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Thirty Years Ago Ruby Yamada was born in Omu, a village of northernmost Japan, in May of 1903, and then came to the United States when she was 20 years old. A short time later she dared to smoke cigarettes. If it hadn't been for the United States and for the freedom it made her feel, she says she would never have taken a habit so disapproved of by her strict mother. Remembering her mother, Ruby still doesn't drink, but she continues to smoke, and can be quite daring for a woman who is 74 and no taller than a pool cue. She runs the ABC Club, a pool hall at Fifth and Market in downtown San Diego, the sort of neighborhood where you can't always get insurance for a plate-glass window. Tonight is Tuesday; Ruby Yamada will be here until two a.m. as she has been most nights since 1934, managing the bar, racking balls, and mixing herself cups of instant coffee from her bronze teapot. -- "THEY DON'T PLAY LIKE THEY USED TO," Robert Paul, June 16, 1977

Twenty-Five Years Ago Perhaps Chief Kolender can be forgiven if he didn't recognize Chadwick that evening several weeks ago; after all, she hasn't been in the spotlight much lately. [I]n August of 1950, she swam the 21-mile-wide channel in 13 hours 20 minutes, breaking by 1 hour and 19 minutes a women's record set by Gertrude Ederle in 1926.... [I]n 1951, she became the first woman to swim it from England to France.

When she was six years old, her parents enrolled her in a swimming class at the Mission Beach Swimming School.... [A]fter a few months she entered her first competition.... The race was over in a matter of minutes and Chadwick was humiliated; she finished last. Several months later she raced again, this time in a pool in San Clemente. Again she finished last. -- "AGAINST THE CURRENT," Kathryn Phillips, June 17, 1982

Twenty Years Ago The county of San Diego may soon tighten its regulation of bed-and-breakfast homes, thanks to the influence of a small group of people living in the Pine Hills area near Julian. One of these people is Tribune editor Neil Morgan. "Even among the placid forests of Pine Hills, the natives are fuming about growth: in this case, bed-and-breakfasts," wrote Morgan in his January 27 column. "By late count, 27 guest homes and B&Bs operate in the woods of Julian country." Morgan didn't mention that he was one of the fuming natives, that he owns a home in the Pine Hills community, and that the guy next door has opened a bed-and-breakfast operation. -- CITY LIGHTS: "MR. MORGAN'S NEIGHBORHOOD," Brae Canlen, June 18, 1987

Fifteen Years Ago On the day that I was to visit the Flame, an all-women's bar on Park Boulevard, my phone hardly stopped ringing. "The important thing is your hair," one friend advised. "Absolutely positively you can't have long hair. Pull it back in a ponytail or hide it under a cap."

"No skirts. If you want to fit in, pants only and a T-shirt."

"You can't wear makeup, not a drop. And no earrings."

"You know your expensive perfume, the one from France? That will be a dead giveaway."

The last call came from a close male friend who asked gloomily, "What will you do if someone grabs you?" -- "STRAIGHT IN THE FLAME," Eleanor Widmer, June 18, 1992

Ten Years Ago On the last day of summer when the ground was as hard as adobe, I hacked down into it and brought up worms so I could enslave them in the compost trade. I felt I could give worms a better life and a good job. I bought them a glass terrarium. I covered them with soil that stuck together like brown sugar. I fed them moist flowers, bruised peaches, freckled banana peels, and wet tomato cores. For them I saved the pungent rinds of my oranges and the cold peels of my cucumbers. Mold like black fur began to coat the soil. Very little seemed to be going on. I fed them less. I worried they would starve. Then I read in a children's book that worm pets should be fed every six weeks with "a bit of oatmeal and a few decaying leaves." -- "VAMPIRES ON MY FRONT PORCH," Laura McNeal, June 12, 1997

Five Years Ago I'm responding to the article of Robert Krumpel on hotel porn ("City Lights," June 6). I can't believe how out of touch and what an old fart and loser he must be to even bother to write this article, as though naming the hotels that offer porn is some kind of public service. Jesus Christ, obviously everybody wants it, so why doesn't he get a clue and why don't you as editors get a clue that this is what people want, and don't try to make a moral issue out of it, and just back off. Then you won't look so stupid and out of touch. -- LETTERS: "PORN," James Dreyfus, Saratoga, June 13, 2002

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