Originally printed in The Rafu Shimpo on Mar. 3, 2012.

Getting email or snail-mail from readers, whether they are critical or complimentary about what I write, makes my chore easier.

Knowing people read my chatter can inflate my ego, especially if they are complimentary, which, of course, is as rare as a snowstorm in Little Tokyo in July.

So the following letter felt like a blizzard in mid-summer:

“Hello, my name is Rio Tsujino, Japanese liaison at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. I read your column in the Rafu Shimpo regarding your experience with a recent admission to our hospital. Thank you for your kind words about our hospital team. We are delighted to hear that your experience at Providence Little Company of Mary was very positive.

“Providence Little Company of Mary believes strongly in respecting the dignity of each person and gives special concern to the most vulnerable members of our community. We strive to treat all visitors and their loved ones with our core values, respect, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship.

“As my title indicates, I am the hospital community liaison for the Japanese and Japanese American community. While some patients may have language issues or others simply feel more comfortable speaking Japanese, I offer my services to whoever is in need.

“My services include but are not limited to assisting with registration, insurance or payment matters, referring to physicians or clinics, assisting in Japanese-specific programs such as Japanese maternity tours/classes, our Ningen Dock Center, or simply comforting patients or family members during difficult times. Should you know anyone who may be able to utilize my service, please feel free to share my contact information.

“Thank you again for sharing your positive experience at our hospital with your readers. We are here to continuously service you and your community in the most respectable and compassionate manner.”

Thanks to Tsujino-san. It’s kind of ironic that when I wrote the column on Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital, I made the comment, “I don’t think anyone at the facility reads the Rafu Shimpo.”

Now I learn through the letter that the hospital has a community liaison for “Japanese” patients. Kind of remarkable, I thought.

One of these days, I’d like to drop by the hospital to meet and chat with Rio Tsujino.

That would be a lot better than being carried into the facility on a stretcher, the way I got to the hospital on my last “visit.”

As a GOP member, I’ve taken more than a passing interest in the Republican presidential primary elections being held in various states during the past month.

The natural question I am sure people would like to ask me is, “Which candidate are you rooting for?”

I guess the most simple answer would be, “The one who can beat President Obama in November.”

In my opinion, that would be Mitt Romney.

Heck, if someone like Ron Paul wins the GOP nomination, I might be tempted to switch parties. No, I would never go back to being a Democrat, which means there aren’t too many options.

Perhaps the Ocha Party? Oops, sorry, that should read Tea Party.


Kind of sad that a country as large and heavily populated as the U.S. has only three parties from which to elect its next president.

So, we have Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul as the GOP hopefuls who want to wish Obama “sayonara” in November.

The dictionary defines “illegal” as “prohibited by law.”

So I am confused that the two top enforcement officers in Los Angeles City and County, Chief Charlie Beck and Sheriff Lee Baca, are pushing to make it okay to issue driver’s licenses to “illegal” immigrants.

If illegal indeed means “prohibited by law,” how can two men who are supposed to enforce the law seek to “break the law” by seeking to approve the issuance of licenses to those prohibited by law?

Well, maybe I’m just out of touch with the times. Maybe we oldsters just haven’t kept up with the times.

Well, maybe the next time I’m driving 50 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone and get stopped by a motor officer, I can say, “I’m sorry, I can’t read English and didn’t know what the sign meant.’

And the motor officer would put his ticket pad back in his pocket.

Heh, heh, are you kidding?

Wow! Maybe it’s time to retire.

Fellow Rafu columnist Wimp Hiroto devoted a couple of paragraphs in his most recent column to mentioning my name.

Wimp and I have a lot of mutual friends, guys like Tak Hamano and Ed Fukumoto. From to time we chat about newspapering and I often kid them that I didn’t think he knew I existed.

In mentioning me, he admitted that he does follow my blabbing.

Will wonders never cease?

Well, baseball season is just around the corner, so the media are beginning to include a lot of news from the sport.

The latest one that caught my eye was that the New York Yankees manager said that Hiroki Kuroda, whom they grabbed from the Dodgers during the off-season, will definitely be one of five starters this coming season.

So, while the Dodgers are still looking for two more pitchers for their starting rotation, the Yankees are filling theirs with the former Ellay hurler.

As the Japanese might say, “Naru hodo.”

Has anyone else been asked the question? And if they have, did they have the answer?

I’m talking about the year that our Issei fathers landed in the U.S.

I was asked the question when I was filling out a form about my family tree and, by golly, I had really never given that question any thought..

So, I began thinking back.

My father passed away in 1937, so judging from his age at his passing, I would guess it was in the late 1890s. Just a guess.

Maybe I’ll have to search some of my family’s old records to make sure about the date of his arrival in the U.S.

