Article from the 1/1/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 41,444 questions.
These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments I have received:
"Do I ask you the questions?"  I am the only one standing right next to the sign.
"If Catalina is part of California, then you must be right on the border with Mexico."
"What does M. O. L. E. stand for?"
"I don't see the garibaldis swimming.  Did someone paint them on the rocks and simply throw them in the water?"
"Do you have any alligators in the ocean here?"
 
CONTEST TIME
I have decided to write my Catalina book once I reach the 50,000 mark.  It will contain approximately 25 chapters and each chapter will have five interesting/unusual questions that I have dealt with, a story of what life was like on Catalina Island seen from my perspective, and a bit of remarkable trivia about the Island.  I would like to conduct a little contest to see who can come the closest to predicting my 50,000 question/comment.  If you would like to guess, I will need a date and a time of the day.  To help you out, you can see how many questions I have already answered and how long it took to answer them.  I am presently only working cruise ship days, which are "normally" on Monday and Tuesday and I only work from 7:30-11:30AM.  I will be working Friday-Tuesday during Spring Break and will be working these days "Memorial Weekend" and full-time starting June 14.  Simply send me an email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with your guess.  EVERYONE who submits a guess will receive a free copy, once it is printed, and the winner will receive 10 copies. The ending date for submissions will be January 31, 2015. 
 
For approximately the first three years of my life, 1947-50, you would RARELY see me wearing any clothes!  Many pictures have been taken of me in the buff, especially by professional photographer and pharmacist, Paul Gilbert, at the old "Island Pharmacy", 417 Crescent (now "Buoys And Gulls").  When these pictures pop up, which they do on occasion, I always ask for the NEGATIVES (for those of you too young to remember cameras and especially "negatives", ask an older person).  Some older friends have taken exception to this practice and so about 10 years ago I confronted my Mother (who is now 90) and asked her WHY she didn't want me to wear clothes, or should I say ALLOW me to parade around in the "buff".  She told me that I had the concept all wrong!  It wasn't her idea, but the tourists coming to the Island, especially celebrities.  Catalina had been a major tourist area before World War II, especially for celebrities.  The Island was virtually closed to all, except Islanders and military personnel from December 8, 1941-until the end of the War in August, 1945.  Many Island families had to leave due to financial hardships during this tourist embargo and so when I came along, May 24, 1947, there weren't that many young kids hanging around and those coming to the Island had a romantic notion of what "Islanders" were like, especially regarding the kids. They liked to romanticize these young natives running around "sans everything".  For whatever reason, I realized this quite early and happily obliged those who wanted to have me play the "Native" role!  I was often "snapped" sitting on their laps, being hugged, etc.  I sort of became the "token", and as they called me, "Nature Boy"! 
During this period, I was often taken to the mainland to visit Mom's parents in Anaheim. OF COURSE, I WOULD WEAR CLOTHES!  The transportation was pretty limited in those days, especially during the Fall and Winter months.  The seaplane service was only just starting up again after the War and so we primarily had the Big White Steam Ships and much smaller water taxis.  When these were either not in service or we needed to get "overtown" quickly, we would utilize the scheduled DC-3 planes provided by United Airlines, between the "Airport In The Sky" and Long Beach.  Now this caused two major issues for me.  One of a physical limitation and the other purely imagined.  The first problem was getting into the plane itself.  Anyone who has seen the DC-3 (one is still being used to provide freight and mail service to the Island) has noticed the strange configuration when standing still.  It looms at quite up upward slant, unlike the horizontal ones of today.  For some reason, Mom always chose to sit as far up front as she could, which meant that "Champ" or "Chuckie" (names used when I was fully clothed) would have to hold on to the leather backs of the seats and PULL myself forward, one row at a time, until I reached the front!  I knew what Sir Hilary went through when he conquered Mt. Everest!  The second problem, and certainly the most traumatic one for me was due to the fact that we owned one of the first televisions on the Island, in 1945.  I would spend hours watching television which, to a large extent, was composed of old movies that were being shown to fill in all of the dead non-live spots on the stations (we only had channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 28, if we were lucky).  Unfortunately, showing old films meant seeing a lot of DC-3's crashing into jungles, which seemed to happen in so many of these 30's-40's movies.  You might know the ones with the plane having major motor problems, skimming the tops of the trees, then having it's wings pulled off and only the fuselage in tact, racing through the trees like a torpedo until it would come to an abrupt stop, usually at the edge of an extremely deep gully.  Normally this is when the local natives would surround the planes and kill the passengers.  When Mom would announce that we were taking the plane to visit Grandma and Grandpa, I would always start screaming and crying, because I didn't want to get killed by natives in the jungles!!!  Mom had to always keep reminding me that one, there were no jungles between Catalina and Long Beach,  and two, these were just movies and NOT REAL!  One time, much to EVERYONE'S dismay, a WWII movie was shown having a DC-3 going down in the Atlantic, which all of the passengers having to go out on the wings in order to keep from being drowned, while fearing the Nazi U-Boats torpedoing them before an allied ship could get to them.  I immediately called Mom into the living room to witness the fact that these planes DID go down in the water and there WAS an ocean between Catalina and Long Beach!!!  I bet Mom was one of MANY mothers during this early television period and later wondering if having television as a "baby sitter" was worth it.
