HORSE’S MOUTH: It Ain’t What It Used to Be!

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Yes, as we age, our memory begins to fade away. Not that I’m that old, but I seem to forget a lot of little things that can develop into something major from time to time, especially when it comes to writing my column.

On Wednesday after finishing my Saturday column, I noticed I only had two sheets of typing paper left, so I decided I’d better jump in the car and go to the paper company where I pick up my supply.

However, as often happens, something else came up and I forgot that I needed the paper, so today as I sat down at my computer and reached on the shelf to load my printer, I was stunned to see I didn’t have a single sheet left.

Well, we always talk about good luck, and it was good luck that the two pharmacies near our house are open 24 hours a day and they sell printing paper. Of course, they charge a little more but, hey, what’s a few bucks when I have to write and have nothing to write on?

So here I am.

When my wife heard about my plight, guess what she had to say. Yup. “You’re getting to be an ojii-san.”

I guess so. Today, I’m older than my Issei parents were and I always thought of them as “Ojii-san” and “Obaa-san.” They sure would laugh if they were still around and read the foregoing.

Needless to say, most of the Nisei generation are now as old as or older than our Issei parents.

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As we enter the year 2014, I note that there are a lot of activities in the month of January in the Japanese American community to celebrate the turning of the calendar, and as a columnist for The Rafu, I receive  quite a few invitations to attend the celebrations.

In the old days, it was a joy to join the various events hosted by JA organizations, but as I age, I seem to get a little more picky.

So, where I used to go to most of them, now it seems to be the reverse and I probably skip most of them.

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I was planning on attending the final races at Hollywood Park this past Sunday, but one thing led to another and I ended up watching the program on TV. In a way, I’m kind of glad I didn’t go.

The TV announcer said the crowd was huge, like the old days when Hollypark was one of the major thoroughbred racing attractions.

As we all know, over the last few years attendance at Hollypark was horrible. I mean, one could toss a handful of uncooked rice grains and not hit anyone.

I’m not sure why the popular track fell on such hard times, but a few people gave me their opinion, which might be something I could write about.

At any rate, it’s “sayonara” to Hollypark.

I guess if I do go to the races, it will have to be at Santa Anita or Del Mar.

Hey, if I have to drive that far from Gardena, I’d rather jump in the car and go to the Pechanga Casino in Temecula, about 80 miles from our house.

On the other hand, if I had to drive 80 miles to an Indian casino, I might just as well head to Las Vegas. Heh, heh.

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I want to thank Maggie, who types and corrects my many errors in my column for sending me a copy of her “Maggie’s Meow” titled “Feb. 19, 2013” as a Christmas letter. I guess I missed it when it was printed, so I learned about her health problems

Glad you were able to return, Maggie, and a Happy New Year to you.

(Maggie’s comment: Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Y. Credit for your column should also be given to J.K. Yamamoto, who reviews my typing for publication).

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It’s time to toss in a letter from one of my readers. It reads:

“I am enclosing the Christmas letter we received from Toshi Ito.

“Toshi and I taught at the same school for many years, so we got to know her and her late husband Jim.

“I thought it would be nice if you mentioned the naming of the garden at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in honor of Jim. It’s quite an honor.

“I have been married for 53 years and have subscribed to The Rafu for at least 40 of those years. I enjoy your twice-a-week column. Keep writing.”

Thanks. It’s readers like yourself who encourage me to keep pounding away even though I “run out of gas” from time to time, or should I say “run out of words”?

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Don’t remember if I used a letter from old friend, Zombie Yamamoto, but I’m not sure so I’ll print it today.

Zombie wrote: “Check the article that Supervisor Gloria Molina had published in several local papers to bring attention to the conditions at Evergreen Cemetery.

“Her office would like to hear from the public regarding the community’s views on the cemetery. She has assigned one of her staff to go to work on this.

“He is working with the management to put pressure on them to do their job in watering and upkeep, hence the articles in the paper. They have been active with them about a month. I did go to the cemetery to see if there were visible signs, but I couldn’t tell.

“Please email Michael or Molina herself.

“I will be emailing both of them.

“The second link is to a petition that you can sign. It will be sent to the governor, as the state has legal jurisdiction over the cemetery.

“You may hear from others about this as it’s a major issue for all who have family buried there.

“Please send this to others who may be just as concerned. Delete the names above before sending it.”

Thanks, Zombie. I have received a lot of communications from readers and others who expressed the same thoughts as you and I feel it will have an effect on the situation.

I’m glad that my writing has stirred up people’s attention to the problem at Evergreen, especially the Japanese American community.

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I’m not sure if the person who sent me the following wanted to be identified, but just in case she didn’t, I won’t publish her name. She entitled her email “Political Aphorisms”:

• If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.

• If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in the State of the Union speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.

• Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Go into politics and your opponent will do it for you.

• There ought to be one day — just one — when there is open season on senators.

Enuff said.

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As always, I have to toss in my usual mention of Vegas.

I often say in my column that a number of Japanese restaurants keep opening up in Vegas.

Well, according to the latest news, ten new eateries opened during the past month, of which eight are Japanese.

Gee, there must be a demand for Japanese restaurants if more are popping up.

I guess the success of Makino’s might be one of the reasons.

Yes, most of the Japanese restaurants serve sushi. I guess that’s only natural.

Of course, I always dine at Makino’s on my trips to Vegas, but although the place serves sushi, I usually go for their other Japanese dishes.

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I bumped into a patron at Bob’s Okazuya in Gardena who recognized me and said she saw newscaster David Ono’s TV show in which he interviewed me on life in a relocation camp.

I wasn’t aware that Dave was still showing the show in which I appeared early in 2013.

Hey, maybe I’ll become famous.

Heh, heh.

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I‘ll wind up today’s column on another sad note.

Last week I wrote about a sports organization we formed while we were interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center. We picked the name Jackrabbits because there were so many of the critters in the desert land surrounding the camp.

The reason I reached back to touch on our camp activities is because last week another member of the Jackrabbits left us. Mas Kawasaki, who was one of the older members of the Jackrabbits, passed way.

That left only three of us. That number was reduced to two with the news of the passing of Willie Kai.

Willie was well-known in Little Tokyo because he owned and operated the Kokusai Travel Bureau with an office on East Second Street, where Union Bank is now located.

Since I traveled to Japan frequently during that era, Willie was so helpful in arranging my trips.

Willie moved Kokusai Travel to Huntington Beach and operated out of that city for a couple of decades, so I hadn’t seen him for quite a while.

Yet, it was stunning news to me to read his obituary in the The Rafu a few days ago.

So it’s time once again to say “sayonara” to another old friend.

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

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