HORSE’S MOUTH: About the ‘For Sale’ Sign on Your Car


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on Nov. 12, 2011)


Received a short but interesting letter from a lady reader who has written a me on a number of occasions. She always begins her letter with “Hi, Horse.”

Well, here is her letter referring to “Hi, Horse.”

She starts this letter, “Hi, George. Ya know, somehow addressing you as Horse seems disrespectful. I’ve always meant to you ask how it came about — so anyways, I’m not going to do that anymore — unless of course, you have a story as to why your nickname became Horse. You don’t look like one, you don’t act like one. You don’t talk like one, so there. I’m at a loss why they would be nicknaming you Horse.”

Well, dear reader, you didn’t go one step further. You didn’t add, “You smell like one.”

That’s your answer.

Just kidding. I guess if the reader doesn’t know how the story of how “the Horse” was born, I’ll touch on it because there may be others who haven’t heard the story.

For those who already know the story, you can skip to the next segment.

Here’s the story on “Horse”:

When we were incarcerated at the Santa Anita Race Track at a facility the government tagged as an assembly center, we didn’t have anything to do.

So, during the early morning hours I would go out to the race track and jog around it for exercise. One lap of the track was a mile long so I didn’t run too fast, resting a few times during the one-lap jog.

Well, a lot of folks who also didn’t have anything to do used to wander around the grandstand area of the track.

Seeing me jogging around every day, they started yelling, “Hey, man, you think you’re a race horse?”

After that, when I would run into these folks at places like the mess hall, where we all ate our meals three times a day, they would kid me by saying, “Hey, you’re the horse.”

Soon, everyone started to address me as “Horse.” Well, a few called me “Seabiscuit,” a popular race horse of that era. I guess it was easier to call me “Horse” than “Seabiscuit.”

So, when I got to Heart Mountain after Santa Anita, I was no longer George but “Horse” and after 70 years later, I’m still “Horse” rather than George.

I guess if my Issei parents were around to hear people call me “Horse,” they may wonder why they didn’t name me “Uma.”

Well, one thing I’m thankful for is that when we first got to the assembly center and we ate at the mess hall, I used to be starved so I would consume a lot of food. Some would laugh and say, “Man, you eat like a pig.”

So, today’s column could have been “Pig’s Mouth” instead of “Horse’s Mouth.”

Since I didn’t attract the attention of the many photographers who attended the “Evening of Aloha” banquet last Saturday, I guess I should be glad I had my own cameraman attending the event.

So, when I received my Congressional Gold Medal award at the dinner, my photographer clicked his shutter, which is why I can run my photo in my column.

Okay, many of you may think, “Man, you must be hungry for publicity.”

And you’re right. Except for the photo of me on top of my columns, twice a week in the Rafu, I rarely get my mug printed in any publication. So why not?

I wasn’t aware of it and many of you may not know it either, but I learned that if a motorist is selling his car, it’s against the law to put a “For Sale” sign in the window of the vehicle when the car is parked on the street.

The fine for a first violation is $100. The second time, $200 and the third time, $300.

Just thought I would toss this in just in case some of you may be selling your old clunker and have a “For Sale” sign in your vehicle. I’m not sure if this applies to any vehicle parked in one’s driveway.

I have an old Toyota van I’m trying to sell, so I have a “For Sale” sign in the rear window, but my van is always parked in our driveway and I haven’t received a citation.

When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan this year and Fukushima was one of the hard-hit areas, I mentioned that my wife’s older sister resided in that prefecture.

Her family wasn’t affected, but they did move in with relatives in Tokyo right after the disaster.

I don’t know if they moved back, but a recent survey indicated that over 15,000 households never moved back to the affected area.

My daughter-in-law’s folks live in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is also in the affected area, so she didn’t take her annual trip back to Japan to visit her family there, especially since she has two daughters (my grandkids) and didn’t want to take a chance of exposing them to nuclear danger.

