Article from the 8/26/2016 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "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 54,273 questions.
If you would like for me to share with you some more recent interesting/unusual questions/comments, or to communicate with me directly, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m
If you want to view any of my past submissions to "ONLY ON CATALINA", www.catalinaislandman.com
The three-hour PBS documentary, "WEST OF THE WEST", covering the eight channel islands, with a very good segment on Catalina, is only available in Avalon at the "Steamer Trunk" and the "DC-3" (Airport).  If you don't live on  Catalina, send me a check for $23.00, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 9070 and I will send you a DVD.
Sheriff Capt. Doug Fetteroll and his ever popular "Sheriff's Log" has crept up to page 6.  SHOULD I BE WORRIED!?!
To be medivacked by helicopter from Avalon to Torrance Memorial Hospital by "Mercy Air" is $39,344.16!  BUY INSURANCE!!
 
SEALED BOTTLE
 
On August 5, my article, "50 BOTTLES WITH NOTES IN THE SEA, 50 BOTTLES WITH NOTES", shared my first bottle ocean drop in 1961.  Last week, "HAPPY 200TH, UNITED STATES", I covered Catalina's bottle toss for our nation's Bi-centennial.  I will now share some of the highlights of this historical event.
Of the 201 bottles thrown off the "Catalina King" between Catalina and San Clemente Islands, the first Sunday in April, 1976, only half have been accounted for.  MY BOTTLE WAS NEVER FOUND AND I STILL HAVE HOPES!  Of those found, none were any closer than Mexico.  One such bottle took months to be found in Mexico and it belonged to the mother of Ray Rydell, one of our past mayors.  She had been gravely ill and Ray was so excited to be able to share the find with her.  "Mom, they found your bottle!"  He detected a slight smile and then she went into a coma, never to come out.  Ray was "sure" that she had been waiting for this news before she died!  I WAS SO HAPPY FOR THE BOTH OF THEM.
Around 2000, a gentleman came up to me while I was sitting on a bench on Crescent Ave. and asked me if I was "Chuck Liddell".  He said that he had been to the Museum and  they had tried to direct him to me.  He worked for the "U. S. Geodesic Society", and was in charge of plotting ocean currents.  There had been a disasterous fire in their office, containing the records of their own bottle throws, and most of the data had been destroyed.  He said that my records from the 1961 and 1976 bottle throws would be "invaluable" to his research and hopefully fill in many of their gaps.  I took him back to the Museum and showed him our records.  He was ELATED!  Anything to help our government do their job!
Definitely the MOST unusual story occurred regarding Dorothee Hochberg, former wife of Mayor, Fred Hochberg, and the daughter of the owners of most of the buildings on Crescent Ave., between Catalina and Sumner.  You might remember her as the "lady in white" who always carried herself like a member of royalty and reminded me SO MUCH of Ingrid Bergman.  A REAL CLASS ACT!!!  In 1980, after four years of possibly floating, her bottle was found by a fisherman on a desolate island near the Philippines.  The remarkable part of this find was the bottle was under the flipper of a dead sea lion!  When I shared this strange circumstances surrounding the discovery of her bottle,  I noticed that she had the strangest look on her face (proper place to have it! lol!)!  I asked her if there was anything the matter.  She told me that she wanted to share a story, that I would probably NOT believe.  Being a LOVER of great and unbelievable stories, I begged her to continue!
A few years before our "Bi-Centennial", she and her granddaughter were walking along a Southern California beach when they noticed a large crowd of people standing around and starring at something.  They went over to investigate and saw a very sick seal pup being teased by some young boys.  She immediately told the boys to stop their harassment and instructed her young granddaughter to stay with the injured animal while she went to call "Fish And Game".  Once the authorities arrived, the two "Good Samaritans" left, never to learn the plight of their new little friend.  Dorothee sat back and, with a BIG smile, said "I somehow believe that the dead sea lion in the Phillipines was the same one that my granddaughter and I saved. It 'somehow' knew that the bottle in the ocean was ours and accompanied it on its journey to the deserted island.  It had intentionally laid its flipper on it to protect it and to make sure that someone would notice the creature and the bottle, making the find that much easier!" 
Even I, with my VAST imagination, found this story to be well BEYOND probability, but I told Dorothee that I thought it would make a GREAT children's story; hopefully that she would write with the aid of her granddaughter.  JIM, LIKE THE STORY!?!
Well, time passed and I never heard from Dorothee again.  She had moved up to Santa Barbara to live with her son, as she was suffering from major medical issues  One evening in 2002, I was working at another of my part-time jobs (almost EVERYONE who works on Catalina has at least two, three, or more jobs!).  I was now "host" at the Country Club Restaurant.  BOY, DO I MISS THAT WONDERFUL LOCATION AND FOOD (some of you might remember my story about Barbra Steisand, "Smith, Party Of Four", January 1, 2016).  One of our serving staff came over to me at my station to inform me that the party at one of her tables was disturbing some of the other guests. I was of course concerned and asked her what the problem was.  She told me that the ladies at the table were crying uncontrollably and she didn't know why.  I knew that I had to find out what was causing their grief, but didn't know how to tactfully address it.
Luckily, a few minutes later, a group of these ladies came by me on their way to the restroom.  I could tell that they were still VERY UPSET and obviously had been sobbing.  As diplomatically as I could, I went up to them to inquired if I could possibly help them with a possible matter.  They told me that their mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, who had been a long time resident, had recently died and they had planned to throw her ashes in the ocean the next day.  For whatever reason, they had been out of touch with her for a number of years and had hoped to have some "uplifting stories" to share about her life, so that the service would be a more happy ceremony.  She had been quite ill and her life, especially toward the end, was NOT something they wanted to dwell on, but that was all they could think about.  I asked them the deceased woman's name and they said, "Dorothee Hochberg.  Did you know her?"  DID I KNOW HER AND DID I EVER HAVE A STORY TO SHARE WITH THEM!!!
After extending my condolences, as I hadn't heard about Dorothee's death, I then proceeded to tell them the sea lion and bottle story.  From the looks on their faces, you would have thought that they had just won the lottery!  They now had their UPBEAT story to share the next morning at tomorrow's "Neptune" burial.  How fitting for a story about the ocean as they placed her remains there!  To be more accurate, they ALL smiled, except one, whose "flood gates" really brought forth the tears!  When she finally calmed down, I apologized for having upset her and asked what I had said that caused her reaction.  I thought I had shared with them a pretty remarkable and heartwarming story!
She quickly regained her composure and in an almost apologetic tone assured me that she wasn't upset, but OVERJOYED! (AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS TROUBLE WITH THIS!?!  As a male, I have NEVER been able to tell the difference between whether a woman is crying out of happiness or sadness. This difficult distinction will be one of my FIRST questions I will ask God when I get to Heaven.  Of course, in Heaven, since there is NOTHING BUT happiness, my questions will most likely be "moot").  "You see", she explained, "I am THAT granddaughter, with whom she found the sea lion on the beach years ago.  I NEVER heard about the bottle episode from my Grandmother!  I now feel closer to her than ever before, and can now face her funeral tomorrow with a big smile, because of that beautiful story you shared with me!  THANK YOU!"
You know, I guess there are "some" benefits of getting older, as long as you still have your "gray matter" upstairs (I DON'T mean hair!).  I was able to "reunite" a family with their passed loved one, because of a bottle launching celebration of America's 200th Birthday so many years ago.  I  am STILL waiting to hear about MY bottle, but, in case it is NEVER found, I can rejoice and share in the bottles found by others, especially Mrs. Rydell and Dorothee Hochberg!