By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
What a weekend this past Saturday and Sunday. I hope it isn’t an indication of what the rest of this year will be like. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, because I certainly did.
The first event was on Saturday hosted by the Japanese American Korean War Veterans. It was held at the Sea Empress restaurant located in Pacific Square in Gardena. I live about four blocks from Pacific Square, so I go there almost every day, and in all the year I have been going there, I have never found the parking lot so full that there wasn’t a single parking space.
Well, this past Saturday, that all changed. I kept driving around and around but no space opened up, so I drove back to my house and asked my son to drive me there and drop me off.
When I got the Sea Empress, I found out why there was no parking.
The luncheon drew several hundred people, so Ican understand why all the parking spaces were taken up.
Among the guests in attendance was a representative of the Korean Consulate. I thought was nice to have them recognize the Japanese Americans who served in their country during the Korean conflict.
I was invited to the luncheon by Min Tonai, who serves as president of the JA Korean War Veterans.
I rarely attend functions back-to-back, but on Sunday I was invited to the Terminal Islanders’ Shinnen Kai luncheon at the Elks Club in San Pedro.
I’m sure most JAs are familiar with the Terminal Islanders’ history.
Yes, I was also invited to the Terminal islanders’ event by Min Tonai, who is also the president of that group.
Member Charlie Hamasaki, who served as the emcee for the luncheon, introduced me as a “guest,” which rarely happens.
I’m generally considered a member of the media, but when Charlie introduced the “special guests” he tossed in my name, so I stood up and took a bow.
Of course, a number of people came to our table and said, “I read your column. Don’t quit writing.”
Naturally, a real ego booster.
I would assume that most of them know I’m no “spring chicken.”
Charlie said he has been reading my stuff for many years. He laughed when he told the audience, “Yes, Horse owns three kittens.”
And oh yes, I really enjoyed the entertainment highlighted by vocalist Erika Olsen, because as I frequently mention, I’ve known her since her childhood days when she was a vocal student under the tutorship of the late Sue Okabe.
She’s simply great.
Well, there’s only a week left in January and hopefully the rest of the year will be as enjoyable as the first three weeks.
I’ve always owned a San Francisco 49ers jacket but haven’t worn it too often, but now that the Bay Area team won Sunday and is headed for the NFL title next Sunday, I guess I’ll take it out of my closet and put it on this coming week.
Needless to say, I’ve been a 49ers fan for may years but haven’t had a chance to show it, leaving the jacket hanging in my closet. I hope the moths haven’t chewed any holes in it.
Why am I a 49ers fan?
Well, for those who may not know, I was born and raised in Northern California before evacuation took me away, so most sports teams in the Bay Area were my favorites, even those that were founded after the war.
In case you may not know, although I mention it from time to time, I was born and raised in Redwood City, which is located about 15 miles from San Francisco.
So it’s “Go Niners!”
What is foreign currency worth?
The other day I was cleaning out my closet because I know I have a lot of clothing I never wear.
Well, there was an old shirt I forgot I even owned, so I tossed it on one of the piles that I was “junking.”
Needless to say, I checked the pocket in the shirt, and guess what?
There was some “won,” Korean money, that I guess I picked up in Korea on one of my trips there many years ago, so I called a Korean friend to ask him how much a thousand “won” might be worth.
He laughed and responded, “About 95 cents.”
Heh. I had three 1,000-won bills, and that would come to less than $3. Not even worth going to a bank and trying to exchange for U.S. currency.
So, I tossed it in my desk and to let it gather cobwebs because I can’t even buy a Big Mac with 3,000 “wons.”
Just a space filler, if I may.
A reader recently sent me an email in which he wrote: “You mention from time to time about being involved in boxing.
“I am curious what was the best part about being involved in boxing. Seems to me that if you enjoyed the sport so much, why you didn’t stay involved?”
Well, like writing for so many years, I guess my excuse was getting old.
One of the things I did enjoy about being involved in the sport might be explained in an old photo I had lying around. I think I might have run he photo before in my column, but since I was asked the question of “why,” I’ll run it again.
