HORSE’S MOUTH: Welcome Back, Corey!



(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on July 27, 2010)


Hopefully, I don’t begin to sound like the obituary section of the newspaper. Yes, it’s time to bid farewell to another friend.

Yoneo Narumi, who owned and operated the Little Tokyo Sporting Goods Store at the corner of East 2nd and S. San Pedro, passed away last week. He was a fixture in J-Town for many years.

While the name of his business was called a sporting goods store, it was probably more a golf shop. Since a lot of Nisei played golf, his shop was a favorite hangout for many people.

I know when I had nothing else to do I would drop in to chat with Yoneo or Junior as a lot of people called him.

I shall always remember those days.

And now it is time to say, “Sayonara” to a dear friend and a wonderful individual.

Okay, let me move on…

Cory Shiozaki sent me an e-mail about an error concerning his lecture at the Manzanar walking tour. He wrote:

“I read your column the other day announcing Manzanar’s upcoming calendar. They had a misprint in their press release announcing my lecture and walking tour about the Manzanar fishermen. The actual date is Sept. 4 and 5, not 5 and 6. It will be on Saturday and Sunday during the Labor Day weekend. Thanks for making the correction for your readers.”

Thanks for the correction, Cory. Hope it doesn’t cause a lot of people to change their schedule.

I was not aware that there was a newspaper called, “The Acorn,” which serves Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Oak Park and Westlake Village.

However, a Rafu reader sent me a clipping from the July 1 edition which puts a slightly different slant on evacuation of Japanese Americans under the title, “A History Lesson About Japanese Internment Camps.”

It was a letter submitted by William Felsman from Woodland Hills. He wrote:

“Before World War II, the Oriental Exclusion Acts prohibited the naturalization of Asians and denied them real estate ownership. Also before World War II, we had broken the Japanese diplomatic code and sundry other military codes. We had the names of U.S. residents, designated as Japanese spies and saboteurs, but we took no action in order to keep our code-breaking secret.

“Instead, military exclusion zones were set up on the East and West Coasts. Alien enemies from Nazi Germany, fascists Italy and the Empire of Japan were ordered to relocate inland, transportation and housing would be provided as necessary. There was no Japanese real estate confiscated because citizens from the Empire of Japan were not permitted to own any.

“There were 15 assembly centers on the West Coast, 10 relocation centers, two citizen isolation camps, 61 internment/detention camps and nine state department “internment hotels.” There were no, repeat, no concentration camps. A concentration camp is a place where politically disfavored persons are sent to be gassed and cremated.

“All relation facilities were as good or better than U.S. troops had.

“About 11,225 citizens of Japan were interned plus 5,620 Nisei who renounced their U.S. citizenship. About 10,905 Germans and 3,278 Italians were interned. The remaining 112,000 Japanese were moved into relocation camps.

Two-thirds were U.S. born children. Their parents were citizens of the Empire of Japan.

“Japanese who returned to Japan for their education were especially watched.

“One American citizen of Japanese descent was convicted of treason and sentenced to death.

“After the subversion elements were removed from the community in America, its remaining members served admirably in WWII.”

I’m sure many of you will agree with me that this is really “another slant” on the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Yes, I’m still banging away on the keyboard of my PC, writing my twice-weekly column, but I am starting my 22nd year since I “retired “ from full-time employment with the old Kashu Mainichi newspaper.

I bring this point out because I just read an article written by a staffer for Associated Press who noted, “A third of middle-class workers will likely run out of money after 20 years of retirement and significantly more lower-income workers will deplete their savings after 10 years.”

Gee, now I know why my wallet is empty.

The reason for the dilemma facing retirees, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institution, is that retirees are living longer, saved too little and had inadequate planning for health care costs.

“Early” Baby Boomers, meaning people 56 to 62, have a 47 percent chance of not having enough money to pay basic retirement.

There was nothing said about 85-year-old “Oji-san boomer,” (my class).

No wonder I can’t afford to go to Vegas more often.

My daughter-law and two granddaughters just returned from an one-month stay in Japan.

Naturally, the first question I always ask is, “How was your trip?” This time, all three responded in unison, “It was too hot.”

