Article from the 1/6/2017 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 61,891 questions.
People, including myself, often wonder what newspaper "Editors" do.  Besides the obvious, they "have the backs" of  us columnists, such was the case last week.  For two weeks I had asked you readers to help me pick your favorite column of 2016 so I could repeat it as I had done in 2015.  NO ONE RESPONDED!  When the my submission deadline came, Wednesday, December 28, for the Friday, December 30 edition, STILL NO response, so to "cover me", my wonderful, and UNDERSTANDING editor,  Dixie Redfearn, had me "taking the week off" and showed me surrounded by beautiful women connected with the "Islander", in the place of NO COLUMN!  (THIS CAUSED MY READERS TO RESPOND!).  When the paper came out, I was watching two dedicated fishermen, new resident, Mark, and his son, who was going to school in England, Henry.  Mark reads my column and wondered "why I was on vacation" and I explained.  He wondered if I was going to "scold" (yes, he used that word) you readers for not helping me with the end of the year column.  I told him "DEFINITELY NOT", but was going to reach out to all of you again.  You have read MY STORIES for the last couple of years and I am SURE you have your own!  I am BEGGING you to provide me with your own "Catalina" memories about past, present, and possibly future experiences.  You might want to tell about Islanders who need to have their stories told. PLEASE send me your ideas, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704, preferably typed, but crayons will do, and I will print as many as I can.  This is your chance to be in PRINT!  If you don't feel up to writing, then contact me, chuckliddell.catalina@gmail.com and we can work on your story together.
IF you didn't get the Christmas Present you wanted, you might want to pick up the 3-hour PBS special, "WEST OF THE WEST" telling the story of the 8 channel islands, with me sharing information on our Catalina, and you can buy it ONLY on Catalina at the "Steamer Trunk", and the "DC-3" (Airport).  If you don't live here, send $23 to me and I will send you a DVD.
NOW that the holidays are over and things are MUCH SLOWER on the Island, what better time to get to know each other!  We SAY we know each other, BUT DO WE?   Invite "friends" over for dinner, or meet for lunch/dinner/coffee and REALLY find out how REMARKABLE so many of your fellow Islanders are!
I always have to laugh when the last Friday of the month, Noon, comes as that is when our sirens go off to check them out!  I guess that this practice isn't shared by every community as I enjoy watching visitors abruptly staring around to see if a disaster has struck.  If our enemies ever want to attack Catalina, let it be at the last Friday, Noon, of the month, as we will think it is just a drill!  I PRAY THIS NEVER HAPPENS!!!
I had finished having a "get to know better" dinner with a dear friend, "Army", and I was driving her home when two young men, who had been mysteriously been following us for a few blocks, FINALLY indicated that there was a problem.  I pulled over, expecting to have a flat tire or worse, and they simply held out a letter that had blown out of the golf car, "Chuck, you dropped this", I thanked them profusely, they smiled, and drove away.  ONLY ON CATALINA!  I LOVE IT HERE!!!
In my last regular column, "A Chorus Of One", December 23, 2016 (you can see this and all of my past stories, www.catalinaislandman.com), I told about our Avalon Community Chorus putting on annually, "Handel's Messiah".  They also did other concerts and even musicals.  This hasn't been done for years,  until our local churches got together and put on a community Christmas "sing-along" on December 22 at the Catholic Church.  It was almost packed and I don't remember having SO MUCH FUN! I didn't have to "Mouth"!  Locals are STILL talking about it.  BRING BACK THE "AVALON COMMUNITY CHORUS" AND MORE SINGING!!!
For those who took my suggestion, to serve others rather than harp on our holiday depression, I hope you found it worked as it DEFINITELY did for me.  But remember, others are in need and hurting ALL YEAR ROUND, not just the holidays!  Keep helping and hopefully 2017 will prove to be your best year EVER!
 
"I'M CHOKING, HIT ME WITH YOUR PURSE!"
