Jeannette DeWyze and the Reader

Hare Krishnas, Bishop Maher, Chino's, Betty Broderick, Marshall South, Eleanor Widmer

“You need to have corn, or you can’t run a vegetable stand.”
  • “You need to have corn, or you can’t run a vegetable stand.”
  • Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.

How DeWyze came to the Reader:

In the early ‘70s, my best friend at Northwestern University, Randy Barnett, got a job selling ads for the fledgling Chicago Reader. I was involved in campus life (including journalism studies) so never sought to write for that Reader. But after graduation, when Randy visited San Diego in the summer of 1974, he and I stopped in at the offices of the distantly related San Diego Reader. Editor and publisher Jim Holman invited me to submit freelance cover articles. I wrote a few for him before getting a job at the Californian in El Cajon. In late 1976, Jim was ready to hire his first staff writer, and he called me. It felt a little scary to leave a traditional daily newspaper for an alternative weekly, but I took the plunge and never regretted it.

DeWyze's favorite stories she wrote (excerpts by editors):

Badri Narayan das, the temple president, counts between 400 and 500 members in San Diego County.

Badri Narayan das, the temple president, counts between 400 and 500 members in San Diego County.

Krishna, Krishna

The big, drunk Chicano in Horton Plaza who tried to rip off my Hare Krishna gown got to me so quickly I never even saw him coming. By the time I realized what was happening, he had unwrapped the orange and maroon sari from my head. As he tore at it, his glazed, bloodshot eyes mocked me. I remember futilely saying that he should let go. I recall thinking bitterly. "What do I do if this guy tries to hurt me? I could run into Third Avenue, pull off the sari, and scream, Help, help! Look, I'm not really one of them!" (July 12, 1979)

"Right there at Santee, just above the Padre Dam on the south side, was an old slag pile where they had found rich pieces of gold ore.”

"Right there at Santee, just above the Padre Dam on the south side, was an old slag pile where they had found rich pieces of gold ore.”

Lean days on the gem ledge

Ramona has a few other mines besides the Little Three: the ABC, the Hercules, the Surprise. All of them actually lie off an invisible line that slices through San Diego County, along which gleam most of the local deposits of gems and minerals. That line runs straight as a scepter along the Elsinore fault. (Feb. 14, 1980)

He explored Crimea and the Caucasus. He finally discovered the town of Batumi, located about nine miles from the Turkish border.

He explored Crimea and the Caucasus. He finally discovered the town of Batumi, located about nine miles from the Turkish border.

You are looking at a free man

It’s been a year and a half since Yurii Aleksandrovich Vetokhin leapt off a Russian cruise ship in the middle of the night and swam for twenty hours through the shark-filled Moluccan Sea. It’s been just about a year since he arrived in San Diego, penniless. Somehow the La Mesa Rotarians’ program chairman recently heard Yurii’s story — heard how his marathon swim washed him up on an Indonesian jungle island; heard, furthermore, how it was Yurii’s third attempt to escape from the Soviet Union. (July 23, 1981)

Sister Maggie's home in Altamira

Sister Maggie's home in Altamira

Sister of Poverty

We drove past automobile corpses turned upside-down and stripped of everything but rust, past one canyonside home where the resident has created a fence made of dozens of car body panels and old refrigerator doors. We passed two milk cows tethered to a Mercury Cougar. Yee pointed out the carcass of a duck strung up from a tree next to Gabriel the leper. Yee had asked Gabriel about the duck and he explained there had been robbers in the neighborhood. The duck was a message to the robbers. (May 31, 1984)

Bishop Leo Maher. “No bishop has ever been required to be open about finances. But Bishop Maher is a lot more open than most other bishops.”

Bishop Leo Maher. “No bishop has ever been required to be open about finances. But Bishop Maher is a lot more open than most other bishops.”

