HORSE’S MOUTH: Las Vegas and Stogies


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on Sept. 24, 2011.)


Yeah, I’ll be leaving Sunday for you-know-where.

And it’s the same old excuse. My relatives from Maui will be in Vegas for a week so we decided we’d join them for a couple of days.

At the rate my island relatives visit Las Vegas, it’s understandable how a writer from Hawaii wrote a book entitled “The California Hotel: Hawaii’s Home Away From Home.”

Of course, The Cal might also be tagged “Los Angeles Niseis’ Home Away From Home.”

Every time I go there, I always bump into so many JAs from the Ellay area. When I walk through the casino I feel like I’m walking around Little Tokyo.

In addition to those I know, a lot of JAs (who I presume read the Rafu) approach me with the line, “Are you the Horse’s Mouth?”

When the question is put to me by a lady, I respond simply, “Yes.” However, when a guy asks me that, I try to be a comedian and answer, “I’m glad you didn’t ask me if I was the Horse’s Ass.”

That always brings a laugh and breaks the stranger-to-stranger meeting.

At any rate, this will be my third visit to Vegas in about six weeks.

How do I keep track of my journeys to The Cal? Simple.

On my trips, I always go to the Indian cigar store located about a mile from The Cal.

I buy a pack of my favorite cigars, which holds 50 stogies. Since I chew on one cigar a day when I get back to Gardena, I can tell how many days have transpired since my last visit.

Needless to say, I never run out of cigars because I never stay away from Vegas for 50 days.

Oh yeah, another thing.

When someone asks another, “How you doing?,” it’s always about how the other fellow’s luck is in the casino.

When you ask the same question to someone you meet in Little Tokyo, the answer might be about one’s job, family problems, or how the new car is running.

Oh well, now that I have revealed my travel plans, the next column will have a Las Vegas dateline.

Hope to run into some of you who may be reading this.

It’s not boasting, but I frequently mention that I do receive a lot of email on my computer. I also mention that about 40 percent is “junk mail,” so I go down the list and hit the “delete” button to clear my screen.

However, with the remaining emails, I go over them to see if any provide information I might use in my column. It’s surprising how many fit this category.

However, every now and then, it also becomes a problem.

Such is the case of one I received this past week.

It was a rather lengthy letter about the writer’s thoughts on an issue. I was prepared to use it, but later the same day, the writer sent me another email asking me to cancel his request to print it.

So I dumped it in the “round file.”

I didn’t feel it necessary to inform the writer that I tossed away his letter.

Obviously, he didn’t feel the same way. He sent me two more emails asking me to toss this original story away.

Not only that, he called Maggie and asked her to contact me about the cancellation.

Now I don’t want to sound like a braggart, but I get a lot of email and if I had to respond to every one, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

I told Maggie that, but I went ahead and sent a one-word answer to the writer. My email read, “Cancelled,” and I put my name next to the word.

In the meanwhile I got a call from Em (Kato) Yamada, whom I frequently mention as being an “old friend.”

Well, the writer of the letter also knew Em, so he called her to ask her to contact me about not putting his letter in my column.

Boy, that was just about the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered a situation like this in the 60-plus years I’ve been writing my column and I hope it’s the last time.

Gosh, I’m sorry I’m getting carried away with this incident.

Eighties ate a wonderful lunch at noon. Mr. & Mrs. You-know-who, Grace Sakioka, Frank and Toy Kuida.

Whenever I put a photo in my column, I try to find some clever words to place in the caption.

Sometimes it’s easy but at other times it takes a lot of thinking.

Well, last week when Grace Sakioka asked me if I would join her with two of her friends for lunch at the Happa Restaurant in Gardena, I accepted her invitation.

After we finished dining, a photographer took a photo of us, which I thought might be nice to use if I could find the “right caption angle.”

One hit me, so I am running the photo.

Since I discovered that everyone in the photo was 80 years and older, I used the above caption. Clever enough?

In Wednesday’s edition of the Rafu, there was a front-page story complete with a photograph about the dedication ceremony at the site of the Fresno Assembly Center, where 5,344 Japanese Americans were interned during the early days of World War II.

Of course, it was a little blow to my ego.

Back about eight years ago, I tried to get the Santa Anita Race Track, which housed twice as many Japanese Americans as the Fresno site (and was the biggest assembly center of all), to put up a plaque that would recognize the Arcadia facility as having been used as an assembly center.

They refused.

However, I kept trying. And, when the ownership of the track changed hands, I approached them again.

No luck. Then I decided I needed someone with clout, so I asked Supervisor Mike Antonovich for his assistance since Arcadia is in his 5th Supervisorial District.

That did the trick. The track agreed to put up the plaque and asked me to write the words to appear on it.

So, what does this have to do with my ego?

Heh, heh, I got no credit for my effort. No, I didn’t make the front page of the Rafu.

I guess that’s life.

Many years ago, the first pet we decided to own was a dog.

Not sure why but the dog we picked was a Labrador. After 10 years, he left us.

We decided not to own any more pets after that but soon we started to think we might get another one.

Only this time, we decided to get a cat. Not just one but two. We gave them two “Japanese-sounding” names: Michi and Pikachu.

Would you believe we recently added another one? This one we named Nori.

We learned it was a lot different than owning a dog. For one thing, it was much easier caring for cats than a dog.

The reason I am even mentioning this is that a reader sent me a photo of her two cats and she calls them Kitty and Bon Bon.

Just looking at the photo reminds me how much easier it is to own cats than a dog. We could never get our dog to look so peaceful sleeping on a table.

I dedicate this piece to cat lovers.

(Maggie’s comment: MEOW!)

Well, I’ll close today’s chatter on a little more serious note.

I just read a story about people who are aging (that would mean me) and it said that 3.4 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The reason?

Well, as people age, they stop using their minds as they used to do when they were younger. Thus, Alzheimer’s finds an open door to affect the minds of the aging.

When I read this, I said to myself, “Wow, I’m glad I am still using my mind twice a week.”

However, I find myself forgetting so many things that used to be taken for granted.

The other day, for example, my wife asked me, “So how’s (name) doing?”

I said, “Who?”

She was stunned. “What do you mean, who?”

It was then I concluded I’d better keep hacking away on my computer or I might even forget my wife’s name.

Let’s see, what was her name?


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



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