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Stories by Jangchup Phelgyal

When the Loud Bell Rang

22 Reader writers on school

My first day in school was really my second day — Jangchup Phelygal The Radiators That Ticked Heat into the Room — Laura Rhoton McNeal Rear Rank Rudy — Jim Morris Forget-me-nots — Rosa Colwin ...

My first day in school was really my second day

I wept more. My heart was breaking.

It was September 1950, and that first day of school my brown uniform shirt scratched, the heavy corduroy pants were stiff with newness, my suspenders would not stay up, and my new shoes (bought a ...

Leontyne and Me

I met Joseph when I was 25 and he was 52, eight years younger than I am now. I shared my one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side in New York City with night-crawling cockroaches ...

Dear People: Remembering Jonestown

Includes 43-minute tape in which Jim Jones leads his followers into drinking from cyanide-laced vat

“A child who had just gotten to Jonestown, writing back to a friend, ended his letter with a request: ‘Please send me gum.’”

What Happens After a Kid Goes Bad?

These are accounts of ten angry young men with nothing to lose. Mayhem at home, drugs and alcohol, gang warfare, drive-by shootings, armed robbery — even murder — and always stints behind bars with a ...

The Black Memory Market

Aunt Jemima, a Sambo, and a tube of “Darkie” toothpaste

When public television’s Antiques Roadshow rolled into the convention center the last weekend in June 2001, local collectors crowed. Suddenly San Diego seemed invested, artifact-wise, with the status of a major metropolitan center like Chicago ...

Atrocious Act

Black Muslims react with horror to September 11.

Given their numbers, Mahdi said he was surprised when Oprah Winfrey interviewed Muslims for her show, a program called "Islam 101," and did not speak with one African-American.

Their Hair Was Huge, Their Speech Was Loud, and Their Message Was Simple: Revolution Now!

Where are San Diego's black activists now?

Members of the United Domestic Workers have packed the main chamber and spilled into rooms across the hall and upstairs. When the vote is taken, Fahari Jeffers and Ken Seaton-Msemaji are seated in the paneled main chambers.


Murr, my father, and my brothers

My mother parked the truck on my foot three hours after my father told me that he loved me. It was March 1965, I was 20 years old, and that was the first time my ...

A House and a Tree Spell Contentment to Me

Olive Street residents can't get much closer.

In 1957 an earth-fill bridge replaced the old wood-and-iron one, which had been the center of controversy for many years. San Diego youths had seen the bridge timbers as a challenge and had often made the climb.

A Quiet Cul-De-Sac in North Park

Neighborly life on Olive Street

Between 1903 and 1909, the trolley expanded into the area east of Balboa Park. Thirtieth Street became the route, and a bridge was built to extend the street across Switzer Canyon, from Laurel to Olive.

You Might Not Think a Cat Could Hog a Whole Bed

San Diegans on what pets do for us

Recently Missy had to pry the lizard's mouth open with a butter knife after he clamped down on Ruben's hand. While his teeth are small, the creature was able to break skin and draw blood.

Bird Talk

When she walks along Pacific Beach in the warm evenings of summer, Renee Lowe turns heads. The 38-year-old has long brown hair and the good looks that once made her a teen model, but it ...

Sugar Jones

The only thing worse than a liar was a thief.

For a whole year — beginning in 1959 — I stole from my father and I never got caught. I was 14 years old, a freshman at Saint Augustine’s High School on Nutmeg Street in ...

Raised Not to Hope Too Hard

Sherley Williams - from Fresno to La Jolla

Sherley and I were the same age, both of us writers, both of us descendants of slaves. In 1966 we became the first in our respective families to graduate from college.

What is beauty to the blind?

Honest talk with San Diegans Linda Flores and Kevin Kelly

They were being murdered by the light. I watched and said nothing. When we began our lunch, the sun was just burnishing the windowsill. It was a hot day and Linda had left the window ...

Marriage is Temporary, Dogs are Forever

Love loss and dog loss

Terry Wilson has won five Emmys for his television directing, producing, and on-camera hosting; he’s been a national martial arts champion; and his 1998 article on the Marine dogs of World War II won best-short ...

Stan and Ollie

Cats help Gary Sassaman adjust.

Gary Sassaman is elusive. The 43-year-old enjoys his work as a news graphic designer for KUSI-TV; he also has good friends and likes to spend time with them. But like many artists, he seems best ...

The One-Legged Professional Firefighter

An accident takes a leg.

He goes by both. Whether “Buddy,” the two-syllable synonym for pal, or the more mature-sounding “Bud,” the single-syllable term for what is young and unfinished, both fit. Bud McElroy, at 39, seems easygoing and uncomplicated. ...

I'm Done With the States

Brothers below the border.

The restaurant was a rambling wood affair with families crammed together and happily intent over their plates until that rumba line of black men – a half dozen of them – began to snake between ...

Death of a Baby Brother

Big brother says goodbye

The medical team in Tijuana had told André that blood transfusions would give him strength. Back at Kaiser, he had two and found they did. I was there when he came home after his third transfusion.

Cell Phone Visitation

Otay Mesa is part of a vast sweep of scrub that stretches along the U.S.-Mexico border as far as Texas. Donovan State Prison State Prison is located there, a huge complex of buildings 25 miles ...

Heavy silence

Are you known as a Two-Ton Tillie, Big Daddy, or Big Whopper?

The ad was a big mistake. It was meant as a call to overweight men and women willing to talk about what it means to be fat. Pot bellies, love handles, slow-spreading thighs — humdrum ...

I Wonder What You Can See as You Trouble My Silence

Twenty-seven years of unread letters

Sheri’s brows were knitted, her lips tight. Like a scowling infant, unhappy thoughts appeared to flit over her face. The eyelids fluttered, and then her eyes opened; they were beautiful—large, a brown color flecked with gold.

Six Months To Live

Gizella Sabo took the news hard. “I survived Auschwitz,” she said, smashing that bitter noun to smithereens. “I came out alive from that place. And for what?” she demanded. “For this?” This had turned out ...

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