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Stories by Neal Matthews

Korean War survivors, Hotel Del expels Prince Edward, Spanish Civil War vets, escape from Vietnam, tortured by Japanese

The Forgotten War Conversations with men who never forgot I do not recall putting my foot on Korean soil for the first time. I only remember the cold rain, and running, and others running with ...

September 20, 2020
Oddness of the Waldorf School, food critic Eleanor Widmer, why San Diego's light is unique, MiG killer Randy Cunningham

A Single Mother Alone in the World If the child-support check is late, I let it be. I resent having to beg for anything. I used to be on my ex like white on rice, ...

September 14, 2020
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." ...

Spanish civil war vets, harrowing escape from Vietnam, POWs of Japan, Prince of Wales tossed from Hotel Del Coronado

The Forgotten War I do not recall putting my foot on Korean soil for the first time. I only remember the cold rain, and running, and others running with me. By David Burge, June 20, ...

May 24, 2020
That pesky natural San Diego light

A Single Mother Alone in the World If the child-support check is late, I let it be. I resent having to beg for anything. I used to be on my ex like white on rice, ...

April 18, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2019

Hillcrest: gayborhood or ghetto? “I was only in West Hollywood for four years and I came from the East Coast by way of Las Vegas,” he says. “To me, Hillcrest is just normal. At least ...

April 4, 2020
San Ysidro – America's last gasp

San Ysidro – the town that San Diego would like to forget San Ysidro’s Jack-in-the-Box sells more fast food than any other Jack-in-the-Box in California. Its Big Bear market alone sells more eggs than the ...

Best Reader stories from 2016

Tijuana destroys Spanish and English “Tengo que ir hacer laundry, then I have to study en la biblioteca,” I’m paraphrasing what the Latina students in my college sounded like. My first real encounter with Spanglish ...

March 22, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1992

Notes from Underground San Diego's Free Press (later renamed the Street Journal) was defunct by the end of 1970; the San Diego Door came and went with the Nixon Presidency, 1968 to August 1974.The O.B. ...

December 29, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1991

Satan chasers San Diego has many experts in the field of Satanism who say the county is a hotbed of Satanic activity. The hidden canyons of the back country, Ramona, Santee, Escondido, even Oceanside, are ...

December 28, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1990

The Hale blinks Twilight has ebbed to a fringe of lapis on the western horizon, and the stars spin slowly as the dome of the 200-inch Hale telescope on Palomar Mountain blinks awake. Bob Thicksten, ...

December 22, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1989

Till death do us part For so long, she wanted so badly to talk about her relationship with Daniel Broderick. Betty Broderick wanted to tell the their divorce and the awful injustice she felt she ...

December 21, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1988

Ku Klux Klan 's John Metzger talks of hate and tears "My father was in the Crusaders, a national organization that was pretty powerful in San Diego, which was part Christian Identity. It’s a church ...

December 15, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1987

Explosion! The sighting of San Diego was a welcome event for the crew of the GSS Bennington on a sunny July 19,1905. The patrol gunboat had just completed a rough, seventeen-day journey from Hawaii, and ...

December 14, 2019
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 1983

From San Diego's 41st Street, Japan was a more odious enemy than Germany I may be the youngest San Diegan to remember the Second World War, especially the time immediately following the attack on Pearl ...

November 30, 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
Neal Matthews and the Reader

How Matthews came to write for the Reader: In the spring of 1978, San Diego’s gaslit journalistic parlors were electrified by the arrival of the Los Angeles Times, San Diego edition. The San Diego Union, ...

April 13, 2019
Diver Neal Matthews' favorite photos of San Diego sea creatures

Photograph #1: Garibaldi Garibaldi, the California state marine fish, are so common around San Diego that most underwater photographers avoid them, as I did for decades. So why is this one image so important to ...

March 6, 2019
Zane Parzen, Lee Grissom, Bill Mitchell, Dennis Connor, Dick Farson, Sam Fuller

The final analysis Shepherd suggested to the Walkers three names, including that of Parzen, from whom Shepherd had taken an advanced psychiatry class at the San Diego Psychoanalytic Institute. Not only did Parzen possess a ...

February 9, 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
Stories hidden inside the San Diego Reader

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. Meditations while riding San Diego Transit “Yes, these people ...

January 26, 2019
San Diego characters you should have known

Bad blood in Barrio Logan Ducheny is most unpopular with those who run the government-funded agencies, people such as Rachel Ortiz, who directs the Barrio Station youth program; Jess Haro, chairman of the Chicano Federation; ...

July 21, 2018
Glorietta Bay yields the beautiful, elusive seahorse

She rose from afternoon slumbers with something pinching her tail. Three feet below the surface of San Diego Bay her equine head, crowned with a five-point coronet, poked through a blanket of eel grass. Alarm ...

Randy Cunningham describes 1972 shooting down MiG over Vietnam - and his future

Randy Cunningham taxied the F-4 Phantom onto the catapult aboard the USS Constellation, and both he and Bill Driscoll, the radar intercept officer in the back seat, turned to look at the spinning fingers of ...

December 15, 2005
Loss: what San Diegans left behind In 1992

Unlike 1984, when Ronald Reagan made it a point to finish his campaign at a giant rally in the parking lot of Fashion Valley, George Bush came to see the All-Star game and was booed by the locals.

December 23, 1992
An incendiary history of San Diego's counterculture press.

Both Ritter and Remer lay a small part of the blame for the closing of the Door on the Reader, which was established in 1972. "The original Reader was a joke; we laughed at it," Ritter recalls.

