Published in The Rafu Shimpo on Feb. 20, 2013

Friend Iku asked if I could run a press release for an upcoming event sponsored by three organizations: The JA Historical Society of Southern California, Keiro Senior Healthcare Institute for Healthy Aging, and the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (GVJCI).

Hey, if I can help out old friends with publicity, there’s nothing more pleasant for me than that. So, here’s Iku’s press release:

“One thing that seniors have in common is talking about challenges to our health. Younger people should be concerned, too, but usually they’re in pretty good shape and getting older with illnesses seems far away for them. And they have all their kids’ activities that have more priority. The following is the basic information for our program on Saturday, March 2, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“The three organizations listed in the opening paragraph are sponsoring a health seminar at the GVJCI, 1964 W. 162nd St., in the JCI Hall.

“Dr. Marjorie Kagawa, Ph.D., MA, MN, FAAN, professor in the UCLA School of Public Health and Department of Asian American Studies, will speak on ‘Health Issues in the Japanese American Community: Where We Have Been/Where Are We Today, and What Can You Do About Your Health.’

“Some of the topics to be covered include the differences in health conditions of the Issei,  Nisei, Sansei and those living in Japan, reasons for the differences, and suggestions to promote good health.”

Thanks, Iku. It sounds like an event most JAs, regardless of their generation, should want to attend.

I don’t go to a lot of these events as a newsman or just an aging Nisei, but I want to make sure I get to your event. Since it is being held at the JCI, which is only a dozen blocks from where I live, transportation to the site won’t be that difficult.

Boy, haven’t we been experiencing crazy weather over the past few weeks? Sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain.

Now the weather forecaster says it may begin snowing in the mountains surrounding L.A. Normally I would say, “So what?”

Well, as I wrote in my previous column, I’m heading to Vegas next Sunday, so when he weather forecaster says that we may get about two inches of snow at 2,000-foot elevation, it becomes a big concern for me.

Highway 15 goes over Cajon Pass and rises to 4,000 feet, which means I might experience some problems. I might have to turn around and head back to Los Angeles.

In the many years I have been driving to Vegas, I’ve only turned around once because of the snow on the road.

One time I was determined to get there, so I sat in the car and waited about two hours before the Highway Patrol escorted the traffic through Victorville.

Well, you’ll find out how this coming trip went by reading my Tuesday column next week.

If I have to turn back, I may take Highway 15 south and visit Pechanga, the Indian casino in Temecula, or I may return and take a long nap. Heh, heh.

One thing for sure. If I do the latter, I won’t have to dine at McDonald’s because I emptied my pockets.

Keep tuned.

Don’t concern yourselves. It has to snow pretty hard for me to throw in the towel and return to the sunshine in Gardena.

Speaking of Gardena, we all know that Mayor Paul Tanaka has announced that he will not seek re-election.

However, we all know that before he decided not to seek the mayor’s seat for another term (he’s served two terms already), he filed for re-election, which means his name will still be on the ballot.

I talked to a lot of Nisei voters in our city and they tell me they are going to vote for Tanaka whether he campaigns or not.

If that’s true, he may be re-elected.

I know my wife and I will be voting for him and the Gardena Police Department is supporting Paul. He’s accomplished so much for the city during his two-term reign, especially for the Police Department, and financially the city has accomplished so much to regain its status.

Go get ’em, Paul.

Here’s a bit of information I didn’t know about that I’m sure many of you r readers may find helpful, especially since almost every Nisei or Sansei I know own cell phones. This is the article:

Cell phones do have practical uses on the highway — emergencies. Most drivers know to call 911 to summon medical, fire or law enforcement officials in serious emergencies. We should also use it to report hazards on freeway travel lanes.

However, if your car simply breaks down, you can walk to the nearest call box or dial #399 on your cell phone. This new number went into service a few years ago to assist roadside difficulties.

#399 calls are referred to the Metro Freeway Service Patrol. FSP assists more than 600,000 stranded motorists during the year. Their goal is to quickly repair or remove disabled vehicles to relieve freeway congestion.

FSP is a joint venture between Caltrans, California Highway Patrol and ten local jurisdictions throughout the state. FSP tow trucks patrol in excess of 1,400 miles of California freeways.

They offer the following services free of charge:

• Changing flat tires.

• Jump-starting cars.

• Refilling radiators and taping leaky hoses.

