Over the years I’ve been called a lot of things, but I have never been labeled as a “celebrity.” However, I guess that streak has been snapped by a letter from a reader who signed her missive, “Joan from Rosemead.” This is her short note:

“Last Saturday I was having lunch at Bob’s Okazuya in Gardena and recognized you (from having read your column in The Rafu Shimpo for years) joining your many friends for lunch. After debating with my two friends whether that was you or not, we decided it was. So I wanted to go up to you and introduce myself but the ‘Japanese’ in me was a little ‘hazukashii.’ What is the proper protocol to approach a ‘celebrity’ such as yourself?”

Gosh, as I said in opening today’s column, I never thought anyone would think of me as a celebrity, so I can’t provide a response on how people would approach a “celebrity.”

Usually, in a situation as described by the lady, people just come up to me and say, “Aren’t you the Horse who writes for the Rafu?”

Heh, heh. Maybe the next time something like that happens, I’ll say, “Hey, that’s no way to approach a celebrity.”
Just kidding, “Joan from Rosemead.”

I guess if I were as clever with words as fellow Rafu columnist Wimp, I wouldn’t have to toss in a lot of letters to fill my space, but I’m not, so here’s another letter.

It’s from reader Shu Miyazaki, who frequently throws a letter my way. He writes:

“First, let me join the hundreds of others in saying, ‘Don’t retire.’ Heck, I won’t have anyone to write to. My wife will miss you too, as that’s the first question she asks me when she sees me with the Rafu. ‘Is Horse’s column in it?’

“I loved the story of the mother saving her child in your column.

“There are many topics I want to touch on. First, Benihana. When we were in Southern California in February, we went to the one in Torrance, just off Hawthorne Boulevard. Benihana has that lunch special. Their Lunch Boat Special has choices of chicken, beef or salmon, together with shrimp and vegetable tempura, sashimi, 1/2 California roll, misoshiru, rice, edamame and fruit. And it’s under ten dollars.

“Best to get there before 11:30 a.m. when it opens as there aren’t too many tables and you’ll have to wait in line. Tell the hostess that you want the Lunch Boat and not the teppanyaki as the wait line and dining section are different.

“As to your article on Crystal City, Texas, you didn’t mention it but I presume that you know it was not run by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) but was run by the Department of Justice. As most everyone knows, the FBI arrested about 4,000 of the most influential Japanese nationals as soon as the war started.

“These were those with the Japanese government, leaders of Japanese organizations, schools, news media, etc. According to a book I have, they were first transferred to locations known generally as ‘Justice Department camps.’ The camps were run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a part of the Department of Justice.

“After a hearing, most of the Issei were then sent to U.S. Army internment camps, where they remained through May 1943. After that, the internees were returned to Department of Justice control for the duration of the war.

“The book I referred to is titled ‘Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites.’ For those who may be interested in obtaining a copy, it is (or was) published by Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of Interior, Publications in Anthropology 74, 199.9.

“The address for those who are interested is: National Park Service, 1415 N. 6th St., Tucson, AZ 85705.

“The book has 450 pages and covers all relocation centers, assembly centers, DOJ and U.S. Army facilities and federal prisons. It has hundreds of pictures of the camps and inmates who were incarcerated therein. There are also many short articles of how they were then and they are now.”

Thanks, Shu. I’m sure there are a number of people out there who would like to get their hands on the book.

As time passes, I am sure we’ll be hearing more and more about the following news item that appeared this past week.

It’s about a Harley Davidson motorcycle that was washed ashore on a Canadian beach.

Turns out the motorcycle was one of the tons of stuff washed away from Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.

The person who found the motorcycle assumed that it was from Japan and notified officials.

The officials contacted Japan and found its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, who provided evidence to prove he was the owner of the Harley. Yokoyama said he lost three members of his family when the tsunami washed away his home where his motorcycle was kept.

The motorcycle was covered with rust, but Yokoyama said he will try to restore it to a working condition when it is shipped back to Japan.

American officials involved in the discovery of the motorcycle called the event a miracle. It was difficult for them to realize a motorcycle that traveled 4,000 miles in the ocean still might be restored to its original condition.

