Cheyenne East High school class of ’71 obits updated for download

Click on the above image of the EHS homecoming float being guarded by Tony Ross to download a copy of tge Cheyenne East High School class of ’71 obit book.

I’ve been out of high school for 45 years and have managed to keep in touch with a bunch of classmates mostly because of social media.

The mid-decade class reunion for Cheyenne Central, East and St. Mary’s  is scheduled for August 5 – 6 in Downtown Cheyenne.

So far, there has been scant interest, which means the plug may be pulled at some point soon.

The East High class list of obituaries is now downloadable.

A friend of mine is getting ready for his 60th reunion. He said his class eventually quit keeping track of obits. They started going by who showed up.

I was sorting through a box and came across this picture of the  East class of ’71 homecoming float “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They.” We must have played Sheridan. That’s Tony Ross mugging for the camera. The blue pump behind Tony was liberated during a midnight raid to Veedauwoo.

The festivities start Friday night on the Depot Plaza with the Delta Sonics. We’ve partnered with the United Way of Laramie County and encourage you to buy from one of the food trucks they’ve arranged.

You can sign up for it on eventbrite. The cost is $50 which covers the  Southwestern buffet and music on Saturday night at the Historic Plains Hotel.

I, along with a bunch of other ‘mates helped organize the 40th reunion and intended to come, but was called out of town for a funeral in Boston and ended up going to the class of 1972 reunion later that summer, which was a good time.

Speaking of funerals, EHS alumnus, Ralph Zobell, has edited together a list of our EHS classmates who have passed on and converted it to a pdf file for download. It will be periodically updated.

If there’s anything that’s certain, we’ll all end up on the list at some point!

Shall we have a “last classmate standing” pool?


We need your ‘like’ of our ‘Plein Air in Thin Air’ trailer!

Click on this image and watch the two minute trailer. Click the ❤️ . You’ll be asked to log in with your facebook or set up an account.

I’m working on a documentary to be shot in Wyoming during August and we’re trying to win the Wyoming Short Film Contest. The theme is “WY am I Here?”

Please watch the trailer and give us a “like!” You’ll be asked to log in with your facebook account if you’re not already a vimeo user.

The Wyoming Film Office gives away $25,000 to the winner that goes toward a Wyoming production. We’ll be making the movie in Grand Teton National Park this August.

The top-10 are decided by popularity contest with no regard to production value. The winner is picked by a panel of judges based on the dogs selected by the production team friends and family – it’s click bait from the Wyoming Film Office. Everyone is having a problem with this, but it cuts down on those who sit at their computers and hit play, over and over.

The main voting criteria has to do with promotion of Wyoming. What a great way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service than from the top of the Grand?

Please watch the trailer and give us a “like!” You may have to log in with your facebook if you’re not already a vimeo user.

“WY Am I Here”? What if a 62-year-old grandfather of six decides to climb the spectacular Grand Teton and make never-before drawn pastel views of the expansive landscape?

Laramie artist Joe Arnold has been mountaineering for 50 years. He and his son, Jason, are planning an expedition to Grand Teton National Park for an ascent of the Grand Teton (13,776′) North Ridge route (rated 5.8).

It will be a five-day bonding experience for two generations of climbers with an unusual but creative mission at the summit.

Art 321 in Casper was the location for the CLICK! conference. Watch the Plein Air in Thin Air trailer and ‘like ‘

How did I come across this project?
I went to the Wyoming Arts Council CLICK! conference in Casper a couple weeks ago.

I ran into Joe Arnold. We were each presenting about our art works at the conference.

A couple years ago, Joe won a Wyoming Arts Council fellowship. I did a tribute video about his project which was a trek to Patagonia.

We got to talking. I was looking for a movie to make for the film office contest. I thought about my two works-in-progress, but wasn’t inspired.

Joe has a trailer finished, making it the perfect project.

Take a look and click on the heart in the upper right hand corner of the video player. We want to get into the top-10 of the beauty pageant.

Here’s the rest of the team:

  • Director and Director of Photography: Eric Randall
  • Production Assistants: Jacob Chmielowiec and Tim Hall
  • Music By: Dave Beegle
  • Produced by: Alan O’Hashi and
  • Associate Producer: Jason Arnold
  • Executive Producer: Joe Arnold

‘Hateful Eight’ on 70mm – retro movie history

70mm hateful 8

Samuel L. Jackson in a wide interior “Hateful Eight” shot

Quentin Tarentino’s latest movie “Hateful Eight” came out on Christmas Day in 70mm format in 100 theaters around the country. The cineplex digital version comes out on January 8th.

