HORSE’S MOUTH: My Sister Started Me on Journalism

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Nov. 15, 2014)

As I frequently mention in my column, I sit on my front porch from about noon to 2 or 3 p.m. creating “The Mouth” in my mind. Today, I started my thinking a few hours later than usual and guess what?

While I was sitting there, a car pulled up to the curb in front of my house and two guys climbed out.

I recognized them, so I waved my hand and yelled, “Hey, how’s it going?”

They climbed up the steps and said, “What the heck are you doing, Horse? You look like you’re sleeping.”

I told them I was mentally writing my Saturday column.

They looked at each other and laughed.

“Mentally writing your column,” one of them chuckled and said, “I read your stuff and I didn’t think you gave any thought to what you’re going to write in advance.”

I chuckled back and said, “Gee, is my column that bad?”

And that was that. They walked back to their car and drove off.

My gosh. Am I so hard up for column material that I have to include some incident like this?

Oh well, let me continue.

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It always helps when readers drop by my house to chat. They open my mind to things I might write about.

Hey, most of you may not realize it, but the toughest part about writing a column isn’t the writing itself.

Gathering material is the biggest battle, so I like to chat with people along the way and some ideas are created in my mind. Little things I don’t even think about but somehow gets my mind rolling.

For example, the other day when I was at my favorite site for drinking my morning coffee (my front porch), a fellow who said he follows my chatter sat down next to me and said, “Horse, did you mention something about where you were born in several of your columns?”

“Yeah, I guess from time to time, I go back in my life and I might mention the place of my birth. Why do you ask?” I asked him.

He said, “Well, as I recall, you said you were born in Redwood City. I was born in San Mateo, so I guess our families might have been neighbors.”

For those who might not know, Redwood City and San Mateo are two cities located on the San Francisco Peninsula.

There were quite a few Japanese families living in the area because in those days, farming was quite common.

After I was born, my parents moved to San Jose and then Mountain View.

It was from Mountain View that we were relocated into camps because of the start of World War II, and as I might frequently say, “the rest is history.”

Yeah, if it wasn’t for evacuation, I guess I would never have ended up as a newspaperman, but getting a job with the camp newspaper got me started, and here I am.

I frequently wonder how many lives of Japanese Americans were changed by the U.S. government tossing us into camps.

I know I’d still be a farmer. Maybe some of you readers might send me your stories about how evacuation changed your lives.

I guess I have to give some credit to my sister for my ending up in newspapering.

She was two grades above me in prewar high school and she was the editor of our high school newspaper. She used to tell me, “Why don’t you take up journalism and join our high school newspaper?”

I didn’t even know what journalism was even when she explained it to me. All I could say to her was, “What! Me a newspaperman?”

Whenever we get together these days, she always laughs and reminds me about how she tried to get me to take up journalism in high school.

Heh. I couldn’t even spell “journalism” when I was a high schooler.

That’s why a lot of my prewar days friends in Mountain View get a chuckle when I meet them and they learn abut my being a journalist.

I probably mention it from time to time, but one of the things that always pop into my mind when reliving those days at the Santa Anita Assembly Center is that I learned how to dance.

I enrolled in a dance class at the assembly center. Before that, I couldn’t take a step on the dance floor.

Having nickname like “Horse” can explain why. Have you ever seen a horse dance? Heh, heh.

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Since I’m often asked when my next trip to Vegas will be, I tell them, “Maybe sometime in December.”

I want to break the streak of not going to Vegas, so I’ll have to get there at least once before 2014 is over.

I want to thank the many people who have invited me to ride with them on their next motor trip to Vegas.

At the moment, I’m scheduled to get there before mid-December. We’ll see.

My old friend Al Morita, who got me going to Vegas, often asks me when the heck I’m going back to our favorite city.

Hang on, Al. You might see me on your next trip there. That’s because of all the guys I know, Al probably gets to Vegas more than any of my friends.

Speaking of taking trips, I haven’t been to Hawaii a lot longer than my absence from Vegas.

I’m planning on visiting the islands because my wife (who, as everyone knows, is from Maui) wants to get back to her birthplace, especially to visit her brother and sisters.

Her relatives used to be Vegas regulars, so we would always meet them there, but they don’t visit our favorite place anymore, so we haven’t seen them in a while.

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When chatting about Hawaii, I guess we frequently touch on the weather in the Islands.

I guess weather is the one of the state’s selling points. I never worry about what kind of clothing to pack when I’m going on a visit to the Islands.

Sure, I know it rains there, but it’s not something I concern myself with.

On the other hand, these days with the dry climate we are facing in Southern California, we look forward to getting some rain here.

Heck, when was the last time it rained in the Ellay area?

Gosh, I must be hard-pressed to find something to write about if I have to talk about the weather. Heh, heh.

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As many of you know, we own three cats. Of late, however, we were missing one of them.

My wife told me to look around to see where the third cat might be. Well, I have been keeping my eyes open, but no luck. Only two are hanging around our house.

So, what happened?

Our neighbor down the street stopped by the house the other day and asked, “Say, George, are you missing a cat?”

I told him, “Yes, one of our cats is missing.”

He then described a cat he said is now hanging around his house. “A light brown one,” he told me.

So I went to his place and sure enough, there was our cat. She walked up to me and rubbed herself against my legs, so I grabbed her and brought her back to our place.

Our neighbor was quite pleased.

We now have her locked up in one of the rooms in our house.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: I just have to say this, Mr. Y, but locking a cat in a room is one of the worst things you can do, especially if she has had free run of the house before. Never forget cats have “human” feelings and Meow to you!)

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I’d better get out and move around more if I’m going to write about something besides our cat.

Yeah, I still get a lot of invitations to various Japanese community events, but the Rafu staff is doing a good job covering the activities, so I don’t get out to most of them.

Heck, when I think about thoroughbred racing in and around Southern California, not getting out to JA community events is not tough to figure out.

Don’t say it. Yeah, it’s old age.

While chatting with old friend Em (Kato) Yamada the other day on the phone, she said, “Horse, how come you don’t attend all these events that are being held in our city?”

Maybe if she reads this chatter, she’ll understand.

Come to think about it, I haven’t seen Em for quite a while.

Our friendship goes way back when we were both attending Los Angeles City College and rode the same municipal bus line from Little Tokyo to the college grounds.

Em’s family used to live in what was then Bunker Hill (near J-Town) and I lived in Little Tokyo, so we rode the same Muni bus.

Ah, memories.

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Here are a few more anagrams. The letters of a person’s name have been rearranged to make a phrase that has something to do with that person.

Leonardo da Vinci: Did color in a nave.

Florence Nightingale: Angel of the reclining.

Madame Curie: Me, radium ace.

Osama bin Laden: A bad man, no lies.

Chairman Mao: I am on a march.

Clint Eastwood: Old west action.

Alec Guinness: Genuine class.

Elvis Aaron Presley: Seen alive? Sorry, pal!

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

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