HORSE’S MOUTH: A Change in School Lunches

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on Jan. 28, 2012)

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I goofed, so I owe the readers an apology.

In a recent column I wrote about cell phone numbers going public and that in order to avoid unwanted calls, owners of cells should contact a certain “do-not-call number.”

The information was sent to me by a reader, but I should have checked it out.

That’s where I goofed, and about a half dozen other readers sent me emails to tell me about my error.

Heck, even friend Rosie Kakuuchi from Las Vegas called me on the phone to tell me the information I printed was incorrect.

So, I hope that this will undo the miscue.

I guess I can turn my cell phone back on since I won’t be getting a “do not call” message.

Needless to say, all of us have some experience that we remember as one of the highlights in our lives.

A few columns back, I mentioned that I rode on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, which I said was one of the highlights in my life.

Shortly after I wrote about it, I found a photo taken just before the parade started and I was standing in front of the float along with the late Patty Hishiki, who also rode on the float.

I still don’t know who took the photo of us because there was so much confusion just before we climbed aboard the float as it prepared to pull onto Colorado Boulevard.

I am sure a lot of readers will wonder how it came about that Patty and I were selected to ride on the float, which had a “Chinese” theme.

Well, about five days before the parade, Patty and her father, the late Hiro Hishiki, publisher of the Kashu Mainichi newspaper, and I decided to drive to Pasadena to watch the hundreds of people working on the floats to prepare them for the parade.

I thought such a trip would provide me with material to write about in my column at the Kashu.

As we walked through the area where the floats were being built, a lady approached us and asked, “I hope you don’t mind if I ask you if you are Chinese.”

We laughed and said, “No, we’re Japanese.”

She then said, “Well, you could pass for Chinese, so I’d like to ask you for a favor. I’m building a float with a Chinese theme and I need two people to ride on it dressed as a Chinese emperor and empress.”

Needless to say, we laughed again.

But she wasn’t kidding. “I’ll provide both of you with the proper costume if you agree to ride on my float,” she told us.

I looked at Patty and she seemed excited about the idea.

“Let’s do it,” she said.

So, there we are in the photo, Emperor Yoshinaga and Empress Hishiki.

By the way, the float we rode on won the Governor’s Trophy as one of the outstanding floats. Of course, the award was given to the sponsor before we got on board.

There were several things we learned about participating in the parade that I am sure the hundreds of thousands who line Colorado Boulevard don’t think about.

One thing the lady who asked us to ride on her float told us: “Make sure you don’t drink any liquid from the day before the parade.”

Needless to say, I asked, “Why?”

She replied, “Well, you will have to be at the starting point of the parade at least two hours before it starts, and you’ll be on the float for about three hours. So, you won’t have the opportunity to go you know what.” (In Japanese, go shi shi.)

And she was right. Since I didn’t consume any liquid, even though I “got the urge,” I was able to hold it until we arrived at the disembarking point at the parade’s end.

Another thing that surprised me was how many JA friends were in the crowd along Colorado Boulevard.

I learned this when I would hear someone yell, “Hey, Horse, you look good as an emperor.”

Since there were so many faces, I couldn’t even locate where the voice was coming from.

I’m glad they didn’t yell, “Emperor Horse.”

Oh well, so much for memories.

Speaking of memories, I’m sure most Nisei senior citizens still remember their school days. I know I do, especially that most of us took “bento” to school because in those days it was unheard for schools to provide lunch for the kids.

So, all of us either had lunch boxes or took our “bento” in paper bags.

The reason I bring this up is that the media have been carrying stories about free lunches now being served to the kids.

In the L.A. Unified School District, would you believe that 650,000 meals are being served daily?

The reason the meals are being mentioned in the media is that a lot of kids don’t care what they are being served and throw away their meals.

In fact, according to the information in the media, trash cans are filled with food thrown away by the kids.

Gosh, in our days, when we took our own lunches, we gobbled up any and all things our mothers prepared for us.

Most of the time, for me, that would be “onigiri,” rice balls.

In fact, as I mentioned a few times in the past, most of the JAs used to eat with each other because they didn’t want their “hakujin” classmates to watch them eat “onigiri.”

Ah, how times have changed.