What’s the big deal about 70mm?

It’s not a big deal for any Baby Boomer kid and their parents, particularly if they lived near a big city.

Retro movie history.

I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming just north of Denver and watched a variety of 70mm movies during the 1950s – 1960s.

During any given year, there weren’t that many studio movies that came out, which made going to the movies extra special, particularly when there was a lot of hype.

“Hateful Eight” is set in Wyoming during after the Civil War. The other Wyoming connection to the movie is the buffalo coat worn by Kurt Russell was made at a tannery in Thermopolis – Merlin’s Hideaway. This is where last month, I took a buffalo skin from a Northern Arapaho traditional bison ceremony, which is a story for another day.

“Hateful Eight” was shot using old technology analog Ultra Panavision cameras. There were several technologies out back in the 1950s and 1960s – MGM pioneered the wide format in Ben Hur and won an Oscar in cinematography.

70mm how the west was won

The buffalo stampede scene is spectacular.

My family used to drive down to Denver to watch movies. In 1963, we made a weekend of going to the Cooper Cinerama Theater to watch the epic western “How the West Was Won” packed with stars of the day and three hours long.

The theater had a 105-foot curved screen that was 35 fet tall and had over 800 seats. Everyone went dressed up to go to the movies in those days

“Hateful Eight” is R-rated. All of the original Cinerama movies would be rated G today.

The film was shot in Ultra Panavision. Compared to today’s High Definition 16:9 (1.8:1) aspect ratio, Ultra Panavision is 2.57:1 aspect ratio or nearly double the width of HD.

The cameras have special lenses that correct for the extra wide angle. When shown on the bigger screens, the special projectors also had special lenses for the wider format. There are some spectacular scenes like the buffalo stampede that were great to watch in Cinerama.

There weren’t many Cinerama theaters back in the day, which is why the outdated equipment is so hard to come by and the few remaining were scrounged up to screen “Hateful Eight”.

I wonder if Tarentino saw “How the West Was Won” in a cinerama theater and decided to make an homage to the western epic on the very wide screen.

70mm cheyenne autumn

Cheyenne Autumn had the media premiere in Cheyenne

In 1964 “Cheyenne Autumn” had its media premiere in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the Lincoln Theater with Carroll Baker and James Stewart in attendance.

That screening was a 35mm roadshow print. The world premiere was 70mm in London, England at the Warner Theater.

The last 70mm film I saw in a a theater was “Alien” at the Century 21 in Denver near the Cooper. That was when I was stranded on Colorado Blvd with a broken down VW.

70mm sound of music

The Sound of Music played 112 weeks at Denver’s Aladdin Theater

My family also took a weekend vacation to Denver in 1965 to see the “Sound of Music” at the Aladdin Theater on East Colfax. That epic was shot in 70mm on Todd – AO cameras. The wide panoramic shots of Julie Andrews singing “… the hills are alive” in the Swiss Alps were spectacular. It wasn’t Cinerama. The Todd-AI tecnology was billed as Cinerama through one hole. Cinerama had three synched projectors.

There’s a scene at the end of the movie when the Von Trapp’s are evading capture in a cemetery. Liesl’s former boyfriend Rolf – now a Hitler Youth hides behind a pillar.

The shot has to be so wide that Captain Von Trapp while approaching Rolf has all this dialogue to say before he gets near enough for a close up – it could have been a cut, but the camera pushing in gives more visual drama.

Ultra Panavision affects screenwriting.

The “Sound of Music” played for 112 weeks at the Aladdin. Back in those days there were very few movies on the road.

70mm paint your wagon

Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon

In 1969 we went to the Cooper to see “Paint Your Wagon” – also shot in Ultra Panavision. I remember this great scene when a runaway wagon plummets into a river from the POV of the driver.

It made me whoozy.From what I see in the “Hateful Eight” trailer, there are some great wide shots, but much of the story is shot on a sound stage, which sort of defeats the purpose of Ultra Panavision.

70mm force awakens

Star Wars was shot in 70mm

I’m not much of a Tarentino fan – except for “Pulp Fiction” and I won’t go out of my way to watch “Hateful Eight”  in a Cinerama theater.