Perhaps someone can give me a better way to find an answer to this question.

In the Rafu’s Wednesday edition, one of the stories on the front page was on the appointment of David Yamahata to the rank of deputy chief, making him the top-ranking officer behind Chief Brian L. Cummings.

That makes it two Sansei as the top-ranking officers in the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The undersheriff, a rank below Sheriff Lee Baca, is Paul Tanaka.

Two Japanese Americans holding the post just below the top one. Isn’t that something?

When JAs were tossed into camps 70 years ago, who in their wildest imagination could have predicted something like this happening? Back in 1942, we were labeled as “Japs.”

If someone had said that in the year 2012, two of the highest-ranking officers in the L.A. Fire Department and the L.A. Sheriffs Department would be Japanese Americans, people would have said, “Are you nuts?”

Hey, maybe it won’t be long before the mayor of Los Angeles and the governor of California will be two “Japs.”

When I used to drive into Little Tokyo three times a week, one of the problems I was preparing to face was finding a parking space.

So, now that I rarely drive into J-Town, they opened a new, reasonably priced parking lot on Aiso Street last Friday.

Well, maybe now I’ll drop into J-Town at least once a week.

Speaking of dropping into J-Town, my wife said she would like to visit the area to see what’s new, so I agreed to drive in this past weekend.

Of course, the first thing we did was look for someplace to have lunch.

We tried a place called Kula located at the Second Street entrance to the Japanese Village Plaza.

We didn’t know what to expect, so we were kind of surprised that it was a sushi parlor with the sushi spinning around the counter on a conveyor belt.

Each plate of sushi was priced at $2. A bit high for our budget, so we both settled on tempura donburi, which wasn’t exactly that inexpensive, either.

So, we were able to escape with a bill slightly under 10 bucks.

As a J-Town “old-timer,” I can remember the days just after I was discharged from the Army, we could eat a meal for about 50 cents (a bowl of rice with a small side dish). If we wanted to get cheaper, we could have a bowl of rice with a dish of homyu for about 35 cents.

Then there was Sue’s Shop, under the stairways in the then-Taul Building lobby, where we could eat for 25 cents.

So now, a piece of sushi costs two bucks.

Speaking of rising prices, what would you guess has gone up the most in the present era?

I’m sure most will answer, “The price of gasoline.”

Well, back in the late ’40s and ’50s, the price of gas was just under a buck a gallon, so in about 65 years, gas has gone up about $10.

Does anything else come close to that rise in price?

What about haircuts?

Back in the late ’40s and ’50s, one could get a haircut in one of several barber shops in Little Tokyo for 75 cents to $1.

Today, the price is $10 for senior citizens and $12 for younger patrons, which if my math is correct, more than the cost of gasoline.

Of course, most people get their hair cut once a month but fill up their cars with gas once a week, so gas puts a bigger dent in their wallet.

Also, if you don’t mind looking like a shaggy dog, one doesn’t even have to get a haircut, but you can’t get by without putting gas in your car.

Maybe you can blame the crazy weather, but I forgot one important item in talking about the licensing of illegal immigrants.

One official who opposes the idea is Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

He released he following statement: “Providing a legal driver’s license to one who has broken federal law so one can drive legally is an oxymoron.”

He added, “What’s disappointing is that three law enforcement officials, Police Chief Charlie Beck, Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, have turned a blind eye to enforcing the law.

“Our nation is strengthened by legal immigration, but creating another incentive to those who break federal immigration laws encourages illegal immigration and places further economic burden on taxpayers.”

In Los Angeles County, children of illegal immigrants born here are receiving over $642 million a year for welfare and food stamps. In an ICE survey of Los Angeles County jails, illegal immigrants annually cost taxpayers over $550 million. Our cost for medical services exceeds $500 million. This is $1.7 billion, not including the cost of education. Our county and state taxpayers can no longer afford to be the HMO for the world or to provide financial rewards to those who break the law.

Today’s laugher might be enjoyed by golfers:

Akira is 85 years old. He’s played golf every day since his retirement 20 years ago. One day he arrives home looking downcast. “That’s it,” he tells his wife. “I’m giving up golf. My eyesight has gotten so bad that once I hit the ball, I can’t see where it went.”

His wife sympathizes. As they sit down, she has a suggestion. “Why don’t you take my brother with you and give it one more try?”

“That’s no good,” sighs Akira. “Your brother is 92. He can’t help.”

“He might be 92,” says his wife, “but his eyesight is perfect.”

So the next day, Akira heads off to the golf course with his brother-in-law. He tees up, takes an almighty swing and squints down the fairway. He turns to the brother-in-law and asks, “Did you see the ball?”

“Of course I did. I have perfect eyesight.”

“Where did it go?” asks Akira.

“Can’t remember,” the brother-in-law responds.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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