HORSE’S MOUTH: Sayonara to My Dear Neighbor

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YOSHINAGA, GEORGEBy George Yoshinaga

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The old saying, “There goes the neighborhood,” took on a deeper significance this past week.

I’ve lived in our house in Gardena for over 50 years and one of the few remaining neighbors is the Nader family.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Peggy Nader, the mother of the family, passed away this past week. She was the wife of the late Chuck Nader and raised eight children, all of whom grew up with my four sons.

The late Chuck was heavily in­volved in Gardena city government, serving as a City Councilman for many years.

He founded and operated the Nader Furniture Stores which are now run by his sons.

When Chuck was still with us, he and Mrs. Nader often held family get togethers at their home which really solidified the old neighborhood.

One of the things that the newly arrived residents of Gardena may not know is that Chuck was responsible for renaming Compton Avenue, to the current name, Marine Avenue.

Chuck reasoned that the old name, Compton Avenue, did not reach the City of Compton because it dead-ended at a park on Vermont Avenue. He argued, “So why Compton Avenue?”

Well, everyone agreed with him and Compton (which originally ran from the Beach Cities to the Gardena Park) became Marine.

Whenever I drive on Marine, I often remember Chuck.

At any rate, my condolences to the Nader offsprings for the loss of their precious mother.

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Time to toss in an e-mail received this morning. Helen Nishimura from Bellvue, Wash. wrote me the following:

“Hello, Horse. I remember being in the same home room at Heat Mountain High School. I’m sure you will not remember me but I do know who you are. Your column is passed around at our coffee klatch, thanks to our mutual friend Sachi Watanabe. We (about 10 of us) really look forward to reading it. The subject of Japanese school came up one day and we used to call it ‘Tip School.’ So, my question to you is, ‘Why was it called that?’ If anyone knows, I thought you surely would.”

Sorry, Helen. It’s the first time I’ve heard that name for a Japanese school. Could it be that perhaps the sound may have been confus­ing? Perhaps it was more like “Nip School.”

Well, maybe someone in the reading audience will have the correct answer.

Thanks to you and your friends for reading my ramblings and “Hello” to Sachi.

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I thought I mentioned it in a previous column but my wife said she doesn’t recall reading it so I thought I would toss it in here.

For those of you planning to drive to the Heart Mountain Reunion at The Cal in Vegas at the end of this month, here’s a bit of information for you in case you haven’t heard:

Highway 15 heading to Vegas will be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every week for the next two months for road construction. The section of Highway 15 is just after passing over Mountain Pass.

So, if you are still on the freeway at that hour, the Highway Patrol suggests you stop and wait in Baker.

Otherwise you’ll have to sit in your car on the side of the road for an hour and a half. With the heat that it is, stopping in Baker would be the best option.

I’m leaving for the reunion on Monday so I guess I won’t have to be concerned with the road closure.

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Tipping is always a hot issue. However, what about Vegas?

There are casino patrons who tip when they score a big win at the gaming tables or slot machines. However, there are those who never tip.

This piece I read in a Vegas newspaper might give casino patrons a new approach to tipping.

Three former table game dealers are suing one of the casinos because they alleged that they were “shortchanged” on their tips.

According to their allegations, dealers and other casino employees who receive tips have to turn them into a central pot and the management takes their “cut” and divides the balance among the employees.

I’ve never heard of this before.

I always figured that the tips were the “property” of those receiving them.

Don’t know how the suit will turn out but will keep an eye open for the result.

I wonder if all businesses follow the same procedure where tips are concerned.

Most patrons, whether it be a casino or a restaurant or wherever service is provided, leave tips to show their appreciation for the service they received.

If the server is efficient and very pleasant, the size of the tip is usually larger than what is considered “norm.”