If I see any 70mm movie it will be “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Seattle Cinerama. There wasn’t much hype about 70mm in the Star Wars macaroni and cheese ads.

What a long strange trip it still is – aging better together and the power of community

Auntie Jeannie is standing on the right end next to my mother. Alison is sitting second from the right, Alison's sister Leslie is being held by Auntie Elsie.

Auntie Jeannie is standing on the right end next to my mother. Alison is sitting second from the right, Alison’s sister Leslie is being held by Auntie Elsie.

I got a call from my cousin, Alison, yesterday. These days, whenever relatives call, there’s generally some sort of family emergency. This time, Alison told me her mother – my Auntie Jeannie – had passed away. She had a stroke while sleeping and didn’t wake up. My condolences go out to my cousins Alison and Leslie and her sisters Carol Lou and Janice.

I’ve been attending funerals lately. Last week, it was for Eastern Shoshone tribal elder and one of my mentors Starr Weed in Fort Washakie.

It was my first open casket wake. I don’t know what I expected, but it was solemn and heart breaking. One of Starr’s grandsons, Layha Spoonhunter, was one of my Wind River Tribal College film students. His class project was an oral history of Starr. I felt for him and his mom, Wilma, who is married to my former boss, Harvey, and his aunt Elaine who organizes the Gift of the Waters Pageant in Thermopolis.

A month or so ago, my Uncle Rich died. He had quite a few home health care workers supporting him after he returned from the hospital. He was a 442nd war veteran and in Army Intelligence. He was too small in stature for combat. I also learned after he died, my Aunt Sadako was moved to an assisted living place in Cheyenne.

I live in the Silver Sage Village senior cohousing community in North Boulder. There have been murmurs about it, but just recently the community began discussing “aging in community” which has been on my mind quite a bit, lately.

I’m making a documentary movie about my and my neighbors’ experiences of growing old in cohousing and their thoughts about the future. I’m also helping produce a national conference on the topic that will be held next year May 19 to 21 in Salt Lake City.

My movie won’t be anything earth shattering, but hopefully will give others wanting to start up an intentional community some insight into what to expect. These discussions are about the first ones we’ve had in the five years I’ve been living at Silver Sage Village where the topic has been about something more substantive than maintaining the buildings.

A bunch of people are reading “Being Mortal” by a doctor named Atul Gawande. His basic premise is that modern medicine is good about keeping people alive, while not knowing when it’s time to allow us to die not in a hospital but at home.

Gawande says that in the past, 80 percent of people used to die at home and 20 percent died in a hospital or medical facility. Now that number is reversed with 80 percent dying in a hospital and 20 percent dying at home.

Back to Auntie Jeannie.

I also learned that at 77, she was one of the primary care givers to my Auntie Elsie, well into her 90s. A few months ago, she broke her hip and Jeannie got her settled into a rehab / hospice center as well as helping Sadako get settled into her assisted living apartment. I surmise that what happened was Uncle Rich’s home care workers also did more for Sadako than anyone realized.

I imagine with all this care giving Jeannie was a bit stressed out.

Elders providing care for other elders is becoming common place anymore and a problem.

I can see myself in that boat particularly since my immediate family is strewn all over the place with their own lives and issues and I have no kids.

Like in Jeannie’s case, the work takes more out of the care giver than the patient.

Cohousing is a way to spread some of the load.

Jeannie was married to my Uncle Jake who was the youngest son on my dad’s side that had 13 total kids. It was a very strong extended family and everything revolved around my grand parents house.

Mainly during the summers, everyone would gather various places in Cheyenne and along with the rest of the Japanese community. On Memorial Day there were big picnics and on the 4th of July we all went out to Jeannie’s parents who lived out in the country and blasted off fireworks.

Back then, all the cousins were close, and all the aunts and uncles were close but there was a big diaspora after the grand parents died. We all became adults, had our own lives and lost the closeness we shared as children. Social media has helped keep us connected, but it’s still not the same as it was.

How do more seniors get engaged as caregivers for one another?

I had a brush with death and had a visit from the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come and got a glimpse into my future. What if I couldn’t walk, feed myself, or breathe on my own, flat on my back in a hospital bed?

I can tell you it was lonely.