I can believe them. I just read in the Japan Times that last week 10 persons died as the result of the unusually hot weather over most of Japan. Needless to say, most of the victims were senior citizens.

So, I guess Southern California is the only place which is experiencing unusual cooler weather than most other parts of the U.S. and the world.

How would you like to be living in Vegas? For the past week, the temperature hasn’t dipped below 110 during the daylight hours.

And here I am in Gardena, looking for my jacket to wear when I step  outside of the house.

I know people will always say that Vegas heat is “dry heat” while in Japan it is “damp heat.”

Damp heat, according to most, is more difficult to adjust to than dry heat.

Well, I guess I’ll find out in two weeks.

Although I’m not a former Manzanar internee, I’ve been invited to their annual reunion in Vegas so I’ll be going there. I know a few former Manzanar folks so I won’t feel like a complete stranger.

The nice thing about this trip is that I won’t be driving. I’ll be going up on a charter bus, which will mean I won’t be all pooped out when I get to The Cal Hotel, where the reunion is being held.

In the old days, when the “Tanoshimi” charter bus service was still in business, I never drove to Vegas, but in recent times, it was the only means of transportation.

I know a lot of people kid me and say, “What? At your age, you’re still driving to Vegas?”

Actually, I don’t find driving to Vegas is that much wear and tear on my body, even at my age.

Heck, I think sometimes I get more worn out trying to write this column, even though it takes me about two hours less time to write than drive.

When old friend, Em Yamada (former Nisei Week Queen), gave me the calendar of events for the 2010 Nisei Week Festival, I really didn’t look at it very closely.

I guess I just tossed it on my desk because that’s where I found it the other day when I was cleaning up.

Needless to say, I was kind of surprised when I did examine the calendar closely.

The one thing I noted right off is that it isn’t Nisei Week anymore. More like Nisei Eight Weeks.

The first event on the calendar was the fashion show luncheon. Date, June 13. Then when I looked down to the bottom of the schedule, I saw that the closing ceremony is Aug. 22.

Don’t have to be a math expert to figure out that June 13 to Aug. 22 comes out to over eight weeks.

Let me run down the list of activities during the eight weeks of the so-called Nisei Week.

After the fashion show, on June  25-27 was the Hoops Basketball Tournament. Don’t know what that has to do with the Festival.

July 18, it was the opening ceremony by invitation only. Who received the invitations?

The baby show is this coming Saturday, July 31.

Into August:

Aug. 7 in the Orange County Sansei Singles Dinner. How come an event in Orange County is part of the Little Tokyo Festival?

Also on Aug. 7-13 is the Nisei Week karaoke contest.

Aug. 7-22, the Nikkei Games. What’s that?

Aug. 13-15, the Tanabata Festival. A festival within a festival?

Aug. 14, the Queen Coronation Dinner and Show. On the same date, a car show, JANM 11th Courtyard Kids Festival. Another festival within a festival?

Also on the same date, a sumo tournament and shotokan karate exhibit and tournament.

A cultural exhibit also on Aug. 14. Don’t really know what a cultural exhibit is.

On Aug. 15, a Plaza Festival what’s that?

Of course, Em is hosting the Queen’s Reunion on Aug. 15 at JANM.

And, the big event of the Festival, the grand parade’s also on Aug. 15. Used to be the grand parade was what Nisei Week was all about.

On Aug. 16, an awards dinner. Don’t know who is getting the awards

The Pioneer Luncheon is slated for Aug. 18.

Aug. 21 is hailed as “competition day” and will feature a gyoza eating contest.

Also on Aug. 21-22, the Nisei Week Film Festival.

Then there’s an event titled, “Next Generation Remix.” Don’t know what that’s all about.

Aug. 22 will have a taiko gathering followed by an ondo community dance celebration.

And, finally, the closing ceremony.

Isn’t all that enough to make your head spin?

Ah, I guess it’s my old age but I long for the day when Nisei Week was Nisei Week and not so commercialized.

I know the present generation will probably say, “Oh, you old onara, get lost.”

Okay, I’ll go away quietly.

