Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Chaparrals

Back in junior high school I belonged to a club called The Chaparrals. It was part of the Gray-Y, a junior division of the YMCA. We met on Friday evenings at Centenary Methodist Church when they used to be on Normandie Avenue near Jefferson.

I recall our very first meeting. As the members arrived, they each took a seat around the table. And there we sat waiting for our junior leaders, high school students who belonged to a High-Y club and had been assigned to lead us.

I knew only one person in the club. The others went to a different junior high and I'd never seen them before. My first impression of them was that they were very unruly.

One of them started it off my screaming. Yes, just screaming really loud, then he stopped and sat there. Someone else followed his lead, and then so did a few others. It was sort of like going to a concert where various cretins in the audience yell out, "Eeowww!" because for some reason they think they have to fill the air with sound.

Me, I just sat there and watched them, wondering why they were acting so stupid. Now, not all of them screamed so right away I was thinking who the people were that I would most likely talk to and who I would stay away from.

Finally, our junior leaders showed up. There were Rodney Suzuki, Bobby Miyake (no relation to me), Peter (can't remember his last name) and Stan (can't remember his last name either). Later on I found out that Rodney lived across the street from my good friend Michael Jones, and Michael told me that he was a pervert because he had a telescope and was always trying to look into other people's houses.

As for us club members, there were Norman Minami; Bradley Fujikuni; Scott Nagatani; Jerry Miyamoto (I'm pretty sure he was the first one to scream); Bob Kurumada (he was the tallest one and we later referred to him as "Bobble"); Mark Torabayashi; Eiji Yoshihiro (we looked at his written name and someone said, "EeeeJeee?? What kind of name is that??" and Eiji shot back it was pronounced "Ay-Jee"); Jeffrey Nagasaki; Jimmy Kurata; Don and Jon Kobashigawa (twins); Sterling Tom (the only one I knew); and me.

Actually, I hadn't wanted to join but my parents forced me. I wasn't then and still am not a very social person. My parents forced me because Sterling's parents found out about it, told my parents, and they said I ought to be in the same club with Sterling and so there I was. There among the screamers. I wished I was at home.

At that time we were brand new and had no name. How did we get our name? It was me who came up with it. I was a slot car nut and the one of the popular models made by Cox, a major slot car manufacturer, was the Chaparral. It was a race car designed by Jim Hall. So I suggested that and for whatever reason the others thought it was a neat name so we adopted it.

Never mind that a chaparral is a type of tumbleweed. People heard the name and asked, why do you have a club/team named after a tumbleweed? And we had to explain it was a racing car, not a tumbleweed. Of course it is weird to be named after a racing car as well, but better than a tumbleweed.

And that was the beginning of my forced time with the Chaparral Gray-Y club.




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