The hospital was 20 miles away and the rehab place 40 miles away in Denver. I didn’t broadcast that I was laid up but a few neighbors and friends managed to find out and dropped by. I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some editing.

I didn’t realize how doped up I was. A guy can only watch so many “Pawn Stars” reruns before boredom sets in.

I’m happy that I got a second chance to do things differently the next time around. I am grateful to be living at a place like Silver Sage Village. At the urging of Diana Helzer, we sold a place nearby with too many stairs in favor of Silver Sage Village that is on the ground floor with no steps and is fully accessible.

I really didn’t know much of anything about cohousing but am lucky to have neighbors who helped out by bringing by food and helping Diana with some of the care giving like transport in the dead of winter.

The downside of living in cohousing is antithetical to any care giving.

There are many conflicts about the day – to – day management of the place that arise and escalate, some cause hard feelings, but that’s part of life anywhere and shows how fragile community living can be among a whole variety of personality types. The differences seem more pronounced since everyone also is trying to get along.

In my experience, those sorts of relationships have been more work related, but much of living in cohousing is work related and I’ve had to learn how to separate out my personal life here from my business life here.

When I returned to Silver Sage Village after six weeks of hospital and rehab stints, I don’t know how it happened, but neighbors brought by meals and offers of help. I don’t know if neighborliness can be “organized” but however it came about was greatly appreciated. That, along with the layout of the fully accessible condo, was important in my continuing recovery.

It takes a village to raise a child but also takes a village to move an elder towards the end of life.

I don’t expect my neighbors to help me into the shower, or wipe my butt, but I hope they’ll continue to mostly be around.

Gawande talks about the importance of hospice that helps a person be comfortable and provides ways to navigate life.

Do I want my friends and family to be hovering over me out of some sort of self serving sense of duty when I’m delirious and out of it? Is that quality time to be with someone at the last breath?

I’ve put myself into self-imposed hospice now while I still have plenty of breaths left and want to be comfortable in my house living life to it’s fullest. I’d rather be around family and friends while we still have our wits about us.

Here I thought I was out of the event planning business.

Look out for the “Getting the Band Back Together Tour” truckin’ into a town year you – the Cousins Reunion; Cheyenne, Gillette, Lander, Boulder and points in between.

What a long strange trip it still is!

Lassoed fish – an ‘Art of the Hunt’ tale

I produced a series of videos for the upcoming Art of the Hunt display that opens at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne on July 18th.

The exhibit, spearheaded by the Wyoming Arts Council, the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming State Museum, features folkloric stories told through the unique art forms of hunting and fishing, including leather working, bow making, fly tying and taxidermy.

You don’t have to be a rugged outdoors man or woman to have stories.

I’m a city kid who grew up in the suburbs of Cheyenne. One Christmas Santa brought these short fishing rods and rudimentary reels. We could hardly wait until spring to get our lines wet.

My Uncle Rich gave me this fly box for Christmas one year. He was an avid fisherman around Wyoming.

My Uncle Rich gave me this fly box for Christmas one year. He was an avid fisherman around Wyoming.

As a family activity in the 1960s my parents would take my sister and I to Country Club Lake. On the way we stopped by the tackle store and picked up a box of worms for bait. My dad showed us how to bait the hooks and explained the purpose of bobbers.

My mom’s job was to untangle the fish line snags. I remember hooking my first fish, it was a six-inch perch. We caught several small ones that day.

I wasn’t allowed to clean the fish, because I wasn’t yet able to use sharp knives. That evening, my mom breaded the fish and we had them for dinner that night.

When I was a bit older, I don’t remember the exact birthday, but my grandfather gave me one of his manual spinning reels – the kind with a bail.

This was a big step up from the push bottom job I had been using. He also explained to me about using artificial lures. He said it was more challenging because it became a battle of wits catching a fish with lures.

He gave me a box of various flat fish and spoons. I didn’t use the flat fish since I learned they were mostly for fish that didn’t live in Southeast Wyoming, but always have kept those hand-me-downs in my tackle box.

When I was living in Lander, one spring, my fishing pal Perry and I went out up to the Big Wind River just outside of Thermopolis. The water was running high and muddy. We wore hip waders. Perry had a few strikes, I was using a muddler minnow thinking that the brown trout would hit, but became a bit discouraged. Perry suggested that I try something that no fish would like. I opened my fly box and there was the green flatfish.

