HORSE’S MOUTH: Banzai to Kyle Larson

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Headlines in newspapers are used to attract readers.

Since there isn’t that much space atop a story, sometimes it’s tough to use the right words to get readers’ attention.

As a newspaper writer, although the headlines attract me, I always read down into the stories whether the headlines grab my attention or not, which always makes it possible to get information that I otherwise might miss.

Take the top story on Page 11 of The Los Angeles Times’ sports section. The headline read, “Larson Picks a Good Spot for First Win.” If I were just cruising through the sports section, I would probably just flip over to Page 12.

However, in reading the article to the very end, I caught the last paragraph, which read, “Larson is also a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity effort. His mother is Japanese American and her late parents were among the thousands of Japanese Americans sent to an internment camp in Tule Lake during World War II.”

So Kyle Larson, whom the article covered, is a Sansei.

The opening paragraph read, “Kyle Larson has earned untold plaudits since the 21-year-old racing prodigy joined NASCAR’s upper ranks last year.”

On Saturday, the driver lived up to his reputation in a big way. The Elk Grove native won his first race in NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide Services at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana after a thrilling battle with veterans Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

The Sansei driver said, “It means the world to get the win here in my home state.”

Now if I didn’t read everything to the end of the story, I would never have learned that the new race car driving champion was a Sansei.

I guess as Japanese Americans move ahead in the world, we won’t know unless we do read to the bottom of the articles to see if they spell out the ethnicity of the person being honored.

Maybe because his “official” name is Larson, it might not be appropriate to salute him with a “banzai,” but in this case, I’ll do it anyway.

Banzai!

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 Needless to say, most of us of Japanese ancestry enjoy “Nihon-shoku.” That’s Japanese cuisine. Among them is “miso-shuru.” That’s miso soup.

Well, this past week, a man in the Islands (Hawaii) quelled a house fire with a pot of miso soup.

Big Island resident Joy Gardner credits her son, Reuben Prensky, with saving her house by stopping the fast-moving fire.

Gardner, 70, of Papaaloa said cracking sounds woke her son on Saturday morning. He investigated and found a plastic sink in the laundry area on fire with flames lapping at the roof.

Prensky went to the kitchen for some water and grabbed the first thing he could find, a large pot of miso soup left out overnight on the stove. He doused the fire with the soup, slowing it enough for him to grab a garden hose and extinguish the flames.

“Everyone agrees, if the fire had gone on for about 30 more seconds, it would have burned the whole house down,” Gardner said.

Firefighters told her the fire would have gotten out of control if it had spread along the rafters of the A-frame house.

In the aftermath, there were the melted sink, a blackened wall, and orange and white cubes of vegetables on the floor.

Gardner, who writes books on vibrational healing, said her son came from Canada two days ago to visit.

“I’m very grateful,” said Gardner, who was sleeping upstairs in the house at the time. “He saved the house, he saved the day, he might have even saved my life.”

Officials also credited Reuben’s “quick thinking” and said his actions saved about $200,000 in damages.

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Well, as usual, it’s time for an email I received. As always, it begins “Dear Horse,” and reads:

“You frequently explain how you got your nickname, but I’m curious about a person you frequently mention in your column. I am talking about Bacon Sakatani. Is that his real name or a nickname given to him as your friends tagged you?”

Well, I would assume that it’s a nickname, but I’ve never had a chance to ask him. So this weekend, when we meet at the Santa Anita reunion he has put together, I will pose the question to him.

That doesn’t mean he will reveal why he has such an unusual name. As I always mention, the Nisei generation was great at tagging friends with nicknames.

In our sports club alone, during our stay in Heart Mountain, we had guys with the following tags: Chicken, Cozy, Rocky, Nose, Chop, Bird, Barrel, Skunk, Lomo and Sly.

In that group, Horse doesn’t sound too bad, and I’ll feel right at home this weekend when we get together at Santa Anita, where I did become “the Horse” during our assembly center days.

