HORSE’S MOUTH: The New Neighbor

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Sept. 23, 2014)

The election for the next sheriff for Los Angeles County is just around the corner. Paul Tanaka, the mayor of the City of Gardena, is one of the two candidates vying for the post. Publicity-wise, he doesn’t appear to be making too much headway.

In the latest story on his campaign, The Daily Breeze newspaper, published in the South Bay area, ran a top story on Tanaka in its “Local News” section under the heading, “Tanaka’s Sheriff Bid Struggling.”

The opening paragraph read, “To the outside world, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka has all but abandoned his campaign for Los Angeles County sheriff in the Nov. 4 election against Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.”

However, the article said that the Sansei candidate denies that he’s tossed in the towel and he is planning an active effort in the final weeks heading into the election.

I guess I can understand why The Daily Breeze has come to this conclusion.

Tanaka hasn’t really been campaigning even though he was quoted as saying, “I am absolutely campaigning.”

He was also quoted as saying his is a different type of campaign because a different type of campaign is necessary for this election. His campaign advertising since the June primary has consisted of a YouTube video and assurances on Facebook that he is remaining in the race.

Tanaka, who is 56, worked for the Sheriff’s Department for 33 years.

I consider Tanaka a personal friend since he and my oldest son grew up together in Gardena and he often dropped by our house. However, since he announced his intention to seek the sheriff’s post, I haven’t seen or talked with him about his candidacy.

I would like to take an active role in his campaign, but I sure can’t do it if I can’t meet with him to discuss the election.

Oh well, I’m not too hep on elections, so maybe I’m expecting things that just won’t happen.

At any rate, I’m still supporting Tanaka.

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Because I write two columns a week for The Rafu* I try to get out and attend events in the community where I can pick up material on which to comment. Needless to say, I run into a lot of people for the first time and even though I may not know them, they might know me, at least in name, from reading The Rafu.

It’s kind of surprising that quite a few “hakujins” get their hands on our publication. I find this out when a “hakujin” I may meet will say, “Aren’t you the Horse who writes for The Rafu?”

It might be in bad taste to write what they really say is, “Aren’t you the Horse who writes in The Rafu Chimpo?”

Needless to say, I correct them. “That’s Rafu Shimpo.”

The response is, “Oh, really? What’s the difference?”

I guess those who don’t really have a handle on the Japanese language can’t tell the difference. If I do explain, they would probably think I’m joking around.

Oh well, that’s life.

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I mentioned it a few times, but the neighborhood I have lived in for nearly 60 years has changed considerably. Mainly, most Japanese Americans have moved away.

The four houses across the street from my place are all rented, not purchased by new owners.

What this means is that the neighborhood changes quite frequently as one renter moves out and another moves in. Needless to say, all the tenants are hakujins.

They see me sitting on the front porch of my place but none of them appears interested in being a good neighbor.

That changed a bit this past week when a Caucasian moved into the house directly in front of my place. The new tenant saw me, walked across the street to my porch and said, “Hi, my name is Dave and I thought I would introduce myself.”

It was a bit surprising to me.

I returned his “hi” and said, “Glad to meet you.”

He then said, “You’re probably wondering why I came over to meet you.”

“Not really,” I told him. “This is a new neighborhood for most of you, so I figured it would take some time before we met.”

He said, “Well, before I moved to Southern California, I was born and raised in Santa Maria and as you probably know, we had a large Japanese community, so I had a lot of Japanese American friends. So when I saw you, I knew I had to come over and meet you.”

I was happy to hear his comment.

“Yes,” I told him, “I knew quite a few Japanese who lived in Santa Maria, but for one reason or another, most of them moved away.”

We chatted for an hour or so. Then he said he had to get to work, so he left.

Now when he drives away from his house, he waves to me with a smile, so now I have a friendly neighbor.

I guess Gardena is changing, especially after 60 years. We have Paul Tanaka as mayor, so the JA influence in our town is still very strong.

One thing has changed a little.

We don’t have as many Japanese restaurants as we used to, say, 40 years ago, so to get our Nihon-shoku, we frequently drive out to Torrance.

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Oh yeah, I owe the Gardena Valley Baptist Church an apology.

I attended a luncheon last week and forgot to mention what the gathering was about.

It was the 100th-year celebration for Japanese Americans’ residency in Gardena.

The reason I am mentioning this is because one of my readers said, “Horse, you wrote about going to the Gardena event but didn’t mention what it was all about.”

Yeah, I goofed.

Heh, heh. So what else is new?

I guess when one spends decades as a newspaper writer, some important details that should be mentioned are missed.

Hey, as I’ve said before, maybe it’s time to hang ’em up.

Don’t everyone stomp your feet and yell, “Hooray, Horse is quitting.”

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I haven’t attended the Pasadena Rose Parade in a lot of years, but maybe I should put the event on my calendar.

That’s because the City of Alhambra is entering a float with a “Japanese touch” to it.

Of course, the thought of fighting the huge crowd at the Rose Parade each year makes it difficult to drive to Pasadena.

I think the last time I was there was about five years ago, if memory serves me correctly.

I’m sure The Rafu will have its camera crew on hand, so I won’t have to take pictures of the float.

Go get ’em, Alhambra.

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Yeah, I like anything to do with Heart Mountain publicity.

Although we all agree that the evacuation of Japanese Americans when World War started was wrong, many of my thoughts of that period in my life have a positive ring to them.

When I get letters from readers of my column and read articles about Heart Mountain, I find there are those who feel the same way. In a Wyoming newspaper, a Nisei who was interned when she was 8 years old was quoted as saying, “It was a very pleasant time. I had a good time. I was not bitter.”

After all these years (about 70), I still have great thoughts about our life in the Wyoming camp, as wrong as it was to imprison Japanese Americans.

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Seventy years ago, if someone had said to me, “George, in 70 years you will be able to read about your past on your computer,” my first reaction would have been, “What’s a computer?”

Yet today on my computer I get emails about this very topic.

Heck, even the electric typewriter wasn’t invented, so when I look down on my desk and see the computer keyboard staring me in the face, I am totally knocked overboard.

When I was first introduced to a hunt-and-peck typewriter, I was amazed, and when I took my first typing test and banged out 40 words a minute, I was equally amazed.

Now, if I can’t hit 60 to 70 words a minute, I’m not considered a typist.

Oh well, why am I trying to fill up my column with junk?

The more space I fill, the merrier for the Rafu English staff, who have a tough chore in putting out a daily newspaper.

Yeah, I know. Some of you may say, “Just putting out junk isn’t filling a newspaper.”

I agree.

So when I sit down for Saturday’s column, I’ll make sure it doesn’t contain the kind of stuff I’m using to wind up today’s column.

See ya Saturday.

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

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  1. Isamu Morimoto on

    For some of your readers who may not follow you on the Rafu Shimpo
    web page, you might write a little about Travis Ishikawa’s career and family history since he has been in the sports news lately. Even tho I am a Dodger fan I wanted Travis to succeed
    so I found myself cheering for the San Francisco Giants. If you search in Google you will find some information about his end of his career this last year of 2014 and the rejuvenation during the National League Championship Series. It was quite uplifting to me to see him be the hero of the final game to put SF in the World Series.

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