By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
By the time today’s column is read (hopefully), I’ll be sitting in front of my favorite slot machines in you-know-where.
Yeah, I know I said that I wasn’t visiting Las Vegas for the rest of 2009 but when Editor Gwen told me that there would be only one more issue of the Rafu in 2009, I concluded I would have an eight day “vacation.”
So I told my wife, “Pack and get ready. We’ll be leaving California for California” (the hotel and casino, that is).” My wife is more of a Vegas fan than I am so she was all smiles when I told her that.
My trip will be short. I won’t be spending New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day in Vegas. We’ll be heading back on Wednesday.
The reason is simple. I don’t want to start the year 2010 wit only 10 cents in my pocket, which would probably be the case if I stayed in Vegas too many days.
Of course, the “Yoshinaga Poverty Fund” will be accepting contributions. Only kidding.
The only concern was the weather forecast. Some of the weather people on TV news predicted rain on Monday and Tuesday which means there could be snow on the Cajon Pass (Highway I-15).
Well, we’ll see.
Speaking of traveling, reader Tom Arima, sent me a short message about driving to areas I am not familiar with. He wrote:
“If you travel a lot to new places, like your Sun Valley trip mentioned in your 12/19/09 issue, you might consider a GPS (Global Positioning System).
“Because we were going on vacation for a week up north last year, I purchased a 4.2 inch Garmin GPS for around $200. The key to using the GPS is either inputting the correct destination or next to it.”
Well, Tom, believe it or not, I do own a GPS. One of my sons bought me one about a year ago.
Unfortunately, with my lack of technical knowledge, I just couldn’t use it because I didn’t know how to punch in the information required to get to the destination I was planning to travel to.
On some occasions, my son would put the info in and I was able to reach the address I was traveling to. However, if I wanted to do some extra driving to anther location, I could not get the darn thing to work. So for the time being, my GPS is sitting in the trunk of my car. Well, maybe one of these days, I’ll learn how to work these high-tech devices.
In the meanwhile, I guess I’ll have to rely on my Thomas Guide, which at least gets me to the general area I am trying to reach.
Another bit on travel.
Reader, Tom Hara, sent me a few photos he took while he was on vacation to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
He said that on the return from his visit to the famed park, he stopped at the site of the former Relocation Camp, Heart Mountain.
One is a real nice shot of Heart Mountain for which the internment camp was named. I’ve seen a lot of photos of the famous landmark but this one is a little different. For one thing, Tom’s vehicle is in he foreground.
Of all the 10 internment camps which were built during World War II for the Japanese American evacuees, I feel that Heart Mountain was one of the most distinguishing landmarks. I say this because I don’t think I’ve seen a photo which distinguishes the camps in say, Gila, Poston, Jerome or Manzanar (to name of few of them).
The other photo is a plaque dedicated to one of a former internee at the camp who worked on the Heart Mountain Foundation until her untimely passing.
And the third is a section of the monument dedicated to the some 300 Nisei who joined the military from Heart Mountain. Tom saw my name on it so he was kind enough to get a shot of it since I’ve never seen a photo of it although a few people who have visited the camp site told me about it.
A while back, I wrote about having the TSA agents at LAX confiscating my cigar lighter, telling me such items were not allowed on flights.
Now I read about a passenger who tried to blow up a jetliner on a flight from Europe to Detroit with explosives he carried on the plane.
How in the heck did he ever get past the security people? If they won’t allow a passenger to carry a cigar lighter on a flight, I can’t believe the guy who tried to ignite the explosives was able to board the plane.
On top of all this, the news report said that the culprit’s father had warned officials about his son’s behavior. Yet, he was still able to get on the flight with his explosives.
Oh well, maybe the TSA agent who took my lighter from me didn’t have any matches and needed to light his cigarettes.
With the recent media focused on older Nisei getting their diplomas from the colleges they were attending when their education was disrupted by the wartime evacuation, I was reminded of the many Nisei who didn’t graduate from high school.
I was one of those. I went back to my prewar high school back in 2005 and was presented with my diploma about 60 years after my classmates got their sheepskins.
The reason I bring this subject up is that as I look back on the graduation ceremony in which I participated, I remember that there were 14 Yonsei getting their diploma at the same rite.
