HORSE’S MOUTH: Santa Anita Reunion

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

I was sitting on our front porch puffing away on my cigar when a guy walked up and handed me a flyer with the title “Good News.”

I checked throughout the pages and learned that there were five Japanese Americans on the staff who put “Good News” together.

The flyer had a subhead, “Insider Tip for Healthy, Wealthy & Happy Living.”I decided it was worth reading because I guess all of us are looking for such tips.

One article said, “Usually after the age of 60, most people begin to experience a few effects of aging that affect driving.”

Since I am well over 60, I began thinking about my driving skills.

As those of you who follow my writing know, I used to drive to Las Vegas every month until last July when I decided I’d better cut back.

One reason was that I used to drive nonstop to Vegas, with a brief stop for breakfast in Victorville.

In July, I found that I had to stop at every rest stop and take a brief nap. It was then that I decided maybe I should get one of my sons to drive for me.

Heck, he’s not even 50, but he had to stop at a rest stop to take a brief nap.

Well, I told him, “Take a nap in the car,” and I took over the wheel and drove the rest of the way.

I know that my mind isn’t what it used to be. An example?

Well, the reason I was sitting on the front porch in the first place was that I was waiting for the mailman.

We all know Monday was a holiday and the post office was closed.

My wife asked me, “What are you sitting on the porch for?” and I responded, “I’m waiting for the mailman.” I didn’t blame her for letting out a laugh.

Needless to say, I did feel my old age at that moment. So, I went inside the house when the thought struck me. “Oh, my gosh, I have to write my column for tomorrow’s Rafu.” So, here I am.

Holidays on Monday, usually minor ones, always throw my mind out of whack.

Okay, I know. Most of you will say, “So what else is new?”

As stated in my previous column, this Saturday was a busy one with three invitations to events in the JA community. I decided to attend only one, the Terminal Island reunion.

However, after I came home from the event, I decided I’d better go to another one since Harry Honda invited me and my wife. It was a JACL dinner at which Harry and also Helen Kawagoe were being honored for their many years of contributions to not only the JACL but to the Japanese community.

At both events I took my pen and pad to take notes I might use in today’s column. But at the Terminal Island gathering, I saw that Editor Gwen and Photo Editor Mario were present, so I put away my pen and pad.

Then, at the evening event, I ran into Gwen and Mario again, so you guessed it, I put my pen and pad away.

You’ll all read Gwen’s report on both events, so I guess I can only write a few of my thoughts without stepping on Gwen’s toes.

Mario even took a photo of me at the dinner table. I don’t think they’ll print it in the paper.

Needless to say, I ran into a lot of people I don’t usually have the opportunity to bump into except at special events like the two I attended.

One was Terry Hara, who emceed the Terminal Island event. His grandparents and parents were residents of Terminal Island when the war started.

As most of you know, Terry is going to run for a seat in the L.A. City Council, the election to be held in May.

I’m going to support him in any way I can because I think he has all the credentials to fill a seat on the City Council.

Besides that, my old friend Supervisor Mike Antonovich is endorsing him.

Needless to say, a lot of political bigwigs attended the Terminal island event, which attests to the importance of the role Japanese Americans played in the area prior to WWII.

At the luncheon following the event, I was fortunate to be assigned a seat next to Marifrances Trivelli, the director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

We had a chance to chat and I learned that the museum played a role in preserving the local maritime history, and I would say that the prewar Terminal Islanders were a part of that history.

The story about the statement Romney was supposed to have made about the JA evacuation continues.

Would you believe I got an email from Tokyo from a fellow named Tsutomu Okamoto, who lives there? WOW! The story has reached Tokyo. At any rate, here is Mr. Okamoto’s letter:

“Regarding the story that a reader told you about in connection with Romney’s speech on the internment, please note that … the article in which Romney supposedly said that America should not apologize to Japanese Americans for internment was published in The Onion, which is a satirical publication. It is not a ‘real’ story but a joke.”

Thanks, Tsutomu. I guess a lot of people got “taken” because I received a lot of email about the Romney “story.”

By the way, your mentioning that you live in Ebisu rekindled a few memories for me since I lived in Shibuya, which is within walking distance from your residence.