Her family in Ibaraki didn’t move, so they are still living in the so-called “danger zone.”

Since, as I always mention, I’m not too great with tinkering around with my computer, I use it only to type and compose my column. So when readers send me information on varied topics, I’d like to share it with others, but in most cases, I don’t know how to transmit the information.

I received one the other day about pre-packaged steaks, but I don’t know how to send the accompanying video to folks who might want to get the information.

At any rate heard, the printed material that accompanied the video read: “The next time that you are at the grocery store and in the pre-packaged meat coolers, look closely at the list of the countries on the label of any of the packaged meats (which is mandatory FDA law) that shows where the meat came from. Buy only meat that came from the USA or Canada.”

The reason, as the video shows, is that meat packagers in other countries often use meat glue to put scrap meat together to create a steak, and the meat glue can be very harmful to one’s health.

When I saw the video, I couldn’t believe how the junk meat was put together using meat glue, which made the meat look like a good steak.

Hopefully, there is someone in the reading audience who might have more information on this.

Needless to say, there have been a lot of words written about the Nisei vets getting their Congressional Gold Medal and most of the stories mention that most of the mainland Nisei vets entered the military service from relocation camps.

Of course, it’s only I who still calls them relocation camps. Everyone else now calls them concentration camps.

Having lived through the entire period from Dec. 7, 1941 through the camp experience, I guess I have an entirely different outlook on the Japanese Americans and the relocation movement.

That’s because I never felt I was “locked up” because I could come and go as I pleased.

Working at the camp newspaper at Heart Mountain, we would go into Cody every week in a private car to get the publication printed, and a lot of us went out to work on farms because there was a labor shortage since most of the able-bodied men were drafted into the military.

Heck, a group of us were recruited to harvest crops in Dayton, Wash., which was considered to be in the “no-Japanese-allowed” area.

Fifteen of us volunteered to go to Dayton to work and since it was in the “no-Japanese” restricted zone, after we finished working in the field and returned to the labor camp, we were told that we could not go outside the camp after sundown.

Now that sounded more like a concentration camp.

Of course, we didn’t feel comfortable going “into town” day or night because the attitude of the people in the city made us feel uncomfortable.

I may have mentioned it before but one weekend when we had our day off, four of us went into town hoping to eat at a restaurant instead of the “mess hall” in the labor camp.

Well, the first place we walked into, the owner yelled, “We don’t serve Japs here.”

Being a young person with a sense of humor, I thought I’d respond to his words.

I told him, “That’s okay, we won’t order any Japs, but something else on your menu will do.”

I guess that made him realize that we were like any other American looking for a place to eat.

He chuckled and said, “Okay, you guys can come in.”

And we ate hamburger steaks.

By the way, we were paid 75 cents an hour working on the farm in Washington, so when we went back to Heart Mountain, we all felt like we were wealthy.

Heck, I even gave my mother and sister some money.

Of course, they laughed and said, “What are we going to do with money in camp?”

Shortly after returning from the “outside,” I entered the Army, where my pay as a private was $21 a month.

Yeah, and I used to send half of that paycheck to my mother and sister back in Heart Mountain.

Ah, memories…

I don’t know if people from the other nine relocation centers besides Heart Mountain publish a magazine, but the Wyoming camp does and I get my copy through the mail.

The cover on the fall issue of the magazine called  Kokoro-Kara (From the Heart) made for good reading.

The feature was entitled, “We’re Open — Heart Mountain interpretive Learning Center Welcomes Its First Visitors During Grand Opening.”

It was accompanied with a photo that included Norm Mineta, Shirley Ann Higuchi, Dan Inouye, and who else but Bacon Sakatani.

I don’t know who edits the magazine, but whoever it is does a great job. It will keep Heart Mountain in the limelight.


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



1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your service Mr. Yoshinaga. The gold medal is well deserved by you, and all the members of the 442, 100th, and MIS. It is another reminder that our freedom is not free.

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