And, while a number of non-JA graduates approached me to chat about my experiences in being evacuated and how I felt about not being able to graduate with the classmates, not one of the Yonsei talked to me. They seemed to distance themselves from the three Nisei who participated in the same graduation ceremony.
Perhaps I should have been more curious at the time but it didn’t occur to me until the recent focus on the Japanese Americans getting their college degrees in recent months.
Did they “try” to distant themselves from the three of us who were part of the “graduating class”?
In fact, the president of the Class of 2005 was a Yonsei. The class secretary was also a Yonsei.
Still, the three of us who were part of the “graduating class” never exchanged any words with the two JA class officers.
Rather curious, now that I think back.
Well, it’s that time of year when I have to start tossing away all the junk which has accumulated during the past year.
I uncovered a lot of stuff I didn’t know I had, including letters from readers which I am not sure I used as part of the column. There was one which kind of ties in with my comments about how Gardena has changed.
This reader talked about a few things which happened to her that kind of changed her outlook on life. So I thought I would print it because she feels a lot of others may have experienced what she did recently. She opened her letter like this:
“I’d like to congratulate you on being the hero of the people because you, more than other journalists, show the people and educate them about what freedom of the people and freedom of the press is all about with your column.
“Now for the sad news. Over three months ago I was flashed by one of those photo enforced red light traffic signals in Garden Grove. I didn’t know what was happening and later I got a ticket in the mail and another note wanting me to pay $489 and have an option to go to traffic school. I never felt so violated from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I sent a letter to the court asking them to clarify the letters and words they were sending me, but the judge merely reviewed my letter and later said in court she was not required to respond and she didn’t understand my letter.
“I feverishly did an Internet research on the subject of photo enforced red light traffic signal tickets and found out a lot of people are against them. If ever the authorities wanted to reduce the average citizen into an emotional crybaby, this has certainly done it to me.
“I couldn’t function normally for over three months until yesterday when I finally submitted to their demands and paid the fine. It’s frightening and scary to virtually have my freedom of speech twisted around so I look like a complete fool in court. Where is ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’? Now I drive the back streets trying to avoid these robot signals. I guess I got a taste of what my dad and mom went through with the Japanese American mass evacuation into relocation camps during World War II.
“The authorities have this ticket system down pat and anyone who tries to buck it could get a contempt of court warrant for their arrest, if they don’t pay the fine. If they go for the payment plan and miss a payment, they’re fined an additional $300 and their license is suspended. I decided to pay the full amount. If there is anyone out there who has gone through a similar ticket experience, could you devote an entire column to this matter?
“Thank you for flying the flag proudly and always holding our previous freedom in the land of the free and home of the brave.”
And, I thank the reader for her letter on an issue I have heard about regarding other Nisei who have been victimized by a similar experience regarding photo camera tickets.
Anybody need a 2010 calendar?
After I wrote about not getting any 2010 calendars for the coming year, at least a half dozen people have been kind enough to drop off a new calendar.
So far, I have received almost a dozen 2010 calendars so I decided I’ll be on the giving end of the new calendars.
Instead of tossing any of them away, I thought maybe I could give them to folks who haven’t gotten their 2010 calendars yet.
Even though I’ve been swamped with calendars, it’s a bit ironic that only two of them are contacts who have been providing me with calendars in the past. The others are from businesses that I have not been connected to over the years.
Two sources that I used to get calendars from but who obviously are not distributing them this year are Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airlnes.
Getting back to clearing up my desk before the New Year, I came across other junk that have been piling up that kind of surprised me.
One was a menu from the British Parliament dining room where I had lunch during one of my trips to London.
I still remember having soup with my lunch because it was one that I had never tasted before (and never had again).
That would be a kangaroo tail soup. You read that right. Kangaroo tail. The other option was turtle soup. Not much of a choice I would say.
For entree, how many of you know what an entrecote bordelaise it?
The one surprise is that they had a salad called a “Japonnaise.” Yes, that was a Japanese salad.
By the way, if there are any collectors out there who want to add a menu from the British Parliament dining room to their collection, let me know. Otherwise I’m dumping it.
Well, as I always say when I’m getting ready to take off for Vegas, I’m little short with today’s column.
I hope all of you have a great and healthy New Year.
As the Japanese say, Shinnen Omedeto.
Maybe I’ll run into some of the L.A. folks in Vegas. I can wish them, “Shinnen Omedeto” in person.
Hopefully, I can continue to entertain you all in 2010.
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.