I really enjoyed life in the area and if my employer, Rikidozan, hadn’t passed away, I might still be living there.

My place of employment was Riki Palace, so you probably saw the building if you live in Ebisu.

This following piece might be a little long but since we are mentioning Romney, I thought I would print it. It was written by the “oddsmaker” at Caesar’s Palace. It goes like this:

“Most political predications are made by biased pollsters, pundits or prognosticators who are either rooting for Republicans or Democrats. I am neither. I am a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee and a well-known Vegas oddsmaker with one of the most accurate records of predicting political races.

“But as an oddsmaker with a pretty remarkable track record of picking political races, I play no favorites. I simply use common sense to call them as I see them. Back in December I released my New Year’s prediction. I predicted back then before a single GOP primary had been held, with Romney trailing for months to almost every GOP competitor from Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt, that Romney would easily rout his competitors to win the GOP nomination by a landslide.

“I also predicted that the presidential race between Romney and Obama would be very close until Election Day, but that … Romney would win by a landslide similar to Reagan-Carter in 1980.

“Understanding history, today I am even more convinced of a resounding Romney victory. 32 years ago at this moment in time, Reagan was losing by nine points to Carter. Romney is right now running even in polls. So why do most pollsters give Obama the edge?

“Most pollsters are missing one ingredient — common sense. Here is my gut instinct. Not one American who voted for McCain four years ago will switch to Obama. Not one in all the land. But many millions of people who voted for an unknown Obama four years ago are angry, disillusioned, turned off, or scared about the future. Voters know Obama now — and that is a bad harbinger.

“Now to an analysis of the voting blocs that matter in U.S. politics.

“Black voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. His endorsement of gay marriage has alienated many black church-going Christians.  He may get 88 percent of their vote instead of the 96 percent he got in 2008. This is not good news for Obama.

“Military veterans. McCain won this group by 10 points. Romney is winning by 24 points. The more our military vets got to see of Obama, the more they disliked him.

“There are more, such as blue-collar workers, suburban moms, Jewish voters, youth voters, Catholic voters, small-business voters.

“Add it up. Is there one major group where Obama has gained since 2008?

“Forget the polls. My gut instinct as a Vegas oddsmaker and common-sense businessman tells me this will be a historic landslide. It’s Carter-Reagan all over again.”

Well, I hope he’s right. Oops. My apologies to Democrats in the reading audience.

Oh, before I forget.

At the JACL dinner Saturday evening, a gentleman approached me and asked, “Are you planning on holding a wartime residents of Santa Anita reunion during the racetrack’s spring meeting?”

He said he could get a lot of people together if I do set up another gathering for those of us who were interned at the assembly center in Arcadia.

Since he brought up the subject, I called my connection at the track and they were quite pleased that I would put together the project.

So, I guess I’ll start working on it. I would need a minimum of 50 people to put on the reunion.

Since the years have passed since those days in 1942, I am hopeful there are still 50 former residents left.

At any rate, I’ll keep everyone posted in my column. I am planning on a March 2013 date if I pursue the project.

Those interested in attending can let me know by snail-mail at the Rafu office or by email, which appears at the bottom of the column.

While chatting about wartime residents of Santa Anita Assembly Center, here is a bit from reader Takeo Ichikawa, who resides in the Northern California city of Santa Clara. He wrote:

“I am well aware you were not trying to make light of some of us internees living in horse stalls. In fact, you have either wrote or implied many times we should not have been there in the first place.

“Thanks to … anti-Japanese leaders who signed the EO 9066, there we were … So many youngsters mention only the horse stalls for our living quarters. We all had either a friend or a relative who cannot get the stench of the stalls out of their psyche. Salinas Assembly Center had 3,856 internees. Just 10 percent or 386 of us living with blue tags (non-stable residents). Thanks for letting me vent.”

Well, I guess if I put together the wartime residents of Santa Anita reunion, I’ll take a poll to see how many of the attendees lived in the stables.
I lived in a barrack built on the parking lot.

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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  1. Thank you for helping to keep alive the memory of the once vibrant and vital community of Japanese Americans on Terminal Island. Such nice memories but such a tragic ending to the community due to internment. The memorial that stands now on the island is also a nice way to remember the community. Stop by and visit the memorial.

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