Thursday, March 05, 2009

Larry Osumi: A Brief History

Written by Tony and read by daughter-in-law Nina, with grandchildren Danika and Chris at Larry's Memorial Service on 3/5/09
Grandpa Larry was born 64 years ago on December 29, 1944 in Mount Clemons, Michigan. His parents, Yoshio (Terry) and Chie spent the previous two years behind barbed wire in Arizona at one of America’s concentration camps.

After three years in Michigan, the family of five, including older brother Megumi Dick and younger brother, Bill, moved to Chicago for 6 months. In 1949 they returned to Los Angeles. For a year they all lived in a one-room garage near Sawtelle Blvd. With savings from a gardening route and a loan from a tanomoshi (a Japanese community rotating credit group) they moved into their family home in West LA.

Growing up, Grandpa Larry went to Brockton Elementary, Webster Jr. High and graduated from University High School. Growing up in WLA he played baseball for Crescent Bay Optimists, went camping with the Boy Scouts and delivered the Rafu Shimpo newspaper on his bicycle. Like many of his generation, he went to dances, cruised Van Nuys Blvd, ate hamburgers at Bob’s Big Boys, tacos at Ketchi’s Stand, and swayed to the romance of Johnny Mathis.

Later he pumped gas and checked your oil at the Shell gas station on Federal Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd. It’s here he earned enough money to buy a new 1965 burgundy Ford Mustang for just under $2900. Ahead of his time, he used a parachute as a car cover. It was also at the Shell station that Grandpa Larry was introduced to Fran, a nice Jewish girl from Venice who he married in 1966 and had two children, Tony and Chris.

Now a family man, Grandpa Larry attended LA Trade Tech College and earned a certificate as an Electronics Technician. Working in the industry for almost 40 years, he spent the majority of his years at three companies: Electro in Saugus, EAC Electronics in El Monte and Chino and most recently, with Medtronics doing quality control and testing.

Grandpa Larry was gifted in the garage. For years he did his own car repairs. Whether rebuilding his flathead Ford in high school, changing clutches, brakes, or bearings, he never met a Pep Boys he didn’t like. For a time, he even knew which Pick-A-Part had the best taco trucks.

Grandpa Larry was also handy around the house. In 1984 he moved to Crestline, which is in the San Bernardino Mountains, below Arrowhead. He was always upgrading his baseboards, bull-nosing the hallways, building retaining walls and forever vacuuming. He was always vacuuming. It was like his rug was his canvas and his Hoover upright was his brush. For some reason, the man loved to vacuum.

Grandpa Larry had three main passions: 1) Going out to eat with family. 2) Going out to eat with friends. And 3) going on road trips to visit relatives, so he could eat again.

Beyond food, he enjoyed fishing the High Sierras, especially Convict Lake and his boyhood haunt, Green Creek. A typical trip included Grandpa Larry, Bill and Tony camping for two days and spending the third night in Carson City eating pie and prime rib at the Ormsby House. Video poker was his game and with a cup full of nickels he was always chasing that elusive Royal Flush.

2008 was a rough year for Grandpa Larry. Complications with diabetes led to kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He lost weight, stopped driving and moved to a walker and finally a wheelchair. In January 2009, he fractured his hip and declined further. On Monday, February 23rd he passed away from cardiac arrest. All along there were phone calls and visits from friends and family. Thank you.


z. said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Grandpa Larry. This is a lovely tribute. My condolences to you, Tony, Maiya & the rest of your family. I'm thinking about you all...

heather fish said...

What an amazing life. He was so young. I am sorry for your loss.

Janet said...

Thank you for sharing. I've been thinking about you and I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

There are so many "normal-everyday" things that I see and do that remind me of Uncle Larry daily. Somethings are as simple as diet soda. Diet soda reminds me of Uncle Larry's contribution to the family Thanksgiving Day feast.
(-Tina O.)