(Published Dec. 2, 2014)
As I glance at the calendar on the wall next to me I see it’s Sunday, Nov. 30, a day before I flip it over and it becomes Dec. 1, or 24 days before Christmas.
Where does the time fly?
Yeah, it’s been more than 70 years since we were packing one suitcase and getting ready to ship off to a relocation camp. No, most of us didn’t even know what a relocation camp was or where they were located.
Most of my friends were teenagers, 18 and 19, so it wasn’t as tough for us to prepare to move to what they called “assembly centers,” which were the gathering place for JAs before they were moved to relocation centers.
It must have been a lot tougher for our elderly Issei parents than it was for those of us who were younger.
My family consisted of my Issei mother, my sister, who was two years older than I, and me, a 17-year-old.
I spent only a year and a half at Heart Mountain Relocation Center because I was drafted into the Army.
I never saw my mother again because she passed away while I was wearing the uniform of Uncle Sam’s Army. My sister married, so when I got my discharge from the Army, I didn’t have anywhere to go.
I decided to live in the Los Angeles area even though I was a pre-war Northern California resident, and became a newspaperman in L.A. And here I am, still pounding out a column for The Rafu Shimpo.
I probably repeated the above story a number of times. Hopefully, I won’t have to keep repeating myself to fill space.
There is nobody left from the era when I started writing back in the ’50s. Most of those in the journalism field from those days are gone because they were much older than I when I got started. The publisher at The Rafu was Aki Komai.
At Shin Nichi Bei (where I began my career) was another aging publisher. At Kashu Mainichi, it was Hiro Hishiki.
If they were still around today, they’d all be near 100 years in age.
Well, let me get on with today’s chatter by printing a letter I received from a reader. His name is Ted Maesaki:
“Yoshinaga-san. Ohisashi buri desu. How are you doing? I heard that you are planning to go to Vegas next week. You must be all excited since you haven’t been there for over a year.
“That’s a long dry spell. I could never wait that long. Ha, ha, ha.
“My wife and I went to Sedona, Arizona, with a group of people and friends from West Covina Christian Church last month. We had a wonderful time. It was the first time for us to visit Sedona. Have you been there?
“We rode in the famous pink jeep. That was quite an experience.
“We had to really hang on to the strap for dear life as the jeep goes up and down a rough dirt road on rocky terrain.
“We, 40 of us, really enjoyed the ride.
“It amazes me that some of the folks who rode on the jeep are in their 80s, even a few in their 90s.
“They sure are brave and in good condition to withstand jumping up and down from their seats. I sure hope to be like them when I get to 90 years old.
“One day we stopped at Seligman, Arizona, a small town famous for Route 66. We saw a busload of tourists from Japan there. I didn’t know that the place was famous for even people from Japan.
“During the five-day trip, we hardly saw Chinese/Vietnamese people and I think I saw only one Chinese restaurant. Living in San Gabriel Valley, this is quite an experience not bumping into Asian people.
“The last day we stayed in Laughlin, Nevada. This place too was a first time for us. Even through the casinos are similar to the ones in Vegas, I didn’t care for Laughlin. Nothing can beat The Cal in Vegas, right?
“We will go there in February for the Al and Gerald Morita basketball annual gathering.
“A couple of weeks like on every election, I volunteered for the poll workers in he San Marino precinct. We had a hakujin inspector, two Chinese ladies (both worked at L.A. County, one Latino college student, and myself.
“Except for the inspector, we all speak our native language, so we had a sign indicating that we speak our respective languages.
“There was this elder hakujin man who came. As he stands in front of me, he yelled in a loud voice, ‘Is there anyone who speaks English around here?’ Since he saw three Asians working, I assume??
“He was so rude. He probably was one of those who is frustrated with so many Asians in his neighborhood that he shows frustration to any/all Asians.”
I guess I mentioned it a few times, but my neighborhood has changed so much over the past few months.
The most notable change? Parked cars.
Since those who own the cars rent rooms in the houses across the street, people who come to visit me after working hours can’t find a place to park.
I own two cars, so my driveway is full. When friends stop by to visit me, they have no place to park, so they just leave.
Yeah, they call me when they get home to tell me they stopped over but couldn’t stay and visit me.
Kind of sad, I thought, but unfortunately, there isn’t anything I can do about the situation.
I called my friends at City Hall to tell them about the problem, but they told me that unfortunately, there isn’t anything they can do about it.
However, one of them said, “Why don’t you get on the phone with your friends and tell them to come to your place early in the day, park their cars and leave them there? Then those guys who are taking up all the space on your street may realize what they are doing.”
Okay, maybe I’ll give it a try.
If they come over and complain to me, I can tell them what I thought about them taking up all the spaces.
Most of the local-area JAs who go to Vegas are Downtown visitors and Japanese from Japan are clients of The Strip.
Not sure why this is.
At any rate, gambling in Japan will soon be legalized, according to stories in Japan’s newspapers.
U.S. heavyweights like the Las Vegas Sands and Wynn International are talking billions of dollars they are prepared to spend on casino resorts in Japan.
Casino executives have stepped up location scouting, eyeing sites from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market to a man-made island in Osaka.
At a school in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, pupils are practicing blackjack dealing. Japanese are enrolling in gaming schools in the hope that casinos will soon open and jobs as dealers will be available.
I asked a couple of casino connections about the news out of Japan. One said, “Yes, I’ve heard about Japan and legalized gaming, and we are interested in being part of the movement.”
The next time I go to Japan (probably never), I may find myself in a casino.
In connection with the foregoing story, one of my connections with Vegas called me on the phone and asked, “Are you really going to Vegas next week?”
I had to hesitate before I responded. “Well, I’ve been thinking about it and a friend has offered to take me, so one of my columns from The Cal may be from Vegas.”
Yeah, everyone knows I haven’t been there for over a year. In fact, if I do go next week, it will be a year and five months.
That’s a long stretch. I don’t expect to stay too long. My plan calls for four days and three nights, so I’ll probably run into a number of readers.
See ya there.
I got a flat tire last week while driving around Gardena and I found out one thing.
It isn’t easy to find a tire repair person.
I called my old friend, the mechanic Isao, and he gave me three places to take my car to, but none of them wanted to work on my flat, especially when they asked, “Aren’t you the guy that writes for The Rafu?”
So, out of desperation, I called one of my sons. He drove to the site where I was stuck and took the flat with him.
Meanwhile, I am hoping I don’t get another flat until my old tire is repaired.
I’m sure glad I don’t have to drive around like I used to and I’m glad I have my two cars. I’m using my other car now because I have two spares in it.
Well, I guess that’s about it for now.
When I have to write about getting a flat tire, I know I should be better prepared to write my column.
See ya next time. That is, unless Editor Gwen throws me out.
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.