Back When

Twenty-Five Years Ago Kid was on his way to the beach. Drove his folks' 1970 Mercury from his home in El Cajon to the Grand/Garnet exit in Pacific Beach. It was after eight on a warm July evening. Kid had a buddy with him. They turned left on Garnet and headed west toward the ocean. Neither saw the man. Too late, they heard the heavy thud and then up flashed something big coming at them, over the hood, and then the brakes shrieked.... They lurched to a halt. Cops came and found the body on the pavement, a 54-year-old man so smashed by the impact that he would die in Mission Bay Hospital within a few hours. -- "POWERS OF DEDUCTION," Jeannette De Wyze, November 27, 1980

Twenty Years Ago It is the fall of 1956, and a young professional hunter named Vladimir Gurevich has come into a Gypsy encampment along the Volga River on the plains south of Stalingrad. He has been hunting prairie dogs, whose pelts are to become part of the Soviet fur trade, and he ends up spending half the night in a young Gypsy girl's tent. She reads his palm and stares into his eyes and foretells his destiny. "You will be a very lucky, very happy man who will travel and work far, far away from here, in a strange and wonderful land. And you will never come back. You will die in a far-off place." -- "THE MAN FROM MOSCOW," Neal Matthews, November 27, 1985

Fifteen Years Ago The day I married, I had never cleaned a toilet or ironed a shirt. I could brew coffee in a percolator and toss salad. I could play the piano (not very well), read French, set my hair in big rollers, trace the career of Billie Holiday, recite whole hunks of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, feel guilty, and make babies. So I took on the garden. Determined to put away food to get us through winter, I turned over soil, studied seed catalogues, planted, weeded. I hauled all the "fruit" jars out of the tool shed. Rebecca and I pushed Sarah in her stroller to yard sales and back home, surrounded by clattering jars I bought for a nickel apiece. I checked out cookbooks from the library, figured what I could do with the bounty of eight fruit trees. When August came, I borrowed a ladder, and I picked plums, pears, apples. I canned fruit plain, and apple sauce, preserves, conserves, chutneys, fruit butters.

I'm not sure, looking back, I was ever as happy again as during the three years we lived in that house. This was Eden before the other shoe dropped....

After Then, after Papa and I attended our second high school commencement, that other shoe dropped. I left. Moved to California. Got a job. Felt jealous of women 10 and 20 years younger who knew their way around the "big world." -- "APPLEBUTTER," Judith Moore, November 29, 1990

Ten Years Ago Mayor Susan Golding's staff has been traveling almost as much as she has since assuming office in December 1992, at a cost to local taxpayers of $34,363.51, travel-expense documents obtained by the Reader show. That's more than all eight city council members combined spent on their various out-of-town jaunts over the last three years. -- CITY LIGHTS: "THE HIGH COST OF HANDLING SUSAN," Thomas K. Arnold, November 22, 1995

Five Years Ago "You're eating bug excrement." Stephen Facciola and I are standing in the parking lot of a Middle Eastern grocery in disheartening Anaheim. The streets are eight lanes wide. The blocks, a mile long. The air is hot, humid, smoggy. Strip malls and traffic stretch on and on to the hazy horizon. Facciola has just handed me a chewy white square of Iranian candy that tastes mostly of rose water. -- "CORNUCOPIA," Abe Opincar, November 22, 2000

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