HORSE’S MOUTH: Who Is Charles Ikenaga?

0

YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

A reader of my column who asks not to be identified by name (so what else is new?) wrote me the following email:

“Horse, I just finished reading your latest column in which you used your computer breakdown (as an excuse) for reprinting a story you wrote back in 1944 when you were on the camp’s newspaper staff. Man, you must be pretty desperate to have to resort to something like that.”

Yeah, when I have to fill a couple of pages a week in The Rafu, I have to find ways to complete the task, but when my computer gets busted, I don’t have any other option.

Of course, my son who drops in to see what the problem is might tell me, “Dad, you better buy a new computer.”

At my age, I have to seriously consider if I would want to invest in a new computer.

Oh well.

+++

As I also frequently mention, one of the top supporters of my column, who sends me information loaded with ideas, is George Wakiji, who lives in Camarillo.

For the past three weeks I haven’t received anything from him, so I was a bit concerned that he had given up providing me with column ideas.

It turns out that he was hospitalized for the past three weeks after he underwent heart surgery. He’s resting at home now and said he will be back on his feet and can start communicating with me next week.

Gosh, that’s good news. But more important than my getting communications from him is that he is back on his feet.

+++

It’s not too often that I attend memorial services held on Sundays. However, this past Sunday, today as I write this, I went to the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Little Tokyo to bid farewell to an old friend from relocation camp days in Heart Mountain.

That would be Masashi Kawasaki, whom we knew as “Chick” during those days in camp.

I ran a photo of our sports club called the Jackrabbits in my column about three weeks ago.

Chick was in the photo. Well, ironically, Chick passed away shortly after the photo was published in The Rafu.

One of the participants at Chick’s service, during his talk, thanked Rafu and this column for mentioning his name.

+++

While thinking about those days in camp, I am reminded of the horrible weather we Californians faced during our first winter in Wyoming, and when I watch TV and football games being played in the eastern part of the U.S., I am also reminded of the first game the camp team played against an outside high school named Worland.

The temperature for the game was below freezing, but somehow we managed to get through it and beat Worland 7-0.

That first winter in Wyoming, the temperature fell as low as 28 degrees below zero, but somehow we managed to survive even if all we had in our barrack unit was a coal-burning stove.

I know my mother, who was in bad health, really suffered as she almost hugged the coal burner to keep warm.

There are some of the things we don’t read about when people talk or write about our camp experiences.

I guess it’s an indication of the toughness of the Japanese Americans who were hauled off to Wyoming.

+++

Well, let me jump from Wyoming to Tokyo.

This story caught my eye because the suspect in a murder of a high school girl is Charles Ikenaga, age 21. With a name like Charles Ikenaga, could the suspect be Nisei, Sansei or Yonsei?

According to the news report, Ikenaga stalked the victim before he caught up with Saaya Suzuki, 18, who had reported Ikenaga to the police as threatening her.

Suzuki was confirmed dead at a hospital after sustaining stab wounds to her neck and abdomen.

Ikenaga was arrested after fleeing from the scene, reportedly confessed to the attack and was quoted as saying he obtained the knife beforehand and discarded it while fleeing.

Ikenaga was quoted by the police as saying, “I waited for her near her home with the intent to kill her.”

The victim had appeared in a movie and was pursuing a career in show business while continuing to attend high school.

Her high school principal told the media that Suzuki had reported to her teachers that she was “scared” because Ikenaga was hanging around her house.

The principal expressed sadness over Suzuki’s murder, saying she was a “cheerful student who loved English.”

There was no information on Ikenaga and his background, especially his name.

I’ll continue to follow this case until I learn if Ikenaga is a Nisei, Sansei or Yonsei or maybe is completely Japanese and his parents just gave him an English name.

+++

Oh yeah, after attending services in J-Town on Sunday, my wife said, “Let’s stop in Little Tokyo and find a nice restaurant for lunch.”

Since it’s been ages since we had lunch in a J-Town eatery, I thought her suggestion was something to follow.

