HORSE’S MOUTH: The Graduation Issue

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published June 28, 2014)

Yes, as I sit at the keyboard of my computer thinking about what I should open with today, my concentration is being hampered by the neighbor’s barking dog, a problem I mentioned a few times over the past few columns.

A while back, a reader sent me suggestion, which I didn’t think I’d have to use because I concluded that the yakking mutt would be shut up by my neighbor. No such luck.

So, here’s the reader’s suggestion:

“Horse: I don’t know if you have a t ape recorder or not but if you do, here is what you should do. Tape the yakking dog and at night, place it in your window and turn it on full blast. If that doesn’t bother your neighbor, nothing will.”

Sounds like a good idea. Maybe I will give it a try. Thanks for the info.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: May I ask, Mr. Y, did you read my comment in Saturday’s issue of June 21?)

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I don’t know if I mentioned it in my recent column, but this Saturday, one of my relatives invited me and my wife to join her in an overnight trip to Pala, the Indian casino near San Diego.

She extended the invitation because I haven’t gone to Las Vegas for six months and she thought I might want to get away, even if it’s “just” an Indian casino. I mentioned this in a phone call to a friend who lives in Vegas and she just laughed.

Yes, I know a few people who moved to Vegas and are now permanent residents of my favorite city, which made me wonder.

Do people who live permanently in Vegas go to casinos regularly or, since they live there, only a few times a month?

Well, the person I talked to on the phone goes to casinos almost daily. Not as a heavy gambler but just to pass the time.

Living in Vegas, I guess there isn’t really too much else to do.

Did I ever consider moving to Vegas? Naw. It’s a place I enjoy visiting but I can’t imagine living there permanently. Gee, how did I ever get started on such a subject?

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Before I go any further, I have to pause here and congratulate the staff of The Rafu for putting out another Graduation Issue. There’s a lot of work involved in just gathering the names of those JAs who graduated from prep school and colleges.

I know because when I was a full-time employee at The Kashu Mainichi, we used to put together a graduation issue, but not as efficiently as The Rafu does each year.

This graduation edition is in addition to the “regular” newspaper they have to grind out each day. So, I say again, “Good work, gang.”

I’m glad I’m just a columnist for The Rafu.

Oh, by the way, in this year’s list, Juli Yoshinaga appears as a graduate from Peninsula High School in Palos Verdes. She’s my granddaughter and will be enrolled in college this fall.

Sure makes me realize that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. At any rate, congratulations to Juli from Grandpa.

I don’t know what she is going to pursue in college. One thing for sure — she told me she won’t be a journalist.

I guess she doesn’t want to be like Grandpa. And who can blame her?

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: Congratulations upon on your granddaughter’s graduation, Mr. & Mrs. Y!)

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As I frequently note, when I start writing my column, be it Sunday or Wednesday, I often take a break and go out on the front porch of our house to go over the thoughts that cross my mind.

If the weather is like it was the past few days in Gardena, it helps a lot.

Although it may be hot elsewhere in the Los Angeles area, Gardena is a lot different. The cool ocean breeze that blows in keeps the heat down in our town, and what could be better than a nice cool breeze to relax my mind and inspire me to pound out my column?

I know that the people who live in the area surrounding my house often look at me sitting there, chewing on my cigar. They don’t know I’m a retired newspaperman who still pounds out two columns a week, which requires time for me to think.

I guess one of those renting a house in our neighborhood got a little curious seeing me sitting there day after day. He walked over and said, “Hi, do you mind if I chat with you?”

I told him, “No, I’m glad to meet my neighbors.”

Since he was rather new in the area, he asked me, “How much do you pay to rent your house?”

Naturally I laughed when I responded, “I don’t rent my house, I own it.”

“Own it? I thought everyone around here rented their place,” he responded.

I told him I bought my house nearly 60 years ago.

“Sixty years. Wow! What did it cost you?’’

Again, I chuckled. “$15,000,” I replied.

He looked at me, shocked.

“Gosh, I pay $1,700 a month rent,” he gulped.

Of course, that would come to over $17,000 a year or more than the 15 years it took for me to clean up my loan on the house.

Oh well, when you figure that most new cars today cost about that much, what can one do?

As I mention from time to time, there are only three Japanese families living in my neighborhood. When I bought my house, the neighborhood was about 70 percent Japanese Americans. Most moved to Orange County and a few to Torrance.

My immediate neighbors moved to Orange County about three years after I moved into our place. No, not because we were Japanese. They had five kids and as they were growing up, they decided they needed a bigger house to live in.

Well, after they moved and their kids all grew up, they moved again. This time to a smaller house in Oceanside. When we went to visit them, they told us they wanted to move back to Gardena but couldn’t find a place to buy.

That’s how our city changed from the old days.

A lot of the Japanese families who moved out later told me I did the right thing in staying in Gardena and they wished they had done the same thing.

They all said, “Gardena is a great city in which to live. Something we learned by moving out.”

Kind of makes me feel good, even if we are now surrounded by people renting their homes instead of owning them.

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Speaking of moving out, it would seem a lot of Japanese in Japan are leaving the country.

According to the latest report, the population of Japan has shrunk for the fifth straight year, down by 0.19 percent.

It was not revealed where most of the Japanese are moving to.

Will have to do a little more research to get the final results on the population movement by the Japanese.

I’m curious if the population of “gaijins” in Japan is growing as more Japanese depart.

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This is the time of year when athletes in various sports at the high school and college level are singled out and named as top performers in their sport.

I like to glance through the listings and am always surprised to find a number of Japanese names listed on either the first or second all-star team.

Many in sports we don’t pay too much attention to; however, there are JAs named to football, basketball and baseball all-star teams.

I’m hoping The Rafu can do the research and publish the names of those who have been selected as the ‘top athletes” in their respective sport.

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Today, Japanese players in the big leagues are nothing new. But remember the Masanori Murakami? He was the first Japanese, 50 years ago, to start for a Major League club when he pitched for the San Francisco Giants. He joined the Giants after playing with the Fresno Giants in the California A League in 1964.

To recognize his “first” as a big-leaguer, the Giants this year had Murakami throw out the first pitch for the San Francisco club against the Miami Marlins.

After Murakami’s debut, dozens of Japanese players became Major Leaguers.

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I want to extend a “thank you” to the numerous readers who have volunteered to drive me to Vegas if I want to go. They tell me the same thing: “If the only reason you can’t go is because you can’t drive, just give me a buzz on my phone and I’ll pick you up.”

Needless to say, I appreciate it and maybe I’ll take them up on their offers. I sure miss my favorite city. The city probably doesn’t miss me. Heh, heh.

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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