HORSE’S MOUTH: Am I Religious or Not?

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Memorial Day 2012 was a little more memorable than those of the past. Events during the past few days made it turn out that way.
First, there was a visit by President Obama to Mountain View, Calif., the small town where I lived before the World War II evacuation.

The president visited the town to check on the future of the hangar at Moffett Field, a well-known landmark at the former naval base that may face destruction.

The reason this event is memorable is that my family owned the farmland just across the street from Moffett Field. Our tomato and corn field was separated from the base by a two-lane asphalt road and wire fence. Yes, and we also raised hogs on our farm.

I’m pretty sure that when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, a lot of people thought, “Hey, there are Japs farming across the street from Moffett.” And now, the president of the U.S. is traveling through the area where I used to pick tomatoes, harvest corn and feed pigs.

The other memorable event of the last few days was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks in the State of California.

I remember when my Issei mother said she wanted to visit the grand opening of the “hashi.” With my limited knowledge of Japanese, the only “hashi” I knew was a pair of chopsticks.

At any rate, we piled into our vintage Pontiac sedan and headed to San Francisco so that my mother could visit the grand opening of the bridge.

In those days, driving from Mountain View to San Francisco was like driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

We took a few photographs of our visit to the famed bridge, but I couldn’t find them in my collection of old photos. I wanted to run at least one of them in today’s column.

I was a pre-teen in those days, so I thought the readers might want to see what the future “Horse’s Mouth” looked like when he was still a “pony.”

The third item on Memorial Day is that I took my wife to the annual reunion of the former residents of McGerrow Camp, a small sugar plantation housing unit on the Island of Maui.

The former residents who moved to the mainland began holding an annual reunion on Memorial Day weekend, 35 years ago.

In the early days of the reunion, the number of those attending reached close to 100 people, so they had to hold their get-together in places like Elysian Park.

As the years passed, the numbers began to dwindle, so in recent times, it was held in the backyard of one of the former McGerrow Camp residents now living in Torrance.

Also, since it was in the backyard of one of the former Mauians, they had a golf-putting contest. It was the only event I participated in, a few years ago, and I lucked out and won, which, of course, caused a few to say, “Man, we let a kotonk win.”

This year, with only 30 or so in attendance, the group decided to get together at Bob’s Hawaiian Restaurant in Gardena.

Needless to say, I was the only “kotonk” in the audience, so I sat off by myself and listened to the former Islanders chat about their early lives on Maui.

Oh yeah, in case any of you don’t know what a “kotonk” is, it’s the name the former folks from Hawaii call the Mainland Nisei. Of course, we know that the Mainland Nisei have their own name for the former Islanders. It’s “pineapple.”

Usually, one of the highlights of the reunion is having bingo games, but since it was in a public restaurant, they had to junk the feature from their get-together.

Every now and again, veteran Nisei journalist Harry Honda emails me material he feels I might use in my column.

So the other day when I received one with the title “Honda World,” I concluded it was from Harry. Wrong. It was a promotion for Honda Motors.

It got me thinking.

I wonder how Harry handled having a last name like Honda when the Japanese automaker first entered the U.S. auto market. Until Honda Motors entered the U.S., Harry was the only Honda I ever heard of.

I would guess that a lot of people might have been confused when they saw Harry Honda vs. Honda Motors.

Maybe it’s because of my association with Harry in the newspaper business (I used to set type on the linotype machine for Pacific Citizen when the publication was printed at the Shin Nichi Bei) that the first Japanese car I purchased was a Honda.

I used to kid Harry about it. “Hey, I bought one of your cars.”

I guess I was always curious about what kind of car Harry owned and drove. Was it a Honda?

Oh well.

Reader Bill Yamaguchi of Lake Forest snail-mailed me the following, which I thought I would use today. He wrote:

“It appears you like to report about the accomplishments of Japanese Americans. I don’t recall your ever writing about Brittany Ishibashi, a Japanese American actress from Orange County. Enclosed is an article written by Barbara Venezia, Orange County Register, about Brittany that you might want to use.”

Yes, I’ll use a few paragraphs of Barbara’s story, which should give Rafu readers information on Brittany. The story goes:

“It’s election year and politics are on everyone’s mind, especially USA Network, which is getting ready to launch a miniseries July 15 at 10 p.m., ‘Political Animals.’

“The show has an Orange County connection: Brittany Ishibashi, who’s landed a major role in the series.

“Growing up in Orange County and attending Jordan Elementary and later El Modena High School, she went on to UCLA and majored in theater.

“Brittany’s been acting since she was 5. Her first role was as a pilgrim in a kindergarten production. Her roles have gotten bigger since then.

