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Stories by Gordon Smith

Imperial Beach, town without pretense

Complete public sleeping ban Imperial Beach has banned camping or sleeping in public with an ordinance that reaches into every last corner, from pavement to median, "including but not limited to dirt or landscaped areas." ...

Best Reader stories from 1984

Tight-lipped submariners aboard the Blueback open up Of course, all submariners are interested in naval history, and remain closer than even infantrymen to their dramatic and bloody heritage, and the Blueback crew seems to sense ...

December 1, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1981

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 ...

November 23, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1980

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 ...

November 17, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1979

Park there, pay here On the afternoon of the All-Star baseball game in July, Evan Jones was standing on top of one of those pedestrian towers that corkscrew up the side of San Diego Stadium. ...

November 16, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1978

From Spanish rancho to hard-core Marines In 1942, the Ninth Marine Division marched in and took over what had been the Santa Margarita y Las Flores Ranch. The Second World War had begun and the ...

November 10, 2019
Gordon Smith and the Reader

Gordon Smith wrote feature stories for the Reader from 1978 through 1987. Editor's picks of Smith's Reader stories: Inside the Padres' lockers Tony Gwynn sat in a canvas-backed chair and peered into the wooden cubicle ...

July 27, 2019
Warner Springs – place of contention

The blackest of crimes committed against Warner Ranch Indians Lummis rode past sturdy, whitewashed adobe houses with thatched roofs. When he reached the center of the village, anxious eyes approached. The Cupeños were desperate for ...

San Diego's old trolleys, off season Mission Beach, lost colony of Mission hills, an abused dog, Surfer Motel attacked, Baseball card obsession

The glories of San Diego's trolley system Buses are rough; the passengers fall down easier. With the streetcars, you knew where they were—smooth starts and stops. They weren’t swaying back and forth—therefore, less accidents. And ...

February 2, 2019
Stories hidden inside the San Diego Reader, part 2

Editor: The following feature stories appeared in the interior pages of the Reader in the 1970s and 1980s and have just been converted to digital form. My Triumph, my defeat Five years later I still ...

January 27, 2019
We offered $120K for a small, two-bedroom house on a quiet street in El Cerrito

We finally offered to buy a two-bedroom house in Kensington for $133,000, only to be outbid at the last moment by an anonymous real-estate agent (who, we were told, considered the property a bargain).

September 24, 1987
Inside the Padres' lockers

Tony Gwynn sat in a canvas-backed chair and peered into the wooden cubicle in front of him. “What’s in my locker?” he asked, repeating the question that had been posed to him. “Well, here’s a ...

August 27, 1987
Intense work at Jilly's in Hillcrest, Gustav Anders in Pacific Beach

The coils of angel-hair pasta are arranged neatly on beds of red lettuce and adorned with gleaming shrimp. Baskets of thickly cut potatoes bubble in the fryer. A plastic container full of fresh jambalaya sits ...

March 26, 1987
The recent successes of David Brin, Ray Feist, and Greg Bear

The two young men were dressed in Gestapo-like uniforms, complete with military hats, boots, and black-leather pistol holsters. They introduced a resolution that favored Die Weltbund — their home planet. The representative from the Legion ...

February 19, 1987
Hot cars next to Ream Field

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Frances Ryan has planted 1,000 Engelmann oak trees in North San Diego County.

"It is an Engelmann oak, a species found in the inland valleys of San Diego County. There are stands of the oaks in Riverside County and a few in Los Angeles but none exist farther north.”

February 27, 1986
Wyatt Earp lived on Third Ave., downtown San Diego

One night Earp returned to the house on Third Avenue and told Sadie that a man “had sort of donated” a racehorse to him in a poker game. Earp raced it at the old Pacific Beach Racetrack.

February 6, 1986
Collections inside the San Diego Natural History Museum

There are some very strange things in the archives of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

May 2, 1985
San Diego's vegetable farmers

something goes here, and here

March 21, 1985
Crime visits Balboa Park

Crime Visits Balboa Park Police patrol on the Laurel Street bridge Just how safe is the park these days? It was 5:20 in the morning when Charles Hollinquest, a security guard at the Old Globe ...

January 10, 1985
How Life Flight helicopters work

At 6:33 p.m. the radio in the Life Flight operations center at UCSD Medical Center in Mission Hills crackles: two accidents have occurred in the East County. In Alpine, a young boy has fallen off ...

August 9, 1984
He's been mayor of National City since 1966

People in National City still shake their heads when they talk about the mailer. And if, after the mayoral election two years from now, the mayor of National City is no longer Kile Morgan — ...

July 5, 1984
Sideways views of the Intercontinental Hotel and San Diego ConVis Bureau

Everything is pretty quiet down here, until suddenly a siren goes off on one of those little walkie-talkies that Garside has on his belt. It’s a code two, he says, which means someone smells smoke.

May 24, 1984
When dinosaurs roamed and volcanoes roared in San Diego

The flexible joints allow a twenty-story skyscraper to sway one or two feet during an earthquake, but ask anyone who was in the Cuyamaca Club on the afternoon of April 8, 1968, how much two feet is.

April 5, 1984
San Pasqual Winery's hard beginnings

In one corner of Kerry Damskey’s office is a counter littered with glass tubes, graduated cylinders. Bunsen burners, and small bottles with labels on them such as “Kesosol" and “T27 Lot 2.” The counter is ...

February 16, 1984
Indians, dust, and death along the old Butterfield Overland Stage route

George McCain lives by himself in an old Airstream trailer beneath a eucalyptus tree, about half a mile from S-2, and after leaving Vallecito station Remeika and I drive up and bang on the trailer s door.

