Article from the 5/6/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 1, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 46,315  questions.  These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments:
"Regarding the showers, how many minutes can you rent a towel?"
"Do you have to pay to go swimming in the ocean?"
"Do you actually have hotels that sit on the Island?"
"Which bus takes you to Catalina?"
"Are most of the hotels in the Babylon area?"
Sorry, Gregg Harkness, Erica Cushing, and Robert Cook, but I didn't reach my 50,000 mark during the month of April!
For those registered voters in Avalon who aren't working on June 7,  you might want to consider being a California Primary pollworker.  It pays $105.80 and is a very patriotic act!  Call:  562-462-2509.
NO, I DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING ON THE "VONS"/"SAFEWAY" "MONOPOLY" CONTEST!  Missed one piece in every category!  Some family in Missouri had these pieces and threw them away!  Anyone win anything!?!
 
2007 FIRE (LEST WE FORGET!)
Who remembers where they were on December 7, 1941 (Bombing of Pearl Harbor); November 22, 1963 (Assassination of President Kennedy); and/or May 10, 2007?
How could I ever forget November 22, 1963 (was in my high school Junior Civics Class). 
On May 10, 2007, I had just finished giving a lecture to new workers on the Island, to help empower them to knowledge about our past and present situation, through the Chamber Of Commerce.  I had just finished my discussion about the devastating Avalon fire of November 29, 1915, which destroyed the West End of town, and we were all leaving to have lunch around Noon.  As we walked West, I noticed smoke coming over the hill by the Chimes Tower!  The sirens started blowing and it was evident that there was a major fire coming into Avalon!!!
I was/am, a member of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).  This is local group of volunteers who are deputized under the Sheriff and Fire Departments to act as the "first responders" to ANY emergencies and disasters befalling our town, as backup support from the mainland can be either long in coming, or none at all.  (By the way, anyone wanting to join this essential group or local men and women, contact Deputy Doug DeDasare, 310-510-0174.  No experience necessary.  After all they did allow me to join!  Only a willingness to learn, to trained, and show a concern for our wonderful town).  I quickly got on my uniform and reported to City Hall.  I was placed, with Jack Cook, at the foot of Country Club Drive/Tremont, to make sure that the traffic was only going one way, away from the fire, and to help to evacuate Avalon.  By the time the evening was over, approximately 4000 residents and visitors were sent off the Island by the quick cooperation of Catalina Express.  i was eventually moved to the "Sand Trap" restaurant to guard those who might be wanting to get too close to the now evacuated school and hospital. From there, along with Wayne Herbst, I was able to witness the fire changing course at the LAST MINUTE.  WHAT A SCENE!! 
It was a remarkable operation by the residents of Catalina until the reinforcements came to the Island.  I HAVE NEVER BEEN PROUDER OF BEING A CITITZEN OF AVALON!!!
In all, there were approximately 770 firefighters, Marines, and work crew men and women who took on this herculean task of trying to fight and limit the fire. By the 5th day, we had lost close to 5000 acres (1/10 of the size of Catalina Island) and the fire had come precariously close to the town, being stopped at only around 40' from the school and other buildings!
To say that we dodged a MAJOR bullet is to put it lightly!  Many of us, including myself, felt that we were going to see the last of Avalon!  NO MORE HOME!  We did, unfortunately, lose one house and eight businesses, but no one was killed or even hurt and the main town of Avalon never showed any sign of this ordeal.
During this terrifying period, MANY banners were placed around the town, sharing the love that the residents had for those who putting themselves on the line to save Avalon, many of whom had NEVER been here before.  Many responders shared with me the fact that they were treated better by the residents of Avalon than they had ever been on the mainland. As the restaurants were closed and food was being stored for banquets that now had to be cancelled, this gourmet food was now feeding these brave men and women.  The fire would eventually be lovingly referred to as the "20 POUND FIRE" as that is what the average fire fighter kiddingly said was how much he or she had put on with all of this great food!
Tuesday will be our 9th Anniversary.  Unfortunately, for most of us, "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind", means that we have now put this behind us and tried to forget it ever happened!  NO WAY!!!  Except for being at the boat to wave goodbye to our "Saviors", Avalon/Catalina Island has done virtually NOTHING to show how much we APPRECIATE this heroic act by those who were "only doing their job", alright, but we are still around and have SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL ABOUT!
After the fire was contained, I wrote a "Letter To The Editor" of both newspapers sharing my feelings that unless we did something SPECIAL for these much needed visitors from the mainland, as well as our own local participants, we really don't deserve to be SAVED!  Harsh words, granted, but much felt!! 
Nine years have gone by and still no signs of our gratitude! 
With the tenth anniversary a little more than one year away, I have met with Capt. Doug Fetteroll, of the Sheriff's Department, and he is TOTALLY behind some sort of MAJOR recognition of those who literally SAVED our Island and town.  He plans to meet with his counterparts with the Avalon/Los Angeles County Fire Departments to see if a committee can be established, made up of our City officials, Chamber of Commerce, local groups/organizations, businesses/residents, and those on the mainland who could only watch and pray as they sat back hopelessly watching these events play out. By the way, local, national, as well as international news media carried our fire as each day progressed!  AVALON, THE WORLD LOVES US AND WE ARE FORTUNATE TO STILL BE HERE!!!
If you would like to help us with our preliminary planning, please share with me your interest, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
If you missed any of my articles for this column, you can read them on my blog, www.catalinaislandman.com, with at least three old stories appearing every week by my dear friend and volunteer administrator for this blog, Rock Wall.  If you want to ask me Catalina oriented questions or make any comments regarding my activities on the Island, check out "public group" "Chuck Liddell" on Facebook that is being voluntarily administered by my friend of longest duration, Mitch Hammond (friends for over 55 years).  If you want to contact me directly, you can always send me an email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.