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The Reader's longest stories

Abbe Wolfsheimer finds a brother, the Chinese of northern Baja, bamboozled by a poor person, San Diego audiophiles, county bird survey, San Diego's top ten high schools, San Diego River homeless camps

The Derek, Frieda, and Abbe Chronicles

At the corner of Magnolia, the only area on Renette Avenue where apartment buildings now stood, I spoke with the managers of each of the four apartment complexes, all which featured mid-'50s California architecture. None of the managers ever heard of the Renette Terrace Apartments, but the three complexes that fronted Renette all had pools, and Derek remembered being pushed into a pool while living there.

Part 1 | Part 2 | By Abbe Wolfsheimer, May 20 and 27, 1999

Toy statue of Lowe Hoy and the three-legged toad. I don’t have to understand the story to get along with the shopkeepers in Chinatown.

Toy statue of Lowe Hoy and the three-legged toad. I don’t have to understand the story to get along with the shopkeepers in Chinatown.

An Ugly Toad's Promise

I ask Carlos about tunnels under the border. He laughs. “There was no fence or barriers on the border until the ’30s. The Chinese dug holes in the ground, lined the walls with wood, put up a roof, and lived in holes and caves. It was a way to get away from the heat. When the Chinese first came there was nothing in Mexicali. They built it up. Mexicali at first was an all-Chinese town.”

By Frank Chin, May 5, 1994 | Read article

Judy’s stone, which says simply “Judy Huscher, 1945–1957,” sits between Hank Decking and an oleander tree, whose long, poisonous leaves make flickering shadows on her name.

Judy’s stone, which says simply “Judy Huscher, 1945–1957,” sits between Hank Decking and an oleander tree, whose long, poisonous leaves make flickering shadows on her name.

The Death of Judy Huscher

Dean promised to take her places on the weekends and then later refused, which made Gladys fear he’d spent time with another woman. Dean told her he was going to Idyllwild, but she checked his odometer and saw that he’d traveled only 30 miles. She told him a friend had seen his car parked at a certain place. He admitted he'd been with someone else.

By Laura McNeal, Nov. 7, 2002 | Read article

Bonnie called, looking for me, and asked me to come see her in her usual panhandling spot when I got home.

Bonnie called, looking for me, and asked me to come see her in her usual panhandling spot when I got home.

The Haves and Have-Nots

“My mom called 7-Eleven and got him fired. Clyde lied on his application and she told the boss that.” According to Bonnie, her mother had an ax to grind. After she got Clyde fired, she went after Bonnie. “My mom called the welfare on me. You see, I hadn’t reported Clyde’s income yet. I was waiting for him to get settled in. I remember he had a job once for five months.”

By Deirdre Lickona, Feb. 1, 2001 | Read article

What the Ears Love

When I mention the term “audiophiles,” as high-end audio aficionados are known, Chicky smiles tolerantly and says, “They’re very nice people, but they’re very hard to deal with. They’re looking for perfection, and it doesn’t exist. They’re very interested in the specs. They’ll want to read them,” she laughs lightly. “They’ll buy something, and then they’ll want to bring it back. It’s better for people who are like them to deal with them.”

By Jeanne Schinto, April 27, 2000 | Read article

Cover art courtesy of Local Birds, Inc.

Birds Squared

The Tecate and Cottonwood Creeks come together in V17, then flow into the Tijuana River. The land is owned by the San Diego County Water Authority — a rancher rents it — and the Keenans and I needed permission to be on it, along with a key to unlock the gate. They hadn’t bothered to put their official sign on the windshield: “Bird Atlas. Volunteers Conducting Bird Survey.”

By Jeanne Schinto, July 11, 2002 | Read article

Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.

Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.

San Diego's Top Ten High Schools

“My sister had gone to Bishop’s in seventh and eighth grade, and she liked it. She told me that the friendships are great, there’s a lot of support, there’s not really any animosity between groups. It’s not cliquey or anything like that. I asked some friends who were going to Torrey Pines, and they told me different things — it’s a big school, it’s not really personal.”

By Ernie Grimm and Matthew Lickona, June 4, 1998 | Read article

Just a Boy

I went home and delivered the news. It didn’t really register with Peter, who at four only understood that his big brother was very sick. Jessamine started crying and asked if Gabe had gotten sick because she’d kicked him a day or so earlier. I reassured her that she had nothing to do with Gabe getting sick. When I explained that he’d need transfusions, she immediately said, “I want to give him my blood.”

By Phil Catalfo, May 11, 2000 | Read article

"Next thing you’ve got a palm tree burning and all the brush burning and the fire department has to respond and they have to drag the hoses all the way in."

"Next thing you’ve got a palm tree burning and all the brush burning and the fire department has to respond and they have to drag the hoses all the way in."

They Make Their Home by the River

Rex told me that over 100 homeless people lived down there and they had a mayor. He said a man he knew had his bike stolen so the man got some friends, went down to the riverbed, wrecked some shacks and a little later the mayor and a bunch of other homeless men wheeled the bicycle up the hill and apologized.

By Stephen Dobyns, Oct. 18, 2001 | Read article

Their Teachers Molested Them

"When they went to his classroom after the game, Mead said, ‘If I turn on the lights, I’ll have a bunch of kids coming in, and I don’t want to deal with that right now. So let’s leave them off until people go home.’ And that was true. He was a popular teacher with both the guys and the girls. So they would surely have come to his classroom that night to talk.”

By Joe Deegan, April 25, 2002 | Read article

Logan Heights, c. 1900. After a while there were enough people to have a church, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, between Thirtieth and Thirty-First on Greeley Avenue.

Logan Heights, c. 1900. After a while there were enough people to have a church, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, between Thirtieth and Thirty-First on Greeley Avenue.

San Diego Historical Society photo

None Darker Than Me

“Before I got to 30th Street I sounded my gong…. This lady was just in the act of stepping over the rail when I seen her. She was kind of coming up to the track, and just stepped right in and made three steps when I struck her. Just as soon as I seen her I hollered at her, grabbed my handle, reversed my car, and just as I reversed I struck her.”

By Barbara Palmer, August 02, 2001 | Read article

Laotian boy flashes OKB sign. "A lot of TOC and OKB (Oriental Killer Boys) they’re relatives from Linda Vista and Chollas View area."

Laotian boy flashes OKB sign. "A lot of TOC and OKB (Oriental Killer Boys) they’re relatives from Linda Vista and Chollas View area."

Bulletproof Buddhists

“Some Cambodian gang members came down from Long Beach. They were friends with the Cambodians that were there. And evidently they tried to pick up one of the Lao’s girlfriends. There was a fight, and before you know it, they were shooting at each other, which ended up as a double homicide in the Sports Arena area.”

By Frank Chin, July 27, 1995 | Read article

Site 151’s Four Million Dollar Mansion

Lots in the custom section cost between $700,000 and $1 million, a sum that gives the buyer title to between one and three acres. That may sound like a lot of land, but much of it consists of hillsides. The level building space at site 151 is an area that's 150' wide by 135' deep, roughly a quarter of the total property. Genovese will be building one of the first custom homes in the community.

By Jeannette DeWyze, July 22, 2004 | Read article

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