Getting back to the contest.  There were two celebrities who took advantage of "Nature Boy" for their own plans of enticing women. I will share these stories and then have you try to figure who they were.  Both stories occurred in 1950.  During this time we still had our yearly "Bobby Jones Golf Tournaments".  Many celebrities viewed and even participated in the event.  One such celebrity had just lost his Mexican wife and so was on the hunt for a female companion.  He was born in Romania in 1904.  He was an excellent swimmer and won medals in the Olympics in the '20's.  He went on to make movies in the 30's and 40's, using the same character role.  He was pretty much washed up in movies by the end of the war.  He would be up on the greens, across from the Country Club, where the players would tee off and the visitors would watch.  He went to my Mother and asked if he could "borrow 'Nature Boy'", which, for some strange reason, Mom never seemed to refuse.  He then took off his shirt, put me on his shoulders, and paraded around the greens.  The women would be attracted to this "adorable" curly haired dark skinned native boy and would look down and immediately recognize the one carrying me.  WHO WAS HE?  He died in Mexico in 1984.
The second celebrity would use me in the late afternoons.  I must preface this to say that young kids were given a LOT MORE freedom and leeway in those days, especially when it came to "playing outside".  There were few cars and so security issues were pretty slim.   He would sit outside of the "Hurricane Cove" bar, in the present location of the "Sugarloaf Book Store" 403 Crescent, on the bench around the planter, which is still there.  He would await my arrival and, once I came, would put me on his lap and then with me as "bait', waited for the ladies coming in and leaving the.  He was born in Los Angeles in 1880 to one of the earliest and most prominent Mexican families in Southern California.  There is a State Park named after him.   He did much of his work in silent pictures as a leading man and easily made the transition into "talkies" and even was bragging about the new television series in which he was going to co-star that year.  When the young ladies would see us, they would come over and start a conversation regarding me possibly being his "grandson" and how "adorable" I was. Once he "hooked" one of these "ladies", he would quickly give me a nickel and I would run to the corner and buy an ice cream from "Diffin's"!  It was really called "Lloyd's" then, as it still is, at 315 Crescent, but some of us still remembered Harry Diffin running it.. WHO WAS HE? He died in Santa Monica in 1961. At least this old actor gave me 5 cents, which is more than the golf enthusiast did!!!  I wanted to write an article for "Readers Digest" entitled "I Was A Three Year Old Pimp For.............(names would then be mentioned).   I don't think that magazine would ever print it so I have never sent it in.
O. K., who were these two celebrities who took advantage of "Nature Boy"?  The first one who emails me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the correct answers to BOTH celebrities will receive a FREE copy of my book. There is no deadline on this mini contest.  Don't worry!  For those who don't see me everyday, as so many locals do, I am 68, and am called "Chuck". Unlike my world famous "greeter" predecessor, Duke Fishman, I don't parade around in a speedo, and CERTAINLY NOT NAKED!