They feel that more and more of these events will occur as the waves wash debris ashore on the West Coast.

Speaking of the West Coast, it is always assumed that the Los Angeles and Southern California areas are the fastest growing in terms of the population and businesses.

According to the latest findings, the fastest-growing area is the Bay Area in and around San Francisco. For one who lived and grew up in the area, I can believe that.

Whenever I visit the Bay Area, I am amazed at the growth in the area where I lived with my parents and siblings prior to evacuation.

For one thing, Santa Clara Valley (where San Jose is located) used to be known for its farmland.

If you tell someone living there now how things have changed, they will just laugh and say, “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

For example, I was in touch with a young Sansei lady who is a director at the museum in San Jose Japantown.

Her mother takes the Rafu so she occasionally reads my column.

Recently, I wrote that I would like to visit the Japanese American Museum of San Jose to see how it compares with the one in Little Tokyo.

Well, the young lady said if I ever visit the museum to let her know and she would escort me through their facility.

That in itself is a major difference. When I drop by the Little Tokyo facility, I have to show my press pass and other IDs if I want to tour the museum.

At any rate, when I told her I lived for many years in Willow Glen, where my family were farmers, she found it hard to believe.

Willow Glen today, she told me, is more like the Bel Air area of Los Angeles with expensive homes.

I’ll bet the wealthy residents who live in the area now won’t believe we grew strawberries and vegetables on our Willow Glen farm.

Well, maybe some of them grow strawberries in their “backyard farm.”

As most of you know, I’m still a farmer at heart. That’s why I have a backyard farm where I grow an assortment of vegetables.

Maybe if I were younger, I’d toss my computer away and go back to farming.

Yeah, I know. Some of you may say, “You’re probably a better farmer than a writer.”

I must be getting old to even have a thought like that.

As one Nisei who is a few years older than I said recently, “I’ve sure gotten old. I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes, I’m half blind, can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 medications that make me dizzy, winded and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation, hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends, but thank God, I still have my driver’s license.”

No, I’m not talking about myself.

Remember this: You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.

Just in case a lot of you go to the Dodgers’ home games at Dodger Stadium, you probably watched the news conference on TV where the new owners were introduced.

One of them is former basketball star Magic Johnson.

The one thing he said that made me feel good about the new owners is that the general parking fee at Dodger Stadium will be returned to its old price of $10.

When Frank McCourt took over the Dodgers, he raised the parking fee to $15.

Heck, I thought 10 bucks was excessive but when he lifted it to 15, I decided I had to cut back on the number of home games I would go to, even if I had comp tickets to the game itself.

Consider this: If one attended 50 home games (almost half) at 15 bucks, parking alone would cost $750.

Toss in a few hot dogs at each game and a season’s visit could run over 1,000 bucks.

Hey, for that kind of money, give me Las Vegas and the California Hotel any time. At least at the Cal, if my luck is not too bad, I could make back that kind of money.

Chatting about gaming (which is what Vegas is about), if some of you didn’t know already, Corey Nakatani has a mount in this Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

The horse he is riding is named Sabercat. He’s a longshot in the race, going off at odds of 30 to one or more.

Hey, I’m going to put a few bucks on Corey. I’ve bet on a lot of his mounts that had longer odds than that.

At 30 to one, if he wins, his mount will pay 60 bucks for a $2 bet.

So if I have 20 bucks and he wins, I won’t mind paying 15 bucks to park at Dodger Stadium.

No, none of you have to call me cheap. I know I am.

A bit earlier I noted that you don’t stop laughing because you grow old, but you grow old because you stop laughing. So, to keep everyone youthful, read the following:

• I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down and perspired for an hour. But by the time I got my gym clothes on, the class was over.

• An elderly woman decided to prepare for her dying and told her preacher she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered at Wal-Mart.

“Wal-Mart?” the preacher asked. “Why Wal-Mart?”

“Then I’ll be sure my daughter visits me twice a week.”

• My memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.

• Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat until the wrinkles fill out.

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.