• Putting a gallon of fuel in gas tanks.

• If the FSP cannot get the car running within l0  minutes, it will tow the car absolutely free of charge to a safe drop location off the  freeway.

FS will not:

• Recommend a private mechanic.

• Accept any payment or tips for assistance.

• Tow a vehicle to a private residence or repair facility.

• Tow motorcycles, trucks or heavy vehicles.

• Assist vehicles involved in accidents unless directed by the CHP. They will, however, report accidents immediately to the CHP.

I didn’t have any idea about the foregoing.

I’d better make sure I don’t forget to take my cell phone with me when I drive around Los Angeles or elsewhere in Southern California.

I hope the rest of you can find this information useful.

I’m sure a few of you experienced what happened to my wife and me.

We dine at least once a week at a restaurant in Torrance called the Grand World Buffet. When we go there, it’s usually nearly packed.

Well, about five days ago, we drove over to the eatery and found it dark with no cars parked in front of the site.

There was no sign indicating why it was closed, so we assumed it was temporary.

Two days later, we went again, and ditto, the same old thing.

No info on why they were shut down.

The next day, I called their number and was told their phone service was disconnected.

I called a few friends who also patronize the eatery and they told me they didn’t know why but they found the place closed.

Does anyone know why such a popular restaurant closed its doors without any notice to its patrons?

I guess I’ll have to look for another site if I want an Oriental-style buffet restaurant.

In the meanwhile, we started looking around for another site for our once-a-week dining out.

I was kind of surprised to find so many in Gardena that we never heard of, especially Korean-style sites.

We came across a place with the name Yellow Cow. The name alone captured our desire to try the place out. It’s located just west of Western Avenue on Redondo Beach Boulevard, in a mini-shopping center.

I assumed we were the only ones who didn’t hear about the Yellow Cow because it was packed when we entered the restaurant and we were lucky to find a table.

The cuisine is strictly Korean so if you enjoy their food, you’ll enjoy the place.

The food is cooked at the table in typical Korean style.

I was introduced to Korean dishes when I lived in Tokyo. Before that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Korean food.

If any of you enjoy Korean fare, give the Yellow Cow a try and tell me how you compare their food to other Korean places.

The photo in today’s column is of a basketball team I took to Mexico about 15 years ago.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get more Nisei players to agree to the trip, so being undermanned the Mexican opponents made “tamales” of the team.

With no reserves and each player going the whole way, it was tough to keep up with the Mexicans.

Maybe my wife, in the photo along with me, should have put on a uniform and played a few minutes to give the others a rest.

Check the fancy headgear the guys wore when a cameraman said he wanted to shoot a photo of the team.

That’s me in the top row, left.

Ah memories.

Since most Nisei are getting older, here’s a letter from one aging JA about the game of golf, still played by most of them. It goes:

“This past Monday, I played at a local golf course. As usual the starter matched me with three other players. After a few holes we began to get to know each other.

“One fellow who was rather young (Sansei??) had his wife riding along in his golf cart. I noticed that this golf bag had his name on it. After closer inspection I also noted it said, ‘wounded war veteran.’ When I had my first chance to chat with him, I asked him about the bag.

“His response was simply that it was a gift. I then asked him if he was wounded and he said yes. When I asked him more about his injury, his response was, ‘I’d rather not talk about it.’

“Over a few holes, I learned that he spent 15 months in an Army rehabilitation hospital in Texas. His wife moved there to be with him and he was released from the hospital in September. He was a rather quiet fellow who said he wanted to get good at golf.

“We had a nice round of golf and as we became a bit more familiar I asked him about the brand new Ping woods and iron he was playing. Some looked like they had never been used before. His response was simple. He said that this round was the first full round he had played with the clubs.

“Later in the round he told me that as part of the discharge process from the hospital, Ping comes in and provides three days of golf instructions followed by club fitting. Upon discharge from the hospital, Ping gives each of the discharged veterans a brand new set of custom-fitted clubs along with the impressive golf bags.

“The fellow I met looked me in the eye and said that being fitted for those clubs was one of the best things that ever happened to him and he was determined to learn to play golf well enough to deserve the gift Ping had given him.

“He is now out of service, medically discharged, just a few months ago. He is as fine a young man as one would ever want to meet.”

A nice story, don’t you think?

I wonder if he was a Japanese American.

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

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