

The Reverend and the Lady

A former San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau executive has become enmeshed in a sex-and-money church money church scandal that's making headlines in Florida, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. "Baptist Leader Linked to Second Woman Who's Not ...

Accused Pedophile Priest Sets Up Housekeeping in Little Italy

Why is Roman Catholic priest Rudolph Kos, a.k.a. Rudy Edward, a.k.a. Father Rudy, whom a Dallas jury found liable for sexually abusing 11 boys, able to live without supervision near an elementary school in downtown's ...

I Would Prefer that He Were Dead

"He should be killed! We want him dead!" says Mr. Sokha, in the Trieu Chau restaurant. "Don't bother with a trial. Three million people died because of him. We want to know he's gone."

Couldn't they Have Used Mace?

'I want this to come out in print," says Walter Velechovsky. "What happened to my son. Why they could blow him away. I haven't even had the guts enough to ask my daughter what happened. ...

It Will Ruin This Town

Does Bill Clinton's favorite hostelry, the Hotel del Coronado, need saving? By all appearances, the 109-year-old, 692-room historic landmark is doing fine. Depending on whether you talk to the town's mayor or the hotel's manager, ...

Sniff those $20 Bills Before You Send Them to San Diego

Some would say Richard Barnett and Sheldon Sherman are in the ill-gotten gains business. The two downtown attorneys earn money honestly, all right, but not always from honest people: they often help drug dealers get ...

Rudy? He's Very Charming

I make a call to the San Diego Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit. "Have you ever heard of a priest named Rudy Kos? He's accused of molesting 11 boys - most of them altar boys ...

Friends Remember Cunanan Victim

Ex-Navy officer Jeff Trail killed with claw hammer

The murders have sent gays in San Diego into a panic. From the Chee-Chee Club downtown to the International Male fashion store in Hillcrest, people said they "knew nothing" about Cunanan or were unwilling to talk.

Refuge for Canaries in the Mine

Where do you find a refuge from the 20th Century? Down a dusty drive in the highland backwoods of Potrero, about 45 miles east of San Diego. It sits huddled beneath clusters of century-old olive ...

Half the Town Would Run toward the Pier

The SS Catalina is about to move again. This time she's being hauled south from Ensenada to Puerto Vallarta, to be turned into a party gambling ship. And J.C. Wilkinson wants to know why she ...

We Don't Even Need Their Water District

Come September, Tecate's border crossing, the hilly country 43 miles east of San Diego, will get a $10 to $12 million expansion. San Diego entrepreneur Tom Hom hopes this signals the birth of the border ...

They're Not Even Looking at the Dust

It's a perfect morning for spying. The water glints metallic blue in the sun. Marietta, the harbor cruise boat, slicks by, crammed with Zonies on its upper deck. You can hear the female guide's voice ...

Need Cash Before You Die?

"Let's say you figure the guy is going to live two years," says Ted Martin. "Here's the way a breakdown would work: You take his $100,000 [life insurance] policy. You're going to pay the guy, ...

Passports, Body Bags

I was selling rum in Venezuela in the '60s," says John Norton, "when I met some girls from the Swedish Embassy. One finally became vice consul in L.A. She suggested me for the job of ...

No Net

Last time I saw Sara Gagliardi, she was bent double. Sweat poured off her brow. She was in pain. She limped to the back of the health food store where she was working and sat ...

The Great Families Who Created This Town Are Still Angry

Estudillos, Argueilos, Bandinis, Alvarados, Carillos, Machados, Wrightingtons, Crosthwaites, Serranos, Osunas

Two years ago he returned to Marcel Marceau in Ohio and told him the ancient story of the first deer hunt from the Kupa people up in Warner Springs. “I wanted to make a mime of it."

What To Do with Salton Sea Now

Is it time to pull the plug?

Was it a coincidence this summer when 8000 tilapia-loving pelicans, including the endangered brown pelican, suddenly died on the beaches of the Salton Sea, the biggest pelican die-off in recorded U.S. history?

The Silk Route Ends in San Diego

"We had to wade across the river. More and more of my friends dropped out. From the 1st grade to the 12th grade, more than 1000 dropouts. Till, in the end, I was the only one still going."