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I won’t be able to interview a Japanese American permanent resident of Vegas until I get there later this month, but I did get a piece of mail in which one such resident gave his reason for having made the move there. He wrote:

“Just got back from a trip to Los Angeles and it’s only 112 degrees in Vegas and I love it. Why? When we arrived home and unloaded the car it was dinner time. The sky had a beautiful desert sunset. We took our jolly time and went to have a medium/rare prime rib with baked potato on a ‘comp.’ We had no traffic to fight or miles to drive with ample parking. The dress code is very casual. T-shirt, shorts and zori. This is the life. This week we will see a movie at senior rate of $3 each or go bowling at $2 a game. So many things for us to do. For breakfast, how about I-Hop’s grand slam for $2.99? Many other comps for senior citizens at the hotels, free gifts every week, entertainment at night.

“Live in Los Angeles? No way! The heat and humidity is terrible. The traffic on the 405/605/91 is ridiculous. The smog was terrible and I hated the smog smudges on the car in the mornings. You have to fight traffic to get anywhere. If you don’t get to your destination on time, you’re out of luck. The gas is expensive in L.A. In Vegas only $2.29 a gallon.

“That’s why I love Las Vegas. No income tax, too. And many, many more goodies. “

Gee, after reading his letter maybe, I’ll pack my stuff and move to Vegas.

Heh, heh. No way. I’ll take the traffic jams, “lousy weather,” and breakfast at Denny’s for $4.

Well, I’ll get another opinion when I get my story from another Vegas resident.

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Maybe if it were 15 years ago, I would have jumped in my car and headed to Heart Mountain this Saturday.

The Heart Mountain Foundation held a press conference on the new Interpretive Learning Center which is being built there.

That’s the press release sent out by former Rafu Editor Ellen Endo, who is now on the staff of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

I‘m sure many people from the Los Angeles area will be attending the event.

Of course, every time there’s a Heart Mountain event, you can expect to find former Congressman Norm Mineta to be on hand. Why not? After all, he lived at Heart Mountain during camp days. And he was 6 years old, so he really knew what was going on.

My early laugher of the day.

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There are birthday parties. And there are birthday parties.

However, when it’s a party for a celebrity, it can be awesome as far as attendance is concerned.

That was my thought this past week when I was invited to Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s birthday gathering. And, it was a gathering. I would estimate that there were about 1,000 attending the party.

Which meant that I had to wait in line to get into the hall because Mike was standing outside greeting each guest personally.

It also meant that the dinner was about an hour late in being served. However, it was a great dinner.

In spite of the huge gathering I counted only six of Japanese ethnicity. That would be, besides my wife and I, former Long Beach Mayor, Eunice Sato, Roger Minami and Linda Balderrama, who is on Mike’s staff. I can’t remember the name of the sixth JA even though we exchanged handshakes.

A bit of a surprise was a gentleman by the name of Vincent Yu, who sat at our table. He gave me his business card and I learned that he was the Mayor of Temple City. Didn’t know Temple City had a Mayor of Chinese heritage.

I wanted to interview him about his background but it’s kind of tough to do at a party where there are so many activities going on.

At any rate, Happy Birthday, Mike.

No, I didn’t ask him how old he is now. Although I kidded him by saying, “How close to 90 years are you, Mike?”

Mike always has a keen sense of humor. He replied, “Not too far.”

The party was in Montebello, which is pretty far from Gardena, but I’m glad I was able to attend.

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A response to my inquiry about chopstick etiquette. A reader who asked that I just identify him as “Mako,” wrote the following:

“Don’t get our hopes up. I’m a 61-year-old guy, not a cute little girl despite my name, but I do enjoy reading your rambling even though my history with Little Tokyo goes back only about 45 years. Anyway, regard­ing your question about the subject of the proper way, as I understand it, is to use the serving chopsticks which are placed on the food plates just for serving. It is really not ‘proper’ when there are no serving chopsticks available but in the absence of serving chopsticks, the next acceptable manner is to turn the eating chopsticks around to pick up the food. The reason some say it is not proper to turn the chopsticks around to pick up food is because there should be serving chopsticks. There are Japanese manners and etiquette books that you can check on this issue. And, of course, it is rude to point at anybody with chopsticks.”

Thanks, Mako. Don’t know if your info solves the question I put forth initially.

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A little golf note.

