In the first paragraph, the author was writing about the personal experience of Mr. Hawkins, so past tense is appropriate.
The next two paragraphs are more general in that they deal with ongoing or more or less permanent situations- impressions that would be shared by everyone, so the switch to present tense is typical.
It's the same as saying:
1. 'Last week I went shopping.'
2. 'I go shopping every week.'
Sentence #1 tells about a specific activity at a specific time, while #2 is a general statement about something that always (or regularly) happens.
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