November 25, 1992
Mission Bay: pirates, dolphin races, volcanoes, and see-through blouses

“If we knew then what we know now, we’d have done Fiesta Island a little differently,” Earnest reflects. “We would have mixed the west bay sand with the east bay muck to fill Fiesta Island.”

August 6, 1992
Children's Hospital gave AIDS to hemophiliacs

The Son, Rick Valdez: In a lot of ways my brother and I were opposites. Steven was conventional and I was the rebel. He was the good boy, and I always questioned things. We were ...

July 16, 1992
San Diego survivor of Bataan Death March evades Japanese for three years

I was 19 when World War II broke out. I turned 20 going into Bataan on my birthday, the 12th of December 1941. I was in the antitank company, 31st Infantry, the only American infantry ...

April 23, 1992
C. Arnholt Smith, part two

Kroc got on the phone and in a very high-pitched voice he said, “Mommy, I bought us a baseball team today.” There was a long silence, but I imagine what she said to him.

March 26, 1992
C. Arnholt Smith, in his own words – part 1

I don’t know why we expanded like this. I guess I’m a damn fool and like to work and create things. We had to have jobs, industry. San Diego wasn’t like Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Steel.

San Onofre power plant has four-foot-thick walls

It was one of those days when the beach is living cloisonne. Luminous layers of smooth gold, dappled brown, and rippling indigo. San Onofre State Beach on a bright February afternoon. To the north of ...

February 27, 1992
Origins of San Diego's central library

Convinced that the City of San Diego had made a mistake when it acquired only half a city block for its new public library, civic luminary George W. Marston stated in 1899, "I believe the ...

December 12, 1991
Jorge Hank Rhon, Caliente racetrack owner, owned nine pet shops, six veterinary clinics

In mid-August, American customs agents stopped a southbound car at a checkpoint near the Mexican border. The car belonged to Jorge Hank Rhon, owner and operator of Tijuana’s Agua Caliente racetrack. Hank’s driver was at ...

November 27, 1991
Reader writers write about first day of school

Mr. Van Winkle asked the Student Council Reps, to indicate to the classes that if they can convince him through sound logical arguments that they should ride skateboards to school that he will reconsider his position.

September 12, 1991
Why they use asphalt on I-15 and Miramar Way

In the pre-dawn gloaming, the roadbuilding machines are just black shapes lined up beside the southbound lanes of Interstate 15. From the overpass at Miramar Way, only the light from streaking headlights betrays the angled ...

September 5, 1991
San Diego drug bounty hunters pillage civil liberties

Government bounty hunters netted $26 million in San Diego County last year by seizing the property of people believed to be selling, transporting, or manufacturing illegal drugs. This was the seventh largest take in the ...

August 1, 1991
The Moreton fig at Grape and Third

Years of drought and neglect led to a stunting of the tree’s growth as the thirsty roots searched beneath the asphalt parking lot for water. Vandals have defaced its intricate trunk with carved initials.

San Diego sewage hurting the Pt. Loma kelp beds?

If San Diego is eventually forced to build a multi-billion-dollar secondary sewage treatment system, the legal mandate for such an undertaking will be found in Federal Judge Paudi Brewster’s ruling on March 28. After an ...

April 11, 1991
Peter Bohmer, Franz Schnaubelt, Mac Heald, Tiffany Chin, Dorothy Morefield, Brian Batey, Alex Drehsler, Robert Cox, Louis Wenzell, Clifford Graham, Dr. David Reuben

Heald’s surrender to Los Angeles police was delayed until he recovered from self-inflicted wrist slashes. Jim Holtzman told staffers if Heald was given probation instead of jail time, he would have the job of executive producer of the Channel 8 news.

The shady side of San Diego's tow trucks

It's 8:30 Sunday night, January 20, and 41 tow trucks are lined up with their engines revving behind the Dow stereo store on Sports Arena Boulevard. For the tow truck drivers, this will be a ...

February 7, 1991
Palomar's telescope mirrors maximize seeing

“One year Jesse and I were working on something we thought was a white dwarf. It was listed in all the white dwarf catalogues. I got a spectrum on it and realized it was a quasar.”

December 13, 1990
Curving bridge on Del Dios highway to damage San Dieguito Indian site

Rogers named the oldest group the San Dieguito people because their stone tools were found along the San Dieguito River. The next group, whose artifacts rest above those of the San Dieguitoans, he called the La Jolla people.

December 6, 1990
Who's winning San Diego's preservation wars?

Ten years ago, two architects resigned in protest from the San Diego Historical Site Board, frustrated over the board’s inability to protect historic buildings that were in the path of the downtown redevelopment juggernaut. Architect ...

November 1, 1990
Unnatural erosion at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

It looks like a big vacant lot along the cliffs on the western slope of Point Loma, just below Point Loma Nazarene College, between Ladera Street and the fence marking the U.S. Navy property. There’s ...

October 11, 1990
Has the curtain finally fallen on Kit Goldman and the Gaslamp Quarter Theatres?

To Kit Goldman’s way of thinking, a new era has dawned for the Gaslamp Quarter Theatres, and all the rancor of the past three years is erased. She may be right. Then again, she may ...

August 23, 1990
The mysterious death of local Teamsters leader Rodger Whitehead

During the autopsy, the medical examiner carefully studied Rodger’s throat to determine if he had been choked into unconsciousness before he was placed in the car, but no such evidence was found.

Caliente Racetrack owner Jorge Hank Rhon discusses the murder of "El Gato"

Last Wednesday, May 2, was a day of reckoning foretold by many Tijuanans. They may not have been able to peg the exact date it would happen, but they knew it was coming: Antonio Vera ...

May 10, 1990

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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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