(Published Sept. 30, 2014)
The Caucasian man who became my neighbor when he rented the house across the street from my place always walks across the street to chat with me when he sees me sitting on the front porch.
He’s a friendly type and since he lived in the Gardena area for quite a while before moving in across the street, he knows quite a few Japanese Americans.
One of his Nisei friends told him I was a newspaper columnist for The Rafu, so he picked up a copy at one of the supermarkets that sell the newspaper.
He was kind of surprised by reading my column twice a week. “Your writing is quite entertaining even for me, a Caucasian, because of the stuff you write about” is the way he put it.
Yeah, I guess since The Rafu covers activities in the JA community, my writing is a little different from the news articles that appear in the publication.
I told the neighbor that at one time there were five newspapers published in the Los Angeles area for Japanese American readers.
He was amazed by this. “Five newspapers. Boy, that’s really something.”
In case some of you may not remember the five publications, they were The Rafu, of course, The Shin Nichi Bei, The Kashu Mainichi, Crossroads and The Pacific Citizen.
The PC, as it is called, is the publication put out by the JACL and is still in production.
I worked for the PC, Kashu and Shin Nichi Bei during my active days as a newspaperman.
I also worked for The Nichi Bei Times and The Hokubei Mainichi. Both were published in San Francisco. As I understand, both stopped publication about five years go.
No, don’t ask me why I jumped around so much. I guess I just wanted to get to know those connected with the JA publication field.
Yes, I think the JA community newspaper publishing business has changed over the years, perhaps because most of the editorial staff are new Sansei and Yonsei, and in a few more years, Gosei.
As I always comment, how much longer will the JA community identify itself by generation? You know, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei, etc.
With the Nisei generation fading away, I try to keep up with the times and write columns that are acceptable to the Sansei and Yonsei.
This is not as simple as it may sound.
My old Nisei mind has to adjust to the new generation of Japanese Americans, but I can’t say if I am successful or not.
Since my sons are Sansei and my grandkids are Yonsei, I asked my Yonsei grandkids about their thoughts on us Nisei.
Their response? No comment.
I guess we older Nisei will have to adjust to this atmosphere.
The following is a letter written to The Los Angeles Times by Sheriff John Scott. The title was “A Few Bad Apples Don’t Make a Rotten Department.”
“The Times suggests the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is a deeply flawed organization. I disagree.
“Ours is a 164-year-old organization, and like any large department, it has had its share of troubling periods. Usually those times are defined by the disturbing, sometimes illegal actions of a small group of employees.
“Nevertheless, the Sheriff’s Department remains a great organization. Its men and women routinely deliver a high level of public service and are committed to their chosen profession. The vast majority of our 18,000 employees perform in an exemplary manner every day, not within an ‘ingrained culture of contempt,’ but within a culture of dedication and service. The few individuals who tarnish the badge are not tolerated by the rest of the department.
“I will continue to identify and remove these corrosive employees. The process for doing so, although mismanaged for several years, have been, in large part, restored since the beginning of the year. The changes we’ve made cannot erase the negative perception of the department in one fell swoop, but they are real and are making a significant difference.
“The department is rapidly departing an era that raised genuine questions. We are working hard every day to restore public trust. I have the greatest confidence in the Sheriff’s Department’s ability to serve the citizens of Los Angeles County.”
With the election for the new sheriff just a month away, I’m sure Paul Tanaka, who is one of the two seeking the top post, will have some comments on Scott’s letter.
I plan to contact Tanaka for his statement on the matter.
Maybe I shouldn’t even touch on it, but since a person who was in Heart Mountain during the incarceration of JAs told me he attended the camp’s reunion in August, I thought I’d listen to what he had to say. The one thing that captured my attention was his statement on the veterans’ monument at the Wyoming camp.
He said he viewed all the names engraved on the monument and saw my name among them. “I didn’t know you went into the Army from Heart Mountain,” he told me.
Yes, I did toss away my Sears catalog clothing and donned Uncle Sam’s Army uniform.
About 18 of us went from Wyoming to St. Louis and then onward to Camp Blanding in Florida, where I began my basic training.
I had expected to go on to Italy to join the 442nd, but the Army had other ideas for a bunch of us Nisei. We ended up in the Pacific.
Well, that was life in those days.
A lot of Angelenos who vacation in Hawaii tell me that the Islands are just crawling with tourists and they are not from Japan, as used to be the case.
Judging from recent figures, I guess the tourists from Japan are finding new places to visit.
I remember when I used to go to Honolulu and got fed up with all the “Nihonjins” crowding Waikiki Beach. It isn’t as bad on Maui.
Maybe it’s because when I go to Maui I spend more time at my in-laws’ home (my wife is from Maui), so perhaps I didn’t have to go elbow-to-elbow with the “Nihonjins.”
The “Nihonjins” probably felt better about that, too.
Today’s column may be a little short but I hope to do better on my next time. Wow! It’ll be October! See you Saturday.
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.