Article from the 1/27/2017 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 62,366 questions.
 
WHEN AN "ISLANDER"?  The debate seems to continue on into infinitum as to "When does someone become an 'Islander'".  Bring it up at a party or, heaven forbid on Face Book, and be prepared for EVERY imaginable scenario! The one that seems to hold is the "25 Year Period", where a person has to live on Catalina, continuously, except for college/university or military service.  You might find it interesting to know that this 25 years was basically an arbitrary number set up in 1913 when Avalon became incorporated and the new town wanted to recognize it's "Founding Fathers", who just happened to go back to 1888 with the purchasing of Catalina by George Shatto in 1887 and the naming of this city "Avalon" by sister-in-law, Etta Whitney, the same year, from the poem by Lord Tennyson, "Idylls Of The King", talking about this "magical isle of 'Avalon'".  Thus, this 25 year rule is hardly set in stone or presidents, but simply a "recognition" by this newly establihed township.  Frankly, I like the definition that I share with another Island born "Native", Rose Ellen Arno Gardner. IF you can go through a particularly tumultuous winter, with  the storms that we have gone through the last couple of days with over 4" of rain in just one day, wind damage, roads closed, no barge for food, the inability to get to or off the Island, important appointments on both sides being thwarted, and you can still say you "LOVE CATALINA", then you are an "Islander"!  WELCOME!
"SERVICE ABOVE SELF""  I am VERY PROUD to be a "Rotarian" and that is our slogan.  I have discovered its true mean more these last couple of days, then ever before.  When everyone wanted to be home, warm and dry, I was out with Sharon delivering "Meals On Wheels", but even more than this minor discomfort, there were City work crews cleaning up all sorts of boulders and debris, while the Harbor Department staff were protecting those on the seas.  These and other "selfless" acts were being acted out all around us, when most of us didn't even notice it.  I TIP MY HAT TO ALL OF THE SERVICE PERSONEL ON  CATALINA!
"GANG, GANG, THE HAILS ALL HERE"!  Yes, we experienced a brief hail storm, along with our rain, on Monday, 11:15am!  We have asked God for more moisture and He is DELIVERING! 
OH, COME ON!  YOU MUST HAVE CATALINA STORIES YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD, THAT YOU THINK ARE EVEN BETTER THAN MINE!  Please contact me, chuckliddell.catalina@gmail,com and let's get your stories in print!
GETTING TO KNOW YOU:  Now is the perfect time for us locals, who THINK we know each other pretty well, to REALLY learn about how remarkable we all are by sharing breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee, whatever, with those we want to know BETTER.  Things are relatively slow now, so we have the time!
BYE-BYE BLUE!  Thanks for all of you who are concerned about seeing strangers driving my classic '71 aqua/coral VW Van, but I am selling it and letting prospective buyers give her a little demonstration run.
HAVE A RADIO FACE?  Call Murray, 530-208-7140, and join me to see if there are parts for us on "Radio Theatre" put on by the City Of Avalon.
 
"CAMETALINALOT" (combination of "Catalina" and "Camelot")
In my December 23, 2016 column, "A Chorus Of One" (www.catalinaislandman.com for this and all other submissions), I shared my horror story of stepping out in faith from being a "mouther" (faking singing, with only my lips moving) to ending up being part of the yearly "Avalon Community Chorus'" presentation of Handel's "Messiah"!  To say I was a "bad singer" puts its mildly as I even "mouthed" in the shower!  I survived this singing initiation by FIRE  to find myself once again, a few months later, standing up with the chorus once again for a "Spring Concert" we put on for the town with some of the current "hits"!  You have NEVER experienced a true musical event until you have seen a bunch of amateurs, many of them older than dirt, swinging back and forth to "I Can't Smile Without You!" or something more appropriate to our situation, "No Man Is An Island!"  With this winning streak of 2, our blessed Margaret Felkley, in the summer season of the late 70's, decided that we were ready for the "big time" and thought that putting on the full musical, "Camelot", would be within our capabilities!  WHAT WAS SHE THINKING!?!  Rene LaPlante, a REAL singer, was set to be "Lancelot", Niva Jennings was to be "Guinevere", and yours truly was to be "King Arthur".  I was cast due to having the only beard in Avalon (male one, that is) and that I owned a woven Irish sweater that almost looked like armor.  Having to really stretch one's imagination, Niva was old enough to be my mother!  She was in the 30's movie series, "Little Rascals".
