HORSE’S MOUTH: Meeting Old Friends at Events

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Sept. 16, 2014)

As I mentioned in my previous column, this past weekend was scheduled to be a rather busy one. However, it didn’t turn out as I figured it might.

I had two invitations to attend a luncheon on Saturday and dinner on Sunday.

Needless to say, I figured I would be able to gather material with which to fill most of today’s column.

I was wrong. Neither event provided much column material.

The Saturday luncheon put together by Bacon Sakatani was held at the Montebello Country Club. It was labeled as the “Heart Mountain Reunion.” The title alone made me want to attend as I was an internee at the Wyoming camp.

But aside from the large crowd (about 300), there was nothing for me to write about.

Sitting with me and my wife and son were Tosh Asano and Keiichi Ikeda, both of whom I met and became friends with at Heart Mountain.

Writing about Tosh’s athletic skills would be enough to fill my column. He was one of the great all-around athletes in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and softball.

In the latter sport, I would say that he was probably the best pitcher ever to take the mound. No, not just the best Japanese American softball pitcher. The best pitcher, PERIOD.

I’m glad I didn’t play softball and face Tosh, and a lot of people who did all said the same thing about his pitching — the greatest.

He didn’t match his softball pitching in basketball and football, but he was still one of the best in the four sports.

Yeah, he rekindled a lot of great memories of our days at the Wyoming camp.

He joined the 442nd unit after leaving Heart Mountain, so I didn’t run into him again until after the end of the war. Nevertheless, he was always in mind as a good friend.

So, to meet him at different events these days really rekindles fond memories.

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On Sunday, I went to a dinner at Gardena Valley Baptist Church.

I wasn’t sure what the theme of the dinner was and when I left, I still wasn’t sure about the gathering.

One thing for sure about both events.

If I keep doing the same thing every weekend (stuffing myself with food), I might begin to look like a sumo wrestler.

My wife agrees.

Hey, those of you who knew me 50 years ago know that I was looking like a sumo wrestler in those days.

After spending four years dining on U.S. Army food, I just ate too much as a civilian and did soar to 240 pounds. You read that right, two hundred forty pounds.

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In about three months, the article I’m tossing in here will probably be published in many newspapers. It has the heading, “Real Reason Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor.” It was written by Victor Davis Hanson.

His story: “The Japanese did not see their attack on Pearl Harbor as foolish at all. What in retrospect seems suicidal did not necessarily seem so at the time.

“In hindsight, the wiser Japanese course would have been to absorb the orphaned colonial Far East possessions of France, the Netherlands and Great Britain that were largely defenseless after June 1941. By carefully avoiding the Philippines and Pearl Harbor, the Japanese might have inherited the European colonial empire in the Pacific without starting a war with the United States.

“And had the Japanese and Germans coordinated strategy, the two might have attacked Russia simultaneously in June 1941 without prompting a wider war with the United States or in the case of Japan, an immediate conflict necessarily with Great Britain.

“But in the Japanese view, the Soviets had proved stubborn opponents in a series of border wars and it was felt wiser to achieve a secure war in Manchuria to divert attention to the west.

“In the Imperial Japanese mind, the moment was everything. It was high time to get in on the easy pickings in the Pacific before Germany ended the war altogether.

“When the United States had belatedly begun rearming in the late 1930s, the Japanese were still convinced that in a naval war, their ships, planes and personnel were at least as modern and plentiful if not more numerous and qualitatively better than what was available to the United States.

“The growing isolationism of the United States that had been championed by the likes of icons like Walt Disney and Charles Lindbergh, the persistent Depression, and the fact that the United States had not intervened in Europe, but instead watched Britain get battered for some 26 months from September 1939 to December 1941, suggested to many in the Japanese military command that the United States might either negotiate or respond only halfheartedly after Pearl Harbor, especially after the envisioned loss of the American carrier fleet.