I was rooting for Ai Miyazato in the last LPGA tourney mainly because she was of Japanese ethnicity.

Well, maybe I can now cheer another female golfer because she is a Sansei.

Mina Harigae of Monterey, about whom I wrote a number of times in the past, earned her 2010 LPGA Tour card by winning the Falls Auto GroupsClassic recently in Kentucky.

The 19-year-old, the 2007 Women’s Public Links winner earned $14,000 to top the season money list in her class with $73,897 which earned her the LPGA Tour card.

Harigae, who attends Duke University, turned pro after less than a semester at the University.

Players who competed against her in the Kentucky tournament said, “She’s a really solid player, a great putter and consistent.”

I’ll be looking forward to her competing against the top female golfers in the world when she participates in the next tournament.

Hey, maybe she will be competing against Miyazato. Wouldn’t that be something?

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Although we get bent out of shape at the cost of gasoline because it keeps going up and down all the time, have any of you wondered, as I have, whether we are getting “squeezed” another way by the gas station?

This question was posed to me by a reader who wants to be identified only as Ray.

“He said a friend of his stopped at a gas station with his gas gauge showing quarter full in his 14-gallon capacity tank. However, when the pump showed 14 gallons had been pumped, he looked under his vehicle to see it was spilling. It was not but the gauge went to 15 and then 16 gallons. It finally stopped at 18 gallons. Then he recalled a news report that gas stations calibrated their pumps to show more gas than was actually pumped into the tank.

“He says the way to check a pump to see if you are getting the right amount is to put 10 gallons in the tank to see if the dollar amount is exactly what the station displays as the price of a gallon gas.”

Thanks, Ray. I’ve been kind of curious because every time I go into a station to put in gas, no matter what my gas gauge shows, I always seem to be putting the same amount of fuel in my tank.

I mean, if my gauge shows half a tank, I shouldn’t be putting the same amount as when my gauge shows a quarter tank.

Will try the 10 gallon test on my next trip to the station.

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I guess there’s two sides to every coin.

When I wrote about the horrible mess at LAX’s international arrival gate, Mas Yamaguchi wrote about his recent trip to Panama. His story:

“I want to share our experiences to follow up on your article on the two-hour ‘adventure’ to clear customs at LAX. You think LAX was bad? Try Miami. We went through Miami on the way home from Panama last month and everything about the process was like a disaster movie. Something like you described for LAX, but when we just returned to LAX last Thursday morning from a trip to Peru, LAX was like a dream in comparison. From the time our plane landed, cleared customs, baggage pick-up, cleared customs and the trip home to Cerritos, the total time was about two hours. I’m the first to monku about controllable bad situations but also give kudos when things go really right. In this case, LAX deserves my kudos”

Man, Ray, if LAX deserves your kudos, I can’t imagine how bad things were on your foreign trips.

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Scanned through fellow columnist Wimpy Hiroto’s Crossroads to Somewhere on the front page of last Wednesday’s Rafu.

I’m glad that a columnist finally made the front page.

No, I’m not suggesting that I might be moved up to the front. I’m comfortable hidden in the back pages.

Besides, Wimpy’s a polished writer. My writing is more like a polished shoe.

Well, at least Wimpy was kind enough to mention my name in his first jaunt to the front page of the Rafu.

His article will appear twice more since it’s a three part saga.

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I had an invitation to attend one of the Dodgers’ games against the Giants in San Francisco.

I told him, “Heck, I have a tough time walking from the Dodger’s parking lot of the stadium so I don’t think I could drive 400 miles to watch the locals play in the Bay Area.”

He laughed and responded, “Naw, you just want to see the Giants kick the Dodgers butt.”

Well, winning two out of three isn’t really getting a kick on the oshiri.

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Laugh time.

A small boy was lost in a large shopping mall.

He approached a uniformed police officer and said, “I lost my Grandpa.”

The policeman asked, “What’s he like?”

The little boy hesitated for a moment then said, “Crown Royal whiskey and women with big boobs.”

Oh well, never miss a good chance to shut up.

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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