HORSE’S MOUTH: Going Strong at 102

0

By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Needless to say, all Japanese Americans, both young and old, know about the wartime incarceration of the JAs.

The government set up 10 main camps, referred to as relocation centers.

However, how many of you heard the name Kooskia Internment Camp? It was located in the mountains of Idaho.

Kooskia was the subject of this news story published over the weekend:

“The little-known internment camp where more than 250 people of Japanese ancestry were held during World War II is being explored for the first time by archaeologists. The Kooskia Internment Camp was located in the Rocky Mountains of north central Idaho, far from population centers. Between 1943 and 1945, some 250 male internees lived at the camp and helped build it.

“Deep in the mountains of northern Idaho, miles from the nearest town, lies evidence of a little-known portion of a shameful chapter of American history.

“There are no buildings, signs, or markers to indicate what happened at the site 70 years ago, but researchers sifting through the dirt have found broken porcelain, old medicine bottles and lost artwork identifying the location of the first interment camp where the U.S. government used people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

“Today, a team of researchers from the University of Idaho wants to make sure the Kooskia Internment Camp isn’t forgotten to history.

“‘We want people to know what happened and make sure we don’t repeat the past,’ said anthropology professor Stacey Camp, who is leading the research.

“‘It’s an important mission,’ said Charlene Mano-Shen of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle.

“Mano-Shen said her grandfather was forced into a camp near Missoula, Montana during World War II, and some of the nation’s responses to the terrorist attack on Sept.11 evoked memories of the Japanese American internments.

“The camp was the first place where the government used detainees as a labor crew, putting them in service doing road work on Highway 12, through the area’s rugged mountains. They built highways that today link Lewiston, Idaho and Missoula, Montana.

“‘Men from other camps volunteered to come to Kooskia because they wanted to stay busy and make a little money by working on highway projects. As a result, the population was all male and mostly made up of Issei, who were not U.S. citizens. Workers who earned about $50 to $60 a month for their labor,’ said Priscilla Wegars of Moscow, Idaho, who has written books about Kooskia camp.

“Kooskia was one of several camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service that also received people of Japanese ancestry rounded up from Latin American countries, mostly Peru. But it was so small and so remote that it never achieved the notoriety of the massive camps that held 10,000 each.

“‘I’m aware of it, but I don’t know that much about it,’ said Frank Kitamoto,  president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial Committee based in Puget Sound, Washington, which works to maintain awareness of the camp.

“After the war, the camp was dismantled and largely forgotten. Using money from a series of grants, Camp in 2010 started the first archaeological work at the site. Some artifacts such as broken china and buttons were scattered on top of the ground. To find stuff on the surface that has not been looted is rare, a spokesman said.

“Camp figures her work at the site could last another decade. Those working on the project want to create an accurate picture of the life of the detainees. The committee wants to put up signs to show people where the internment camp was located.

“Artifacts found so far include Japanese porcelain trinkets, dental tools and gambling pieces. They have also found works of art created by the internees.

“‘People who lived in the camp figured out creative ways to get through that period of time. They tried to make the place home,’ Camp said.”

I’m including a photo of the JAs who were interned at Kooskia.

Japanese American laborers at the Kooskia Internment Camp. (University of Idaho)

+++

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it, but I have to thank a popular Japanese restaurant in Vegas, Makino.

As I wrote about my trip to Vegas last week, I celebrated my birthday with the sons and we dined at Makino on Sunday evening after celebrating at The Cal.

And guess what? I didn’t even know that Makino knew I was celebrating until after dinner, when one of the waitresses put a birthday cake on our table. So everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and I blew out the candle.

Thanks a million to Makino, my favorite Japanese eatery.

+++

I didn’t know that former Manzanar internees were holding their annual reunion in Vegas again this year in August. I thought they were giving up on Vegas, from what I was told.

However, the other day I received a phone call from a former Manzanaran who asked me if I was attending the event.

Of course, my response was: “Where in L.A. are you folks holding the get-together?”

She said, “Oh no, we are going to Vegas.”

So I told her I’ll think about it.

+++

Since I mentioned about the aging Nisei generation and how many are now hitting the 100-years-and-older bracket, I’ve received a number of letters giving me names of those aging Nisei. One of them reads:

“Alma Matsumoto Watanabe will be hitting her 103rd birthday in October.

“In her delightfully unselfish manner she says, ‘It’s no big deal.’

“The South Bay resident, who was born in Hollywood on Oct. 10, 1910, lives in Gardena and attends Gardena Baptist Church regularly and participates in the church’s senior activities. She enjoys shopping and her many friends.”

Thanks for the letter on another centenarian Nisei.

Will continue to accept stories of other individuals who have passed the century mark.

It’s nice to recognize them.

+++

Another letter reads: “Horse, in recent times you talk about eating out more than having your wife cook. Just where do you dine?”

Well, for breakfast we go to Denny’s in Gardena near the 405 Freeway.

They have four breakfast specials that cost less than if my wife cooked.

The special we dine on consists of two pancakes, four bacon strips, hash brown potatoes and two scrambled eggs with coffee.

Figure it out and it’s a lot less than it costs my wife to prepare the same breakfast at home.

For lunch we go to Carrows on Redondo Beach Boulevard. Again, anything we order is cheaper than the same lunch prepared at home.

Now supper costs less at home than at a restaurant, so we go out to dinner only two times a week.

Perhaps some of you may want to try out our dining schedule.

Yeah, and we don’t have to wash pots and pans and dirty dishes when we dine out.

+++

Chatting about spending money, I was waiting for readers to ask me how we did in the casino during our recent trip.

Surprise! We came home with a few bucks in our pockets.

My wife did great. Every time I bumped into her she’d show me how much she won.

And I didn’t do too bad.

On the first day there, I hit a jackpot, which kept me in the game for the rest of our visit.

However, most people from L.A. that I bumped into complained that the slots seem to have been “tightened” and they couldn’t win at anything they did.

As I often say, I wonder how they “tighten” the slots.

I’ve concluded it’s all a matter of luck.

And Lady Luck rarely smiles.

+++

Okay, so I’m a Dodgers fan again.

Never thought I’d see them on top of the National League West as they are as of this writing.

Friday’s game was a great example.

Winning by one run by a homerun hit by the rookie Puig. Wow.

Oh well, I can’t get out to the games even if I wanted to.

Five straight sell-outs at Dodgers Stadium?

And the next two are also sold out.

Oh well, maybe watching them on TV ain’t that bad.

Speaking of baseball, Hideki Matsui ended his playing career as a member of the New York Yankees on Sunday when the team honored him with a pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

He formally signed his retirement papers at home plate with his parents and younger brother behind him. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch in a game the Yankees won 6-5.

“I was on the verge of tears as I entered the stadium,” Matsui said. “It was an emotion beyond words. It brought home once more what a joyful life I had in the game of baseball. This will be a day I’ll never forget.”

He played seven seasons with the Yankees, a string that climaxed with his being named the MVP of the 2009 World Series.

Matsui hit 332 homeruns in his 10 seasons with the Tokyo Giants and 175 in the Major Leagues.

+++

A reader — who else? — contributed what I label as a laugher.

The title: “Newspapers: Who Reads and What for?”

I’m sure other readers will get a chuckle reading it.

It goes: The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country, but don’t really understand The New York Times.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they didn’t have to leave Southern California to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who is running the country and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who is running the country as long as they do something scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it, but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped, minority, or atheist and also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course that they are not Republicans.

The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

The Tampa Tribune is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.

The Rafu Shimpo is read by people who think the Horse should move to Vegas for keeps.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

Tags

Share.

Leave A Reply