I clipped it on the end of the leader and cast, then reeled in the line. Tugged and reeled, tugged and reeled. Hopelessly snagged on some plants.  I waded out to untangle the line. Much to my surprise, in addition to the wad of greenery, was a 10 inch trout entangled in the weeds and being strangled by my fish line.

“You lassoed a fish!” Perry hollered.

It wasn’t good, the line was stuck under the fish’s gills and cut him up. I ended up taking the fish out of mercy, but I didn’t think I had taken him fairly.

I still have my grandfather’s flat fish, but I haven’t had it out since. I have an antelope hunting story I’ll jot down when the Art of the Hunt exhibit gets into full swing. Join the facebook page and share your hunting and fishing stories and photos:

Random Father’s Day thoughts 2014

My father died a few years back and my two grandfathers passed on many years ago. I haven’t mused about them, really. There are all these Father’s Day sports movies on cable today – or maybe they’re on as an alternative to the World Cup games.

My dad and me circa 1954. This is taken in front of our first home on 10th Street in Cheyenne.

My dad and me circa 1954. This is taken in front of our first home on 10th Street in Cheyenne.

My paternal Grandfather Ohashi was named Toichi but known as George. I don’t know exactly when he emigrated from Japan, but it was in the later part of the 19th century. He and apparently one or more of his siblings initially ended up in Alaska.

There’s a photograph of him hustling pool someplace in Alaska, which I will dig out. When I was on a trip with the Presbyterian Church to Sitka, Alaska we took a ferry boat ride up and down the panhandle.

While in Ketchikan, my pal Sam Allen from Cody and I came upon a sign that said OHASHI Candy and Tobacco. Turns out it was owned by my Great Uncle, my grandfather’s brother who’s name escapes me. I was later at a conference in Seattle a few years ago and ran into an Ohashis who was a niece.

My Grandfather Ohashi on the lawn in front of his home on 8th Street in Cheyenne.

My Grandfather Ohashi on the lawn in front of his home on 8th Street in Cheyenne.

I’m pretty sure he was a pretty good pool hustler. He owned a pool hall on 17th Street in downtown Cheyenne. I inherited one of the pool tables when the pool hall closed and had it set up for many years, but when I moved to Colorado, I donated it to the Ethete Senior Citizen Center. I kept an old 9 ball from the rack. He was going blind, but could still hit a few trick bank shots.

My cousin Matthew from Salt Lake and his dad got me started collecting and scrounging up old stuff. He had an old Phillip Morris poster in there that I wanted, but couldn’t get freed up. I’ve wondered what happened to that item.

He developed diabetes later in life and moved into our house on 10th Street for a period of time. I was young but had to give up my room to my grandfather. I can’t remember how long he stayed, but he let me give him his insulin injections in his thigh. That was back in the day of those huge needles.

The Highway Cafe on the South Greeley Highway is now a tobacco convenience store.

The Highway Cafe on the South Greeley Highway is now a tobacco convenience store.

He and my grandmother owned the Highway Cafe on the south Greeley Highway. He originally was a truck farmer from Brush, Colorado. He drove around an old panel truck and picked up produce from the farmers and sold them from a fruit and vegetable stand next to the cafe. It was nestled against a bluff where Interstate 80 would eventually pass and they moved a few blocks north. The Building still stands today, but is now a tobacco store.

Every once in a while I got the job of writing the new $1.00 specials on the black board. It was stuff like hamburger steak, egg foo yong, liver and onions. There was a Filipino guy named Carl who came in every night and had a half order of the special. The famous Cheyenne fisher Hank Okamoto came in from time to time showing off his string of fish. He was a fishing buddy of my Uncle Rich.

My dad brought my sister and I one at a time and together to the cafe. He cooked there after he finished working and after dinner. I don’t know this for fact, but it seemed to me the state put them out of business. The last straw was when the state required a vestibule to be constructed between the public area and the restroom, of which there was only one and not two.

My Grandfather Sakata on the porch of his home on Capitol Avenue in Cheyenne.

My Grandfather Sakata on the porch of his home on Capitol Avenue in Cheyenne.

My maternal Grandfather Sakata’s name was Jusaburo, but he was called Joe. There’s a Cheyenne history book that has the details about his emigration to Wyoming, but off the top of my head he came from Japan, then returned for my grand mother who was 20 years younger. What I mostly remember is he worked for the Burlington Railroad.