The faith and the fortune

Bishop Maher inherited a $15 million debt. Much of that was carried on the university’s ledgers, and in 1972, when the diocese and the university separated their formal ties, the diocese’s debt was reduced to about five million dollars. That same year Maher made what he said was a complete financial disclosure by going before diocesan priests with the chief bookkeeper and explaining the monetary situation. Priests had received no such information from either Buddy or Furey. (Aug. 23, 1984)

La Grulla Meadow

La Grulla Meadow

Snakebite

“I was pretty excited,” Bob recalls. He tried to run, but his hiking boots kept hitting the rocks and brush that armor the Baja mountains, and finally he settled into a fast, steady march. His emotions were mixed. Though he felt a real sense of urgency, the accident also seemed more than anything an inconvenience. Bob was virtually certain rattlesnake venom invariably causes intense pain, so Ray’s bite had to be dry, he told himself. (Nov. 6, 1986)

November, 1989

November, 1989

Till death do us part

Since Dan’s murder, some of his friends have suggested he should have had Betty punished even more forcefully by the courts, that had he done so, he might still be alive today. But other close observers of the Brodericks feel that Dan was unusually harsh and vindictive in pursuing criminal sanctions against the mother of his children. He hardly played the pacifist. He could have chosen to ignore his wife’s outbursts and avoid the trauma of criminal proceedings. (Nov. 16, 1989)

The remains of the South home. The 2x4 framing still stands here and there, but the corrugated tin roof and all the windowpanes have disappeared.

The remains of the South home. The 2x4 framing still stands here and there, but the corrugated tin roof and all the windowpanes have disappeared.

Marshal South and family, the hermits of Ghost Mountain

Virginia Smith was fascinated whenever Marshal South would come to Julian. “He’d have these sandals made out of yucca, and he’d be wearing a loincloth!” Smith thinks her mother, Alice Blanc, got to know the Souths through the Blanc family’s business, the Julian Garage. In any case, Alice eventually visited Yaquitepec, and on a few occasions she took along teenage Virginia. She remembers that the Souths hid their Model A at the bottom of the mountain and brushed away its tracks so that strangers couldn’t find their holdout. (Oct. 17, 1991)

Tom Chino is a broad-chested man of 49 with a broad, sun-burnished face, who most often has assumed the role of family spokesman.

Tom Chino is a broad-chested man of 49 with a broad, sun-burnished face, who most often has assumed the role of family spokesman.

Sugar in your ears

Chino didn’t start picking enough corn to sell until more than two weeks after Mother’s Day. A few days after he started harvesting, I met him at 7:00 a.m. near the simple wooden structure that houses the Vegetable Shop. The stand was shuttered and wouldn’t open for business for three more hours. However, early morning is a good time to pick corn, Chino informed me. The ears might not be at their absolute maximum sugar level. “Since there’s no photosynthesis at night, there’s no production of sugar then.” (July 9, 1998)

Still crazy after all these years

This experiment randomly assigned young people with that diagnosis to one of two different forms of treatment. Some entered a psychiatric hospital where they received drugs to quell their psychotic ravings. The others went to a place known as Soteria House. They lived there for several months with a small group of other schizophrenics and a team of empathetic men and women (not medical doctors) who gave the disturbed individuals round-the-clock emotional support. (Jan. 9, 2003)

Live to be 100

Alsten had lived in a little house in Sun City, Arizona. She'd been getting along fine there. "I really could have stayed by myself for another year or so," the older woman commented in a mild tone. She still felt competent driving; at 97 she had renewed her license for five more years. But Terrian had fretted that her mother shouldn't be so far from family members, (Oct. 14, 2004)

Eleanor Widmer in La Jolla, 1958. "I would see Kingsley and Eleanor in swimsuits walking down to the ocean from time to time, and they looked like models."

Eleanor Widmer in La Jolla, 1958. "I would see Kingsley and Eleanor in swimsuits walking down to the ocean from time to time, and they looked like models."

The Late Long-time Queen of the Cafe Critics

Jonah says when he had dinner at friends' homes and did not find their families fighting at the table, "I didn't think it was dinnertime. Because at my house, that's what dinner was -- fighting over literature. And it would last two to three hours. Gourmet food and fighting over the interpretation of literature. I remember my father once saying, 'You have Bartleby the Scrivener completely wrong, you ignorant whore!' " (Nov. 23, 2005)

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