HORSE’S MOUTH: Carson’s City Clerk Issue

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Sunday is one day in the week I try to take things easy and if the weather is nice, I like to sit on our front porch and relax.

In the morning, the weather was horrible with rain and wind, but in the afternoon, the sun broke though the clouds, so I was able to do my front porch thing.

Then my wife reminded me, “Weren’t you going over to the JCI and listen to the talk your namesake Aiko Yoshinaga is going to give?”

I had forgotten about it, but I still had time to jump in my car and drive over to the JCI.

I thought that somebody from the Rafu staff would be in attendance, so I didn’t go to “cover” the event for the newspaper but just to see what Aiko had to say in her speech.

Her talk was what I expected because of her position on the evacuation back during the war years.

At any rate, one of the things I wanted to do was to introduce myself to her because we have the same surname and I wondered if we might be distant relatives.

She didn’t seem particularly interested in talking to me, so after a few words, I decided to return home and sit in the sunshine.

Then I also remembered I had to write my column, so here I am sitting in front of my computer.

A couple of columns back I mentioned the number of mess halls there were at the Santa Anita Assembly Center.

The subject on feeding 18,000 of the evacuees at Santa Anita is rarely touched on, but it must have been one of the major problems for the government.

Well, I came across an article involving the problem. It was written as follows:

“The greatest feeding problem of the evacuation movement has been faced by Camp Director Edward M. Paulsen and the mess division during the six months of the camp’s existence.

“The Santa Anita Assembly Center, with a population of more than 18,000 Japanese Americans, consumed 92,000 pounds of food daily at the six mess halls.

“A limited seating capacity and a lack of equipment added to the problem. Because of this, all dishes had to be washed and used three times at each meal.

“Difficult also was the control of the number of persons eating at each mess hall. With the cooperation of the mess committee, an advisory group chosen from a cross-section of center residents, a meal ticket system was put into effect with satisfactory results.

“As all food had to be ordered through the U.S. Army 48 days in advance, it has been necessary to prepare menus extremely early. Most of the meals are purchased in Chicago, the nation’s packing center and shipped to the center. Vegetables, dairy products and other perishable foods are ordered from a local market a month ahead of time.

“To estimate the amount of food to be purchased, menus are broken down so that the food to be consumed by 100 people may be gauged. The findings are then integrated to arrive at the gross figure.

“To promote efficiency and cleanliness in the mess halls, a contest was inaugurated late in July. Competition was keen and the Yellow Mess and the Green Mess proved outstanding.

“In a statement to his workers, Director Paulsen said, ‘The mess division wishes to thank all of the mess workers who contributed long hours in the performance of their duties so that center residents might be properly fed. This is the first duty of any group of people.’”

I doubt if any of us who lived in Santa Anita gave too much thought to how they were able to feed over 18,000 people who were brought together on almost a few days’ notice.

I never thought about it when I lined up to be fed at the Yellow Mess.

However, as an added bit to the above story, there was this: The eyes of the nation looked on with curiosity at an event unheard of in the history of America.

The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown was designed after our Nisei Week Festival, which means that they also have a queen contest.

The San Francisco festival is just around the corner as compared to our J-Town’s festival, which is held annually later in the year.

Because of its early date, the candidates for the Frisco festival have already been selected.

There are five young ladies vying for the crown.

The surprising fact about the five candidates is that four of them are from Japan.

I’m not sure how they became residents in the U.S., but their background information stated they are from Japan.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think our Nisei Week Queen contest ever had a candidate hailing from Japan.

Well, maybe since the Bay City event is labeled as Cherry Blossom Festival, having Japan-born candidates might be expected.

Oh, something I forgot to mention in the opening segment of today’s column (Aiko Yoshinaga’s talk) was that at least a dozen of those in attendance approached me and said, “I subscribe to the Rafu, so I read your column. I don’t agree with most of the stuff you write, but I read it anyhow.”

Glad to see so many who subscribe to the paper, whether they agree with me or not.

Well, at least it’s not like Vegas, where people who approach me always ask, “Say, aren’t you the one who writes for the Rafu?”

If they really don’t recognize me, maybe I should say, “No, that’s my brother.”

Gosh, I find it hard to believe.

