HORSE’S MOUTH: Hang in There, Paul Tanaka

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Aug. 16, 2014)

I just opened another ream of paper to print what I’m pounding out on my computer for today’s column.

For those of you keep tabs on such things, you know that a ream of typing paper contains 750 pages. Since my column usually takes up seven pages of typing paper and I write twice a week, it adds up to 14 pages a week, and since I write 52 weeks a year, that adds up to 14 x 52. If my math is correct, that comes to one ream a year.

So since I’ve been writing for The Rafu for 25 years, I’ve filled 25 x 750.

Gosh, that kind of stunned me. I never realized that I wrote so many pages.

Yes, I saved some of my old columns and have them stored in our garage. Maybe one of these days I’ll take some of them out and read what kind of stuff I wrote over the years.

Since we’ve hit the year 2014, it means that since I typed my first word as a journalist (back in Heart Mountain Relocation Center), over 70 years have passed.

If someone said, “Horse, you will still be writing in 2014,” I probably would have said, “Man, you’ve been standing in the sun too long.”

But, here I am.

The first article I wrote for the camp paper was a column entitled “Sports Tidbits.”

The editor of the camp paper, although he hired me to the staff, didn’t feel I was a polished writer, so he assigned me to cover sports activities in camp. That would mean stories on baseball, basketball, football and even sumo, and that’s how my journalistic career got under way.

I was absent from journalism for four years since I joined the Army from camp, but got started again when I returned to civilian life and was hired by the late Saburo Kido, publisher of The Shin Nichi Bei, to join his staff not only as a sports writer but to work the linotype machine.

I never imagined that a farm boy could one day become a newspaper columnist.

While it is nice to become a journalist, the best thing about being one is that it afforded me the opportunity to become friends with so many people whom I otherwise would not have met.

“So many people” would include political office-holders (including a couple of presidents), movie stars and famous athletes.

It also gave me the opportunity to travel the world.

How many Nisei can say they’ve been to London (seven times), Paris, Rome, South America, five Asian nations and most of the 50 states?

Gee, I must be hard-pressed to find something to write about today if I have to chat about my professional career as a journalist and sports promoter.

Oh well.

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One of the “well-known people” whom I met as a journalist is Iku Kiriyama, who invited me to have lunch with her the other day.

So we met at a restaurant in Gardena and chatted about goings-on in the JA community.

Her late husband George was very active until his passing.

The Gardena High School Adult School is named for her husband because of his contributions to the community.

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I was reminded that the former Heart Mountain folks are holding their annual reunion in Vegas next month.

I guess I didn’t hear about it until a friend called to ask me if I was going to attend the event.

I’ll sure try, which means I’ll have to find someone who will volunteer to drive me and my wife to Vegas.

I would assume that a lot of the old-time camp people are fading from the scene, so it’s nice to get together with those still remaining.

Hey, as I said in opening today’s column, over 70 years have passed since we were in camp, which means that guys like me who were teenagers are now senior citizens.

As I mentioned in the past, we had a sports club during our days at Heart Mountain. The total membership was 21. Today, there are only two of us left.

Needless to say, time flies. Those who were in the 21-to-25 age group during camp days would now be in their early 80s and mid-90s.

Who could have imagined such a thing back in 1942 and 1943?

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Well, it looks like the “Buddhaheads” are taking back power in the Island State.

“Buddhahead” is what we often call the Japanese Americans from Hawaii.

It looks like the next governor, lieutenant governor and congressman will be JA, and maybe the next senator.

As an old-timer I can remember when JAs were on top of the pile, where “haoles” were nowhere to be found.

I’m not sure what is causing the trend, but I’m cheered by the results of the latest election.

When I used to hang around in Hawaii, I felt comfortable with the JAs in control.

I used to hang out at Sad Sam’s, a popular bar in downtown Honolulu, and if you wanted to meet a political bigwig, it was the place to go.

Sad Sam’s was owned by the late Sam Ichinose, probably one of the most well-known JAs in the Islands.

Aside from his popular bar/cafe, Sam promoted sports, mostly boxing, and since I was involved in boxing, I got to be close friends with him.

I didn’t have to rent a car to get around Honolulu. Sam made his car available to me, so I drove around town like a local guy.

I even began using pidgin English like all the “locals,” and nobody called me a “kotonk,” the name Hawaiians gave to us Mainland JAs.

Well, maybe I’ll schedule a trip to Hawaii to see how things have changed in recent times and I can go back to using my pidgin English.

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A brief pause here to welcome back George Wakiji, a resident of Camarillo, who has been one of my top supporters for a lot of years.

He would always provide me with news items of interest to the Japanese American community.

However, in recent times, he kind of disappeared and I was a bit concerned, but he’s back.

Glad to hear from you, George. I hope everything is going okay in Camarillo.

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According to the media, Paul Tanaka’s chances for winning the sheriff’s office in this year’s election are not that good.

Well, whatever.

The Sansei’s departure from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has cost the county $339,424. That’s what he was paid upon his retirement as undersheriff.

The payout covers unused holidays, vacation, sick time and other leaves during his 31-year career in the department. It was his final salary payment.

Of course, six-figure payouts aren’t rare at the Sheriff’s Department.

The source of the information on Tanaka’s pay-off came from the Los Angeles County Payroll Division.

According to the article, Tanaka did not respond to the information published.

Well, I guess if the story is accurate, Tanaka will have a few extra bucks in his bid to become the next sheriff.

Yeah, I’m one of Paul’s supporters.

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Since my son attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, an article on the conduct of today’s cadets caught my eye.

I know from visiting him when he was a cadet at the academy how strict the institution was on the conduct of its cadets.

So I was surprised to learn that the academy’s superintendent is calling for an investigation into reports of sexual assault, drug use and cheating among cadet athletes.

I will show my son this segment of my column, which will probably be a surprise to him.

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Maybe this isn’t news, but Oxnard Buddhist Temple, a fixture at the Ventura County Fair for more than 40 years, did not serve its udon and rice bowls this year.

Temple officials said a Ventura County environmental inspector told them that the trailer used at the fair would fail the inspection to function as a mobile food facility because of changes in permit practices.

So those attending the fair had to go without udon and rice bowls.

Another county official said the trailer still could have operated at the fair because it is defined as an approved community event, but Aletha Watanabe, a temple board member, said temple officials were never told they could still operate their trailer.

Temple officials said they have served food for so long at the fair that they don’t know exactly when they started their operation, but guess it was in the 1960s.

The CEO of the fair said she wants the food facility continued. It may be back next year.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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