Article from the 11/25/2016 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 59,899 questions.
CATALINA RECEIVED SUBSTANTIAL RAIN SUNDAY NIGHT!  KEEP IT COMING, GOD! In celebration and FAITH, I had a SHORT but REAL shower today.  FELT FANTASTIC!!!I hope that no one from "Edison" reads my column or my water meters today!
GREAT having Capt. Doug Fetteroll back looking so rested and chipper.  Guess my column will once again be 4th in line of popularity behind his, Jim Watson's, and John King's.  I am up to the challenge!!!
I have noticed a significant number of patrons who not only do not look up when being served in some of our restaurants, but NEVER say "Thank You" when given exceptional service,  I asked one of them and was summarily put in my place with "I don't have to be nice to them, I give them a descent tip!"  TERRIBLE!!!
SO HAPPY to get such a good response from last week's submission, "Feel The Sound"!  Been asked to clarify something.  Kenny was born sighted, but had a deteriorating eye disease.  His last memory of sight was when he was 16 and watching "Blazing Saddles"!  BOY, THAT MUST HAVE HELPED HIM "VISUALIZE" ON MY TOUR!  His wife was born blind, so don't know how she imagined "blue"!  Just glad I made them happy!  If you want to check out this or any other past articles, www.catalinaislandman.com
The 3-hour PBS documentary, "WEST OF THE WEST", covering the history of the eight channel islands, with a very good segment on Catalina (including yours truly), is only available in Avalon at the "Steamer Trunk" and the "DC-3" (Airport).  If you don't live on Catalina, you can send me a check for $23, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704 and I will send you a DVD.
My Avalon physical therapist, Ryan, feels that I should shout "AHOY" when greeting cruise ships.  Although he's a GREAT P. T., he's from New Jersey.  Any other thoughts?
 
"GEORGE WASHINGTON MEET ORVAL LIDDELL!"
 
After W. W. II, Philip "Phil" Knight Wrigley, his wife, Helen, and three children, Blanny, Deedee, and Bill, often came to Catalina to visit their ranch, "El Rancho Escondido", built in 1930.  The family would fly their DC-3 from Chicago, land at the "Airport-In-The-Sky", go down the "Airport Road", heading almost half way back to Avalon, take the Middle Ranch junction, go through the widest part of the island, overlook "Shark Harbor", and then take the road to their ranch.  Originally named "Campo Blanco", legend has it that this name was changed as once the location was picked out, the contractors had trouble locating it again.  "Escondido" means "hidden" in Spanish.  Phil's father, William Wrigley, Jr., had planned to visit it in 1932, but alas he died before making the trek! The Ranch was originally the home to world famous Arabian horses and is now a vineyard.
 
As Dad, Orval Eugene Liddell, was the "Santa Catalina Island Company's" Chief Engineer (1945-60), he was directed by Mr. Wrigley, in 1953/4, to build a road between the Airport and the Ranch which would cut off about 45 minutes of road travel time each way.  Dad, of course, took on the task and procured a small caterpillar tractor and hired a single driver. 
 
As a '24 graduate from Caltech in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Dad laid out the road in such a way that it followed the contour of the landscape.  Many tour bus drivers and visitors alike have wished that he had simply made a direct line between the two points.  He explained that he chose to follow the hilly terrain so that there wasn't the roller coaster, up and down, effect, and, for anyone who had ever had an emergency on this road, this concept proved to be a God Sent!  I was told that you could actually coast from the Airport to the Ranch, with the vehicle engine off and in neutral, if a problem ever arose!  There is only one "hump" area, just before the Ranch, but getting up to the proper speed, you could overcome it easily.
 
One day I was driving a good friend, Tony Dow ("Wally", on "Leave It To Beaver" iconic TV show), his wife, Lauren, and son, Christopher, to "Two Harbors".  We stopped at the "Airport" for lunch and then as we were heading for the "Ranch", Tony said, "Chuck, for years you have been bragging about how you can 'coast' all the way to the 'Ranch' from here.  Turn off the engine and let's see if you are right!"  I had never attempted this, always simply taking Dad's word, but WHY NOT!?!  I did, we did, and he was proven right again!!!  (Just as a word of precaution.  This was done in a 1979 VW Van.  You can turn off the engine, put it in neutral and coast.  The more modern vehicles would have their steering wheel LOCK if this was attempted!  NOT A GOOD IDEA!).  By the way, at the top of "Ranch Road" there is a very artistic metal cut out of a cowboy lassoing from his steed.  That was designed by Dad's secretary, Freddie Rice.
 
Getting back to the building of the road, Dad laid it out and this "crazy" driver (Dad often laughed about how he could have told him to go up the side of the steepest mountain on the Island and he would have, without ever questioning this decision) and the single caterpillar tractor did the rest.  As with all "well laid out plans", they ran into a hitch.  Right in the middle of Dad's perfectly placed "highway" was a single "Catalina Cherry Tree".  Although it WAS an endemic, it was hardly rare.  When Phil Wrigley was notified that there was this particular tree in the middle of the proposed route, Dad was instructed NOT to remove it, but simply make a half circle route around it!  AROUND IT!!!  Although sharing Mr. Wrigley's concern about Island flora, Dad also realized that building this detour around the tree would mean that the tour busses and other vehicles would be faced with a driving issue and, when the tree eventually died and was removed, there would be this awkward short switchback which would then have no observable purpose.  Orv Liddell's reputation was on the line and he wanted this obstruction "OUT OF THERE!"
 
Dad now faced a major dilemma.  Save the tree or save Dad's well thought out road.  The answer was easy, but then he would have to face Mr. Wrigley's displeasure, when it was disclosed that Dad had gone against his directive.  Being a good "company" man, Dad could never go against Mr. Wrigley's wishes, but as he had decided to go ahead with his dastardly deed, he couldn't lie and say he didn't do it. The report of this destruction would obviously make its way back to the head office lightning fast.  After much pondering (do people still use that word!?!), the perpetrator came up with a solution!  Dad waited for a major rain  and, when it was over and the hillside was slick, he told the tractor driver to aim his death machine directly at this poor defenseless product of nature, let off the brake, close his eyes, and "KNOCK  THE HECK OUT OF IT!"  Dad would conveniently be standing with his back to his catastrophe!
 
Even though Dad was an alcoholic, I NEVER knew him to lie, but in this case he fabricated the "truth" to its limit!  When Mr. Wrigley was informed of the unfortunate tree's demise, he had his Vice-President, Malcolm Renton, beckon Dad's appearance into the President's office and explain this deliberate act of terrorism. Dad, without flinching, looked Mr. Wrigley directly into his eyes and relayed the happens of this alleged transgression.  He drew a beautiful picture of the muddy road, the tractor losing control, and how neither he nor the driver actually saw this horrific event occur!
 
Being thoroughly satisfied with Dad's explanation, the incident was NEVER again discussed, UNTIL NOW!  "Members of the jury.  Was my father innocent or guilty of reeking havoc on Catalina Island because of this action?  When faced with the devastation of a Cherry Tree, neither George Washington nor my father could 'tell a lie'.  George became President and my father had me for a son!  DIDN'T DAD SUFFER ENOUGH!  Didn't he indirectly already pay his debt to society more than 100 fold!?!  I know I have LOST all of the Wrigley, Hagenah, Schreiner, and Rousack votes, but what say ye the rest of you?"
Contact me directly, chuckliddell.catalina@gmail.com