As one who spent a lot of years associated with boxing as well as the media, I was intrigued that women boxing will be added to the 2012  Olympic Games scheduled for London.

Boxing was the only summer Olympic sport which didn’t allow women to compete.

There will be one restriction which is disappointing to the female boxes. There will be only three weight divisions in the 2012 games. The weight classes will be flyweight (112), lightweight (132) and middleweight (165).

There was no explanation why women boxing will be so limited in weight class.

I’m sure that in the flyweight and lightweight classes, there will be competitors from Japan vying for a gold medal.

With women boxing being added to the games, we may no longer hear comments like, “She’s not a bad boxer for a girl.”

They are going to have to hone their skills so they can be judged as being good, not just good for a woman boxer.

Well, it looks like Corey is back for good.

I’m talking about jockey Corey Nakatani, who is now riding at Del Mar.

On the second day at Del Mar this past week, Corey had four mounts and finished in the money in all four races.

Just for kicks I got out my calculator to see what a $20 show parlay would have returned on Corey’s mounts.

If I had done so, I’d be writing this column from the comfort of my in-laws home on Maui because of the money I would have collected.

Oh well, dream on.

There’s always next week.

Speaking of winning, I’m sure most of you read about the lady in Texas who won four top prizes in the state’s lottery, totaling nearly $21 million in winnings.

Experts say that chances of such a thing happening is one in 18 septillion. That’s 24 zeros after the 18.

I can believe that.

I’ve been buying the California lotto tickets since they first launched the game and the most I ever won was 50 bucks. That’s four numbers.

The rest of time it’s been one or two bucks.

I have thought about giving up but then I am reminded of a Nisei neighbor in Gardena, who went on vacation and forgot to buy her lotto ticket.

Yup. Her usual numbers hit for a total of $7 million.

If something like that happened to me, I don’t know how I would react.

Oh, by the way, the woman who won the Texas lottery four times now lives in Las Vegas.

I guess if one has $21 million in a bank account, living in Vegas isn’t that bad an option.

Hey, if I can visit Vegas with $21 in the bank, I can imagine what it would belike with $21 million.

Let me end today’s chatter by asking readers what they think is the most embarrassing question asked.

Well, here it is: The question is, “I seem to have the urge to pass gas all the time. How can I control it?”

The expert’s response: “Most people ‘pop off’ 14 times a day. If one is feeling a bit above the average in that regard, try this for one week— write down everything you eat and how you feel afterwards and then cut out the food which seems to case the problem. Also limiting carbonated beverages and eating slowly. Anti-gas pills can relieve bloating but won’t relive gas completely.”

Heh. heh. That’s a chuckle.

No, don’t ask me what the other most embarrassing question might be. Don’t forget, this is a “family” newspaper.

Enuff said.

Some quickie laughers:

Someone asked the other day, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?”

My response was, “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up, all the food was slow.”

Come on, seriously, “Where did you eat?”

It was a place called home. Mom cooked every day and when dad came home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.”

Here are some other things I would have told about my childhood:

• Some parents never owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck.

• My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we had never heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably five pounds and only had one speed (slow). We didn’t have television in our house until I was 16. It was, of course, black and white and the stations went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem. It came back on the air at 6 a.m. and there was usually a locally produced news and farm show featuring local people.

• I was 21 before I tasted my first pizza. It was called pizza pie.

• I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was called a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.

• All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. It cost only 7 cents a paper and they got to keep 2 cents. They had to get up at 6 a.m. every morning.

• If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don’t blame me if they burst a gut laughing.

• How many of you remember pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards?

• Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

• Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles.

• Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes.

• Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers.

• S & H green stamps.

• Mimeograph paper.

Oh well, enough about the past.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


1 Comment

  1. Nobody’s forcing you to go to any of the events. Not everyone will have time to attend the main events, so it’s nice that they have come up with stuff beyond just the main parades, which can be slow, overcrowded and frankly, boring.

    If you go to the Web site, there’s plenty of information explaining what these events are about. I suppose repeating “huh, what’s that?” a dozen times makes for a better column, ne?

    Congratulations on grouching and complaining about one of the few events aimed at bringing the Japanese American community together.

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