“At 17, she made the rounds on teen shows like ‘Felicity,’ ‘Angel’ and ‘Charmed.’ She’s also had parts on NBC’s short-lived ‘E-Ring’ with Dennis Hopper and had made appearances on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘The Mentalist,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘24’ and ‘Fairly Legal.’

“Newly married, she and her husband live in Los Angeles and Brittany was a little apprehensive about being gone for the next three months for taping.

“The show takes place in Washington, D.C.”

And that is the brief story about Brittany written by Barbara Venezia.

Brittany is the daughter of Gerald Ishibashi, an accomplished musician and concert promoter.

I met Gerald when he first started out in the entertainment business under the title of Stonebridge Entertainment. “Stonebridge“ being the translation of his Japanese surname, “Ishibashi.”

Perhaps I can get him to set up an interview with his daughter since it’s apparent that she is going to be one of the most successful Japanese American entertainers in the U.S.

Like many of the readers, I often come across a story that makes me utter, “How’s that again?” The following is just such a story:

A woman said she noticed her purse missing from her car just before 5 a.m. Sunday. The car was parked at her residence. The woman said her car was locked and the purse was in the back seat.

The purse was valued at $500 and her wallet was valued at $200 and she said there was $800 in cash in her purse, according to the police report.

And, also missing was the woman’s food stamp card.

How’s that again? I mean the last line.

I wonder if I can get a food stamp card. After all, my wallet has no money in it and I bought it for about 10 bucks, 20 years ago.

Sunday is generally considered the special day for those who are religious.

So I guess it’s safe to assume that those who are religious don’t believe in working on Sundays.

Why am I even touching on something like this? Well, I’m trying to figure out if I am religious or not.

Since I write my columns on Sundays for the Tuesday edition of the Rafu, I guess I should consider myself working on the day reserved for the religious.

According to a recent survey, 40 percent of Americans say they are very religious, 28 percent claim to be moderately religious, and 32 percent claim to be non-religious.

I guess if I had to pick a classification, I would probably be in the 28 percent bracket. Moderately religious, even if I do work on Sundays.

That’s the way the horse bounces.

(Maggie’s comment: How about gallops instead of bounces, Mr. Y.?)

A while back, when I chatted about retiring from writing, a lot of my friends said, “Hey, writing is keeping your mind youthful.” I gave their statement a lot of thought and perhaps they are right.

Research done by a Japanese brain scientist named Ryuta Kawashima showed that performing mental exercise is the key to staying sharp, and I guess writing a column twice a week can be considered a mental exercise.

Kawashima’s finding led to the hope that the correct use and exercise of the brain will improve the core brain process.

Since I do use my brains in putting together words for my column, I guess I’d better keep pounding away on my keyboard so I won’t start “acting my age.”

Hey, at my age, I need to do things that will keep me thinking like I’m still a teenager even though I’m beginning to look like an “Ojii-san.”

Hey, you don’t find too many Nisei who are younger than the mid-80s.

So, I guess I’ll just chug along.

A reader who asked not to be identified (so what else is new??) sent me the following email:

“Horse, I was really impressed by your recent column in which you wrote that you were sitting next to a lady who set a record win when she hit a $105,000 jackpot on the video keno machine.

“The reason I am writing to you is that I wondered when you were going to Vegas again and if you let me know, I’d like to meet with you there so you can teach me how to play the video keno machine, which I know from your writing is your favorite game.”

Well, as of this moment, I don’t have any plans to visit Vegas soon.

If I do schedule a trip, it will probably be in July when I plan to celebrate my birthday at the Cal. Since you sent me your email address, I’ll contact you.

Actually, the video keno machine is one of the easiest slots to play, so I don’t think you need any advice from me. Just ask one of the floor men at the casino and they can explain how to play the machine.

Good luck.

“The Power of Prayer” might not be a good title for a laugher, but read it until the end and you’ll know it is a good rib-ticker.

A bar called Drummonds in a city in Texas began construction on an expansion in hopes of growing their business.

In response, the local Southern Baptist Church started a campaign to block the bar from expanding.

About a week before the bar’s grand reopening, a bolt of lightning struck the bar and burned it to the ground.

Afterwards, the church folks were rather smug, bragging about “the power of prayer.”

The angry bar owner eventually sued the church on the grounds that it “was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building through directed actions or indirect means.”

Of course, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.

The judge read carefully through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply.

He then opened the hearing by saying: “I don’t know how I’m going to decide, but it appears from the paperwork that what we have here is a bar owner who now believes in the power of prayer and the entire church congregation that does not.”

Get it?

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.

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