Well, I’m back. Yeah, I know, that statement may be met by a lot of “ughs.”

We were in Vegas for four nights. Maybe I should say “nightmares.” Usually when I stay in Vegas for four days, I hit something on the slots. However, this was the second consecutive trip in which I drew a complete blank. And chatting  with others at the casino, they all said the same thing.

My wife did okay, so it wasn’t a total disaster.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve never seen The California Hotel so crowded on a weekday. Many Nisei were from the Los Angeles area, judging from the number of familiar faces I bumped into.

With such a large crowd, I figured that we’d have to wait as long as 15 minutes to get a table at the Market Street Cafe at The Cal. Of course, this was a blessing because it kept me away from the slot machines.

I wore my cap. The one with an artist’s rendition of Heart Mountain painted on it and “Heart Mountain” printed below the painting, and below that “24-10-A,” my address while at the Wyoming camp.

The reason I bring this up is because while I was sitting at one of the slot machines, a woman kept staring at me. Well, more at my cap.

She finally moved closer to me and said, “You were in Heart Mountain?”

When I said, “Yes,” she said, “And you lived in Block 24?”

She then said, “We lived in Block 23, which means we were neighbors.”

She then asked me my name. I told her, “George Yoshinaga.”

“Oh, I’ve heard about you,” she said. “You worked for the camp newspaper, didn’t you?”

“Well,” I responded, “I wasn’t that well-known. Just a member of the staff.”

I guess she then realized she was interrupting my activity at the slot machine.

She said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you,” and walked away.

I didn’t even ask her name.

At any rate, I decided to take off my cap and stick it in my pants belt so it couldn’t be seen.

And that was my last encounter down memory lane.

I forgot to mention in Tuesday’s column about the large billboard next to Highway 15, a short distance from Downtown Vegas.

It as a huge photo of Mr. Makino, the owner of the popular Japanese restaurant. I don’t think there has ever been a photo on a billboard of a Japanese person in Vegas. And so eye-catching.

It’s an advertisement for Mr. Makino’s famous eatery.

I wanted to drop by to see if he was in Vegas or out of town at his new place in Irvine.

It was the first time on my many trips to Vegas that I didn’t dine at Makino’s.

I wanted to go Tuesday evening, but the place was closed to walk-in patrons because a large group was holding a private party and there were no tables available.

So we went over to Tony Roma’s at the Fremont Hotel with our Maui relatives. For those of you who have dined at Tony Roma’s, you know they serve the greatest rib dishes and they also serve the best French onion soup of any restaurant.

I don’t know if I ever listed my favorite soups, but French onion is No. 1 on my list.

The other four? Cream of broccoli, albondigas (Mexican meatball), miso-shiru and clam chowder.

Speaking of food, until recently I haven’t seen patrons in a hotel restaurant asking for “take-out boxes” for food left over after they dined.

Ditto for me and my wife. Although it seemed like a waste, we would leave the uneaten portion of our meals on the plate.

This time, since we did have a refrigerator in our room, we thought, “Why waste the food?” So we asked the waitress for a take-out box. To our surprise, they did carry take-out boxes.

We carry an ice chest in our car, so we are able to bring the leftovers back to Gardena, where we made several dinners out of them.

In recent times, I have noticed many people also requesting take-out boxes. Needless to say, they are people from California who drive to Vegas.

Those from Hawaii can’t consider take-out boxes because they would have to take them on planes on their return flight back to the Islands.

Of course, those from the Islands have huge appetites, so most of them don’t leave any food on their plates. Their take-out boxes are their stomachs.

I was once asked in Vegas by a friend, “What’s the toughest game for winning any money?

It might surprise some of you, but it’s “paper keno.” That’s the game where the player picks three to 20 numbers and places a $1-and-up bet.

Most play four or five numbers from the 20, which are picked up by a rotating machine.

A bet of four numbers for a dollar returns $200 for the player.

If five out of five are picked for a dollar, the payoff is $1,000.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

Well, on this trip I played the same five numbers 150 times for a buck. That’s $150 bet. What did I win? Would you believe $6?

Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?

In all time I was playing paper keno, one person won $600.

I was once told that paper keno makes the most money for the casino and I’m beginning to believe it. With so many people playing and so few winning, I wonder what makes the game so tough to beat.

The players all pick a variety of numbers and nobody hits?

Heck, slot machines don’t kick out winners either, but they do pay out lesser amounts that can keep a player playing for a long period of time.

Paper keno can chew up the player’s wallet in a much shorter space of time.

Well, just a thought.

I wrote about leaving early for my Vegas trip so we could beat the desert heat. Well, on our return trip, we got started back to Gardena about two hours later than when we left for Vegas.

The heat was okay but the traffic was horrible, especially since we ran into three construction projects on Highway 15.

I guess construction is to be expected.

Every time we make our trips, there are always sections of the freeway with reduced lanes, which can’t help but cause traffic jams, especially with the number of semi-trucks lined up.

I’m amazed at the distances these trucks come from. I can tell by glancing at the license plates.

Some of the states? Florida, South Carolina, New York, etc., etc.

I guess I shouldn’t be fatigued after driving from Nevada to California.

I’m also curious about what these semi-trucks are hauling to California from such distant states.

Heck, what is there in South Carolina that has to be hauled all the way to our state?

Let me toss in a letter about a photo I ran in a recent column. The photo was sent to me by a reader. I guess sometimes I should check out the source and accuracy of the materials that are sent to me including photos. At any rate, this is the letter:

“The accuracy of items you publish in our column should be checked before spreading falsehoods read by thousands. The photograph of Michelle Obama and her daughters supposedly draped in the South African flag at the 2012 Olympics was taken last year when they visited South Africa … The ‘flag’ was actually a blanket given to them as a gift to protect them from the cold.

“This is not the first time you published inaccurate articles swayed by your political persuasion. Pictures and articles from emails of this sort can easily be verified by websites like,, etc.”

Thanks for your letter. I agree with you. I should check out materials sent to me but sometimes when I’m planning on leaving town, I guess I overlook the letters that I should check. My apologies.

I know I might overdo writing about dining-out places in Vegas, but a lot of readers send me info on places I should try to inform my readers about.

Here’s a place I never heard of that a reader named Yamane sent me. He wrote:

“Don’t recall if you mentioned Japanese eatery named Island Sushi and Grill.

“It’s located at 9400 South Eastern Ave. #102. Their phone number is (702) 221-1600.

“Their grill hours are Monday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sushi hours, Monday to Saturday, 1:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“A week ago we attended our grandchildren’s tournament in Vegas and enjoyed their sushi and Japanese foods. It was really good.”

I guess I’ll try it myself the next time I go to Vegas, although it might be a way off since my trips there have been pretty bad. And the reader didn’t mention if it’s an expensive place or not.

Earlier in today’s column I ran a letter in which the writer’s name was not mentioned.

I have decided to place a new policy on letters. If the writer doesn’t want to be identified by name, I will no longer run such missives.

So let me run the following sent to me by Susan Taniguchi. It might be a laugher of sorts. It touches on the November election for president:

“For those of you who would like the very best choice for the president, we have a solution: It is probably time we have a woman as president.

One choice is a very special lady who has just about every answer to assist in helping us to solve our problems …

“Maxine on driver safety: ‘I can’t use the cell phone in the car. I have to keep my hands free for making gestures.’

“Maxine on the technology revolution: ‘My idea of rebooting is kicking somebody in the butt twice.’

“Maxine on aging: ‘Don’t let aging get you down. It’s too hard to get back up.’

“Maxine on seating: ‘The trouble with bucket seats is that not everyone has the same size bucket.’

“Maxine on happiness: ‘Money can’t buy happiness, but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than a Kia.’

“Maxine on aging: ‘After a certain age, if you don’t wake up aching somewhere, you may be dead.’

“Maxine on pills: ‘Under no circumstances should you take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.’”

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *