HORSE’S MOUTH: Different Views for Different Folks

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

So I’m sitting at my computer, chewing on my cigar and wondering, “What can I write about today?”

The phone rings. It’s friend calling to see how I’m doing.

“See you’re getting a lot of heat these days,” he chuckles. Then he adds, “I don’t understand a lot of these people who complain about your writing. If they don’t like the way you write, why do they read your stuff in the first place? Nobody is holding a gun to their heads to make them read your column.”

Good thought. Thanks for your comment.

Well, his call got me in the proper frame of mind to get rolling.

I’ll start by printing a letter from David Watanabe, who wrote:

“Dear Horse’s Mouth, just a few comments on your April 3 column. I also attended the presentation (on Santa Anita Assembly Center) and had a different view.

“Perhaps you were not so impressed since you were at Santa Anita so there was nothing new for you. However, I am sure that others there, including myself, who did not know very much about this assembly center enjoyed listening to the panel members’ experiences and how they felt during those dark days.

“Since the panel members were quite young at the time, I recall all of them conveying to the audience that they did not suffer like their Issei parents who bore the brunt, mostly in silence, to protect the young children. In fact, listening to the panel members they seemed to have ‘enjoyed’ Santa Anita — except for those who had to live in the stables (for over four months) — due to the many organized social activities that occupied the younger people’s time.

“But, what I will think about most was how much the Issei must have suffered, but ‘gamaned’ for the sake of their children.

“Like you, I also think it is admirable that Jose Morales, the quite young senior producer at ESPN, would make the short film. Mr. Morales was raised in Connecticut and stated that none of his colleagues were aware of the internment camps, and he himself only stumbled across the subject while producing a piece about one of the big Santa Anita horse races.

“He relayed to me that this was not taught in the Connecticut schools he attended. Hopefully, he will spread the news on the East Coast.

“It is a shame, as you wrote, there weren’t many people in the audience. I counted about 50 vs. your 30. I was in the last row, so I had a good view of the audience. I appreciate the efforts of the JA Museum to put on the presentations like these and especially the panel members participating. Pretty soon we will be hard pressed to find panel members as time passes.

“Heck, maybe next time you should be added to the panel. I’m sure there will be many more people attending, waiting to hear it straight from the Horse’s Mouth. Thanks for listening.”

Thanks to you, Dave.

There’s one thing I have never mentioned when chatting about the evacuation and the incarceration at the assembly center and later at the relocation camps.

That is, like a lot of the Nisei, I also had an Issei mother whom I lived with in the barrack along with my older sister. The three of us had the same “family number,” which the government used to identify all of the JAs who were tossed into camp.

My Issei father had passed away two years prior to the evacuation.

When I look back to this period in our lives, I can say a lot of bitterness hits me.

My mother’s health was very poor. She was diabetic and in those days, they didn’t have the medications that are available today.

However, they didn’t provide the special diet that diabetics have to follow. She had to dine in the mess hall and had to eat whatever was served. Most of the food was not good for diabetics.

On the long train ride from Santa Anita to Heart Mountain, it was even worse for her.

Needless to say, under these conditions, her life was shortened and she passed away shortly after I left camp and joined the Army and then shipped overseas, which means I never saw her after camp days.

I’m sure a lot of Nisei faced the same situation with their aging Issei parents, especially those with health problems.

Reader Yas Saito touches on the camp experience as endured by the older Issei. He wrote in his email:

“Hi there. The (Sacramento) Bee’s article reminded me that camp experiences vary with each age group. Many of the youngsters’ recollections are quite different from the older internees …

“For many teenagers, the days of getting out of camp to go fishing hold very memorable memories. But for the young married with children and cramped quarters with little privacy, it must have been quite an ordeal.

“You, as a late teenager, had quite a different experience, it seems, from the many others of your age group. Anyway, may I suggest that you solicit comments from the various age groups?

“Your Rafu articles are read by so many scattered all over the world that you seem to be surprised frequently.

“By all means, you can comment on your quitting, but treat that as just a tease to rouse your readers to jump in to raise your ego.”

Thanks, Yas.  While it does “raise my ego” to have readers tell me, “Don’t quit,” it really doesn’t have any bearing on my future plan.

Boy, if someone had told me 30 years ago that I would still be writing in my late 80s, I probably would have responded, “Are you kidding?”

Enuff said. Let me get on with today’s column and not concern myself with anything else at this time.

No, I wasn’t surprised by the lead story in Tuesday’s Rafu that Terry Hara, deputy chief of the LAPD, announcing that he will be running for the newly formed 9th District’s City Council seat.

I first met Terry when we both served as judges for the annual New Year’s “Uta Gasssen” singing competition held at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple.

