By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
I left Heart Mountain Relocation Center in 1943 to join the U.S. Army.
That was nearly 70 years ago.
Needless to say, I had to say goodbye to a lot of friends I hung around with during camp days.
I know many of you are probably wondering why I am touching on this after so many years.
Well, I was sitting in my car at a shopping center while my wife was in one of the stores shopping and my cellphone rang.
Usually, I don’t answer my cell when I’m in my car, whether I’m driving or parked.
However, in this case, my cell phone screen displayed the number calling me, and the area code was one I had never heard, so I didn’t know where the call was being placed from.
So I answered and was amazed that the caller was one for those I said goodbye to at the Wyoming camp.
The call was from Chicago.
He said, “Hey Horse, how you doing?”
And we chatted for about ten minutes.
After we ended our call, the thought that struck me was, “How did he get my cellphone number?”
Not many people have my cell number and almost all of them are from the L.A. area.
Especially from someone I haven’t talked to in 70 years.
He may have called The Rafu because he said he kept up with me all these years through reading my column.
It’s a small world, isn’t it? And the world has advanced, hasn’t it?
During camp days, who would have ever imagined that we would one day have a cellphone?
If anyone mentioned “cellphone” in camp, most would probably think the person using the term was talking about a friend who committed a crime and is sitting in a jail cell, using a phone.
And because of evacuation, there would be Japanese Americans scattered all over the U.S., like my friend in Chicago.
And today, most of us drive Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans.
Also cameramen today shoot photos with Japanese cameras loaded with Fuji film.
When we travel to Las Vegas, we can also find a lot of sushi restaurants.
All these thoughts came to mind after I finished chatting with my camp friend living in Chicago.
I was reminded that we formed a boys club at Heart Mountain that we called “the Jackrabbits” because we used to see rabbits bounding around the camp area.
There were 20 members in our club.
In looking at a photo taken of the Jackrabbits, I see that there are only four of us as survivors and we are all in our late 80s and early 90s.
It’s tough to realize this, but when I realize that 70 years have passed, the reality of “old age” sinks in.
Man, I’m amazed what a phone call from a friend of 70 years ago can make me reflect on.
Well, let me get on with today’s chatter.
Since the recent election is still fresh in the minds of most of us, there were two disappointments for me on the outcome of the balloting.
One of course, was the defeat of Terry Hara in his bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.
I thought he would do better in the final outcome, but he finished a disappointing fourth in the 9th District race.
I would guess that if the district had a few more JA voters, he might have done a lot better.
It was nice of him to write a “letter to the editor” of The Rafu to thank all those who supported him.
I don’t ever recall a politician thanking those who supported him even though he lost in his bid.
I publicly supported him in my column, but of course, I don’t live in his district.
Well, hopefully he will give it another try. We could use a JA on the City Council.
The other disappointment was Gardena City Councilman Ron Ikejiri not running for office and leaving the council.
He served the city well and we will miss him.
He’s an attorney, so I’m sure he will still be active in our community.
Heck, maybe he can come by and mow our front lawn, something he did even when he was a councilman.
I mentioned this in one of my columns because who else can say a city councilman mowed their lawn? Heh heh. Thanks, Ron.
Heck, I can’t even get one of my sons to drop by and mow our lawn.
This might cause a few chuckles.
When I recently wrote that I was driving to Las Vegas, a reader called me and asked if he could bum a ride.
He said, “I’ll buy gas for your car.”
Needless to say, I chuckled.
I told him, “With the price of gas what it is, you can take a Greyhound bus for less money.”
He responded, “Yeah, maybe you’re right, but the bus to Vegas makes about four stops, so it will take me at least two hours longer than if I ride with you.”
He then added, “And in the bus, I may have to sit next to an annoying passenger.”
Needless to say, I left without him as a passenger in my car.
I don’t know if he ever made it to Vegas.
By the way, filling my car’s gas tank usually runs about 50 bucks. However filling up for the return trip is only 30 dollars because gas in Vegas is much cheaper than in Gardena.
Besides, why worry about the price of gas when I’m tossing away a lot more money in the casino?
Oh well, the next time I plan a trip to Vegas I decided not to write about it in my column because I don’t need any extra passengers on my trip.
The only way readers will know about my trip is that I will probably write one column while I’m there as I always do.
