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Best Reader stories from 2003

P.B Rec Center, Marilyn Monroe, North County sex slaves, Christian cowboys, Mark Twain's daughter, Bataan Death March survivors

My first month or two in San Diego, I played outdoor pickup, on the beach, because, yo, I could, right?
  • My first month or two in San Diego, I played outdoor pickup, on the beach, because, yo, I could, right?
  • Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.

The probable reason Monroe was having trouble was the baby — she was pregnant, the second time that year.  Six months earlier she had suffered an ectopic pregnancy and miscarried.

The probable reason Monroe was having trouble was the baby — she was pregnant, the second time that year. Six months earlier she had suffered an ectopic pregnancy and miscarried.

  • The white mask

  • On Saturday, September 6, 1958, Marilyn Monroe and the 175-person company of Some Like It Hot arrived at the Hotel del Coronado to begin location shots, after filming in Hollywood the previous four weeks. The movie, cowritten and directed by Billy Wilder, is about two musicians, played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, who, to elude a gang of bootleggers, dress up in drag and join an all-girl band. Tony Curtis falls in love with the band’s lead singer, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, played by Monroe.
  • By Thomas Larson, Sept. 4, 2003
  • No coaches, no whistles, no uniforms

  • Basketball at P.B. Rec begins most days around 1:30, and the schedule’s a veritable certitude around which I mold the rest of my life: basketball-time, then writing-time, then work-time, and now that I’m a newlywed, my home-time has to find time too. But it’s basketball first and foremost, as I’ve had to make my editor, and then my boss, and now my good wife understand.
  • By Geoff Bouvier, Nov. 6, 2003
  • North County's sex slaves:

  • Among the prostitution sites are three named for local landmarks. Beside Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad are high-voltage towers, and beneath them is a prostitution site called Las Antenas. Also in Carlsbad, next to strawberry fields, is a long ditch with cardboard shacks covered in brush named Las Fresas. And in Oceanside, in the dry bed of the San Luis Rey River, there’s the most notorious spot of all, accommodating scores of men every Sunday, called the Reeds.
  • By Thomas Larson, Aug. 7, 2003

One pickup hub was Las Palmas, a drive-up restaurant in Vista. The cocky pimps, Arturo and Pedro, would pace out back by the toilets, a signal for contact. “Got any girls?” four johns would ask.

One pickup hub was Las Palmas, a drive-up restaurant in Vista. The cocky pimps, Arturo and Pedro, would pace out back by the toilets, a signal for contact. “Got any girls?” four johns would ask.

  • Cowboys

  • Legend and song have pictured rodeo cowboys as hard-driving, hard-drinking, woman-chasing free spirits. “And that’s true,” says the Reverend Bob Harris, a handsome 52-year-old former cowboy himself. “But I’m not trying to persuade these people to quit what they’re doing. That’s not my goal. My goal is to be an example of the rodeo cowboy who can live the Christian life."
  • By Joe Deegan, July 10, 2003

“I’ve got eight horses at the house,” he tells me, “and two of them on any given day will buck you off if they feel like it."

“I’ve got eight horses at the house,” he tells me, “and two of them on any given day will buck you off if they feel like it."

  • Decent men elude Mark Twain’s daughter

  • Despite Clemens’s preferring one daughter over the others, all three sisters experienced the frequently tyrannical side of their father. Caroline Harnsberger, Clara’s biographer, has written that Clemens’s daughters were afraid to be alone with him: “His fits of irritation, with their accompanying fireworks, terrified the impressionable young girls and made them wonder how a person could be sweet one minute and a demon the next.”
  • By Thomas Larson, May 8, 2003

Clara's room at the Bahia hotel.  In 1960, Life magazine published a photo of Clara, seated at the Bahia below her father's portrait.

Clara's room at the Bahia hotel. In 1960, Life magazine published a photo of Clara, seated at the Bahia below her father's portrait.

  • San Diego veterans of the Bataan Death March

  • “If we performed the way we were supposed to, the Japanese did not beat us. If we goofed off, however, then we could expect the consequences. Of course, this basic premise did not follow any type of pattern. We were beaten for any reason the Japanese civilians wanted. If their food was in short supply, if the Americans bombed a Japanese city, or if the supervisors wanted more coal that day than was produced, they beat us.
  • By Jeanne Schinto, March 13, 2003

Cabanatuan.  “I hung on the stretching rack for a day and a half, and when they let me down, they tore my clothes off and tied a piece of wet bamboo splice, like a string, around my testicles. Then they hanged me again."

Cabanatuan. “I hung on the stretching rack for a day and a half, and when they let me down, they tore my clothes off and tied a piece of wet bamboo splice, like a string, around my testicles. Then they hanged me again."

  • What made them kill

  • When Judge William Mudd sentenced David Westerfield to death on January 3 of this year, Westerfield joined a special subset of San Diegans. Of the 616 inmates on California’s death row, 31, including Westerfield, were convicted and sentenced in America’s Finest City.
  • By Leslie Ryland, Feb. 20, 2003

Frank Sexton: “Chief Justice Rose Bird said that I hadn’t proven intent to kill. He only cut her head off. I suppose she could have throbbed around for a while.”

Frank Sexton: “Chief Justice Rose Bird said that I hadn’t proven intent to kill. He only cut her head off. I suppose she could have throbbed around for a while.”

  • Four-five glasses of Chardonnay and – a DUI

  • I’m at a party in Point Loma celebrating the successful conclusion of a literary event that took a great deal of time and effort to put together. Everyone involved is letting go after months of pre-planning, meeting deadlines, corresponding with finicky writers who demand this and that. We’re partying hearty, as they say in San Diego. I’m talking poetry and literature with several of the country’s best writers. The food is delicious; we’re standing outdoors on the terrace of a lovely Point Loma home with a magnificent view.
  • By Fred Moramarco, Jan. 2, 2003

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