Okay, so I’m a dirty old man.
The two young ladies were what they label as “card girls.” They are the ones who jump in the ring between rounds and walk around holding up large cards with the round number printed on them. It informs the fans what round is coming up next.
One of my duties was to approve which candidate would be selected to serve as card-holder, so they were happy to pose with me for a photo between rounds.
Yes, judging from the many emails I receive, I have a lot of golfers who read my chatter.
Kuni Okinaka writes: “Here is something your Rafu golfer audience will enjoy …
“A grandfather, son and grandson went to the country club for their weekly round of golf. Just as they reached the first tee, a beautiful young Yonsei woman carrying her bag of clubs approached them.
“She explained that a member who brought her to the club for a round of golf had an emergency that called him away and asked the trio whether she could join them.
“Naturally, all the guys agreed.
“Smiling, the Yonsei thanked them and said, ‘Look, I work at a topless bar as a dancer, so nothing shocks me. If any of you want to smoke cigars, have a beer, bet, swear, tell off-color stories or do anything you normally do when playing a round, go ahead. But I enjoy playing golf and consider myself a pretty good player, so don’t try to coach me on how to play my shots.’
“With that, the guys agreed to relax and invited her to drive first.
“All eyes were fastened on her shapely behind as she bent to place her ball on the tee. She then took her driver and hit the ball 270 yards down the middle, right in front of the green.
“The father’s mouth was agape. ‘That was beautiful,’ he said.
“The Yonsei put her driver away and said, ‘I really didn’t get into it, I faded a little.’
“The son said, ‘Damn, lady, you played that perfectly.’
“The Yonsei frowned and said, ‘It was a little weak, but even an easy seven would have been too much club. I’ve left a tricky little putt.’ She then tapped in a five-footer for a birdie.
“Having the honors, she drove first on the 2nd hole, knocked the heck out the ball and it landed nearly 300 yards away, smack in the middle of the fairway.
“For the rest of the round, the Yonsei continued to amaze the guys, quietly and methodically shooting par or less on every hole.
“When they arrived at the 18th green, the Yonsei was three under par and had a very nasty 12-putt on an undulating green for a par.
“She turned to the three guys and said, ‘I really want to thank you all for not acting like a bunch of chauvinists and telling me what club to use or how to play a shot, but I need this putt for a 69 and I’d really like to break 70 on this course. If anyone of you can tell me how to make par on this hole, I’ll take him back to my apartment, pour some 35-year-old Single Malt Strath Scotch for him, fix him a steak dinner, and then show him a very good time the rest of the night.’
“The yuppie son jumped at the thought. He strolled across the green, carefully eyeing the line of the putt and finally said, ‘Honey, aim about 6 inches to the right of the hole and hit it firm. It will get over the little hump and break to the right into the cup.’
“The father knelt down and sighted the putt using his putter as a plumb. ‘Don’t listen to the kid, darlin’. You want to hit softly 10 inches to the right and let it run left down that little hogback, so it falls into the cup.’
“The old gray-haired grandfather walked over to the woman’s ball, picked it up and handed it to her and said, ‘That’s a gimmie, sweetheart.’
“The Yonsei smiled and said, ‘Your car or mine?’
“Remember, old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill every time.”
Okay, let me get back to my chatter, hoping that the previous segment put everyone in a laughing mood.
Using the old adage that one picture is worth a thousand words, I’m hopeful the photo I’m tossing in here will fill the space normally taken by 200 words.
It’s just another photo I dug up to use when I run out of words.
No, I haven’t run out of words, but I thought what I am about to write with the photo will cause a few chuckles. It was taken in 1964 in a section of Tokyo.
While I was looking for a place to live upon my arrival in Japan, I naturally was looking for a place that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg.
Anyone familiar with Japan knows that there is no such place.
So, the photo here shows life in the slums in Tokyo.
I decided to make a deal with my employer to share my rent and when he agreed to my proposal, I found a place in Shibuya, a better section of Tokyo, where I lived until I decided to return to the U.S.
Man, getting back to Gardena felt like moving to Beverly Hills.
End of tale.
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.