I didn’t write in my journal every day when I was a graduate student in Southern California, living in Dana Point near Laguna Beach, but made an effort to keep track of what I was doing. On this day I visited my friend Juan and his wife Jean at their home northeast of Dana Point. He and I were students in the master’s writing workshop at UC Irvine. Today, Juan is a professor at California State University in San Bernardino who teaches creative writing and Chicano Studies. Jean is an educator with degrees in languages and teaching. Juan has published several collections of poetry. In 2016, he was featured in a New York Times article about one of his recent projects. We’re still in touch via social media.
Dana Point Journal (excerpt)
March 30, 1984
Visited Juan Delgado and his wife, Jean Douglas Delgado, at their home in La Sierra, near Riverside. After a "ranchero" breakfast of eggs and tortillas fixed by Juan, he and I made the rounds of used bookstores in Riverside and San Bernardino. In Riverside we stopped at the Mission Inn, an historic landmark that is a marvel of old California architecture. The sprawling, multi-storied building is a hotel-resort-shopping plaza-chapel and more. Courtyards, spiral staircases, tiled domes and patios, a swimming pool, old bells, narrow balconies, and an array of plants and trees. It looks like Mexico and Spain, and there's an Asian section, too. A fascinating structure. The day was bright and warm with puffy clouds. Riverside is the low desert. Dry hills and mountains, brown and tan, loom in the distance. Juan and I checked out three stores, looking for used poetry books. The store in Riverside had a few interesting things, including a copy of Michael McClure's Scratching the Beat Surface. The guy at the counter was slipping magazines into plastic bags when we walked out. The magazines were some kind of sleazy porno numbers with a twist—the models were all pregnant women.
We then drove to San Bernardino, more of a low middle class community. In the section of town we rode through I saw mostly Latino and Black kids on the streets. Juan recognized one young guy who plays on the UC Irvine basketball team. Growing up, Juan played lots of hoop—one of the kids he played against was Ronnie Lott, now a defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers. Juan's about my size but in solid shape. He wrestled in high school. I think he was a regional champion. At one bookstore I was tempted to buy a copy of Latin Poets, but put it back. I can get it at the library. I don't expect to be reading Ovid and friends very often. In Art’s Book Shop on West Base Line Street, run by a Mexican-American woman, I picked up an old paperback copy of Kerouac's Big Sur for 35 cents, 38 cents with tax. Juan bought a few little art books with color reproductions and a paperback of Dubliners by James Joyce.
Around 3:30 we decided we were burnt out on bookstores and headed home. When we arrived, Jean was preparing an unusual (to me) spaghetti dish. She used her mother's Italian recipe, which called for bacon, eggs, cheese, parsley, and other ingredients. The result is a tasty pasta dish, a change from the standard tomato sauce-covered spaghetti. We drank Lambrusco and bottles of Oregon beer. It was a good day. It took me about an hour-and-a-half to get back to Dana Point. All the way I listened to the Dodgers-Angels ballgame, called the Freeway Series here, the last pre-season games.