While chatting about the passing of time, I got a surprise the other day when George Wakiji, whom I list as a contributor to my column, told me he talked on the phone with Omar Kaihatsu.

I met Omar, who was a prewar resident of Hollywood, when I was tossed into camp at Heart Mountain. Since he relocated to Chicago after leaving the Wyoming camp, I haven’t seen him for a lot of years.

So, when Wakiji contacted me to tell me about talking to Omar on the phone, he gave me Omar’s phone number.

Unfortunately, he was not in the couple of times I dialed his number, but I’ll keep trying because it will be great to renew our contact after all these years.

Yes, we were both members of the Jackrabbit Club while we were incarcerated at Heart Mountain, me being the only one in the club who was not from the Southern California area.

By the way, Omar played football at Hollywood High with Babe Nomura, who recently passed away.

Who makes the decisions?

The other day, the top 10 sports newscasters in the Los Angeles area were announced. I was disappointed that Rob Fukuzaki wasn’t even mentioned.

I  looked over the list of those named to the so-called “top 10” and I’ve seen all of them facing the camera. Except for the top two or three, I would rate Rob as good or better than the other seven or eight who were selected.

It seems to me that if they are going to pick the top 10 sports newscasters, they would put it up for a vote by the fans who watch them.

No, I’m not saying this simply because Rob is a fellow Japanese American.

If I turned off the picture on the TV and listened only to the sound, his being JA would have nothing to do with his skill at the mike.

Most of you probably read or heard about the woman who won the state lottery in one of the eastern states.

Yup, she won a million bucks.

The thing that caught my attention about her story was that she didn’t tell anyone, even her husband. Needless to say, she continued to go to work.

Of course, after a few weeks passed, she did reveal that she was a millionaire.

As most know, I’ve been playing the California lottery for years, ever since it began about 20 years ago.

I wonder how I would react if I ever hit the “big one.” Maybe I won’t tell anyone either.

If people learn I’m suddenly a millionaire, I can imagine the stampede to my front door by those soliciting donations for the many causes in our community.

It may be seem kind of weird, but even though I hope I win the Cal lottery, I really never gave much thought to what I would do if I won.

Well, maybe I’d jump on a plane, forget driving and head to Las Vegas.

It would be nice to throw a lot of quarters into a slot machine when I have a million dollars.

On the other hand, the thought of winning a few hundred may lose a lot of its luster.

Oh well, I can dream, can’t I?

One thing for sure, however. I know I’ll jump in a plane and fly to Maui for a month.

No, the staff at the Rafu doesn’t have to worry if that happens. I’ll take my laptop with me and still pound out my column. Heck, writing a column is fun and money can’t buy fun.

Oh yeah, million dollars or not, I’m heading to Vegas in two weeks.

I hope the Rafu’s fax machine is working because I’ll write one column from Vegas and I’ll have to send it by fax.

Over the past few weeks, Editor Gwen has been dropping by our house to pick up my column, so I didn’t have to use my fax.

But unless Gwen wants to drive to Vegas and drop by my hotel room, I’ll have to use the fax at the California Hotel. Heh, heh.

So, here’s my heh, heh for today:

The man lay sprawled across three entire seats in the theater when the usher came by and noticed this. He whispered to the man, “You’re only allowed one seat.” The man groaned but didn’t budge.

The usher became impatient. “Sir, if you don’t get up from here, I’m going to have to call the manager.” Again, the man just groaned, which infuriated the usher, who turned and marched briskly back up the aisle in search of his manager.

In a few moments, both the usher and the manager returned and stood over the man. Together the two of them to tried move him, but with no success. Finally, they summoned the police.

The cop surveyed the situation briefly, then asked, “All right, buddy, what’s your name?’’

“Sam,” the man moaned.

“Where you from, Sam?”

With pain in his voice, Sam replied, “From the balcony up above.”

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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  1. Drew M. Tamaki on

    Hi Horse. I don’t know if you realize it, but you can save your word document to your document file on your hard drive and then attach it to your email. It would save time I would imagine. By the way, did you ever know my dad Jesse Tamaki? He had a garage called Jesse’s Auto Service on 2nd St. in Little Tokyo as well as a Mobil gas station across the street on Moline Alley. He also had a Mobil gas station on the corner of 2ndthe and Central. He passed away in 1981 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

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