HORSE’S MOUTH: ‘Print Letters’ Day

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Those of you who read my chatter know that in recent times, I have revealed that I am contemplating retiring from writing my column.

However, due to the many whom I meet in public who tell me, “Don’t quit, keeping writing,” and those who send me letters and email encouraging me to continue, I kind of dropped the idea of retirement.

However, due to the events of the past week, I have decided to rethink the matter of retirement.

The event of the past week?

It was the response to my recent column about the happenings at the JACL.

Several letters to the editor blasted my column quoting from a letter and not revealing the sender’s name.

In the days of old, being the target of “letters to the editor” wouldn’t bother me.

But as I get older (too old), I guess my skin gets a little more sensitive and I ask myself, “Should I continue?”

So, as I write the column today, I announce that I will make my final decision on whether to continue or throw in the towel in the month of June.

Why June?

Well, that’s the month I first joined The Rafu over 22 years ago.

That’s when then-English Editor Naomi Hirahara talked me out of retirement (when The Kashu Mainichi closed its doors) to join The Rafu.

Never thought I’d be hanging around after two decades.

I won’t kid anyone.

If I decide to “hang ’em up,” I will miss writing. After all, having been sitting at (first) a broken-down typewriter, then an electric typewriter and finally a computer keyboard, it will be tough to hang ’em up.

But as my family keeps telling me, “Hey, you’re an old man.” Heck, I don’t need to be reminded of that.

Years ago, when I lived in Japan, they used to refer me as “toshiyori no ojii-san.”

Oh well, I’m still writing, so let me get on with today’s column.

(Maggie’s comment: Now, now, Mr. Y., you yourself admitted that you will miss writing if you decide to retire in June. I have been typing your column since September 1999 and will sorely miss typing it and so many, many people will sorely miss reading it. PLEASE, don’t give retirement a second thought and WRITE ON).

When I receive letters such as the following, it keeps my spirit in the right frame of mind. It’s from reader Aki Yagi, who says:

“I hope this finds you in the best of health and feeling well. I’m so glad that you continue to write your column in The Rafu, which I enjoy so very much. One of the first things I look forward to when I receive my Rafu.

“Since you are familiar about the restoration and re-dedication of the Japanese Memorial Monument at the Lancaster Cemetery on May 17, 2008, which you attended, I thought you would like to know about the happening since.

“Well, George, this wonderful story has continued and again shows that the Lancaster Cemetery personnel still abound with compassion, kindness and warm, caring ways.

“I was so touched when I received the Antelope Valley Historical Society newsletter, which stated, ‘Dave Owens, Lancaster Cemetery trustee, heard an announcement on the radio from the Huntington Botanical Garden in Pasadena in conjunction with the consul general of Japan, offering complimentary cherry tree saplings to Los Angeles County public gardens, parks and other community organizations in honor of the 2012 Japanese-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial. Lancaster was accepted as a place that would receive two of these cherry trees. As cemetery manager, Owens will pick up the trees from the museum and they will be planted in honor of the Japanese memorial.’

“What a tribute and honor this is to our Issei parents. They will be so happy and in their glory every spring when the sakura blossoms. What a beautiful sight it will be.

“Also, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the Lancaster Cemetery and Friends of Lancaster Cemetery were awarded the prestigious Los Angeles Conservatory Award for their restitution and re-dedication effort of the 1938 Japanese Farmers Memorial in Lancaster Cemetery.

“Thanks again for your columns in The Rafu. I hope you never retire.”

Thank you, Aki. My opening segment might provide you with my plans for the future as far as retiring or not retiring is concerned.

Touching on the opening segment of today’s column, another reader feels that if I want to run letters and email in which the writer does not want to be identified in print, it’s perfectly okay with him. He wrote:

“I know that having to fill two pages a week must be a lot of work and I can understand why you frequently publish letters from readers. Even if they do touch on a controversial subject, I think they should be protected by not having their name published if that is their wish.”

Thanks to the reader for his opinion.

I will continue my policy of not publishing names if such a request is made.

I guess this can be called “print letters” day. An email I just received reads:

“The other day you wrote about a rather elderly Nisei starting his boxing career. I know you were involved in boxing, but you really don’t get into that part of your career too much.

“You must have met some ‘biggies’ in boxing, people like promoters Don King and Bob Arum. And boxers like Ali, Foreman, Frazier and Art Aragon.

“So, what was your favorite thing about being connected with boxing?”

Well, I guess I can use the old adage “one picture is worth a thousand words” in responding to the reader’s question about my “favorite” connection with the sport of boxing.

The two ladies in the photo with me are called “card girls.” They jump in the ring between rounds to let the fans know what round is coming up next. One of my jobs at the boxing matches was to assign the charming ladies as card girls. And, I got my photo taken with each of them prior to the start of the fight.

