LAS VEGAS — Until a couple of months ago, I used to send my column to the Rafu office by fax, but somehow the connection between my machine and the one at the newspaper got fouled up.
Fortunately, Editor Gwen lives in Gardena, so she said she would drop by the house on Monday and Thursday mornings to pick up the column.
So now, here I am pounding out my column and hoping the fax machine at the California Hotel can connect with the Rafu.
If you are reading this, I have connected with the Rafu office.
I did kid once that maybe Gwen can drive by The Cal and pick up my column.
When I mentioned this to her, she laughed and said, “If I drove all the way to Vegas, I certainly won’t be worrying about picking up your writing.”
Okay, let me get on with today’s column. By the way, I’m going back in two days, so Gwen can drop by my house again.
Since I frequently chat about places to dine when I’m in Vegas, reader Willie Hayashida sent me the following:
“Since you frequent Vegas often, try the following places which serves ‘Hawaiian-style’ food. My Sacramento friend told me about Island Flavor, which he rated as ‘licking good.’ It’s located west on I-215, exit on Durango. Reasonable prices for Vegas.
“Island Flavor Restaurant at 8090 So. Durango Dr., which has Island menu items not found at other Mainland Hawaiian eateries. That would be the fish dish ‘opakapaka.’
“The next place, Poke Express in North Las Vegas on Eastern about 4 miles from I-15 Interchange. My Vegas friends dine there and love it.
“Finally the Poke Express at the Plaza Hotel in Downtown Vegas. I know you mentioned this place before, but I wondered if you did try it. It’s really a fantastic Hawaiian-style eatery.”
Thanks for the info on the various restaurants, Willie. Yes, since the Plaza is walking distance from The Cal, I’m going to dine there on this trip.
I’ll write my review after dining there.
Time to toss in a few letters from readers that I packed away in my baggage before I hopped in the car for the trip here.
This one from a reader who asked, “Please don’t mention my name.” Okay.
Here is the email:
“Wonder if you ever read ‘A Boy from Heart Mountain.’ The author was supposedly eight years old at the time. It is well written, very informative and illustrations are outstanding. When I try to recall things in ‘camp’ I only remember the fun things … like playing and having meals with friends. Our parents sheltered us and told us very little because I was not aware of the ‘questionnaire.’
“I remember people coming to Tule Lake from other camps. Was it those who chose to go back to Japan? Shortly after, there were men with shaved heads, who were up early, did calisthenics and marched around saying, ‘wa shoi, wa shoi.’
“Whenever I’m asked what camp I was in, people most often comment, ‘Tule Lake! That’s where the troublemakers were.’ I’m quick to correct them that our family was sent directly to Tule Lake from Northern California and later the so-called ‘troublemakers’ came from other camps.
“I’m guessing that trouble began about that time in Tule Lake. We’d see soldiers coming and taking men away. Also, school was closed for six months. After leaving camp, I was behind half a year, but was fortunate they permitted me to finish the school year with others. Some chose to stay back and repeat the grade.
“Thinking back to camp days, we bought ice cream at the canteen, sat on the mess hall floor watching movies, teenagers at dances, and Santa brought us age-appropriate wrapped gifts at Christmas.
“I imagine those who were in their teens remember more. My children can’t understand why I don’t remember much about camp days. Today’s children have access to TV and other media, whereas we were even without a radio in camp. Besides, our Issei parents seemed to keep things from us. On the other hand, I wonder why we didn’t ask questions as youngsters do these days.
“There is so much written about internment that we can now learn a lot. The drama ‘99 Years of Love’ made for Japan TV is a good example.”
Thanks to “anonymous” for the thoughts expressed in the letter.
Another letter touching on the “camp” subject. This one has to do with the meals served at the camps. Here is the email:
“An interesting project by Stacy Kono, Internment Camp Meal Recipe Book. She tries to gather various camp meal recipes and little tidbits about camp life which will be inserted into the recipe book.
“Weenie Royale (eggs, onion, weenie, maybe some green veggies) was one that originated from camp meals. Lots of government surplus food used. One friend who was 13 at Amache said, ‘Lots of egg-type dishes.’ And, meats were hot dogs, baloney, Spam, lamb, chicken. The eggs were from the Amache Chicken Farm, located just outside the barbed-wire fences.
“Lots of rice available.
“Cabbage and cucumber (and sometimes wild mustard green with the yellow flower snipped), salted tsukemono.
