This past Sunday turned into a special day for us. My wife and I along with one of our sons attended Centenary United Methodist Church’s “All Saints Sunday” in Little Tokyo.
So what was so special about the service?
Rev. Mark Nakagawa honored the families of those who passed away during 2013 and held a ceremony by lighting a candle at the Centenary Chapel for the deceased.
My second-oldest son, Robin, age 52, was among those recognized by Centenary and Rev. Nakagawa.
A total of 51 were recognized and family members were present to participate in the special ceremony.
I attended five of the 52 services held during the year for the deceased, which I wasn’t even aware of until I saw the list.
I want to thank Rev. Nakagawa and Centenary for their effort on behalf of the departed with their “All Saints Sunday.”
After the service, my son who drove us to Little Tokyo said he hadn’t been in the area since I used to work for the Kashu Mainichi newspaper, located next to the First Street Bridge, which spans the Los Angeles River, and wanted to cruise through the area.
Needless to say, he couldn’t even recognize the area because of all the changes.
In fact, the only place he remembered as we drove around was Fukui Mortuary, which has been at its present location for all these years.
Nishi Hongwanji, which occupies a large area now, wasn’t even there during my Kashu Mainichi days.
In fact, the street that used to serve Kashu workers as a place to park alongside the Kashu building is no longer there. It’s now a sidewalk instead of a street. Cars can’t even drive past the former newspaper plant.
So my son drove away kind of disappointed in the changes in the area, but that’s how things are.
Today, Sunday (Nov. 3), is the beginning of “Standard Time,” which, of course, means the end of Daylight Light Savings Time.
There’s only an hour difference between the two time periods, but it sure does throw me off.
It can be very difficult to adjust to as far as daylight and darkness are concerned.
When I was driving home it was dark, but my watch said it was only 4:30 p.m. Dark at that hour?
Oh well, in a couple of days I’m sure I’ll adjust to the switch from Daylight Savings to Standard Time.
Hooray! That’s the first word that popped into mind when I found someone who said he will drive me to Las Vegas, and he was always around. It’s my mechanic, Isao Kawahara.
He’s the one who has kept the wheels on my cars turning. Because he owns and runs his mechanic business, he can shut it down anytime he wants and also do anything he wants with his time.
When he read about my not being able to go to Vegas because I don’t have a driver, he said, “Hey, anytime you want to go, let me know and I’ll drive you.”
I’m contacting my connections in Vegas to set up my room and when that is set, you’ll see a Vegas dateline opening my column.
Hopefully, they won’t tell me, “Yoshinaga, we don’t have any accommodations for you since you’ve been gone for such a long time.” It’s only been four months since my last visit, but I guess for those who run operations in Vegas, that’s a long time.
Well, keep tuned in. If you see a Vegas dateline atop my column, you’ll know Isao drove on Highway 15 while I was in the passenger seat, snoozing away.
The following letter arrived a while back, but I misplaced it and now that I’ve found it, thought would run it here. It reads:
“Hi, George. Really sorry to hear about your terrible fall. I imagine it was probably worse than what you wrote about in your column. My God, four days in the hospital.
“I’m glad to see you are mending well as you are pumping out some good information in your column. You are a good example of why we old guys have to be extra careful when tackling any task, no matter how small. For instance, like sitting in a chair at home.
“Your Sept. 28 article in The Rafu Shimpo featuring a letter from Junji Takano hit the nail on the head and I took note of it all.
“I’m sorry you missed Harry Honda’s funeral service held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on July 15, which was before your fall, but I met your good friend Herb Murayama and his wife.
“He was in my dance class at the Seinan Retirement Center years ago and followed through those dance steps better than me.
“It saddened me to see the passing of Harry, a good friend of mine who I was always delighted to see and talk to at some of the community functions I attended. He was my only connection and a reminder of my childhood days. I’ve known Harry since the early ’30s, when a dozen or so tight-knit families made up our small Japanese community.
“During that time, Harry’s father owned a shoe repair shop near the corner of Temple and Hill streets. I remember special trips up First Street from Beaudry to the top of the hill to Hope Street. Sometimes he wasn’t able to get a good running start to get to the top of the hill, so he would turn the Model T around and go up backwards.
“It was a real treat for the kids and I guess a challenge for him. In those days there weren’t many cars on our streets. Who would have believed that those very streets we played on have currently become thoroughfares into Civic Center?
“I often wonder if driving without a license was ever enforced. Our friend Johnny Mishima and his family of five also lived in the area. I ran around with him and Sumito Nagafuchi about the time you broke your leg playing football at Los Angeles City College and hobbled around Little Tokyo on crutches.
