San Diego's Least Remembered Great Man

Thirty Years Ago
Of Big Wednesday I have heard almost nothing good. My sources range from a Warner Brothers studio insider who rather traitorously has nicknamed the movie The Endless Bummer, to an Ocean Beach surfer who has complained that, among other technical errors, the characters in the movie go into the water with their surfboards unwaxed.
“SWELL STUFF,” Duncan Shepherd, June 29, 1978

Twenty-Five Years Ago
With the belated Horton Plaza shopping center under construction, Centre City Development Corporation planners are now concentrating again on Horton Plaza itself, the half-block mini-park that has long been a home to transients and local inebriants. The planners profess neutrality on the park’s future design; they just want it looking proper for its role as the entryway to the Robinson’s department store that will face Broadway on the shopping center’s northern perimeter.

Twenty Years Ago
The Hammer is in his mid ’60s, smokes two packs a day, drinks, and is overweight; walking, he maintains, is not conducive to health. “I get enough exercise going back and forth to the windows to make a bet,” he told me. “I don’t need this aggravation in the sun just to get a bet down on a horse, you know what I mean?” He thinks the fair ought to be providing at least golf carts for the horse players.
CITY LIGHTS: “THE OVAL TRUTH,” William Murray, June 30, 1988

Fifteen Years Ago
After close to five months of living in a cell here in Tijuana’s La Mesa prison, I was finally going to have some privacy. I was about to purchase my own carraca, a “condo.” I had hired another inmate, my friend Cesar, as my agent, and we had discussed our strategy. He would approach the seller as if he were the buyer. This way the seller wouldn’t know it was being purchased by a gabacho, a white guy. Otherwise it might increase the price.

Cesar checked on one that was for sale on the first floor of Tanque X. The lady who was selling it wanted $1000. But when Cesar went to the prison’s operations office, he found out the lady had the deed, but the paperwork was fouled up. Legally, she didn’t own the place.
“THE BIG CASA,” Anonymous, July 1, 1993

Ten Years Ago
On a Sunday in September of 1929, 15 members of San Diego’s elite gathered to carry the coffin of an old friend. Among the pallbearers were a future mayor, a founder of the city’s oldest bank, the owner of the leading department store, and a state senator of legendary influence.

The man they came to bury was Ulysses Simpson Grant Jr., second son and namesake of the warrior president, Ulysses Simpson Grant.
“SAN DIEGO’S LEAST-REMEMBERED GREAT MAN,” Phyllis Orrick, July 2, 1998

Five Years Ago
Tourists along the boardwalk at Seaport Village didn’t seem to recognize him as his minder wheeled him over to dinner at the Harbor House this past weekend, but that bloated old man in a wheelchair was motion-picture star and telethon kingpin Jerry Lewis. For years, the classic 1950s comedian has kept his boat at the Marriot Marina; he dropped over several times a year from his Las Vegas estate. In seasons past, Lewis could be heard belting out Broadway show tunes aboard the vintage wooden yacht. His comic antics continued as he walked to a limo that zipped him over to his favorite downtown steak house, Morton’s, and entertained drinkers seated at the tables of bayside watering holes. But two years ago, Lewis’s health began to fail, and he reportedly began taking the steroid prednisone for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. The comedian is permanently attached to an oxygen tank.
“STAR ON STEROIDS,” Matt Potter, June 26, 2003

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