“Japanese intelligence about American productive potential was about as limited as German knowledge of the Soviet Union. In Tokyo’s view, if Japanese naval forces took out the American Pacific carriers at Pearl Harbor, there was simply no way for America, at least in the immediate future, to contradict any of their Pacific agendas.

“Nor on Dec. 7 could the Japanese even imagine that Germany might lose the war on the eastern front. More likely, Hitler seemed about to take Moscow, ending the continental ground conflict in Eurasia and allowing him at last to finish off Great Britain.

“Britain’s fall, then, would mean that everything from India to Burma would soon be orphaned in the Pacific and Japan would only have to deal with a vastly crippled and solitary United States.

“In short, for the Japanese, December 1941 seemed a good time to attack the United States, a provocation that would either likely be negotiated or end in a military defeat to the U.S.”

Remember Pearl Harbor!

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Something a little lighter.

As most of you who read my writing know, we have three cats in our house.

The other day I suggested to my wife that we get rid of two of them and maybe if I mentioned it in my column, some readers might offer to take them from us.

“No way,” she said. “And don’t even mention it in your writing.”

Well, I guess I am mentioning it, but I also guess that we will still have three cats after I write about them.

On second thought, I concluded she’s right.

After having three cats around for such a long time, having just one would make our house a little empty.

Meow, meow, meow.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: Yes, Mr. Y, it would be a cruel thing to get rid of two cats if you have had the three for a while. The one cat left will be looking for the other two cats, making him/her VERY unhappy, and you will have a “cat problem.”)

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A short letter I received this past week reminded me that the Dodgers’ season is just a few weeks from ending.

The reader wrote: “Is it my imagination or haven’t you really been to one Dodgers game this year?”

No, it’s not your imagination. I haven’t been to Dodger Stadium this year.

Same old reason that I miss going to Vegas.

My wife won’t let me drive and I can’t get any of my sons to drive us to a baseball game.

They tell me, “We don’t mind driving you to Vegas, but not to a Dodgers game. Heck, it’s just a 20-minute drive from Gardena to Dodger Stadium, so why can’t you drive?”

When I tell them their mother won’t let me, they all laugh.

Actually, driving to Vegas might be safer than going to Dodger Stadium with all the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Oh well, maybe if the Dodgers make it to the World Series, my sons might take a different point of view on driving me.

So, do I think the local baseball club has a chance to play in the series? Yes, I give them a good chance, if all they have to do is edge the San Francisco Giants.

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Since we had lunch on Saturday and dinner on Sunday at two different events, I thought, “Gee, we’re spending less on groceries these days because when we’re invited to parties, we don’t go shopping too often.”

My wife laughed and said, “Yes, and I don’t have to cook too often.” And she’s right.

Since our sons married and moved away, we only go grocery shopping about half the time that we used to when everyone was still living at home.

I didn’t realize how much we used to spend on groceries until recently when I began keeping track.

I wonder how many other Nisei parents living alone have cut down on their grocery shopping.

Maybe I’m the only one who even thinks about stuff like this.

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For those of you who are planning a trip to Hawaii, there is one thing to consider and I speak from my own personal experiences.

What I am referring to here is that drivers in the Islands are a lot different from those one might encounter in Los Angeles or other California cities.

Island drivers seem to be more hostile in their attitude towards other drivers.

So, the Island newspapers carry articles about how one motorist attacked another because of a minor incident while driving.

In all the years I’ve driven in California, I would guess I’ve never encountered an angry motorist who challenged to punch me in the nose because he felt I cut him off in traffic.

In Honolulu, I got into a couple of fights with drivers who felt I didn’t give them their so-called “right of way.”

I find it’s no use trying to avoid getting into a hassle with other motorists. They just won’t let you go.

I just thought I’d toss this in because over the past few weeks I’ve read about motorists getting involved with each other because of a driving incident.

As the Islanders might say, “Better no argue with another driver.”

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

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