HORSE’S MOUTH: Wow! Two JAs to Vie for Same Position

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

The Rafu carried a story on its front page this past week that LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara was contemplating entering the race for sheriff. If he does indeed enter the race, it would create a unique situation.

It will probably be the first time two Japanese Americans will seek the same office since Paul Tanaka has already announced that he, too, will vie for the sheriff’s position.

Needless to say, two JAs in the same election will create a situation never faced by JA voters. It will certainly split the votes, which won’t be beneficial to either candidate.

I first met Hara a few years ago when we served as judges for the “Uta Gassen” (singing contest) in Little Tokyo, and I guess it can be said that we were friends from that date. I bump into him at various JA community activities.

However, if he runs in the race for sheriff, my support will go to Tanaka because I’ve known him since he was a toddler and he grew up with my oldest son. Both graduated from Gardena High in the same class, and Tanaka developed into a community leader over the years, winning the mayor’s seat in Gardena and re-election in the last mayoral race.

As mayor, Tanaka has improved many areas of the City of Gardena, and let’s not forget, Tanaka was the top man behind current Sheriff Lee Baca until the two had a falling out and Tanaka left the Sheriff’s Department.

With all the negative info coming out on Baca in recent times, leaving the Sheriff’s Department would be a plus for Paul.

Of course, Hara has his own ambition. He ran in the last election for the Los Angeles City Council but finished fourth in the race.

I don’t want people to think I’m anti-Hara if he chooses to run. However, if he does make an official announcement, people will ask me what I think.

Well, from that standpoint, let me say that I’m pro-Tanaka but not anti-Hara. The sheriff’s job being what it is doesn’t really affect every citizen like other political posts, so as one who has supported Tanaka in his run for Gardena’s mayor, a position that does affect me as a citizen of the city, I’d like to see him wearing the badge of head sheriff even if it doesn’t affect me.

Good luck to both when the official announcement is made on those seeking the sheriff’s job.

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As I often mention, I’ve been playing the California lottery since it first began. That would be two decades now. At the start of the week, I purchase two tickets each for the Wednesday and Saturday drawings, with the same numbers.

Needless to say, due to my hectic schedule, I sometimes forget to buy the tickets. Over the two decades, I guess I missed about four games. That’s not too many for a 20-year period.

This past week I did forget and when I got up Sunday, I dreaded opening the newspaper to see what the winning numbers were. Hooray! None of my numbers were picked.

I don’t know how I would have reacted if I had opened the newspaper and seen all my numbers as the winning ones.

I guess I might jump in my car, drive down to Little Tokyo and to the First Street Bridge and dive off. Heh, heh.

As I mention from time to time, a Nisei friend also bought lottery tickets using the same numbers. One week, she went on a trip and forgot to buy her tickets. Yup, her numbers came up as winners.

The prize in those days didn’t get up to mega-millions, but she missed out on $7 million. Not peanuts, for sure. She stopped buying tickets after that.

Hey, maybe I should pull the plug on buying lottery tickets before the same thing happens to me. And at my age, what would I do if I do win millions of dollars?

(Maggie’s comment: Well, now, Mr. Y., you could give me a million. Heh, heh.)

I’m happy enough if I win a few hundred bucks on my trips to Vegas.

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As I frequently mention, since my sons are all grown adults and have moved on to lives of their own, my wife doesn’t want to cook too many meals at home, so we now dine out more often.

Breakfast isn’t bad. We end up at Denny’s and order off their $2, $4, $6 and $8 menu. We always order the $8 one and split it. It consists of two pancakes, two scrambled eggs, a strip of bacon, one sausage, hash brown potatoes and coffee. Not bad for 8 bucks.

It’s finding an eatery at lunchtime and dinnertime that is a little difficult.

The old-fashioned Japanese-style eateries weren’t really fancy, just serving good old “okazu” like my mother used to make.