 
Traditionally, at the end of the year, the media shares the list of those who died during the past 12 months.  BOY, WE LOST A LOT OF REMARKABLE PEOPLE!  One that especially stood out for me was seeing that Dr. Henry Judah Heimlich, passed away on December 17, at the age of 96!  I am sure that you ALL know him for his choking remedy, the "Heimlich Maneuver" which he developed in 1974. 
A remarkable movie was written/produced/directed by my friend, Greg Reitman, "HOLLYWOOD'S MAGICAL ISLAND, CATALINA", in 2003.  As I was featured in the film and am ALWAYS anxious to promote our special Island, I was booked for almost 5 years to travel across the country, to show the film and conduct a "Q&A" to approximately 25 cities in15 states! 
Around 2007, I was sent to Cincinatti, OH to make my presentation at a very prestigious country club.  I was expected to wear a tux, but they LOVED my idea of wearing a "Catalina Shirt" instead of the tux pleaded one.  Looked GREAT with the bow tie with the Catalina backdrop!  Maybe this should be considered for more "formal" affairs!  I was picked up at the Airport by my sponsor and driven up to this VERY FANCY colonial building.  I always marvel at how these locations decorate for a Catalina's theme!  There were plastic kiddy pools, surrounded by beautiful white sand, with plastic mechanical boats, fish, and sea birds puttering around.  Of course, the Hawaiian leis framed the entire presentation!  As soon as I was "announced",  I was WARMLY greeted and rushed up to the head table!  As the guests had already started to arrive, I was preparing myself, when the President sat down beside me and whispered to me that one of their members, who didn't attend many of these events had arrived, Dr. Heimlich!  "WHERE?"  I couldn't locate him in the sea of bodies and, frankly, I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE!  I did my usual "brilliant" performance (it is SO HARD to be "humble"! lol!  I am humbled daily!), and as guests came up to shake my hand, I asked my host where the good doctor was.  "He left right after your performance."  DARN, I MISSED HIM!
I went back to my hotel room and prepared for hopefully some GOOD SLEEP, even though I had a "down" day following before my next presentation in Illinois.  ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS MISSING MY GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THIS WORLD FAMOUS GENTLEMAN!  The next day I got enough gumption together to attempt the "IMPOSSIBLE"!   I contacted my sponsor and told her that IF she was willing to give me the good doctor's phone number, so that I could simply tell him how honored I was to have him in the audience, I would EAT the phone # and NEVER BOTHER HIM AGAIN!  She got off the phone for what seemed FOREVER (only a few seconds) and passed the information on to me.  Literally, with my heart in my throat, I made THE CALL and HE answered the phone.  I introduced myself and we talked for 45 minutes!!  He had an older sister who lived in Long Beach and he used to visit us quite often, but wanted to come back again SOON!  HE LOVED CATALINA!!! (who doesn't!?!).  He asked me how long I was going to be in town and I told him I was leaving the next morning.  He asked me if I had any luncheon plans.  "NO". "I would be honored if you and your host would have lunch with my wife and me at our condo!"  LET'S SEE, SHOULD I TAKE HIM UP ON HIS KIND OFFER!?!  YOU BET I DID!!! I contacted my host and told her of the invitation and what seemed like eternity, she picked me up at the hotel and we were on our way.
We rang the doorbell and a very petit and beautifully groomed society type woman answered the door.  Immediately she grabbed my hand and VERY GRACIOUSLY invited me into her beautiful living room.  I KNEW IMMEDIATELY WHO HER PARENTS WERE!  She called to her husband, who was in his study, and he came out with a BIG SMILE and greeted us!  Lunch was already prepared, a  cold roast beef sandwich, so we weren't hurried in our conversation.  Dr. Heimlich said, "You might be interested in knowing who my wife's parents were." "I ALREADY KNOW!"  Jane, Mrs. Heimlich, seemed a bit confused.  "How do you know?"  "Because you are a tintype of you mother! Your parents were Arthur and Kathryn Murray, the famous dance instructors!"  She started laughing.  "What's so funny?"  "I've ALWAYS been afraid that I was going to look like my father instead of my mother!!!"  "No chance of THAT! I met your parents in Hawaii in 1983 and you look EXACTLY like her.  You must have noticed the likeness!"  BOY, SHE SMILED LIKE A YOUNG GIRL BEING ASKED ON HER FIRST DATE BY THE FOOTBALL CAPTAIN!!!
