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Mike Tasos: San Diego brings back some great memories
Mike Tasos

San Diego is just so boring. Not.

It’s always the consensus pick for the most perfect weather in the land.

Seeing the U.S. Navy’s presence with aircraft carriers, destroyers and battleships on full display as you drive around the city makes one proud to be American. 

And the downtown area, once riddled with eyesores, is now a showplace with the water and a top-notch baseball stadium smack-dab in the metro’s center. Too bad the Padres are abysmal.

One can only imagine the joy of being a major league baseball player in such a locale. It’s a blessing that the Padres aren’t anywhere close to being a good team. If they were, that would make San Diego just too perfect.

Having spent four days there last week brought back memories of some 40 years ago, back to the year when I found out that while being a ballplayer would be nirvana, a year in law school was like doing a stretch in a penitentiary.

A commutation of my self-imposed sentence came when I decided there’d be no “lawyering” for me. Looking back on the year, San Diego is to blame for quenching what turned out to be a tepid desire to make lots of money like F. Lee or those TV lawyers. Perry Mason seemed to be smart and he always won.

Studying a subject that to me, was as dry as West Texas sand on a windy day, eventually gave way to any kind of hijinks and antics that served to make the impending release date (the end of the school year) make the calendar move like a runaway semi.

It was a meddling landlord who became the target of pranks of all kinds involving firecrackers and a variety of other props. Once, when I was battling a cold, she offered that her Tijuana doctor had imparted if there was congestion in the lungs, it was directly related to problems in the colon and the only viable treatment was … well, you can use your imagination to grasp Dr. Gonzales’ unique cold remedy.

Classmates would drop by and fake a cough to hear the landlady’s wisdom. 

My partner in many of these shenanigans was one Ken Swift, a red-haired Southern California resident who loved baseball and the Dodgers (because I had yet to be “Southernized,” I was a Dodger fan). He was less-than-in-love with pursuing the law than I was.

He was not a fan on how scholarship money was being doled out. 

Sitting around over cold beverages, some of our minority aspiring lawyers were giddy that they were getting a free legal education because of their heritage. A lightbulb virtually appeared above Ken’s head.

“Let’s go see the dean.”

I had no clue why we should see the dean. Heck, I didn’t even know the dean’s name. 

Heading into her office, I was there for moral support and perhaps put my three whole weeks of legal education to work. 

I was treated to watching my friend assume the role of a legal buzz saw. 

The dean was less than receptive and said: “Wait a minute. You don’t have a check for the university.”

Ken replied: “No. But I am a victim of discrimination and believe I have a right to some of that scholarship cash that Ramirez is getting.”

The dean was confused, mentioning that Ken had graduated from UCLA and Westwood was a long way from the barrio.

“My family was adversely affected by the Irish Potato famine.”

I couldn’t stop laughing and our day in court ended with justice being doled out short and sweet.

“Get out!” commanded the mean dean.

One of the best parts of the recent trip was the opportunity to relive those 40-year-old memories. Milton Berle once said: “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

After re-connecting with Ken after 40 years and giggling about days of old, I feel like I’ve been on a month-long trip to Hawaii.

I’m so proud of him. He’s been sober for more than 30 years, teaches Bible classes and hands out food to the homeless at a rescue mission. 

He found religion a long time ago and lives his life with a true purpose. 

Hopefully we all change as we get older, and believe age can make us wiser. 

It’s great as always to be home. But when I need a good snicker, I’m heading to San Diego and having lunch with Ken.  


Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He thinks the dean was so contrary because she might have heard about the bucket of crabs let loose in the law library, invading the space of a particularly mean female classmate. Comments can be sent to miketasos@earthlink.net. He is also on Facebook.