Article from the 10/28/2016 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet cruise ships an cross channel carriers, I have answered 58,638 questions.
IT RAINED!  Not enough to make any appreciable impact to our situation, but enough to clean things off, make everything smell so nice, and give us CONFIDENCE that we might have the wet season we have waited 4 years for!  In the meantime, two suggestions that have reached me concerning what we should be doing to help our problem.  Keep the water pressure at a very minimum when washing hands, doing dishes, etc.  Start barging water over as they do in some of the Greek islands.
With the most anticipated election in our history coming up on November 8, I have volunteered to be an inspector at one of our local polling locations.  I am PROUD to be working with two locals, Juan Luna and Paula Patterson!  One major surprise is that Willie Anthony is so anxious to work the election that when he found out that he wasn't needed on the mainland where he lives, with only positions open on Catalina, he will be traveling here just to fill one of our vacancies!!!  GOOD for him, BAD for us!  Are we really THAT passive when it comes to civic service that they have to import people to work in our stead!?!  THIS IS A PAYING JOB!  If any of you would like to join us, 800-815-2666.  This number will probably also work for any of you who don't live on Catalina!  If you can't/won't work the election, PLEASE "Absentee Vote By Mail" so there will be less paper work for those of us who will be on the front lines!
The "Chicago Cubs", who had their Spring Training on Catalina, 1921-51, while owned by the Wrigleys, also deserves our support!  "GO CUBBIES"!
"YOU INSPIRE ME!"  I would like to inaugurate a new segment that will recognize those who truly "inspire" the rest of us.  I would like to kick it off with two that have really touched me.  One, my neighbor on Whittley, Mary Schickling, 58 (she is PROUD and doesn't mind sharing this), can be seen POWER WALKING up steep Whittley, with weights in her hands, and giving her all to lose, as she said, "baby fat".  I am in awe, especially when she shared her mantra with me, "I REFUSE TO GO DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT!"  GO MARY!!!
The other one, you may remember in my September 16, 2016 issue (if you want to check out that article or any other past issues,  He was the older gentleman who refused to move his illegally parked golf cart, to make space for our "Garibaldi Shuttle" at the Mole, because he was an "Islander", thus "above the law".  He came up to me a few weeks ago, while I was at my post answering questions, and with his eyes welling with water, told me that he was fan of my column.  When he read about himself, he HAD to apologize to me in person!  He had experienced a "bad day"!  He extended his hand and asked for my forgiveness.  Three hugs later, we were both on top of the world!  HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD HAVE TAKEN THE RISK OF REJECTION BY HUMBLING HIMSELF/HERSELF LIKE THIS!?!  He also "INSPIRES ME"!
If you would like to recognize any other remarkable locals who you can say, "You Inspire Me!", please provide me with the particulars, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and your stories will be shared in my column.
I never in my wildest dreams nor desires thought that I would ever be considered the "Catalina Island Historian"!  When my younger brother died unexpectedly  January, 1974, 24 years old,  and my father had a major stroke and heart attack in May of that year, I decided to discontinue my teaching at Indiana University, move back to Catalina, and take care of him.  I promised Dad that I would NEVER make him leave his home on Catalina, but I never realized that my commitment to him would last 7 years!  I was 26 years old.
Anyone who has ever been a "caregiver" knows that for the sake of your sanity you have to "make time" to occupy yourself when you are not facing these sometimes overwhelming responsibilities!  Patricia Moore had just moved to Catalina from the East Coast and had taken over the position of Director of our local museum, at that time situated in the Casino building.  Although she had visited the Island before, she had a LOT of information to quickly learn.  Her new husband, Bruce, was a native born, as myself, but had other commitments and so wasn't able to give her all of the assistance that she needed  I had known many of the "old timers" and had picked up a lot of information over the years.  I had always been interested in world history, but felt that getting to know more about my home had suddenly taken on a new interest.  Besides, it got me out of the house, when I had Dad bedded down, or when he was in the hospital.  I had A LOT of free time and I felt that I could be of some help to Patricia. Along with Thelma "Pat" Nowlin, I started making 3"x5" index cars of information gleaned from old newspapers and other documents. When not doing that, I was assisting Patricia and Lloyd Rathbun in conducting "oral histories" of some of the real "OLD TIMERS"!
One of my greatest sources, or anyone else's for that matter, was Johnny Windle (b. September 27, 1903).  His father, Judge Ernest Windle, had started the "Catalina Islander" newspaper in 1914 and Johnny had spent most of his life on the Island, going back to around 1910.  He had "SEEN IT ALL"  and although he was in his 90's, a more lucid man you could never hope to find!  He remembered EVERYTHING!  He would "hold court" daily at "Pete's Snack Bar", Sumner Ave., and if you were lucky enough to find a seat around the large outdoor table there, you were in for a REAL TREAT!  You could either come prepared to have a specific question answered or simply enjoy sitting back and letting him regale you his many historically accurate stories, making you feel you were THERE at the time!  If you asked him who lived in a particular home during the turn of the century, he would not only tell you their names, but who they married, what they did for a living, etc.  The old adage of asking someone "What time is it?" and then taught you how a clock was made certainly fit him!  IT WAS PURE DELIGHT!  He was truly "The Catalina Island Historian".  Just knowing that he was around to share his knowledge made me feel that CATALINA WAS IN GOOD HANDS, but unfortunately, this was not to last much longer!
May 15, 1999, I will NEVER forget! A fellow tour bus driver broke the terrible news to me that Johnny had just died!!!  I WAS STUNNED!  NOT JOHNNY; NOT OUR LINK TO THE PAST!  I was literally nauseous.  I couldn't imagine how the Island could survive without Johnny Windle!
The Museum had planned an "Islanders' Night" program entitled "Ask Johnny Windle", with the date set at least a month before he passed.  The family agreed to let this program continue, as it came a few days after Johnny had died and they feared that not everyone had been made aware.  Besides, it would now be a "tribute" to Johnny and we could all sit around and share stories about him, for once.
I was still in a major daze, as I slowly walked out to the Museum, NOT wanting to go inside to see the family and his friends with NO Johnny!  I was late and they had already started to share stories and historical facts.  They must have been stumped by some  trivia, because as I walked through the doors, immediately one of the guests looked over at me and said the words that would change my life FOREVER!  "There's Chuck, he'll know the answer!"  I did and at that fateful moment the baton of historian was passed from Johnny to me!  A race that I never expected to even enter, let alone win the laurel reef!
Since then I have dug through old newspapers, conducted interviews, and have done my best to "try" to remember even one bit of all of Johnny's knowledge.  I have conferred with others who used to sit at the now famous "round table" by sharing the many questions that never got asked, let alone answered!  I have tried to carry on the legacy of my "mentor" and "friend".
Years later I saw the movie, "The Lion King".  Boy, did it ever have an impact on me; especially one particular character.  The baboon had stored all of the history in his cave and was able to share the past with each new generation; "The Circle Of Life".  I suddenly viewed myself as this "monkey"; the keeper of Catalina history to be shared and  enjoyed by present and future lovers of this remarkable Island. 
As a tribute, in 2000m I humbly nominated Johnny for the "Catalina Islander's Person Of The Century".  Not surprisingly, he won!
I have had many labels extended to me, but my favorite was created for me by a young marketing student, Chris Puma:  "CATALINA'S PERSONAL GOOGLE"! I am waiting for SOMEONE to pass the baton to, but in the meantime, I will continue to do my best!