UNION-TRIBUNE May 26, 2008
I first met Lionel Van Deerlin in 1960 on the roof of the U.S. Grant hotel.
My father and I had climbed up to better see John F. Kennedy delivering a stump speech in the Plaza below. On the roof ahead of us, reporting for broadcast, was Van Deerlin, my dad’s city editor at the San Diego Daily Journal during the late 1940s.
Now that he’s made his last deadline, Van Deerlin is being fondly remembered as emeritus journalist, congressman, teacher.
Though I read all his columns as if he were talking into my ear, I savored like rarebits the occasions when, to enliven some contemporary point, he would drift back to Oceanside.
In those Sherwood Anderson-style interludes, he would evoke small-town America and let readers imagine how it had influenced a blithe boy upon whom nothing of the human comedy was lost.
What follows is a sampler of passages from Van Deerlin’s columns stretching back to 1983. I’ve condensed here and there, but every word is his.