Japantown Mini-Reunion (Photos) · 6/27/2010

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Japantown Mini-Reunion

(3-13-2010)

When I read that a mini reunion was in the making, I immediately wanted to attend. However, my Dave no longer likes to drive to San Francisco and said, “Anywhere else…but San Francisco!” So I knew I would have to find a way to talk Dave into attending. I couldn’t help but remember when we were young and Dave “on the spur of the moment” would say, “Let’s go to San Francisco and have a fish dinner!”  Well…..those days are gone…

Ed DeGennaro and Carlene live a couple of hours from us, and asked if we would like to go to the mini-reunion together. After much coaching and playing the guilt card, Dave reluctantly agreed. We decided that Ed and Carlene would arrive at our house the day before the mini-reunion, and Dave would drive into San Francisco. After all….what could possibly go wrong!

The day before the reunion, we were waiting for Ed and Carlene to arrive at our house when Dave said, “Don’t rush; they won’t be here for a couple of hours!” I still had my hair in rollers and not dressed, when the doorbell rang….just my luck! We showed Ed & Carlene through our “Little Castle” and took them to the backyard to see our travel trailer….where they would be staying. After that, we took them to our favorite Mexican restaurant in town for dinner. After returning home, we sat around and visited. I showed Ed my Yamato High School yearbook, and my Japan album, which he really enjoyed. Ed also shared his albums with me.

The next morning, Dave brought in apple turnovers from our local bakery for breakfast, and we were on our way to San Francisco. Carleen said, “We will just go straight to the restaurant and check-in to the hotel after lunch.” Ed responded, “I want to check-in to the hotel before lunch!” Typical man always wants to do the exact opposite of what WE we want to do! I gave Ed directions to the Holiday Inn at Van Ness & Vine, as he directed Dave to the hotel. I emphasized to Dave, “See honey, driving in San Francisco isn’t so bad!”

We checked into the hotel and then took a taxi to Japantown. We were one of the first to arrive, and before long Warriors took over the restaurant. I got soooo excited, that I quickly became exhausted....when I realized I had not taken one photo or video clip. That's when I proceeded to go around the room with my camera.  It took me two days to recover from all the fun.

I proudly present to you the “prestigious” list Warriors who attended the Japantown mini-reunion. I thought it would be fun to show before & after photos of everyone in attendance.  

Alan Hirai ’72 Alan took a 12-hr flight from east coast to attend this reunion. Now….that’s a true Warrior! He has been married 33 years, and I asked him, “What’s the secret to staying married that long? Alan adorably answered, “I have no idea!”! Alan is from MD and has two children.


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Amy Bechetel '72 Ken Tokelson met met in California at San Juan High School in 1970, and have been married for 38 years. Amy & Ken have attended many of our Vegas reunions, and it is always a pleasure to see them.



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Andy Halliday ’71 I met Andy for the very first time at this mini-reunion. He is the Founder & CEO of Ourstory.com and Tibbit.com. I post all of my writings for my website through Andy’s (myfamily.com) website.  Check it out at:  http://www.ourstory.com/andy


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Barney Shiroma '76. I met Barney at this mini-reunion for the first time. Barney great has a great laugh! I loved it when I told him, “It was very nice meeting you!” And he responded, “Likewise.”


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 Charlie Cockle '73 Charlie works for AT&T, just like my son and daughter-in-law and said, “I am always meeting people who work for AT&T!” I have seen Charlie as several past reunions. He is married and has two children.


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Cyd Muramoto '73   At the last reunion, I couldn’t help but notice Cyd’s beautiful Swarovski crystal ring, which we are discussing on the video. I met Cyd’s very tall husband, Marty, for the first time at this mini-reunion. Great smiles!

 

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Dean Yonenaga ‘76


I don’t know Dean, but I noticed in photos posted by others, that he and his wife, Miykui, were in attendance.



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Ed & Mary Brock ‘73


Another great-looking couple I met for the first time at this mini-reunion. Ed is very tall


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Ed ’’64 and Carleen Degenerro   We traveled to this reunion, with Ed and Carleen. Ed can’t help himself……he s always misbehaving! Ed and Charlene have become our very special friends.

 

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Eddie Koga '74 Eddie is always at our Yamato reunions, and it was wonderful to see him again.

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Elaine Gamble '73 Elaine is always lots of fun, and attends many of our reunions.


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Grace Gale ’76 Grace is another reunion regular. Grace & I don’t live too far from each other, and met for lunch a few years ago. Grace is married and has three children.


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Irene Iriye ’72 I don’t know Irene very well, but isn’t she a pretty little thing!

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James Krey ’75   I met James for the first time, and we were happy to have him at our reunion….even though he is from Yokota! After Yamato closed, many Warriors were sent to Yokota High School where they found James.  Because of facebook, James has connected with many of his Warrior friends.