As of this writing, I don’t think I’ll be going to my favorite place for at least another three months.
Sorry, Rosie, I guess we won’t be enjoying breakfast at The Cal for a while.
That is, unless you want to loan me a roll of quarters. Heh heh.
Since I chatted about my aging Nisei friends in the opening segment of today’s column, I’ll mention an article I saw in an Eastern newspaper about the life expectancy of Americans.
How many knew that Americans’ life expectancy is ranked 17th as compared to other countries of the world?
Japan is ranked third. Does that mean that the Nisei generation, being of Japanese ethnicity, live longer than other Americans?
The average age of Japanese men is 79.20 and women 84.9.
For American men and women, 75.64 and 80.78.
The article said Americans have a long-standing pattern of poor health.
The report was issued by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.
One thing noted was that Americans consume more calories per person.
Also, the USA has the highest poverty rate, and more than one out of five American children live in poverty.
This never happens in Japan.
And, I guess this can be said about the Nisei and Sansei generation.
As I frequently mention, if I ran every email and snail mail I receive, I wouldn’t have to think about what I should write to fill my column.
However, most of the stuff I get wouldn’t be of interest to other readers.
And many of the missives are already published by the editorial department of The Rafu.
So I go through most of them to make sure it won’t be a repetition.
I don’t recall seeing or reading the following written by Ryan Nakashima of the Associated Press.It read:
“Kevin Tsujihara, 48, who grew up making deliveries as the son of an egg distributor, will become CEO of Warner Brothers Entertainment.
“There isn’t much ‘Hollywood’ about Kevin Tsujihara.
“He spent most of his time in back-room meetings, away from the red carpet and spotlight for which the city is known. There are a few photos of him online and a few weeks ago, someone created the first page for him on Wikipedia.
“But on Friday, the 48-year-old father of two, who grew up making deliveries as the son of an egg distributor, will become the CEO of Warner Brothers Entertainment. The third-generation Japanese American will be the first Asian American to head a Hollywood studio.”
Kind of a major story, don’t you think?
As most of you followers of my column know, I’m a fan of McDonald’s because I am a fan of hamburgers.
However, I also enjoy chicken.
And the famous hamburger chain is going to introduce chicken wings at its outlet.
The new menu has been successful in Atlanta last year, so now the world’s biggest hamburger chain is expanding to Chicago, where there are 500 McDonald’s outlets.
The new serving will start at a $3 price tag, which isn’t that much.
And the chain of 14,000 U.S. outlets will be adding chicken wings to their permanent lineup.
Hooray. I won’t have to depend on all the other chicken distributors when McDonald’s starts serving it in Gardena.
Yes, this weekend I was glued to our TV set watching the PGA golf tournament.
The reason is simple.
I’m a Tiger Woods fan and anytime he is playing and winning, I just can’t get away from the TV.
I’m not sure why I enjoy Woods winning tournaments, but I just do.
I guess now that he seems to have regained his golfing talent, I will be watching more golf on TV.
That is, unless some Japanese golfer becomes a contender. Then it won’t matter if Tiger is entered or not.
Gee, speaking of watching TV, the baseball season is just around the corner, so I’ll be following the Dodgers in a few weeks.
The only thing I’ll be missing with the Dodgers will be a Japanese player on the roster.
I guess I became a Dodgers fan back when they signed a Japanese pitcher, who was traded away after a couple seasons.
Sounds like the Dodgers, doesn’t it?
Here’s my closer for the day:
Frank and Joe entered a chocolate store. As they were busy looking, Joe stole three chocolate bars.
As they left the store, Joe said to Frank, “Man, I’m the best thief. I stole three chocolate bars and no one saw me. Beat that.”
Frank said, “You want to see something better? Let’s go back to the shop and I’ll show you real stealing.”
So they went back to the counter and Frank said to the shopkeeper, “Do you want to see some magic?”
The shopkeeper replied, “Yes.”
Frank said, “Give me one chocolate bar.”
The shopkeeper gave him one and he ate it.
Frank asked for a second bar and he ate that as well.
He asked for a third and finished that one too.
The shopkeeper asked, “But where’s the magic?”
Frank replied, “Check my friend’s pocket. You’ll find all three bars of chocolate.”
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.