On February 28, 1929 George Chozo and Shikano Kadowaki gave birth to their son, Masaru Mickey in Vacaville, CA. MASARU means VICTORY or TO WIN and this best reflects his competitive spirit. Whether it was a card game, a sport or just a party or event we had heard him use the phrase “YATTA” which means Yahoo or I Did it!
His older sisters Helen and Ruth always had their hands full as they helped raise Masaru. Im sure they may have used other names for him while they lovingly watched over his many adventures.
When Masaru was 8 his sisters got a break when his mother took him to Japan to spend time with his dear cousin Misa chan. Their relationship continued through the decades and he even enjoyed a birthday dinner recently with Misa chan and her daughters Arlene and Marlene.
When Masaru returned to the US his family moved to Idaho to farm during WWII. Much of his character and hard work ethic were developed during this time. He shared many vivid memories with us including encounters with raging rivers, bats, cougars, and snakes. (His stories of fighting off wild animals to walk to the outhouse rivaled the stories we have all heard of when our parents had to walk to school – 3 miles through the heat or snow!)
After the war, the Kadowaki family moved back to California and he used his middle name “Mickey” in school. He later graduated from Excelsior H.S. in Norwalk. (YATTA)
Mickey proudly served in the artillery unit during the Korean War. While His hearing was permanently damaged during battle, he always expressed that it was only a small price to pay compared to the many friends and comrades that had lost their lives. (He knew how to turn his minor disability into an advantage and demonstrated the term “selective hearing” to its full capacity during arguments or discussions.) (YATTA)
Mickey later started The Kadowaki Egg Farm with his father in Cypress, Ca. He told me the story of how he cleared the entire property by hand, including hundreds of shrubs and trees. He said that's how he got his big “guns.” (__) The Kadowaki Egg Farm held over 10,000 chickens and was a well known and respected business in the local community. Dad proudly displays a large 3 tier trophy in his room from when the Kadowaki Egg Farm bowling team won first place in the Nisei Week tournament. (YATTA)
Mickey also enjoyed many other activities such as the Osaka Picnics, Dancing, Poker and Snow Trips. While he was a member of Xanthus he met Mom who was in the OC Debs. He was a member of many other clubs including VFW and Kiwanis.
Mickey and Sally bowled together in a Nisei League at Buena Park Bowl (This was actually an 8 lane facility and the balls came back on top like the Flintstones Cartoons!)
Sally Nishioka was the Love of His Life and they were married on Dec 2 1956 (YATTA)
While they enjoyed many good times, they couldn't wait to start their own family. So in less than a year their first pride and joy Linda was born on November 23, 1957. Mickey joyfully took on the title of DADDY! (YATTA) Linda was soon followed by Janice, Stanley and Mickey Jr.
With such a growing family Dad worked his primary career in the Produce market where he invested over 40 years in the retail clerks union. If you walked with Dad in the market you would think you were at Disneyland. Everywhere he went his coworkers and customers would always greet him with “Mickey! Mickey!” Dad was always so friendly and popular with everyone.
Dad was a great athlete but really excelled in baseball and softball. I once saw him pitch in a softball league through his work and he struck out several players half his age. (YATTA) The next season they changed the rule to “slow pitch” to take away his advantage
Dad worked 7 days a week to support our family. On his off days from the market, he started his own gardening business. He serviced many families throughout Orange and LA County. One of his customers was Jerry Dogget co announcer with Vin Scully of the LA Dodgers. Due to their friendship our whole family enjoyed complimentary tickets and became lifelong fans. (YATTA)
Dad often took all of the family to help with the gardening, and was able to instill the benefits of hard work. Dad always knew how to make working together fun, and we wouldn't mind going along just for the chance to spend more time with him.
Dad always loved hosting the family parties at his home in Buena Park. “Uncle Mickey” welcomed 4 generations of relatives and friends into his home through the years. Every New Years, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Xmas was just another reason to have a Party! Dad always made sure everyone was having a good time
Dad loved Vegas and gambling! Fortunately the Indian Casinos came about so we were able to take several one day trips. With two MASARUs in the house we were able to hit several small jackpots and paid for our Buffets! We never made ROYALty on those trips but the Four Aces jackpot on Video Poker was good to us! (YATTA)
On Nov 11, 1991 his first grandchild Kyle Kenji was born and from that day on he took on the proud title of JICHAN. (YATTA) Kyle would soon be followed by Corey, Shannon, Christian, Joy, Mikayla, MickeyIII and Mikey. Jichan finally said, “I think Eight is Enough!”
Jichan still loved sports and played golf and bowling for several years after retirement. He bowled in the Nomads traveling league and also in the Tozai Nikkei League. My favorite memory was when we bowled for 1st place in the Tozai league. After losing the first playoff game I said “we have to pick it up, Dad!” (In his early days he had a big roundhouse hook and threw a lot of strikes, but at the time of this story he was 80 years old and averaging 125. Somehow he bowled a 212 game (the first 200 game all season) and helped us clinch the title together with Laurie and Gary. (YATTA YATTA)
Over the past several years Jichan bravely fought through several medical issues, and always taught his family the true meaning of being “tough.” (Gaman) Jichan had been admitted to the ER over a dozen times, and while things often seemed critical, he would always manage to win over the staff and keep them smiling and friendly.
Jichan never felt sorry for himself. Six years ago he became a Dialysis patient in La Palma, CA. The four hour treatments became a piece of cake for Jichan, a tribute to his lifelong dedication to working hard and being tough. The first time I took him to the facility, it seemed the other patients were quiet, sad and grumpy as Jichan tried to just say Hello. By the second week, the waiting room reflected Disneyland again, and every Mon Wed or Fri when we dropped him off all the staff and patients would greet him with a smile – Mickey! Mickey!
Sundays became a favorite day for our family as Jichan and Bachan looked forward to the weekly potluck, games and good times. While many people think it to be strange, we all find it a natural blessing to see each other every weekend. Linda, Kunio, Janice, Dave, Stan, Kathy, Laurie and I all have all embraced the legacy of being together with all the family and eight grandkids.
Jichans last few weeks were a struggle, but we are thankful he was able to enjoy visits from many friends and family. While his physical body was failing, his pride and spirit were as strong as ever. Jichans quiet time was solely dedicated to Bachan, and making sure she knew how much he loved her. . .
On April 11, 2014 Jichan passed away from heart failure at the age of 85.
May you and your family feel the comfort that comes from the Holy Spirit, The Great Comforter!
Linda, I'm so sorry about your father. I remember him as a very lovely man who loved you very much.
Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you.