By BRUCE UYEMURA
Editor’s note: Horse thought of this kicker during his days at Kashu Mainichi.
In thinking back to my days working in the newsroom of Kashu Mainichi’s English section, I remember George “Horse” Yoshinaga coming to work in the morning around 9 a.m. and then greeting everyone, starting with the Japanese typesetting department, the composing room, and the Japanese section news staff, consisting of Kikunaga-san, White-san, Kurashima-san and Junko Maruya, business manager. I enjoyed working with all of the staff at Kashu Mainichi.
After greeting the staff, Horse would go to the large printing press and tear off a large sheet of newsprint, which he would put it in his typewriter at his desk. He then began typing his column until the newsprint dropped to the floor.
As Horse’s typed copy got longer, he would give the copy to Mrs. Dora Kim, the linotypist, to set in type. Once the column was set in linotype, Mrs. Kim would give me a proof so that I could start proofreading. (I learned that Mrs. Kim and her husband were good friends of my Uncle Paul and Auntie Bernice, my father’s sister).
Sitting at his desk in the newsroom of the English section, Horse would have a large mug of coffee at his desk and sometimes would have his unlit cigar in his mouth. He had copies of the current Japanese newspapers from Japan, the newswire Jiji Press, and copy from UPI newswire. Occasionally he would get up to check the UPI teletype for more news for the day.
Once in a while, Mr. Hiroshi E. Hishiki, publisher of Kashu Mainichi, would ask me to drive over to the UPI news office on Olympic Boulevard to pick up newswire photos or even clean newswire copy whenever the teletype machine was not working properly.
I remember Mrs. Kim would sometimes prepare a lunch for Mr. Hishiki and Horse when they did not feel like going out to eat. She made them a bowl of hot rice with a raw egg on top and, of course, natto to top it off. Horse loved natto, boxing, and all sports.
Horse once told me that he let his mind draw a blank and then he would just start typing his column. Each day he would type enough copy for his column to fill the front page of Kashu Mainichi.
One day, Horse wrote about a very tall Nisei man who was over six feet in height. This man lived in the Sacramento area. He was a Nisei basketball star. As I was proofreading the typeset copy, I saw name Ted Tsukiji. I knew right away that my cousin Setsu was married to Ted Tsukiji. That evening after work I brought a copy of Kashu Mainichi with the “Horse’s Mouth” column. I gave it to my father and he clipped out the column with Ted Tsukiji’s name and mailed it to his sister, my Aunt Mildred, who lived in Sacramento.
My Auntie Mildred, Uncle George, Setsu and Ted were all happy to receive the clipping in the mail.
Horse operated the linotype machine and headline writing machine at Kashu Mainichi. Whenever the English section had a small hole, he would either fill it with a Japanese yen story or other news from the Japanese newspapers. This would complete the page and off to the press it went.
At another time after completing the day’s newspaper, Horse would show me the front pages of other Japanese newspapers in the United States. He would point out what newspapers had good Page 1 makeup and what newspapers had poor makeup. A mugshot of anyone should not have the person looking off the page. Headlines, photos, and news stories should be in good alignment.
After putting the linotype into the chase, it was ready for the printing press with the team of Fugawa-san, Otomo-san, and Mizokami-san mounting all the page chases onto the large printing press, loading the press with a large roll of newsprint, putting black printer’s ink into the press. Then Horse’s duties were completed and he would go over to the large wash basin and use the green pumice soap to wash the printer’s ink off of his hands. Then he would head for lunch.
Sometimes sitting at the linotype could be very dangerous when a squirt of hot metal shot out of the metal pot. The person sitting at the linotype machine would have to duck under cover to protect himself or herself from the hot metal squirt.
Some days Horse would sit at the linotype machine and start composing his column.
I remember proofing the following columns at Kashu Mainichi: Mrs. Ellen Kishiyama of Morro Bay penned “Through My Bay Window”; Joe Dahn wrote “Butadofu”; Nona’s column, “Ms. Give ‘n’ Take”; Jerry Akahoshi’s column, “Beatin’ Around”; Ruth’s column, “Urashima-taro”; and, of course, George Yoshinaga’s “Horse’s Mouth.” I almost forgot about column writer Kats Kunitsugu, the Page 1 editor of Kashu Mainichi.
Horse’s parents came from Kumamoto-Ken, Japan, and settled in Santa Clara County in Mountain View. My grandparents also came from Kumamoto-Ken and settled in Santa Clara County – Alviso, Cupertino, San Jose — during the pre-war years, before relocating to Los Angeles.
Sometimes Horse would talk about his service in the Army during World War II. It was four years after I returned home from Vietnam when I began working with him at The Kashu Mainichi.
NAU’s AA Basketball
I remember during basketball season for the SCNAU AA basketball games at the Los Angeles City College gymnasium, Mr. Akira Komai, the publisher of Rafu Shimpo, used to sit at the table keeping score of the AA basketball games. This was during the years of the San Kwo Low Lords (later the Nisei Trading Lords) dynasty — more than 10 years as AA champions and State of California NCNAU and SCNAU AA champions.
Whenever Horse walked into the LACC gymnasium, Mr. Komai would yell out, “Horse,” and signal him to come over to the scoring table.
If I recall correctly, there were AA basketball team members Shinzato, Inouye, Tanimoto and others on the Nisei Trading Lords basketball team.
Once AA games were over on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Komai would drive back to the Rafu Shimpo office at 244 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo, and begin linotyping a story for Page 1 of the English section. Each Monday during basketball season, the AA games without fail were on the front page of the Monday Rafu Shimpo.
I mention the SCNAU AA basketball games because on Sunday afternoon Horse would walk into the LACC gym during the basketball games with a clean suit and necktie and with his unlit sugar in his mouth.
In addition to George Yoshinaga, other Nisei journalists were Bill Hosokawa, Henry Mori, and Harry Honda. George received his newspapering experience in Heart Mountain, Wyoming, under Bill Hosokawa of The Heart Mountain Sentinel.
Thank you, George, for writing the “Horse’s Mouth” column for the Japanese American community.
Bruce Uyemura, a resident of Los Angeles, is a Vietnam War veteran who works at the Office of Hearings and Appeals. His jobs in the newspaper industry included delivering newspapers for The Rafu Shimpo and writing and proofreading in the English section at Kashu Mainichi. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.