So after we left the temple, we drove around and around and around. We just couldn’t find a parking space on First, Second or Central. I would guess we circled around about five times.

So, I drove to Third Street, but with my wobbly legs, I didn’t think I could walk too far, so we drove back to Gardena and went to our favorite J-eatery there.

Yeah, I guess I could have parked in a paid parking space, but with the cost of parking being what it is, I didn’t think it would be worth it.

I guess the only way to beat the no-parking problem is to have someone drive us to Little Tokyo and pick us up in an hour or so.

I’m just curious why cars parked in J-Town never seem to move, especially on Sundays when the parking meter doesn’t have to be fed (I think).

+++

From news reports, I see the Dodgers might find it tough to sign Masahiro Tanaka, the hotshot Japanese pitcher who wants to play in the Major Leagues.

Since Japan has its own “big leagues,” signing a Japanese player isn’t as simple as hiring a player from say, Latin American countries, especially where wages are concerned.

To sign a Japanese player, the American big league clubs have to dish out a potful of money to the Japanese league before they can even negotiate the salary of the players.

Would Tanaka be worth the millions the American clubs have to dish out just to negotiate?

Oh well, we’ll see when the next season opens and maybe we’ll see Tanaka wearing a uniform with “Dodgers” on it.

+++

Just chatted with a friend who returned from Vegas on Sunday.

“You should be glad you didn’t schedule a trip this past weekend,” he told me.

It was all about weather.

I didn’t follow what the conditions were, but he said it was snowing and raining in Vegas and the temperature was below freezing.

He added, “It’s not bad when you are in Vegas and just stay in the casino, but if one had to drive around, it’s horrible.”

I told him I don’t have a trip planned now, perhaps not until January.

But I’ll pay closer attention to the weather in Vegas in case I suddenly decide to make the trip.

I see that the temperature in Victorville was in the mid-20s the other day and man, that’s cold.

On my trip to Vegas, I always stop in Victorville for breakfast, but if the temperature is in the 20s, I doubt if I would want to get out of the car and walk to a restaurant, usually Denny’s.

It might remind me of my first winter in Heart Mountain when we suffered subzero temperatures. Well, being reminded of Heart Mountain might be something to think about.

+++

This month, December 2013, will be me and my wife’s 60th year as residents in the City of Gardena, and while I’ve been a journalist for all that time, I’ve never been approached by organizations in the city for my support.

Well, surprise, surprise.

This week I received a letter from the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, which seems to have finally noticed my presence in the city. It read:

“Merry Christmas from the staff at the Gardena Valley JCI. I cannot believe that the year has gone by so quickly. We have had a busy year with public programs this year, but we plan on making 2014 the best year yet. But before that comes, we want you to spend some quality time with your family and friends this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and see you in 2014.

“On to December events.

“2014 GVJCI Raffle. It’s not too late to get your tickets. This year’s raffle will support the building fund, which pays for capital improvements and repairs. Our goal for 2014 is to raise $65,000 to make renovations, including replacement of roofing on the GVJCI Nisei Veterans Hall; replacement of the flooring in the GVJCI building’s bathrooms, locker rooms and stairway; replacement of both second-floor classroom wall partitions.

“You can help by participating in our annual raffle. We will be happy to send you a raffle package that will include a letter about the raffle, two books of tickets. Each book has ten tickets at $2 per ticket, a return form and return envelope. If you would like to pick up a raffle package in person from the GVJCI office, you may do so.”

Gee, I thought I was finally recognized for my role as a journalist. It turns out they just want me to buy raffle tickets.

Okay, I’ll drop in and make my contribution, now that someone knows I exist as a long-time Gardena resident.

+++

Today’s closer is entitled “Murphy’s Other Laws.”

1. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

2. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

3. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.

4. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

5. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.

6. The 50-50-90 rule. Anytime you get a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90 percent probability you’ll get it wrong.

7. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone from California would be stupid enough to try to pass them.

8. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

9. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

11. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.

12. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.

13. He who laughs last thinks slowest.

14. Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.

15. When you get in court, you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.

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

Tags

Share.

Leave A Reply