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Stories by Neal Matthews

United Front Vietnamese and the murder of refugees here and in Texas

They massed in the parking lot of the Lockheed building on Harbor Island one Saturday in mid-September, a disciplined group of Vietnamese refugees all wearing the brown shirt and tan slacks that constitute their uniform. ...

October 6, 1983
Bodysurfers from Oceanside to the IB Pier

It was a ride that replays itself periodically in his mind, a rare moment of physical and spiritual revelation. The place was Petacalco, on the western coast of southern Mexico, where the waves break inside ...

September 8, 1983
The profundity of the Vietnamese poets in San Diego

Cockcrow at midday! Oh, how it makes me remember! Alone in a strange land Suddenly my soul flies far away To my home town in the middle of the day . . . Cockcrow at ...

September 1, 1983
Oceanside police use tougher dogs

North’s jaws clamped around my left forearm and a bolt of comprehension peeled back the night. As his teeth began to squeeze through my jacket, all that I had been learning about police dogs became ...

August 4, 1983
Phony Texas oilman dupes, marries La Jolla real estate woman

You have before you the offender, Donald Marshall Mabry. His ample girth fills completely the fold-down seat in Judge Michael Greer’s courtroom. It is judgment day, and outside, the May morning is hot, the air ...

June 23, 1983
City Councilman Bill Mitchell openly talks of est and self-actualization

Dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang. The grandfather clock in Bill Mitchell’s city council office strikes 11:00 p.m. Time has run out on his campaign for mayor. The last of ...

March 24, 1983
Chamber of Commerce's Lee Grissom knows every San Diego leader

Twenty-five white caps were lined authoritatively straight and even on the table in a large banquet room at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on Harbor Island. Each one bore the gold band signifying its owner was a ...

March 3, 1983
Down the corridors of San Diego County Mental Health

All he knows for sure is that he woke up beside Otay Reservoir, just north of the Mexican border, on a Friday evening in early November, and that now he’s in the county’s emergency mental ...

December 9, 1982
Lost cannons of Ft. Guijarros

Marston knew of the cannon because his department store, which occupied the same block, was annexing the hotel, and his employees had had to move the 2000 pounds of Spanish bronze too many times.

October 21, 1982
San Ysidro – the town that San Diego would like to forget

Try to picture the incongruities of the place: San Ysidro embraces the new branch of the Main Attraction, a strip joint boasting more than $100,000 worth of lights and sound paraphernalia, whose owners figure there ...

September 3, 1981
The cowboy of the Mission Beach boardwalk

Wes Alvens was decked out like a cowboy long before you ever slid your tender feet into a pair of citified cowboy boots, and he’ll likely be tucking his riding gloves under his broad leather ...

July 30, 1981
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and its zany director

Even by Texas standards it was a bold and daring exhibition of contemporary art. And while it had a lot to do with the firing of Lefty Adler from his job as director of the ...

July 9, 1981
One hundred miles from Salton Sea to Pendleton with the Marines

Monday, April 20,9:07a.m. Five hundred and twenty-six Marines are packed into a dozen buses barreling toward the Salton Sea, where they will begin a five-day walk back to Camp Pendleton. The private sitting next to ...

May 28, 1981
The Final Days of Dewey Taylor

She had dreamed the last moments her husband’s life and the first moments of his death so often and so vividly that when the time finally came, Joani Taylor kept wishing she’d awaken. But this ...

April 16, 1981
The rise of downtown's Columbia Centre

We’re standing on the corrugated steel decking six floors above Columbia Street, and Joe Silva, the welding supervisor, is shouting. “There’s no heroes here!” he yells over the incessant clattering of a nearby impact wrench. ...

February 26, 1981
1980 San Diego in review – long and short takes

The long view Here is frenetic Golden Hall on an otherwise placid evening, the first Tuesday of June, 1980. It is the scene of election central for the first primary of the decade, and San ...

December 18, 1980
San Diego Symphony board blames its conductor for small crowds

The young Hungarian conductor was sure the great George Szell wouldn’t bother to come, but he invited Szell to one of his Amsterdam concerts anyway. The year was 1959, George Szell was conductor with the ...

December 6, 1979
OMBAC: For Big Kids Only

Starting in 1959, the tournament was played farther down at South Mission Beach, at the end of San Gabriel Court, which runs out to the Beachcomber Bar on Mission Boulevard, now OMBAC’s unofficial clubhouse.

November 1, 1979
Tales of old Burlingame

Very few neighborhoods can claim to have a song written about them. San Diego's Burlingame is one of those few, and even though the song is, well, corny, it evokes a distinctive feeling, one that ...

October 4, 1979
The genesis of San Diego's head shops

Vic McCully’s head shop Synthetic Trips has sat in its ramshackle contentment at University and Euclid for eleven years, squeezed between a bar (currently called the Dynamite Den) and a closet-size diner. It is the ...

September 6, 1979
The night I gave a ride to a Frozen Chosin vet

A visitor came to town a few weeks back and, as will many, he put up in a local hotel. It is called the Shaw Hotel and it leans up next to God’s House, the ...

June 28, 1979
San Diego's Evening Tribune struggles for readership

The San Diego Evening Tribune is not averse to hollering at its audience. Its “green sheet” street edition shouts about something perilous in the world nearly every day. But the Tribune really hits stride when ...

March 15, 1979
What San Diego trashmen think about their work

The dust billowing up from the unpaved alley broke the morning sunlight into shafts which knifed down from the lips of the corrugated roofs after the garbage truck roared by. Willie Carter, who’d just maneuvered ...

January 18, 1979
The part of San Diego government in the black

It’s easy to see why the United Port District’s headquarters building is called The Rock. From the corner of Pacific Highway and Sassafras Street, it looms mutely, ominously. One might say it overlooks Lindbergh Field, ...

December 14, 1978
From Spanish rancho to hard-core Marines

Rifle fire rises up out of the ravines. Diesel engines scream from the mesas. Artillery rounds slam into the hills with chest-pounding thuds. Over nearly every square inch of Camp Pendleton the Marines march, drive, ...

November 16, 1978
Why San Diego's women's bank didn't work

The Women’s Bank is a rusted-out dream. “And the shame of it is I suppose some men say ‘ha ha, I told you so,’ ” laments a former member of the bank’s board of directors. ...

September 28, 1978
San Diego pound can't get employees to kill dogs with a needle

Dr. Alice DeGroot. chief veterinarian at the Animal Care and Education Center in Rancho Santa Fe, speaks in a hushed, almost monosyllabic tone. “It’s a very sad thing. The worst place a puppy can come ...

June 29, 1978
Why they make jokes about taxidermists

"A good friend of mine got an Eagle Scout award,” says Paul Eichberger, as he pulls a Red Head duck’s neck inside out to get at the skull. “The scoutmaster took him by the shoulders ...

June 8, 1978
The story behind Tijuana's plastic statues

Sunday night. Dusk. The San Ysidro border crossing car lines moving like slow, methodical worms whose rubber feet advance one at a time, undulating. From where I'm standing, behind the arched emigration office — Mexico’s ...

April 27, 1978
San Diego's Bottom Scratchers – grandfathers of scuba diving, fathers of skin diving

He and Potts were able to go deeper and stay longer. The forty-pound halibut and fifty-pound white sea bass and three hundred-pound jewfish languishing off Casa Cove began to look accessible to them.

March 30, 1978

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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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