Yesterday, one of my sons held a birthday party. He hit the age of 54. It’s hard to believe how time flies.

When we were evacuated and sent to camps, I would guess that some of the younger Issei were only 54.

Well, what the heck, I don’t think any of the Issei were my present age during camp days.

We used to think any Nisei at age 40 was “old.” Now all of our Sansei kids are over 40.

Santa Anita Racetrack is holding its annual Tokyo Cup Day next week, and they ran a quarter-page ad in the Rafu to announce the event.

One thing different this year is that they didn’t include a coupon in their ad that Rafu readers could clip out and use for free admission. Not sure why the change.

Since the Tokyo Cup event was placed on the track’s schedule a few years ago, a free coupon was always included in their ad.

Yeah, I’m a cheapskate, so without the free admission coupon, I might miss the Tokyo Cup event for the first time.

Too bad, because this year the special guest at the Tokyo Cup event will be Masaru Hanada, a former yokozuna sumo champ.

I’m sure a lot of Rafu subscribers would like to see him and perhaps even shake his hand.

Oh well, maybe Sansei jockey Corey Nakatani will have a mount in the special race and win it. That will give it an added “Japanese” touch.

On a bit of the serious side, I think there should be a greater voice to protest the action of the Carson city officials in the naming of its new city clerk.

After Helen Kawagoe suffered a stroke and retired after 37 years as the city clerk, the Carson City Council debated on whether to hold a special election or name Wanda Higaki, who served as assistant city clerk under Helen for over 30 years.

I attended the council meeting where the issue was discussed.

Two council members, including the mayor, wanted to appoint Wanda. Three others said the city clerk’s position should be opened up to other applicants.

So what happened?

The three who wanted other applicants voted to appoint Donesia Gause as the new city clerk.

What is even stranger is that the two who wanted to appoint Wanda were absent when the vote was taken on the issue.

It sure seems to me that someone should ask for an investigation into this mess.

Wanda was one of the candidates, and from the support the citizens of Carson expressed in her favor, she probably should have won the position.

So, what do they do? They ignore her and appoint a person from the City of Long Beach.

If that doesn’t sound screwy, I don’t know what else it can be called.

I sure hope race didn’t play a role in overlooking Wanda.

I met her and she impressed me as a highly intelligent, personable individual, and after serving in the City Clerk’s Office for 30 years, how can anyone say she didn’t have the “qualifications”?

After writing about hitting a “jackpot” on my recent Vegas trip, I guess it’s only natural that a lot of folks I know called to ask me, “How much did you collect?”

Well, let me put it this way. I’ll be able to take my wife out to dinner at any fancy restaurant away from McDonald’s.

If anyone wants to have coffee with me, just give me a ring and we can get together. Yes, I’ll pick up the tab.

Oh, by the way, in discussing the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival, I should have mentioned that the Honolulu festival also has the same title.

Their queen contest this year has 15 contestants vying for the crown. This year will be the Islands’ 60th festival.

Their queen will be crowned at the end of this month. Eight of the 15 candidates are “hapa.”

I guess it’s a trend these days that the reigning Nisei Week Queen is a “hapa.”

Over the years, there have been a handful of “hapa” queens in Little Tokyo. I’m sure as the years pass, it will become more and more frequent.

Well, I guess it’s time to laugh at blondes:

These two blondes rent a boat and go fishing in a lake. They’re amazed at the number of fish that they catch. So one says to the other, “We’ll have to come back here tomorrow.”

The other asks, “But how will we remember where this spot is?”

The first blonde then takes a can of spray paint, paints an X on the bottom of the boat and says, “We’ll just look for this X spot tomorrow.”

The other blonde says, “You idiot. How do you know we’ll get the same boat?”

And for those who drink a lot of coffee, try these. You know you’ve had too much coffee when:

You get a speeding ticket even when you’re parked.

You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.

You sleep with your eyes open.

You lick your coffee pot clean.

Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.

You can only type 60 words a minute with your feet.

Your only source of nutrition comes from Sweet and Low.

You don’t sweat, you percolate.

Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.

Instant coffee takes too long.

You want to be cremated just so you can spend eternity in a coffee can.

Your name your cats Cream and Sugar.

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.

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