Of course, in later years, some would begin to call me “Uma-san” instead of “Horse.”

Hmmmmm. I wonder how “Uma no Kuchi” would sound instead of “Horse’s Mouth” as the title of my weekly rambling?

Yeah, my granddaughters, now high school students, frequently used to ask me how I came to be a “horse.”

I wonder if they tell their classmates, “My grandfather looks like a horse.”

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Gee, in reading the results of the Dodgers playing two games in Australia, I can’t believe the 2014 baseball season is already under way.

When I was involved in boxing, I visited Australia half a dozen times and I thought it was a great place, even though a lot of the natives there called me a “Jap.”

I guess the thing I enjoyed the most was that Sydney, the largest city in Australia, had legalized gambling casinos much like Vegas, with slot machines to go along with table games. Yeah, I did drop a few bucks in the slots.

As I noted in the opening paragraph of this piece, I can’t believe it’s already baseball season, which reminds me to ask the readers, what Major League baseball park is ranked as the No. 1 facility?

Most of you might respond, “Dodger Stadium.” Wrong.

The park chosen as “the best” is PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Don’t know where Dodger Stadium ranked.

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 Like many of you, I’ve been following the disaster of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

What puzzles me is why they can’t find the location where the flight disappeared.

Gee, we can send men to the moon, land rocket ships on Mars, have all the modern-day electronic devices to follow the flight path of airlines, yet a plane with 239 people on board disappears and we can’t locate the site of the disaster?

Something just doesn’t seem right.

So, I guess I’ll just keep watching the TV news to see how this whole disaster progresses.

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Driving through San Gabriel Valley recently, I was surprised to find so many Chinese restaurants in cities like Alhambra and Monterey Park. In doing a little research, I learned that there are 13 Chinese restaurants that offer dishes not found in other areas of Los Angeles.

Names such as Chengdu Taste, Duck House, Wok BBQ, Three Travelers, Bone Hot Pot, Hong Yei and Hunan. These are only a few of the popular Chinese eateries found in the area.

As the owner of one such establishment said, “We want to introduce our best dishes to people who may have never been here before.” They now hold a Chinese Cuisine Festival each year.

Visitors who have been drawn to the Chinese eateries say that what makes San Gabriel Valley restaurant food so unique is its focus on authentic Chinese culinary dishes.

They will tell you one really has to try San Gabriel Valley restaurants to appreciate them.

If any of you readers have tried one of the eateries and want to give me your opinion, drop me a line and I’ll run your comments.

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Speaking of readers’ views, over time, I’ve received a few questions about the relocation camps JAs were placed in during World War II.

Many ask, “We had 10 camps but it seems like only two or three get any mention from the media. Is it my imagination or it is really true? From my observation it seems only Manzanar and Heart Mountain get mentioned, but rarely or never the other eight. Why is that?”

Heck, if you posed the question, “Name the other eight,” people may not be able to come right out with the names, and as I write this, I had to pause from time to time to come up with the other eight.

Of course, Tule Lake is the first to pop into my mind. After that, I guess, Gila and Poston in Arizona; Minidoka in Idaho; Topaz in Utah; Amache in Colorado; and finally Rohwer and Jerome in Arkansas.

That should total up to ten.

Perhaps some readers can come up with a reason why only a few relocation centers get all the publicity. Will be glad to publish such reasons if I get mail on the issue.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: As I have indicated before, anything to do with evacuation, assembly centers, concentration camps, etc., one should get in touch with the Japanese American National Museum, 213-625-0414. They have an excellent source of materials on most matters concerning Japanese Americans.)

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Time to giggle:

An elderly couple had just learned how to send text messages on their cell phones. The wife was a romantic type and the husband was more of a no-nonsense guy.

One afternoon, the wife went out to meet a friend for coffee. She decided to send her husband a romantic text message and she wrote:

“If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you laughing, send me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking, send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you.”

The husband texted her back: “I’m on the toilet. Please advise.”

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

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