Songs for the Uprooted

Tijuana's mariachis - romantic troubadors at Plaza Santa Cecelia

Jessie has a smile that doesn’t agree with his fierce black eyes. Take care,” says Oscar. “This area is dangerous.” He leans over the bar, brings his face close to mine. “The police have no ...

What's Wrong With Frank? The Arc of a Singular Life from Vietnam to Imperial Beach

It’s just a phone call. But it changes your life. Re-jigs the whole thing. Other vague long-term plans you had suddenly evaporate. We’re in Cornwall Gardens, London, June 1983. One of those Kensington Victorian bedsit ...


Marjorie Reed leads me on the Butterfield Stagecoach route

Vallecito has always been Marjorie’s favorite. “In the ’30s, I’d come up here and walk up there along the old road through this valley. Oh, I'd find little tiny kids’ shoes — I think they were from the Mormon Battalion, probably.”

Pier Group

Denizens of the Imperial Beach Pier

The mackerel’s wide-angle eyes are attracted to shiny, moving objects. “Mackerel are top-fish. They’re hunting, they bite. Not like bottom fish, which have lips and suck, looking for dead stuff or leftovers,” says Rita.

A Lawyer's John Wayne

San Diego's rough and tumble legal past.

“We had seven little carriers, converted oil tankers, and I think 11 small destroyer escorts. The Japs came in with their big guns and their big battleships.”

People's Republic of Coronado

Small town ripped apart by 1966 school board fight

“The rich school district gets the best teachers. That has not changed. Except here on Coronado we had a rich district with a poor tax base and citizens too mean to raise them."

Deepak's Six Pack

Chopra has the New Age set in Del Mar enthralled.

Of course, Chopra is well on the way to realizing his own infinite possibilities. He sold a million copies of his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and that’s just the hardback figure.

Mrs. Teeter Has Coded

A bold experiment in medical interns

“To have your hand in someone’s belly, helping surgically correct something that will allow them to live or palliate their pain, it’s an...experience. Especially if you know the person. Your eyes, your hands, all your senses are involved.”

Coyote. Tarantula. Silence. Sea.

The four corners of San Diego County.

“San Diego? This isn’t a county, it’s a country!” This how it starts. Dave, sounding off after a couple of beers. Dave’s latest rave is San Diego County. You might call him a county nationalist. ...

University Avenue: From Washington Street to La Mesa Boulevard

“This used to be a beautiful place,” says Jonnie. “A family part of town. Nice people lived here. That all changed with the Vietnam War, 1975. People from war places started coming in, big-time.”

Buses Are a Bit Like Bread

A love letter to San Diego Transit

CHRIST! “8:45,” says the radio. Still shaving. It’ll be halfway up the Silver Strand already. Don’t rush, don’t rush. You’ll cut yourself. “Can you find my wallet!” I yell. I’m running round hauling trousers on. ...

Every Man An Acre! Every Man A King!

San Ysidro's Little Landers

When the great flu epidemic hits, with their best lands compromised, somehow the spirit of the Little Landers disappears. Even the energetic William Smythe leaves his beloved village after the death of his wife.

Drilling in on a Little Piece of Oregon

A water war heats up on Palomar Mountain

“This mountain is an anomaly. A piece of Northern California sticking up out of the California desert floor. Water is the basis for all our wildlife up here. We live here.”

Jesus Christ Walked By Right Outside My House

Palestinians in San Diego

"Only two to three hundred Palestinians can travel to Jerusalem in any one month— out of 20,000. That’s like if you lived in Mira Mesa and weren’t allowed to travel to Clairemont. It’s impossible!"

If You Don't Laugh You'll Go Mad

San Diego paramedics - excitement and controversy

"American is being held to a higher standard than Hartson. Hartson was required to arrive at the scene within ten minutes of dispatch 90 percent of the time; American must arrive on scene 93 percent of the time."

Far From the Enormous Past: Under the Khmer Rouge We Were the Water Buffalo

If there is any center to Cambodian life in San Diego, it is the two temples. People more pro-King Sihanouk go to the one on 52nd Street. The rest go to “the old temple” on 47th.

That Sinking Feeling

The Wo Hing goes down in Glorietta Bay

“First I put up a sign. ‘This Boat Not Abandoned.’ I had to; things had already happened. I’d heard someone look at the mast and say, ‘That’d make a nice flagpole.’ Next day it had been sawed off! “

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