They still have a couple of them in J-Town, but I don’t want to drive all the way from Gardena to eat at those sites. And McDonald’s isn’t a good substitute for Japanese food and oyako donburi really isn’t a good substitute for Japanese “okazu.”

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with a Big Mac.

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Perhaps it’s because I don’t dine on my wife’s cooking, but I’ve lost a lot of weight in recent months. I didn’t realize it until one friend told me, “Hey, you don’t look like a horse anymore. More like a pony.”

So I stepped on the scale and sure enough, I was amazed to see that I had lost about 15 pounds, almost down to the “high school weight.”

I guess in recent years I haven’t been paying too much attention to my weight. It’s hard to believe that one time, about a year after I was discharged from the Army, I weighed about 200 pounds. I’m now about 50 pounds under that weight.

No one has called me, “Hey, Skinny” yet, but I’m getting there. So I go from “Horse” to “Pony.”

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This might be my year since it’s the Year of the Horse, and there seems to be so much focus on horses.

One can’t turn the pages of the newspaper without seeing a reference to horses, and I don’t mean the sports section with its horse racing articles.

Being nicknamed “Horse” might make 2014 an interesting 365 days.

Maybe I’d better get out to Santa Anita and place some bets on the horses. I guess if Hollywood Park hadn’t closed, I might be doing that right now.

Oh well.

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Since I thanked the many readers who sent me emails when I wrote about my recent stay in the hospital, I thought I would print one such letter as an example of what kind of missives I received. I picked one signed by Tomi Iwata, who wrote:

“Hi Horse: Hope you continue with care at the hospital or at home with your wife. We look forward to your columns in The Rafu, so please continue to write as we Nisei connect through your thoughts/writing in your column.

“Having had family members/friends stay in nursing home facilities, I have experienced the care/food given there. In different visits I also have told the staffs what care/food I felt might help the person who I was visiting. Sometimes knowing someone cares assists the one who is in the facility. Take care.”

Thanks for the nice letter, Tomi. I agree with you about the care patients receive while hospitalized. It’s an important factor.

The Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, where I stayed, has been judged as one of the best hospitals in the U.S., and from the care and attention I received, I can agree with that classification.

Since none of the hospital staff knew I was a newspaper columnist, I can say they treated me well because they treated everyone well.

Just a thought.

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Yes, I know I frequently chat bout aging, especially concerning the Nisei generation, and one of the signs of aging is the graying of one’s hair.

It made me wonder how many Nisei men dye their hair. I know most of the Nisei women do color their hair.

Well, my hair is snow white, but nobody knows about it because I dye my hair. I started doing so back in 1962 when I moved to Japan to live and work.

The first barber I went to after arriving in Tokyo looked at me and said, “You’re too young to have gray hair. Let me dye it for you.” In Japanese, of course.

I told him to let me think about it. He said, “There’s nothing to think about. I only charge 300 yen to dye hair.”

In those days, that came to less than $1. So I agreed, which means I’ve been dyeing my hair for over 50 years.

It’s easy in the U.S. because hair dye is sold in almost every store.

Well, this past week when I went to my barber, I told him to give me a crew cut.

When he did, I was stunned to see myself with all gray hair, but I decided to let it go and look my age. That is, until my son’s wife saw me the other day and said, “Grandpa, what happened? You look so old.”

So, back to the dye bottle. I’m a “black-haired horse” again. Heh, heh.

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Got a little more space, so I decided I’d better hammer out a few more words. About what? Las Vegas, of course.

A friend who is a Vegas addict like me said, “Hey, Horse, when are we going to read about your trip to Vegas? We really enjoy your comments when you are there, especially on your experience on the slot machines.”

As of now, I am expected to go the first week of February. That is, if the guy who volunteered to drive me and my wife doesn’t back out.

Most of those who volunteer tell me it’s not the driving that makes it hard to get to Vegas, it’s the length of time I want to stay there. Because I am retired, time is not important, but those who are still working can’t afford to miss more than two days from their jobs.

I guess I never thought about that aspect of person’s life.

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.

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