Back then it was known as the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and he was the section foreman at a place called Orpha, Wyoming. Orpha still is there and located across the road from the Fetterman Battlefield State Historic Site.

This is an image I got from one of the Orpha neighbors. My uncle George is the tall guy in the middle on his left is Joe Shinmori. My mom is on the right end.

This is an image I got from one of the Orpha neighbors. My uncle George is the tall guy in the middle on his left is Joe Shinmori. My mom is on the right end.

I went to visit a couple years ago. Many years before when I was in junior high school, my sister and I spent the summer irrigating on the Shinmori beet farm near there. We took a tour of Orpha which included the one room school, and the house where my mom’s family lived. Only the foundation remained when I last went to look around.

He and my grandmother moved to Cheyenne I’m thinking after he retired. My mom, who was the youngest of the three kids ended up in Cheyenne, too. In his retirement he became a gardener and did yard work for some of the neighbors around their home on Capitol Avenue a couple blocks from the state capitol building. That was one of the resupply depots for soda pop that we sold along the Cheyenne Frontier Days parades.

When I graduated from high school, I remember getting his wise words in Japanese – but my grandmother reminded him that I only understood English and got the speech again in English.

Language was a barrier keeping me from knowing my grandparents better. Of course, after World War II, that was a big wake up call for the Japanese American community. Even in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, there wasn’t any Japanese spoken around the house nor were Sansei kids – third generation – expected to learn Japanese nor retain much if anything about the culture, although I still prefer rice with my eggs. The 20th Street Cafe run by a Japanese family serves eggs with rice upon request.

I learned to be self sufficient, but that may have been because I was boy. When I graduated from college, I lived at home for a couple years while in grad school at the University of Wyoming. I think my parents appreciated that.

I took my dad to the opening game at Coors Field between the replacement Yankees and the replacement Rockies during the strike - shortened season in 1995.

I took my dad to the opening game at Coors Field between the replacement Yankees and the replacement Rockies during the strike – shortened season in 1995.

My father, Frank, worked his entire career at the Coca Cola plant in Cheyenne eventually becoming the manager. When the business was sold to the Ludwigs in Laramie, my dad was a part of the deal. When I was a sophomore in college, we moved over the hill to Laramie. I remember going to that house on Downey Street for the first time. I didn’t know which drawer the forks were kept.

When I was in high school, I worked summers for him at the Coke plant. That was an eye opener for me seeing him in a capacity other than at home. He managed like it was a basketball team – he was a pretty good basketball player on the Cheyenne High School team. He didn’t ask anyone to do anything he didn’t do himself. That’s one thing that rubbed off on me. I remember him chewing out a guy, who came to work drunk and eventually was fired. It was the first time I’d heard him swear like a sailor!

One time I was caught shoplifting and the condition of my staying out of the system was fessing up to my dad and he calling the store manager. That was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my 61 years. I don’t think he told my mom about it.

He was always supportive of my activities, even later in life. When I played in the Fremont County orchestra, there was a performance in Laramie. Very few people were in the audience, but my dad was there. He pushed me to get my Cub Scout activities completed. I made it up to getting my “Bear” patch before Pack 113 folded. He was asked to take over, but it wasn’t his thing.

He was always a “behind the scenes” guy. My mom was more of the front act. She was the flamboyant artist, he hung the shows and took them down.

What about the name O’Hashi?

Nobody knows for sure, but the O’H is attributed to a school administrator who changed his name when he found out his birthday was March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. Only my dad and his youngest brother Jake used the anglicized spelling.

“The Natural” just ended. That’s a pretty good baseball movie – I wonder what else is “on” today besides soccer… Next? “Remember the Titans”!

Memorial Day 2014


My uncles George Sakata, Rich Ohashi and Vince Ichiyasu were members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. My uncle Jake O’Hashi also served in the U.S. Army.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING – Memorial Day is upon us again. When I was a kid growing up here, the Japanese had a big carry-in picnic at Holliday Park – lots of sushi rolls, teriyaki chicken, abalone salad – bento box type food.

I think because this park is closest to the cemetery is why we all met there.

A couple of the guys brought over boxes and boxes of flowers. After the first go-around of food, everyone went over to the Lakeview Cemetery and placed flowers on all the Japanese graves. There wasn’t much reminiscing that happened, but that was just the “inscrutable oriental” way.

