CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Let’s Talk

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By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on April 13, 2011.)

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It’s been a while. Let’s talk. You know the drill, I say something interesting and you show interest. I propose a change, you gladly change. If I should decide to be happy-go-lucky, you in turn will become lucky and happy. I wind up in a funk? You come to my rescue.

As mentioned on several occasions, I firmly believe there are two different kinds of people: Those who talk and those that listen. Just like there are two types of friends: Them that argue and those that agree. When you have nothing better to do one of these days, take out a yellow pad and list your acquaintances accordingly. If nothing else, surprise, you’ll  find  you’re a talker when all the while you thought otherwise.

Talking about listings, to entertain ourselves years ago everyone made a practice of listing pet peeves. You know, itemizing things that bugged: Anyone who says “you know” more often than they would take a breath; the camp movie postponed because of a thunder storm; the inconsiderate  passenger in front of you who always has the seat leaning backward; the long-legged dude who keeps pushing the back of your seat in a theater;  the teacher who never pronounced your name correctly; a snoring bedmate.

More up to date, I find it disquieting when local network news anchors loudly proclaim it is now “News at 5” when it is actually 4:58 p.m. Want another one? You know those free toothbrushes you gladly accept after a costly session at the dentist? The handles are now so thick they won’t fit into the bathroom toothbrush holder! (And the bristles are too soft.) Another gripe that really gives me a peptic ulcer is the city’s agreement to provide free bus service from Union Station/Chinatown to Dodger Stadium! And they could double security at the ballpark with the fee they’re paying for Bratton’s (unnecessary) service.

A worsening pandemic is the overwhelming prevalence of disabled-person parking placards hanging from the rear-view mirrors of practically every automobile parked on streets these days. Recently I was in the process of parking in a lot when an SUV swung in next to me,  so close I couldn’t open the driver’s door to get out. He quickly dashes off, disregarding my horn honking. The driver without parking manners or concern for others has a blue DA placard.

I am forced to manipulate a less than flexible body over the drive panel and exit passenger side; a time- consuming, painful, sweat-inducing maneuver.  Being on time for important appointment precludes urge to leave a nasty note on the windshield (or something worse). Returning to parking level later, he is gone. Still steaming, I have to fork over $9 for the experience.

But you know, taking several deep inhales does wonders. And with my well-hidden Y chromosome allowed to take over, I went shopping. Yup.  I went to the market. Then See’s Candy. And then topped off the gas tank, as usual, when it reached half empty. You wanna know something?  More was spent on candy than the other two combined. Fact: CR2S gets more sustenance from peanut brittle and caramel than groceries and fossil fuel.

The list of prominent Nisei leaving our world took a double hit recently with the passing of Takuji Tamaru and Taro Uchizono. I guess you would categorize Tamaru as a technocrat, a data-processing whiz before the age of computers took hold in City Hall. One of L.A.’s most valued employees, “Tug” later became the main character in a tug-of-war when the city of Anaheim set its sight on his talents. An old-fashioned compromise was made with Tamaru working his magic for both Los Angeles and Anaheim — simultaneously. A Brawley native and SC graduate, Tamaru was wed to Nisei Week Queen Teruko “Terry” Hokoda.

Uchizono was one of a unique group of post-internment evacuees who made Denver an auspicious jumping-off point for future achievements in other environs. Taro successfully overcame the sundry barriers facing post-war pioneer Nisei who had their already shaky futures forestalled by evacuation. Besides all 442nd-related functions, he quietly assisted and supported innumerable community causes. Whenever he felt in an expansive mood it was a pleasure and educational to hear stories about the produce market “in the old days.” The “unique group” reference is in regards the amazing number of Nisei who left Denver in the mid-’40s to reach prominence elsewhere: George Furuta, Frank Tsuchiya, Wesley Oyama, Kody Kodama, Kenji Ito, Taul Watanabe, Tak Hamano, to name a quality few besides Taro.

CR2S is constantly lamenting the rapid demise of the Nisei generation. Although inevitable, it is still very tough to accept the reality of the transition. The Issei were always looked upon as aged, even in their 40s, and we dutifully accepted their indoctrination and guidance. But it was the (older) Nisei who led the way by default, even though they were unaware of the pioneer aspects of their efforts. I emphasize the word “individual” because there were no special-interest groups offering help: joining organized labor was a fallacy; governmental support nonexistent; getting a haircut was an adventure.

Uchizono, Tamaru, Sho Iino, Toshi Yamamoto, Joe Shinoda, to name but a few, might not have gained great general renown in the wide arena of community prominence, but that lack of arbitrary prominence  should not  minimize the impact they and so many other  Nisei have made. While there are some names on walls, plaques, trophies and buildings, there should be thousands of others etched into the minds and souls of those of us who remain to benefit in so many ways from their being.

As one of a dwindling few who remembers everything, I am saddened when someone asks, “Who’s he?” or “What did she do?” The Greatest Generation is so full of impressive stories it is impossible to cite and feature. The worst oversight is to be forgotten. Make a vow: Don’t.

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W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

 

 

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