After that, I seemed to bump into him at almost every community activity.

I kind of figured he was an ambitious type who wanted to step into the forefront of community affairs, and being city councilman certainly will give him that opportunity.

Like a lot of other Nisei politicians, Terry seems to be concerned about the Japanese American community, although he was quoted as saying that he is “planning to run a broad campaign to appeal to everyone. Hopefully, we are beyond racial politics.”

In Terry’s case, I can buy that statement.

Of course, even in this day and age, it’s kind of tough for any politician with a different ethnicity to ignore that fact.

By the way, does anyone know what his political party affiliation is? I mean, is he a Democrat or a Republican?

I pose this question because aside from noting his role with the LAPD, the Rafu story on his entry into the City Council race didn’t include what his political background might be.

Well, I’m sure some reader will email me with the info.

I guess it’s a sign of the times.

In the same edition of the Rafu that revealed Terry Hara’s entry into the City Council election, there was a story about a robbery at S.K. Uyeda Department Store in Little Tokyo.

The site of the crime was in the same area as a robbery of an Issei woman pedestrian almost a year ago. She was attacked in broad daylight on East First Street.

This type of crime was unheard of in J-Town a few years ago.

Why? Well, let’s face it. J-Town has changed so much over the past few years.

The shutting down of “old Little Tokyo” businesses, such as Joseph’s Men’s Wear (in the same area where the two criminal acts occurred recently), is an indication of the changes taking place in J-Town.

I’m sure the “criminal types” are aware of this.

So what can be done?

Well, I know there are people in the area who are attempting to restore J-Town to the area of old.

They can begin by studying the commission of crime and what can be done to halt these types of activities.

Just a thought.

Nothing to do with the local news front, but I thought it was humorous enough to toss in my column. It happened in Alabama.

A man appearing in an Alabama court was wearing loose-fitting pants that were so loose that they hung below his waistline.

Of course, the judge didn’t think it was funny.

So, he ordered the man sentenced to three days in jail until he learns how to keep his pants high enough to cover his you-know-what.

Heh, heh.

One of my sons goes fishing once a year in the area that at one time was called California’s “gold country.”

He says that if one is lucky, he might find a gold nugget or two along some of the rivers that run through the area.

Naturally, I asked him, “Have you ever found anything?

He said he once got a small piece of rock with a small trace of gold in it.

Of course, he didn’t think it was worth anything, so he just tossed it into one of his fishing tackle boxes and never found it later.

Why am I even bringing this up?

Well, it seems that a Japanese miner in Alaska (which at one time was known for gold) found a significant gold deposit in the area.

With gold selling for about $1,500 an ounce, will this cause a stampede of Japanese rushing to Alaska?

Sumitomo Metals is now conducting a drilling session in the area.

Maybe my son should have gone fishing in Alaska. Then his “old man” could spend more time in Las Vegas.

“Moshi moshi,” anyone?

A firm with the web address www.moshilifestyle.com is introducing an alarm clock that its owner can talk to.

The voice-activated clock can be set by vocal commands, including setting the alarm and time. Also adding the date, time, temperature and alarm, all by saying, “Moshi, moshi.”

The clock sells for $39.95 with free shipping.

Those interested can visit the website.

Oh well, it’s my ego, even at this stage of the column. Will toss in another “don’t quit” email. This one reads:

“Please don’t retire. Most people read your column and the obituary in the Rafu. I find your columns interesting, informative and humorous. Don’t let adversity get you down. Rise above it and go forward with your columns.

“You have a sharp mind and are down to earth and your columns are easy to read. We are all rooting for you, so don’t let us down. Your friend.”

Thanks, friend. I guess if I retire you’ll just be reading the obituaries.

Heh, heh.

So heh, heh, with this one:

Cowboy: Is that your dog?

Indian: Yup.

Cowboy: Mind I speak to him?

Indian: Dog don’t talk.

Cowboy: Hey, dog, how’s it going?

Dog: I’m doin’ all right. (Indian looks shocked)

Cowboy: Is this Indian your owner?

Dog: Yep.

Cowboy: How’s he treating you?

Dog: Real good. He walks me twice a day. Feeds me great food. Takes me to the lake once a week to play.

Cowboy: Mind if I talk to your horse?

Indian: Horse don’t talk.

Cowboy: Hey, horse, how’s it going?

Horse: Cool. (Indian looks amazed)

Cowboy: How’s the Indian treating you?

Horse: Good. Thanks for asking. He rides me, brushes me down often, keeps me in a lean-to to protect me from the weather.

Cowboy: Mind if I talk to your sheep?

Indian: Sheep lie.

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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