My Istrouma High classmate Walter Imahara's new book reminds us of a shameful episode in America's World War II history.
In 1942, some 117,000 Americans of Japanese descent were forcibly uprooted from their homes in California and taken by soldiers to internment camps around the country.
Walter's 10-member family, which had a successful landscaping business, found themselves in rural Arkansas — with nothing.
After the war, they moved first to New Orleans, where father James took menial jobs to survive, then to Baton Rouge, once again working in gardening and landscaping.
The experience could have made Walter bitter, but instead he embraced his new life, graduating from what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then becoming an Army officer and an internationally recognized weightlifter.
In what should have been his retirement years, he built in St. Francisville an amazing 54-acre garden as a tribute to his family's Japanese heritage.
The title of the book reflects Walter's view of himself: "I Am An American: Japanese American, Asian Cajun."
(Published by Imahara Publishing Co., 228 E. Greens Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70810.)
The Metairie Masketeer, who says, "I am sure you understand why I want to remain anonymous," makes this timely observation:
"There is one benefit to wearing masks. Your pastor can't tell if you are yawning during the homily!"
Adding to our pet names, Nancy S. Bell says, "My son-in-law Craig Madden, of Denver, has renamed one of their cats for his habit of running into walls. New name is Wallnut!"
Louis L. Martin, a Lafayette veterinarian, says when he was at Texas A&M, one Sunday at Mass he only had 2 cents for the collection plate when he had planned to give $100:
"So the other day I sent St. Mary's Chapel a check for $99.98, with an explanation for the shortage of 2 cents."
Nice People Dept.
Adrian Franklin, of Baker, says, "Recently my wife Pat and I attended a small 70th anniversary celebration for her parents, Larry and Madelyn Crain, at the Cajun Catch Restaurant in Zachary.
"When we asked our server for the bill, she indicated it had been taken care of, compliments of the restaurant.
"What a classy gesture, given the hard times restaurants are having."
Say, can you see?
Former Advocate sports editor Sam King says when former SEC basketball official Charlie McCarthy celebrated his 98th birthday Saturday, he went all out:
"'My wife wanted me to eat steak and lobsters,' said Charlie, from Independence and now living in Diamondhead, Mississippi, 'but I insisted on a Whopper and chocolate shake.'
"Charlie graded officials several years at the end of his career, but said he had to quit. The night driving was bothering him.
"'I couldn't see good,' he said.
"A referee who can't see? Come on, Charlie."
Special People Dept.
- Marie Pauline "Polly" Richard, of Scott, celebrates her 99th birthday Saturday, Aug. 15 (National Day of the Acadians). She is the mother of Cajun singer-songwriter Zachary Richard.
- Ronald Hardey, M.D., of Lafayette, celebrates his 93rd birthday Friday, Aug. 14. An Opelousas native, he practiced pediatrics in Covington and later emergency medicine in New Orleans and Marksville. He is a World War II Navy veteran.
- Lura Parent Sharp, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 90th birthday Tuesday, Aug. 11.
- Donald P. Pitre, of Washington, celebrates his 90th birthday Tuesday, Aug. 11. He is a Korean War veteran, plays many musical instruments, and recently had a jam session with Tracy Lawrence.
- Deanna and Joe Zachary celebrated their 56th anniversary Saturday, Aug. 8.
- Felicia and Leatus Still, of Walker, celebrate 55 years of marriage Friday, Aug. 14.
- Richard and Pat Anderson, of Baton Rouge, celebrated their 50th anniversary Saturday, Aug. 8.
Smiley says bye
I need a break. So I'm taking a few days off.
Not going anywhere; just laughing with Mel Brooks and Monty Python on the telly, rereading John Updike and Hunter Thompson, listening to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and spending quality time with my caregiver, Lady Katherine.
With company like that, it should be a fine vacation.