January 12, 1984
The Kumeyaay rock art at Hakwin

There is something startling about the place called Hakwin: in the midst of this mountain valley, green with manzanita, juniper, and pine, the hundred-foot-high granite ridge looms like an apparition. It is perhaps a half ...

December 15, 1983
Crawford High more balanced racially now

After fourteen years I had only one uncomfortable moment, one feeling of small panic. It came halfway through the advanced English class I was monitoring as an observer. Maybe it was because the class was ...

November 10, 1983
Animal rights group attacks UCSD experiments

Win D lay on the operating table with her belly on a pillow, her eyes closed, her sides heaving slowly and rhythmically as a nearby respirator pumped air into her lungs. A tube fastened to ...

September 29, 1983
Men's volleyball aims for Olympics from San Diego

Paul Sunderland is one of the top ten volleyball players in the United States. He has spent most of his life trying to perfect his knowledge and performance of the game, but in January of ...

August 18, 1983
How San Diego's comics and the Comedy Store co-exist

Pat Gorse was sitting in the living room of his parents’ North Park home one night four years ago, watching Rodney Dangerfield on the Tonight Show. Suddenly it came to him: he wanted to write ...

July 7, 1983
Santa Margarita – the last undammed river in San Diego County

Q: Who wants to build dams across the Santa Margarita? A: The town of Fallbrook, the Marines, and a number of politicians. Q: Is this really such a great idea? The Santa Margarita River crosses ...

May 12, 1983
Jack Divine – Baja private investigator

Jack Divine banked his single-engine Cessna into a steep turn over the town of San Felipe, Baja California, squinting through the sunlight that glared on the plane’s windows. From an altitude of only 1000 feet ...

March 31, 1983
SDSU's Smokey Gaines good at recruiting

Smokey Gaines slid into a booth in a dimly lit Chinese restaurant one Monday afternoon not long ago, scanned the menu for about five seconds, and then laid it down. The restaurant is one of ...

San Diego's elite group of bird-watchers

Place the following in order of importance: (A) Food (B) World peace (C) A lanceolated warbler — from Bill Oddie’s Little Black Bird Book The call came through to Elizabeth Copper’s home in Coronado on ...

December 23, 1982
The vulnerability of Mission Valley

On February 13, 1980, a storm system from the Pacific Ocean moved across Sun Diego and dumped one-third inch of rain in less than twenty-four hours. It was a hard storm in a year that ...

November 11, 1982
North Park not that close to La Jolla Shores

When Charles Kap was nine years old, his father took him to see the movie The Buccaneer, starring Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson and Yul Brynner as the pirate Lafitte. The movie is about the ...

September 23, 1982
San Diego's biggest apartment builder Ray Huffman faces creditors

When the preliminary bankruptcy hearing for the Ray L. Huffman Construction Company was held last month, extra chairs had to be carried into the courtroom to accommodate the crowd of creditors, attorneys, former associates, and ...

August 12, 1982
San Diego's vulnerable water supply

Two hundred miles northeast of San Diego a long gray cement building stands at the southern end of Lake Havasu on the Colorado River. From a distance the building looks a little like a barge ...

May 27, 1982
The rise & fall & rise & fall of Warner Hot Springs

Hecht remembers the mud baths and the three-dollar massages, the dance bands and the little guy from International Harvester who tried to pick her up one night in the bar.

April 15, 1982
Denise Carabet — from the Daily Transcript to the Union to the Business Journal

On a gray February morning not long ago, in the second-floor dining room of the University Club in downtown San Diego, about twenty businessmen who belong to a group known as the Metropolitan Club pushed ...

March 11, 1982
UCSD's visual arts department does not fit in

In a bathroom near the UCSD visual arts department’s main office is a scrawl of the type that has become a familiar sight on the walls of public restrooms from California to New York. Executed ...

January 21, 1982
Mystery of Scammon's Lagoon beaked whales

Hubbs and a few others sampled the meat of the whale. It was “of good flavor and tender when roasted or fried,’’ Hubbs reported. “About one hundred pounds were eaten by local residents.”

November 12, 1981
Brian Bilbray's Imperial Beach

A sign outside of the Marina Inn in Imperial Beach proclaims it as the most southwesterly bar in the United States. It is no idle bit of public relations. From the inn’s parking lot you ...

November 5, 1981
The thing that ate Lake Murray

“Here’s a cancer right in the middle of the city, and it’s untreated; it’s even been allowed to fester. And there’s been almost complete official and media silence on the whole thing for four years. ...

September 24, 1981
The water towers of San Diego

The day I drove out to look at the Loma Citas water tower the weather was hot and hazy. I had never been to see the tower before, but I didn’t have any trouble finding ...

September 17, 1981
The right place for the San Diego airport

Our plane taxis out onto the runway and comes to a halt, facing west down the long asphalt ramp of Lindbergh Field. Mike in hand, the pilot, Carlos Richardson, contacts the control tower for clearance. ...

August 13, 1981
Woes of North County flower farmers

The first year Andy Mauro went into the flower-growing business he lost $30,000. He didn’t know when to plant his cuttings, when to spray the young plants for insects, even when to harvest the blooms. ...

June 25, 1981
Palomar prescribed burn watched carefully

The mountain appears to have been hit by a bomb. Smoke is billowing upward in thick streams that flow together into one vast column hundreds of feet high. On the hillside below, bright orange flames ...

May 7, 1981
What San Diegans do now when knee cartilage tears

Flexibility and strength. Range of motion. These are the keys to avoiding any athletic injury, or so claims Phil Tyne. Tyne owns an athletic club in downtown San Diego and he is also the conditioning ...

April 2, 1981

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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