“Harry transferred to our American Legion Post 321 when the old Perry Post became defunct.
“Since our post is the namesake of Sadao Munemori, (who is buried at) Evergreen Cemetery, we have been maintaining its upkeep despite the neglected condition it is in.
“Carl Miyagishima complained to the funeral director to no avail. We have a legacy fund and are willing to have some organization out there that would volunteer to take over this responsibility of overseeing the care of this sanctuary to help pay for any expenses involved. If you know of anyone or organizations willing to take over this task, our post will be beholden to them.
“You can call Carl Miyagishima, adjutant, American Legion Post 321, at (323) 256-8451.
“I’m sorry for this long drivel, George, but I’ve taken this opportunity mainly to hope you feel better with each passing day.”
Thanks for your lengthy letter. I’m sure those connected with the Evergreen Cemetery project will contact you.
Just a short “thank you” to reader Dan Taketa of Lompoc for sending me a cigar ad from Western Outdoor News.
When I run out of my supply (about another month), I may place an order for the stogies featured.
Heck, if the information is correct, the cigars in the ad cost half of what I pay for my supply, less than two bucks for a single cigar.
I pay about $3.50 for each cigar I order or buy at the Indian Cigar Store in Vegas.
On the other hand, I could take my wife’s advice and quit cigars.
Every now and then I get letters from people who were interned in Heart Mountain, which rekindles a lot of fond memories from those days. When they open by saying they were in the Wyoming camp, it captures my attention, especially when their address in camp was in the same block as mine or in the next block, as in the case of Harley Ito, who lived in Block 25. I lived in Block 24.
At any rate, here’s Harley’s letter:
“Dear Horse (or Hoss, as your old friend Babe Nomura called you).
“Just on the spur of the moment, I’m writing this. You have frequently written that you seem to have run out of subjects to use in your column, especially regarding Heart Mountain.
“How about Dermacentor andersoni, the tick that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever? Heart Mountain internees were warned about the tick when initially interned.
“You have never mentioned the still (windless) evenings when the smoke from the numerous coal-fired heaters laid an uncomfortable pall over the camp, like L.A. smog.
“When the gymnasium was under construction, many, many internees (including) myself raided the stacks of lumber at night. The wood was used to fabricate needed tables, benches, etc.
“At age 91 now, I’m unable to remember much else.
“I mentioned Babe Nomura in starting this letter. I bet I may be the only one who knew that he had three older brothers. Most only knew of two older brothers, Ryohei (Jose) and Takeshi (Tak). The eldest was Minoru (Min), who passed away soon after graduating high school. I do not remember the cause.
“When I was about 13 or 14, my family moved into Babe’s neighborhood. Babe must have been about ten years of age. But he was big for his age. He was almost half a head taller than me, a good athlete even then from observing him playing catch and baseball with his brothers.
“I’m gonna stop here because I don’t even know if you are interested in this kind of recollection.
“By the way, I am still waiting for you to make a correction when you referred to Pikes Peak as the highest in the U.S. (excluding Alaska). You learned since that Mt. Whitney in California is the highest. Keep writing, Hoss. I like your writing style, where each leading sentence of a paragraph defines the subject matter.”
Thanks, Harley. Your mention of the late Babe Nomura brought back a lot of memories of camp days.
As I mention from time to time, I was a country farm boy when I was interned at Heart Mountain and Babe was the only “L.A. guy” from Hollywood High who befriended me.
A Catholic couple was involved in a car accident. The couple found themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into heaven.
When anxiously waiting, they began to wonder: Could they possibly get married in heaven? When St. Peter arrived, they asked him.
St. Peter said, “I don’t know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out.” And he left.
The couple sat and waited for an answer for a couple of months. While they waited, they discussed the pros and con. If they were allowed to get married in heaven, should they get married? And what with the eternal aspect of it all, “What if it doesn’t work? Are we stuck in heaven together forever?”
Yet another month passed before St. Peter finally returned, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informed the couple, “you can get married in heaven.”
“Great,” said the woman, “but we were just wondering if things don’t work out, could we also get a divorce in heaven?”
St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slammed his clipboard on the ground. “What’s wrong?” asked the frightened couple.
“Oh, come on,” St. Peter shouted. “It took me three months to find a priest up here. Do you have any idea how long it will take to find a lawyer?”
(Maggie’s comment: Speaking of St. Peter, I may have shared this one, and if I have, forgive me:
St. Peter asked all the men in heaven if they felt they were henpecked on earth to move to the corner against the wall. All the men moved except one. St. Peter said, “Why didn’t you move to the other corner? The man answered, “My wife told me to stay here.”)
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.