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San Diegans' poignant stories

Farmworkers, poor kids in Southeast, short people, Indian family tragedy, street kids

In her shoes, Judith Wilson measures four feet, no inches. When she was two, her parents’ physician diagnosed achondroplasia.
  • In her shoes, Judith Wilson measures four feet, no inches. When she was two, her parents’ physician diagnosed achondroplasia.
  • Image by Robert Burroughs

Fear, sweat, and profit

By the time the caravan once again pulled out onto Black Mountain Road, only twenty-seven Mexicans had been captured — fewer than, two per agent. But it was still early in the morning, and now we headed west toward Interstate 5. I asked Connell what would happen to the money owed the field hands we had arrested.

By Jeannette DeWyze, July 12, 1984 Read full article

Ben Tufuku. By 1979 there were three black gangs. “Today there are approximately seven black gangs — Lincoln Park, Piru, 5/9 Brims, West Coast, Neighborhood, Syndo, Ghosttown.”

Ben Tufuku. By 1979 there were three black gangs. “Today there are approximately seven black gangs — Lincoln Park, Piru, 5/9 Brims, West Coast, Neighborhood, Syndo, Ghosttown.”

At the corner of poverty and crime

“You may not have a clear picture of why a youngster gets into a gang,” said Tukufu, his voice spiraling upward once more. He listed reasons — a desire for identity, need for protection, camaraderie. “Ever’body wants to claim something, wants to be a part of something. Gangs offer that. They also offer opportunities for advancement within the neighborhood and recognition.”

By Judith Moore, Sept. 18, 1986 Read full article

“One thing about youngsters, if you explain it and at the same time offer a replacement, they’ll go for it."

“One thing about youngsters, if you explain it and at the same time offer a replacement, they’ll go for it."

At the corner of poverty and crime, part 2

Bennie lives in the area claimed by 5/9, a group sometimes called 5/9 Brims or Brimsters. They wear red and call each other “Blood.” Bennie does not call his group a gang. He speaks of it as “the set” or “the family.” He also calls his neighborhood “the set.... It’s like a family,” he said. “I don’t think of it like a gang, but like protecting my neighborhood."

By Judith Moore, Sept. 25, 1986 Read full article

Vince Vella: “I’m a perfect miniature man.”

Vince Vella: “I’m a perfect miniature man.”

Two kinds of little people in San Diego

Vella speaks of achondroplastic dwarfs as “achondros” and midgets, or pituitary dwarfs, as “pituitaries” and says a certain standoffishness had always existed between achondros and pituitaries. “And,” he added, “Achondros don’t tend to marry pituitary types.”

By Judith Moore, Feb. 12, 1987 Read full article

As their injuries healed, the children returned to their classes at Francis Parker School.

As their injuries healed, the children returned to their classes at Francis Parker School.

Return flight

There were men, several uniformed men, screaming, waving guns, ordering everyone to freeze. Somehow they had managed to sneak onto the airfield, then had leaped out and clambered up the entry ramp, weapons blasting. The Singh family, in the first few seats of the economy class, sat petrified.

By Jeannette DeWyze, July 9, 1987 Read full article

"Market Street is rough. The park is safer. Bunch of fags there. They don’t like to fight.”

"Market Street is rough. The park is safer. Bunch of fags there. They don’t like to fight.”

Wasted

Crystal is named in recognition of her daily habit. The girl wearing the Mickey Mouse sweat shirt has a tattoo on her left arm. It says “Baby I.” Some guy from Twelfth Avenue tattooed her, she says. “Because Baby l’s my street name. Don’t get me mixed up with Baby 2. I’m Baby 1. See,” she points to it proudly. “It’s right next to my knife scar.”

By Sue Garson, July 28, 1988 Read full article

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