Article from the 8/5/2016 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 carriers, I have answered 52,647 questions.
If you would like for me to share with you some more recent interesting/unusual questions/comments I have received, or to communicate with me directly, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As the Museum is still in transition, it looks as if I won't be changing over from this column to my old "Catalina Time Capsule", sharing what was happening each month, 100, 75, 50, 25, 10 years ago until probably October. If you want to see any of my past submissions to "ONLY", www.catalinaislandman.com
Whoever wrote "Good Morning Chuck" on my van's dirty rear window backwards so that I could see it through my rear window, you FINALLY picked the right VW Van!  You originally put it on the Warner's van!  "Good Morning" to you also!
The 3 hour PBS documentary, "WEST OF THE WEST", covering the 8 channel islands, with a very good segment on Catalina, is only available in Avalon at the "Steamer Trunk" as well as the "DC-3" (Airport).  If you don't live in Avalon, send a check for $23.00 to my email address, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704, and I send you a copy of the DVD.
 
"50 BOTTLES WITH NOTES IN THE SEA, 50 BOTTLES WITH NOTES"
 
In the late '50's, my Dad, Orval E. Eugene, Mr. P. K. Wrigley's Chief Engineer, decided to buy a "new boat", after his mother had died in 1954 and left him some money.  Our family had been given much older boats that people moving off the Island didn't want (most notable, the  "Jim E" owed by Jimmy Elms), but we hadn't really gone shopping for the "perfect" craft for us.  We decided on a 16' Glaspar, 50 HP Johnson Outboard.  It was coral and white and aptly named "KAPU", Hawaiian for "Keep Out".  Strange, but I can still remember the serial number, CF8002AT, but I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday!  They have a word for that among us "older" folks, but I fail to remember it! (some of you can probably relate to this!).  Some of you "Catalina Collectors" will be extremely upset with me, as the life jackets that we kept on board were gray and stuffed with cork.  They were marked "S. S. AVALON" (1920-51).  SORRY, THROWN AWAY for newer vests!  "KAPU" was finally sold to our neighbor, Harvey Cowell, in the 1960's when I went away to college.
 
Dad's, brother Billy's, and my favorite outing was to "speed" down to the "Isthmus" (now called "Two Harbors").  Doug Bombard, then Manager of the Isthmus, would often ask us if we wouldn't mind taking his "boys" back to Avalon with us, which we happily did.  Now 5 happy young men!  (Greg and Tim, was this the beginning of "Catalina Express"?  I'm waiting for my royalty checks! lol!).  On one such adventure, we went on the 5th of July.  We didn't normally pick a time around any holidays as the harbors and bays were generally full and no place to tie up.  I would generally ride on the bow of the  boat with my legs dangling over the front, and hanging on to a cleat for dear life!  I LOVED IT, especially when we would run into the wake of larger yacht and it would be like riding a bucking bronco!  I would get drenched with spray and sometimes even have the water pour over the bow, ME, and the windshield!
 
When we started getting near the harbor, we kept hitting glass bottles (not much plastic in those days).  We had to slow way down, so that I could maneuver Dad around these obstacles as they could easily gash the sides of the boat. This kept up for quite a while, until we finally found a mooring and tied off.  Dad was fuming about the number of bottles thrown overboard by yachtsmen celebrating the 4th.  For some reason, I wasn't so sure!
 
When we got back to Avalon, I asked Dad if there was any chance that some of these bottles might have come from another location, other than the Isthmus, maybe even the "Mainland".  Dad thought it was quite an interesting concept (I think he was just trying to humor me) and wondered how we could find out.  I suggested putting messages in bottles and throwing them in the ocean to see where the currents would take them.  I went through trash cans throughout the alleys of Avalon and collected 50 bottles (I was NEVER supposed to go inquiring for bottles into any bars or liquor stores as Dad was a recovering alcoholic!).  I then wrote 50 notes explaining what I was doing and asked the finders to tell me when/where they found the bottles.  I enclosed a self-addressed stamped (4 cents) envelope.  I obviously didn't expect them to go very far.  I sealed them with sealing wax and my adventure was about to begin.
 
On August 14,1961, on Billy's 12th birthday, (I was 14), from the "KAPU", we threw 35 bottles a few miles out toward the mainland  I was immediately concerned when I saw the number of private boats crossing the channel.  I feared that the bottles would be picked up before they had a chance to travel very far, so I kept out 15 bottles in reserve.  Boy, was I  right!  A number of bottles were picked up within hours  of our launching them!  I had to devise a better plan.  Now how could I get half way across the channel to dump the remaining bottles?  DUH!!!  I could take the "S. S. Catalina", conceal them in a suitcase, and toss them off the stern when no one was watching (obviously LONG BEFORE 9-11!). I made the roundtrip in one day so that I could get home and wait for the letters to come back.  I COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED!
 
I waited, and waited, and waited.  Weeks later one of my bottles had been found off Rosarita Beach, Mexico.  As some of them were still washing up on California beaches, this foreign travel was EXCITING.  I figured that this was going to be the extent of my experiment.  Then, a few years later, when I had given up all hope, I received a letter from the Philippines telling me that a fisherman had dragged in one of my bottles in his fishing net!  BOY, THAT WAS FANTASTIC!!!  Sometime later, I received a letter and picture (taken before the bottle was opened) from a Coast Guard Lt. stationed in Palau, Micronesia!  That greatly boosted my morale and proved my theory of tides!!!  But the most baffling one was the bottle found in Oregon a few years later.  Could someone have found the bottle and, as a joke, said that it had been found there, or could it have made the COMPLETE trip around the globe!?!  Looking at some navigational maps, I noticed that there was indeed a current that went South from the Pacific Coast of North America, around South America, looped around toward Hawaii, headed up North almost to the Artic. and then headed back down toward the Oregon Coast!  If legitimately reported, this lucky bottle had been part of one remarkable voyage!!!
 
How this bottle idea was reactivated for Avalon's "U. S. Bi-Centennial", 1976, will be explored in my next issue!