Yeah, quite often these gals had never heard of Japanese Americans, so they asked, “What part of Japan are you from?”

My answer: “Little Tokyo.”

Their response? “We didn’t know there were two Tokyos in Japan.”

Okay, you can laugh.

Okay, I though I would toss in still another photo and dedicate it to Maggie, since she’s a cat owner.

My son took the photo when he caught them sleeping together.

I also have another one, but she never plays or sleeps with the two shown here.

Never thought I’d ever own three cats at the same time.

The names of the two cats are Michi and Picachoo.

The third one, not in the photo, is named Maggie. Only kidding. The third one is named Nori.

Why the “Japanese” names? Hey, they may not be “Japanese” but since they live in the Yoshinaga household, they were given “nihonjin no namae.”

(Maggie’s comment: “Ni-ya-u, ni-ya-u.” That’s “Meow, meow” in Japanese. Thanks for the dedication, Mr. Y.)

In recent times, natto, a Japanese delicacy to some, has been hailed as a super food as far as one’s health is concerned.

The only problem is that natto in its true form has an odor that people can’t stand.

Yet, because of its health values, a lot of people want to try it.

Well, maybe the smell is no longer an issue.

A company has developed a product called “Natto BP.” It’s a tablet that has the same food value as real natto.

That is, it will decrease blood thickness, increase oxygen flow, relax arterial walls, regulate salt and fluid levels to prevent blood pressure spikes, reduce inflammation of blood vessels, clear fatty acid from your blood, lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol.

The only drawback is the price. A three-month supply costs $149. Six months for $249.99.

We all know what “real natto” costs, so if you can eat the real stuff, you will be getting  all the medical benefits at one-tenth the cost.

Besides, I don’t know how Natto BP will go with a bowl of hot rice.

I’m sure those with health problems won’t let the price stop them from taking Natto BP.

Here’s something that happened to a reader and may have happened to some of you. Yeah, I won’t mention the reader’s name. It goes like this:

“Several days ago as I left a meeting, I desperately gave myself a personal pat-down. I was looking for my car keys. They were not in my pocket. A quick search in the meeting room I was in revealed nothing.

“Suddenly, I realized I must have left them in the car.

“Frantically, I headed for the parking lot. My wife has scolded me many times for leaving the keys in the ignition. My theory is the ignition is the best place not to lose the keys. Her theory is that the car will be stolen.

“As I burst through the door, I came to a terrifying conclusion. Her theory was right. The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them the location, confessed that I had left my keys in the car and that it has been stolen.

“Then I made the most difficult call, ‘Honey,’ I stammered. I always call her ‘Honey’ in situations like these. ‘I left my keys in the car and it has been stolen.’

“There was a moment of silence. I thought the call had been cut off, but then I heard her voice. ‘Dear,’ she barked, ‘I dropped you off.’

“Now it was my time to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, ‘Well, come and get me.’

“She responded, ‘I will as soon as I convince this policeman I have not stolen your car.’”

Heh, heh.

Let’s jump a few thousand miles to Hawaii.

Those of you who are familiar with the Islands know what “aloha” means.

Well, sometimes it can be confusing because “aloha” can mean “hello” or “goodbye.”

So, when a recent edition of the U.S. News & World Report carried the headline “Hawaii Says Aloha to Visitors,” I didn’t know if it meant that tourism had fallen or that they said “hello” to more visitors.

Well, in this case, “aloha” meant that tourism has grown by 3.8 percent or 7.28 million visitors from the previous year.

These include visitors from the “mainland” in addition to those from foreign countries.

Visitor spending was also up at $12.58 billion, which means the visitors were welcomed with “aloha” and the visitors said “aloha” to their money.

Okay, Alooooha.

Laugh time:

Tired of constantly being broke and stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife with himself as the beneficiary and then arranging to have her killed.

A friend of a friend put him in touch with a nefarious underworld figure who went by the name Artie.

Artie explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was $5,000.

The husband said he was willing to pay that amount but that he wouldn’t have any cash until he collected his wife’s insurance money.

Artie insisted on being paid at least something up front, so the man opened his wallet, displaying a single dollar bill that was inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes and reluctantly agreed to accept the dollar as down payment for the dirty deed.

A few days later, Artie followed the man’s wife to the local supermarket. There he surprised her in the produce department and proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands.

As the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath and slumped to the floor, the manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well.

However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by hidden security cameras and observed by the store’s security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could even leave the store.

Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangement with the husband, who was also quickly arrested.

The next day in the media, the headline declared: “Artie chokes two for $1 at supermarket.”

Well, I said it was a laugher.

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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