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Jeff Burch '73. Doesn't Jeff look adorable? I love his eyes!


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Judi Birch ‘61 and her husband, Gary.  Judi saw Gary in a night club, and motioned for Gary to come over to her to protect her from another guy she was trying to avoid. Gary didn’t think she meant him, and turned his head around to see who she was motioning to. And…..the rest is history!! They have been married 28 years.


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Kenneth Yoshida I don’t know Kenneth, but I wonder if David Yoshida is his brother? I didn’t meet Kenneth, because he showed up later with Wally and his “late night” gang.alt



Leola Lapides '71 & Daughter, Monica  Leola has attended past reunions, but this is the first time we met her daughter, Monica. Leola lives in a Japanese house, which is built without nails. The house is listed as a National Treasure by the Japanese government. I would give my “eye teeth” to see this house, and Leola has promised to invite me one day. I can’t wait!

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Libby Blackstead ’72    Libby looking great, as always, and is part of the Yamato High School committee. Libby gave me the darling “thank you” card below for getting the word out about the Japantown reunion.   Libby owns a beautiful horse who she refers to as,   “My #1 four legged furry man...Bugsy.”


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Lola Faison 1972, and her friend Norman  I met Lola and her friend, Norman for the very first time. They giggled like crazy, when I referred to Norman as her husband!

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Mike Moneymaker’60 For me....this was one of the highlights of the reunion, because I haven't seen Mike since we graduated together in 1960. I have strong memories of Mike and (for some crazy reason) I even remember his bedroom!   I think a couple of us stopped by his apartment to get something, and that’s when I remember his rattan furniture. This caught my attention, because it stood out compared to that “stylish” base housing most of us had in our apartments! Mike (like me) was a fixture at the teen club, and we both lived in Green Park. Mike lived on the first floor of the first wing and I lived on the third floor of the first wing.  It was very nice to meet his partner, Don Campbell. Hope we see them at future reunions!


When Mike & Don arrived at the reunion, I was sitting at a table refreshing my make-up. I felt them walk in and come to an abrupt stop, which caught my attention.  I looked up to see Mike just staring at me with a twinkle in his eyes.  I looked into his eyes for a moment, before I realized it was Mike....then I jumped up with much excitement and gave him a great big hug.  This is what reunions are all about.....


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 Mike Ripley’72.  We didn't make his last fish fry.....maybe next time around!   Mike attends all of our Yamato reunions.

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Nadine Kaizawa’73  Nadine is another regular at our Yamato Reunions. She made that beautiful vest she if wearing in the photo below.

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Naomi Yokoyama ’72 Naomi is responsible for putting this reunion together, and she worked very hard!   Libby and I helped, but Naomi deservers most of the credit.   Naomi returned from a trip to Japan just before the reunion, and surprised me with an adorable black cat key ring (with a watch) pictured below from Japan.  I will treasure it always. 


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Ron & Sue Childers ''62  Ron and Sue have been married 36 years, have four kids and six grandchildren. Ron once told me, “Sue saved my life!” Sue’s response to this was, “He saved my life!” It is easy to see the deep love they have for each other, and Dave & I treasure their friendship.  I absolutely love his "before" photo!alt

 

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Scott Zirger, ‘72,  I met Scott earlier on, when he came to visit us in our “Little Castle” and we liked him right away. Scott has been married 15 years, and has many interests. He is a fantastic dancer, likes to work in his vegetable garden, & enjoys fishing and camping. Scott is always dressed meticulously, and has a great smile. I just love the shape of his face!  Another adorable "before" photo! 


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Sheila Davis ’72  It was a pleasure meeting Sheila and her husband at this reunion for the first time.  When I asked her what attracted her to her husband, she answered, “He’s cute!” 


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Stewart Mayeda ’72  Steward is another regular at Yamato reunions. When I told Stewart how upset I was when I couldn’t find my black Cashmere scarf he said, “Tell your husband to buy you another one!” I love it when a man agrees that you should buy things! 

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Toshimi Hashimoto  I don’t know Toshimi, but I noticed that he attended the “after hours” gathering with Wally and his gang! Toshimi has attended many of our Vegas reunions.

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Vonnie Hoops ’60 & Dave The photo on the left was taken when I rode a float for some celebration in Japan. Dave & I had a wonderful time at this reunion….in spite of the problems we faced getting out of San Francisco.   I have been married to my Dave for almost 49 years come December 24, 2010, and he is my everything. We have two children, and two very handsome grandsons.


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Wally Maroney ‘73   Wally and his committee are the ones responsible for planning our big Yamato Reunion’s in Las Vegas every two years. They always do a great job. For years, I have tried to get “personal” information out of Wally…..but he never cooperates.   However, he would be  VERY surprised….if he knew how much I already know! Wally is always a bundle of fun at our reunions, and the “the life of the party!