The Cheyenne Japanese community used to be fairly large. One of the gathering places was the original City Cafe that was run by Mrs. Shuto and later her son, Tommy.

lakeview japanese head stone

The Japanese grave markers in the Lakeview Cemetery. I grew up in the Cheyenne suburb Cole Addition Japanese Ghetto – Nakano, Kubota, Shiba and O’Hashi. It was also the home for several Greek families – Contos, Hatanales, Talagan, Mears.

Occasionally, my family went over there to watch black and white samurai movies and listen to music. In the back, the old guys were screaming and hollering during their rousing game of hanafuda (flower cards) that also involved slapping the thick cardboard cards on the table.

I didn’t learn how to play. I don’t think the rules were written down anywhere back in those days and I didn’t understand Japanese if someone tried to explain them to me.

Since I happened to be in town, I stopped over and decorated my family’s graves at the cemetery east of Cheyenne on the old Lincoln Highway. I overshot the exit on I-80 and on my loop back on Highway 30, I picked up a hitchhiker named Chris. He’s from Huntington, WV home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”).

suspect hynds building

Cheyenne’s finest questioning a guy sitting in front of the Hynds Building during the Cheyenne International Film Festival earlier this week.

He was walking back to the Pioneer Hotel from his job as an irrigator on a farm east of town. it would have been at least a 10 mile walk for him. He was lamenting about the high cost of housing in Cheyenne and that the Pioneer meets the needs of men who have jobs, but can’t afford traditional housing. He’s only been in Cheyenne for a month, but has noticed the discrimination that the Pioneer Hotel residents and homeless people face.

Anyway, he went to the cemetery with me while I decorated the family graves before I dropped him off at the Pioneer. He was looking forward to the extra day off after toiling in the fields. As we passed a convoy of Wyoming Highway Patrol, we both agreed that Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to be on foot and not driving a car.

When the Issei and Nisei generations started passing on, the Memorial Day picnic tradition pretty much stopped.

I was curious about Memorial Day and how it all got started. This is what wikipedia has to say about it:

original memorial day

The first Memorial Day was observed in Charleston, SC after the Civil War.

“The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Charleston Race Course; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves.

Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled,

“Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers, and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field. Today the site is used as Hampton Park. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.”

I don’t think Memorial Day became “official” until several years later when the politicians took hold of it.

ohashi grave

I haven’t been in town for Memorial Day. I stopped by today and decorated my parent’s and the other family head stones.

There are still a number of Sansei in Cheyenne and the surrounding area, including my sister, some cousins and myself. My uncles and aunts and the Nisei generation don’t have the energy they once had for organizing any big activities like the Memorial Day picnic. Every year, I think about getting in touch with everyone, but I don’t have the energy for it either.

This has nothing to do with honoring fallen soldiers – but from here on out, Memorial Day will be memorable for me since my autoimmune health issues began shortly after I finished the Bolder Boulder 10K foot race in 2013. I’ll let you know how the acupuncture treatments are going.

Bolder Boulder Update

alan bolder boulder 2014

I ended up taking a swig of O2 coming up the final Folsom Hill, I’m still swelled up from the steroids.

After tapering off the steroids for my lung problem, It was an unknown adventure. My neighbor Henry drove my across the sidewalk neighbor, Jim and I to the Bolder Boulder start point. I was unsure how far I could make it since my practice is NOT to train for races. The only training has been occupational therapy walking from place to place.

When I dug my shoes out of the closet last night, I noticed that they didn’t quite fit right. My ankles are still swelled up for some unknown reason and the muscle mass of my feet was also less than it was – nothing a little cinching up won’t fix The last time I trained for a race was for a 5K in Lander many years ago, when I twisted an ankle. Since then, I’ve just taken my lumps during the real thing.

After making it past the first mile, I felt like I’d be able to finish the course. My practice is to film snippets of each of the  bands along the route, which slows down my pace a bit. My mission is to complete the race before the mop-up crew gets out there.

I’m 15 pounds lighter than I have been, but carried my oxygen bottle just in case. I did have to take a few boosted breaths midway up the Folsom Hill on the way into the stadium. Other than that, I felt pretty good. In the past, even last year, around the 5K mark, the interior part of my knee joint would begin to hurt and my thighs would cramp, but not today. I attribute that to eating better and not having so much crud built up in my scrawny muscles.