“An article I read on camp meals had stated most meals were adequate, sort of boring and bland (one person said she was always hungry).
“I heard stories of people going to other mess halls to eat … better cooks?
“Gosh, feeding a couple of hundred people per block’s mess hall three times a day. Must have kept the kitchen cooks and dish washers always on the go.
“Now these camp meals and kitchen cooks could be interesting stories for your readers to add to the Horse’s Mouth column.”
Hey, if anyone wants to write to me and tell me about their “eating experiences” while in camp (any camp), I’d be glad to print it in my column.
Perhaps I can write about my own opinion on eating in the camp mess hall, and those Nisei who joined the Army from camp might write to me about their opinion of camp food vs. Army chow.
Would make good reading.
One of the news items in the Review Journal, the Vegas newspaper, noted that the profit by the local casino during the last month hit one billion dollars.
The first time this has happened since 2008.
The two reasons for the tidy profit? One was the Super Bowl, the other Chinese New Year.
In the latter case, the table game baccarat brought in a major part of the billion dollars, and as is often noted, baccarat is the favorite game for the Chinese tourists.
Another side note on gaming.
Experts say that table games are much more likely to produce winners than slot machines.
So what are “table games”?
Well, the most common are blackjack and poker. Then there’s craps and roulette.
When I first began visiting Vegas, I was a “table game player,“ but that was 50 or more years ago.
In those days, the minimum bet at the blackjack or poker table was 50 cents. Nowadays it’s tough to find a $2 table. Most are 5 bucks to 25 bucks.
Ditto for the crap tables.
So, here I am tossing in my quarters in the 25-cent slot machines.
Not much of a contribution toward the one billion dollars raked in by the casinos last month.
Speaking of money, the government recently released the names of the top 250 Americans who didn’t pay their income taxes.
So, with nothing else to do, I ran down the list to see if I might come across a “Japanese” surname. Yup, there was one.
As far as those with Chinese and Korean surnames, there were ten Chinese and two Koreans.
The tax money owed by those named wasn’t peanuts.
Here’s a response to my inquiry about the year that our Issei parents arrived in the U.S.
Jeffrey Dohzen provided me with the following:
“George — I have a paid subscription to Ancestry.com.
“I was able to find my paternal grandfather’s port of entry document from the ship manifest using Ancestry.com.
“If you’d like me to do a search for you, please reply with info about your father’s name, which port you think he may have entered.”
Thanks, Jeffrey. I will contact you when I get back from this short trip.
Hey, when I talk about my father’s entry into the U.S., I’m talking the 1890s.
Another tidbit about camp days.
We all know that the camps established their own high schools and all the activities associated with prep school. Things like sports (football, baseball, basketball) and the prom for the seniors.
Well, Kaz Shiroyama sent me a bit on the Heart Mountain High School varsity football team, which played all of its games on its short schedule against “outside” teams and won all three games against Worland, Lovell and Powell high schools. In fact, they shut out all three teams.
Here is Kaz’s message:
“The Heart Mountain internment camp high school football team played only two seasons but in that time established a reputation as one of the state’s best teams. The Heart Mountain varsity played seven games over two seasons, going 6-1. All six of the team’s victories were shutouts. The lone loss was a 19-13 defeat in a hard-fought game against Natron.
“However, Heart Mountain was not a full-fledged member of the Bighorn Basin Conference and many of the teams in the area refused to play the camp team.
“I remember those games and hearing the visiting teams make comments like, ‘Gee, I didn’t know Japanese kids were so big’ or ‘I never thought the Japanese kids even knew how to play football.’
“Well, they found out quick enough.
“Of course, it was a little different in basketball. The camp team lost most of its games against the outside high schools.
“The physical disadvantage was a bit too much for the camp kids to overcome.
”I think the tallest player was just about 6 feet.
“The outside team’s shortest player was over 6 feet.”
Well, another bit of camp history.
Am I a procrastinator? Well, when I read the following, I gave it some thought. Here is the Procrastinator’s Creed.
1. I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done yesterday.
2. I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
3. I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
4. I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect to receive from missing them.
5. I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries and a reprieve from my obligations.
6. I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable regardless of the amount of time given.
7. I shall never forget the probability of a miracle, though infinitesimally small, it is not exactly zero.
8. If at first I don’t succeed, there is always next year.
9. I shall always decide not to decide, unless, of course, I decide to change my mind.
10. I will never put off until tomorrow what I can forget about forever.
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.