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 Xavier Maruyama ’62 We were stationed in Japan twice, and I knew Xavier both times. I didn’t see Xavier again until I found our Yamato family back in 1999…through the Internet.   Xavier’s birthday was on the same day as the Japantown mini, which was extra special. We also met Xavier’s daughter, Michelle. I asked Michele what kind of father Xavier was and she answered, “He would sometimes take shortcuts driving us to school, and then get lost!” 


Lee Yarborough, publisher of the Pacific Grove Hometown Bulletin, suffered a stroke and was afraid Pacific Grove would lose its paper. Edie and Xavier, a school teacher and nuclear physicist knew nothing about running a paper, but they agreed to take over the Bulletin & continue their friends dream. Check it out at: http://www.pgbulletin.com     



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After the luncheon ended some had to leave, others continued the party elsewhere. The younger group stayed up half the night, drinking, eating again & sharing their singing talents in a Karaoke lounge.


The older group, Ed and Carlene DeGennor, Ron & Sue Childers, and Vonnie & Dave Beattie went back to the Holiday Inn & rested before dinner!   That’s when Dave realized that he didn’t have his jacket. He later remembered that he left it at the restaurant where we had the reunion.   We met for dinner at the Crustacean Restaurant not far from our hotel, and the food was delicious. Ed & Carlene treated us with a bottle of “expensive” wine for our table.


After dinner we visited Ed & Carlene’s room, as well as our room, which had a nice view of the city. Ed’s step-mother works at the hotel, and was kind enough to give us rooms at the very top with a view. When we were in our room looking out the window someone said, “Look at that bright star that flashes on and off in front of one of the buildings!”   It took me a while, but I finally saw the star. My Dave looked and looked, but could not see the star. When we returned to our room later that evening Dave said, “I am going to find that star if it’s the last thing I do!” As I showed him, I realized he was looking at the wrong buildings, and then like magic…..my darling saw the star!


We topped off the evening with a drink at the downstairs lounge in the hotel. As we were walking to the lounge I told Dave, “This feels like the days when we were young, and could stay up half the night!” 


The following morning, we met for breakfast before heading home. Dave went to get our Van only to discover that the parking garage (recommended by the hotel) was closed on Sunday’s. The hotel tried to call the owners of the garage....without success. While we were waiting for the hotel to get of the owners of the garage, Carlene & I sat in the hotel lobby while Dave & Ed walked to the restaurant where the reunion was held to get Dave’s jacket. When they returned, we decided to rent a car and go home!  Dave said, “This is just one more reason why I don’t like coming to San Francisco!” 


After we arrived home, we brought in Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch, and Dave & Ed decided that Ed & Carlene would leave for home, and Dave would go to San Francisco the next day to pick up the van. So…..our trip to San Francisco turned out to be full of surprises.   



Vonnie (7-6-10)

 

Crustacean Restaurant

When the Crustacean opened in 1991, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic, Michael Bauer, called it the birthplace of Fusion Cuisine in the U.S. celebrating Helene An as the Mother of exotic new cuisine.  The Crustacean is famous for its giant roast crabs and garlic noodles, made from secret family recipes.


When Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975, the Ans family lost everything and were forced to flee their country. Helene’s father, the vice-consul to the king, often hosted large banquets for visiting dignitaries and international guests. During these years, Helene learned to plan exquisite menus, which prepared her for a career in the restaurant business.


In 1971, on a trip to San Francisco the family matriarch, Diana An (on a whim) purchased a tiny deli near Ocean Beach. With a lot of hard work and imagination, the deli was transformed into a family restaurant with a counter top and 20 stools. They named it Thanh Long, meaning green dragon, a symbol of good luck and prosperity.  


Thanh Long has grown into a multii-million dollar corporation incorporating three restaurants. They are known as the oldest Vietnamese restaurant in San Francico, and the first Asian restaurant to to break into the mainstream. Three generations of women run the business,  founder, Diana, her daughter-in-law, Helene, and Helene’s three daughters, Hannah, Elizabeth and Monique. 


The Custacean Beverly Hills, opened 1996,and quickly became a place to hobnob with the rich and famous. Famous people such as, Steven Spielberg, Eddie Murphy, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening to Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith and Jaida Plunkett. The Crustacean has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury New, People magazine, Travel & Leisure, USA Today, CNN and Entertainment tonight. The Ans received the Jacqueline Kennedy Women of Achievement Award din 1999.



 


 


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Vonnie Hoops-Beattie


Class of 1960


Yamato High School


Air Force Japan Dependents School

Yamato Air Station, Japan


 


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