HORSE’S MOUTH: About the Yoshinaga Family

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Dec. 9, 2014)

As I sat in front of my computer to prepare to pound out today’s column, I glanced over at the calendar taped to the wall. “Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014” is the date that captured my eye.

Needless to say, the date sent my mind back over 70 years.

Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the date that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II. Of course, today not much is made of that date.

But for me, it rekindles a lot of memories. I can still remember Dec. 7, 1941 like it was this morning.

In those days on Sunday morning, my brother would always give me 50 cents and tell me to go to the corner liquor store to pick up the Sunday edition of **The San Francisco Chronicle,** the only newspaper we bought.

Well, when I went into the store, I saw a classmate standing near the newspaper rack. Usually a friendly sort, that morning he wore a troubled look on his face.

“Hi, Chuck,” I greeted him.

He didn’t respond, giving me a dirty look instead. “So you know what your people did?” he asked.

I was a bit confused. “What do you mean my people?” I responded.

“The Japs, they bombed Pearl Harbor.” He stormed out of the store.

Confused, I paid for the newspaper and returned to our house.

I was surprised to see everyone huddled around the radio, listening to the newscast.

My brother said, “The Japanese have attacked Hawaii.” Now the comment by my classmate began to make sense, so I joined my family and listed to the radio.

After about 30 minutes, I decided to go to the area where all the JAs gathered every day. They were all there and were all engaged in talking about Japan’s attack on Hawaii. Yes, after 70 years, I still remember Dec. 7, 1941 like it was Dec. 7, 2014, mostly how it changed our life, beginning with our evacuation.

Hey, let’s face it. If it weren’t for the war and our evacuation, you sure wouldn’t be reading my column today.

If you lived in Northern California, you would probably see me driving a truck loaded with vegetables picked on our farm and yeah, I still might have picked up the nickname “Horse.”

I often wonder how many Nisei would be living a different life if it weren’t for World War II and our being tossed into relocation centers.

Life probably wouldn’t be that different for those from the big cities like Los Angeles, but it certainly changed for us country people.

Ending up as a newspaper columnist instead of a guy driving a tractor and plowing a vegetable field?

Oh well, it’s a wonderful thought.

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There are only two Yoshinagas left — my sister, who is two years older than I, and yeah, me.

At one time, the Yoshinaga family had ten members.

My sister was born and raised in Mountain View and still lives there with her daughter.

Her daughter (my niece) has a son who lives in Burbank, so my sister and my niece were in Southern California last week to visit my niece’s son, daughter-in-law and new grandchild.

They also had time to visit us in Gardena.

For Japanese out-of-towners, Gardena is a unique place to visit. The huge Japanese American community, with shopping centers (like Pacific Square) and other JA business centers, makes Gardena an interesting place to drive around. And dine at Japanese eateries.

They also stopped at three supermarkets to do some Japanese shopping. They were impressed at the size of shops like Marukai and Mitsuwa.

I guess those of us who live in the area just take these things for granted.

I enjoy visiting Mountain View, but these days with old age catching up to me, I can’t jump in my car and drive up there like I used to. Driving to Northern California is about a six-hour trip, about a couple of hours longer than driving to Vegas.

I’m planning a trip to Northern California during this month.

There are a couple of routes we can take. One is the coastal route and the other through Central Cal. The coastal route usually takes an hour more than the central.

Yes, we always try to work in an overnight trip to Reno. However, for like me, Reno is not that much of an attraction.

When I was a resident of Mountain View, my thoughts used to be, “Las Vegas? Where is that?”

Now things are completely different. I’m a Las Vegas fan.

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I am kind of curious how many Japanese Americans play the lottery game called “5X Crossword.”

From time to time, when l have a few extra bucks in my pocket, I buy a few cards.

Naw, I don’t expect to win the top prize offered to winners. That would be $20,000. Not bad for a $3 investment, but I haven’t heard of anyone hitting the top prize.

In case anyone is interested, the top win I recorded was 50 bucks. Most of the time, it’s 3 to 5 bucks.

Aw, what the heck, it’s fun.

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It was announced this week that the storied casino has been reborn and reopened. Since I know I have quite a few readers who are Vegas fans, I thought I would toss this in.

The Sahara is located on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, so any of you who were Sahara fans can now go back to your favorite casino.

I guess on my next trip, I’ll drop in to see how the place is being run. No, I’m still a Downtown fan (The Cal, Fremont, Main Street), so you know where to catch me.

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Congratulations to David Aka.

The Nisei from Hawaii celebrated his 100th birthday and has now added six months more.

One of his accomplishments was that he drove his car until the age of 98 years.

He attributed his good health to exercise and rising at 5:30 every morning

Since he stopped driving he uses a walker and is a bit hard of hearing.

When he was asked for advice on how to enjoy a long life, he said, “Don’t fight with your wife.”

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Yes, I carry a cell phone. No, I don’t answer it when it rings. That is, unless the person calling me uses a call system we have set up with each other.

So, some of you might ask, “Why do you carry a cell phone in the first place if you don’t answer it?”

Good question.

I carry a cell just in case of an emergency. Otherwise, it’s just a decoration on my belt.

So, to those of you who do have my cell number and don’t get a response when you call, I hope that explains why you can’t reach me.

Yes, I am planning on getting another cell number on which I will accept calls.

Hello, this is Horse…

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

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