HORSE’S MOUTH: Freezing in Vegas

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

LAS VEGAS — Since rain delayed the start of the Harbor Freeway (110) toll road, I wasn’t able to see how the opening went.

I went to the Fastrak office to find out more about the toll road and perhaps get a transponder that would allow me to use the toll road, but when I got to the office, there were about a hundred people waiting in line, so I jumped back in my car and went home.

I’ll try again when I get back.

The transponder I’m applying for is for cars with two or more passengers. There’s no charge for this transponder.

For single drivers using the toll road, the fee is really high. If a single driver goes the length of the Harbor toll road, it could cost as much as $14.50. Even if I drive to Little Tokyo from Gardena just once a week, that’s too much for me.

Oh well, I guess like in the old days, I can drive into town on the surface streets, like Main, San Pedro or Figueroa streets.

The weather here in Vegas is icy cold and there were subfreezing temperatures here in Victorville en route to Vegas.

I hope my luck in the casino is not as cold as the weather outside.

Since we’re here on Veterans Day, it’s a bit more crowded than usual. A lot of visitors from Hawaii.

Yes, and I ran into five friends from the L.A. area because of the holiday.

We greet each other with the usual “How you doing?” — meaning our luck in the casino.

Well, I just got here so I haven’t really started my “donation” to the slot machines.

Because of the large number of visitors, I had to wait a few hours for our room to open.

Most folks check out on Sundays but usually about 1 o’clock.

We arrived at 11 a.m., which means we had to wait a few hours before we could check in.

It’s my usual policy not to gamble until we check into our room, but sitting around the casino for that length of time can get pretty tiresome.

We’re planning to stay here until Wednesday.

Unfortunately, because of this trip, I wasn’t able to attend the memorial service for Frances Hashimoto held Saturday at the Japan America Theatre.

There was one unique thing about the passing of Frances.

Of course, The Rafu carried it as one of its top stories and The L.A. Times also ran a surprising lengthy article.

However, two publications that also published stories about Frances’ passing were kind of surprising to me.

One was an all-English publication printed in Tokyo, The Japan Times, and the other, The Honolulu Star Advertiser.

I don’t recall a paper from Japan or from Hawaii ever publishing a story on a Mainland Nisei’s passing.

A real tribute to Frances for her contribution to the Japanese American community.

In response to one reader’s (who asked that I didn’t use his name) question — “When you coming to Vegas again?” — I didn’t have to give it much thought.

This trip is probably “it” for 2012.

Maybe early in 2013. Of course, in gambling 13 is not a good number, but at my age I don’t think I should be thinking beyond a few months at a time.

So, let’s say if all goes well, I might make it back in mid-January.

It’s not all about money. Heh. Who’s kidding who?

Oh yeah, before I forget.

This is something the Nisei veterans might enjoy:

L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is proposing a bill to allow all vets to park at public meters in the city without paying.

Hey, that sounds like a great idea!

Don’t know how successful Mike will be on the matter.

Vets will include all those who received the Congressional Gold Medal.

That means all the Nisei who received the medal recently would be included in the “you don’t have to pay” group.

I was just curious, but do the Nisei vets have to carry their medals with them to show to the officers who check on meter violations?

I guess I’ll check with Mike for more information on his proposal.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the big news stories on TV was about a woman who bought a winning California lottery ticket but forgot about it.

With only a few weeks left before her winning ticket expired, her daughter remembered the ticket and had her mother search for it. She found it and collected $25 million.

This story reminded me of a Nisei friend (a lady) who purchased her lottery ticket every week since the beginning of the game (like me).

Well, she went on a vacation and forgot to buy a ticket. Her number was drawn while she was away.

The payoff on her numbers wasn’t as great as it gets these days, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million.

Hey, 7 million is 7 million.

After the incident, my friend stopped buying tickets.

Just from habit, she still checks the numbers, but said her numbers never came up again.

Since I heard her story, I’ve been thinking about stopping my purchases.

Hey, if I win $7 million, what the heck would I do with that kind of money?

Maybe I’ll donate it to my sons.

Yeah.

In the last election, a lot of the propositions were about our school system and how it’s falling apart.

So, how do U.S. schools rank when compared to other countries?

How many of you can guess which country’s schools rank as No. 1?

Would you believe Hong Kong?

In second place, Singapore, and third place, Taipei.

The U.S.? We rank No. 11 behind Lithuania and ahead of Germany.

I know most of you will ask, “Where is Japan ranked?” They are fourth.

Most of you might say, “Naru hodo” after reading Japan’s high ranking.

Yeah, touching on all these different issues while in Vegas probably makes everyone wonder, “Doesn’t Horse have anything of interest from Sin City?”

I guess not.

Well, maybe I can write about Toyota Motors producing their models in Mexico.

I had to read that line twice.

A Japanese car being manufactured in Mexico? Just curious what they will call the models produced there.

I know all the cars they make in Japan and the U.S. have fancy names like Avalon (I own one).

Would you drive a car with a name like “Tamale”?

Enuff said.

Okay, let me get back in a Vegas mood.

Do you know that the temperature in Vegas dropped to the 20s this past night? En route to here, the temperature in Victorville also hit the 20s.

It’s a good thing I won’t have to go outside the casino.

The last time we were here, it was completely the opposite. Most of the time, the temperature was hovering near or over 100 degrees.

Of course, those of us who come from California are more prone to step outside in 100-degree heat than 20-degree cold.

People from Hawaii think 100-degree “dry heat” is nothing compared to the Islands’ moist heat.

My relatives who come here say they don’t even sweat in Vegas heat but feel like they took a shower in Hawaii’s moist heat.

Oh well….

Yes, I know that it’s not that simple to pound out a column while in Vegas, so I packed a lot of junk in my briefcase so I can fill most of the space allotted to me by Editor Gwen.

Included in my “fillers” are letters from readers. Here’s one about my proposing a reunion at the Santa Anita Race Track by those JAs who were interned there during the early days of the war.

I’ve gotten a lot of responses from readers who say they will attend, so I am working with the track to set it up in March.

Here is one such letter from reader Harry Masatani, who wrote:

“My name is Harry Masatani and I live in Guadalupe, California. A good friend of mine was a soldier guard at Santa Anita when the Japanese were rounded up in 1942.

“I was wondering if it would be OK to bring him to the Santa Anita Reunion. The guy is 95 years old. So this may be a final chance for him.”

By the way, The Los Angeles Times last week had a nice article about Guadalupe.

When I get the reunion set up, I will send you the details. Thanks for your letter, Harry.

To those of you who have expressed an interest to attend, please send me the names of those who will join us.

If you don’t have a computer to respond by email, please mail the information to the Rafu office.

I will need the information by the end of January 2013.

Well, it’s time to get rolling into the casino.

Hope to win a few bucks or maybe a few quarters.

I’m a little short today, but I guess my pocketbook is in the same shape.

Heh, heh.

Oh, wait.

Before I left Gardena, I told my son to send a photo I received just in case I needed to fill space.

It was sent to me by Jack Kunitomi’s daughter on his 97th birthday.

Jack and I worked together on the HEart Mountain camp newspaper, The Sentinel.

At any rate, here is the note his daughter sent with the photo.

“A resounding ‘Happy birthday to you’ rang out in Montebello as 30 friends celebrated Jack Kunitomi’s birthday. Jack is enjoying life at age 97 and was honored for graciously touching many lives in many ways. His daughter Colleen Miyano joined in the birthday celebration as did John Yamada, a fellow resident of Keiro.”

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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