We went in to eat and suddenly I was struck with a WONDERFUL/HORRIBLE PLAN!  Some of you have ALREADY figured it out!  I had previously had the honor of working alone with Buckminster Fuller, to construct a "Geodesic Dome" for a formal presentation, spent an unforgivable evening with Muhammad Al, received letters and a telegram from John Wayne, helped John Gabriel Beckman to decide on having the mermaid at the entrance to the Casino in tile, sat on John Weismuller's ("Tarzan") shoulders, had cold milk and brownies in "Mrs. Cleaver's (Barbara Billingley) Kitchen", sat in on the first reading rehearsal of the first episode of second season of "Cheers", marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., hosted Mickey Rooney for three days (NO COMMENT), etc., so NOW WAS MY BIG CHANCE!  I was all ready to "pretend" to choke so that I would be able to have the singular experience of having Dr. Heimlich perform his famous lifesaving maneuver on me.  LUCKILY, I paused and in my mind I saw the headlines the next morning, posted all over the world, "NOTED DOCTOR HAS HEART ATTACK ADMINISTERING THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER ON A FAKE A PATIENT FROM CATALINA ISLAND!!!!"  I nevermentioned this to him, even in jest.  Jane Murray Heimlich died a few months before him in December at 90. Even with my vehement invitation, they NEVER graced Catalina again! 
I also remembered another iconic encounter I had in 1990.  I was attending a travel/vacation conference on the mainland and my Catalina booth was right next to an Alaska fishing lodge.  We became good friends as neighbors and on the second day they had a most remarkable guest.  When she arrived, and got settled in the booth, the gentleman introduced me to someone who needed NO INTRODUCTION!  Ruth Buzzi!!!  For those who don't remember the VERY FAMOUS television comedy show, "LAUGH-IN" (1967-73), her main character was "Gladys Omphby", an extremely frumpy and uptight librarian type woman who was continually accousted by a VERY DIRTY OLD MAN, "Tyrone F. Horneigh, played by Arte Johnson.  Their encounters normally took place on a park bench and when Gladys couldn't take Tyrone's blatant double entandra suggestions, she would hit him with her oversized purse!
As Ruth and I became better acquainted and talked of what else, Catalina, I looked around and noticed her purse hidden in the back of the booth.  When things slowed down, I seized MY MOMENT!  "Miss Buzzi, would you please do me the honor of hitting me with your purse!?!"  "CHUCK, YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOU MIND!!!"  "Are you kidding, Ruth, I will be the envy of ALL OF MY FRIENDS!"  "BUT YOU HAVE YOUR ARM IN A SLING!  I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE ME HITTING A WOUNDED MAN WITH MY PURSE!!!!  (I had recently thrown my right arm out of the socket!).  "NO ONE IS AROUND AND YOU CAN HIT MY GOOD SHOULDER!"  With a combined look of sympathy/disgust she repeated her ICONICALLY FAMOUS MOVE on me and I was in "pig heaven"!  We didn't talk much after that!  I HAD TO DO IT!
What's next in store for this LUCKY me!?!  The "other" Chuck Liddell, the famous UFC Champion wrestler, often comes to the Island.  As a benefit to youth charities on Catalina, I am hoping that he will come out of retirement just long enough for both of us to dawn "Rubber Sumo Wrestler" outfits and playfully duke it out!  "CHUCK LIDDELL VS CHUCK LIDDELL"!!!  CAN YOU IMAGINE IT!?!  O.K., I'm nuts, but we are only on this planet once (THANK GOD!) and I don't want to let ANY "Once In A Life-Time" opportunity slip by me!  Besides, if I didn't take advantage of them, I wouldn't have any stories to write in this column!