"Camelot" was a PERFECT choice for Catalina!  We are often compared to it.  The town of "Avalon", as I explained above, was mentioned in a  Tennyson poem and "Avalon" was a mythical Island that King Arthur was floated to when he was wounded as it was reported to have magical powers to heal him so he could return to England to fight for his queen.  "Avalon" means "Valley Of The Apples" (don't ask me why).  Tennyson dedicated the poem to Queen Victoria at the death of her husband, the Prince Consort Albert.  In fact, many have noticed that "Abalone Point", South-East end of "Lovers' Cove", on the way to Pebbly Beach, formed in 1906, looked STRANGELY exactly like Queen Victoria, down to her mourning shawl, which he always wore after Albert's death.  It was crashed into by a truck a few years ago and now looks like a Teddy Bear!
O. K., WHY NOT!?!  Nothing could possibly go wrong with a simple musical like "Camelot", now could it!?!  My only "condition" was that I would NEVER have to sing solo, even if it were intended to be sung solo, and I insisted on having the chorus "back me up" throughout the program.  Margaret and the rest thought this a strange request, but being that I was insistent, and no one else looked the part, they met my demand.   Rehearsals started and right away we had problems.  NOT from me!  I still couldn't read music, but had memorized every line from hearing Richard Burton on a 33 1'3 record (some of you might remember them). The "problem" came from the fact that the chorus, made up of the "Knights Of The Round Table" and the "Maidens" (RIGHT!),  couldn't memorize their lines and had to read the music with their glasses on!  THIS IS A LIVE MUSICAL SO NO READING AND NO GLASSES!  GLASSES WEREN'T AROUND IN KING ARTHUR'S TIME!  The elderly accountant (Methuselah's father) from the bass section of the "Messiah", who I think must have gone to grade school with King Arthur. had an "epiphany" (in retrospect, must have been a gas attack!),.  As the knights all had shields and the maidens were paired up with them, WHY NOT GLUE THE MUSIC TO THE BACK OF THE SHIELDS SO THAT WHEN EACH SONG CAME, THEY COULD LIFT THEM UP AND READ THE MUSIC!?! THUS NOT HAVING TO MEMORIZE THE MUSIC NOR HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WEARING THEIR READING GLASSES! What a brilliant compromise!  SO BE IT!  This revolutionary concept was NEVER tried out until our dress rehearsal which as also Friday, "Opening Night".
The high school auditorium was packed and I was scared, but confident in my ability to "fake" my way through, with the "Avalon Community Chorus" "having my back".  I was sitting, properly, on my throne, when it was time for me to start the production, with "I Wonder What The King Is Doing Tonight?".  I spoke my first three lines and then with "Whenever the wind blows this way, you can almost hear everyone say"...(that is when I heard the shields go up and Chuck was now on his way!) "I WONDER...." (but all I could hear behind me was muffled garbled sounds.  THE VOICES OF THE SINGERS COULDN'T PENETRATE THE SHIELDS AND THEY HAD TROUBLE TURNING PAGES AND SEEING THE MUSIC IN THE SHADOW OF THEIR CARDBOARD DEVICES!!!.  I WAS DOOMED, BUT I CARRIED ON SOLO!  If that wasn't bad enough, I sang solo, even when the song called for the chorus!  Never trust a new fool proof idea without trying it out FIRST! DUH!  I made it through, DON'T ASK ME HOW!  Unfortunately, those coming up to me after the performance told me that it was the funniest show they had ever seen!  "CAMELOT" isn't FUNNY!  They thought it was a parody, so I accepted their praise.
The second and last performance was a breeze!  I had already embarrassed myself beyond what I thought I could withstand, so WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!?! (I have learned to NEVER ask that question!!!).  When the curtains were pulled back, instead of sitting up properly as a king should, I lounged ALL OVER IT!  I KNEW that the shield idea wouldn't work the second night either, so I just did my solo routine and let the knights and maidens do WHATEVER.  Everything went as planned until my final soliloquy when a young page (around 7) came up to me in the final scene and told me that the country was in complete turmoil, divided between my followers and those of Lancelot, and that the land was no longer unique and special.  This part always made me want to cry, because as I was sharing with the youth the way that Camelot USED TO BE, I kept thinking of Catalina!  I had my hand on his shoulder as he knelt before me.  Well, anyway, I was getting through this when suddenly Bob Salisbury stopped playing the piano (he and the piano were our entire orchestra!).  I didn't know what to do as I still had quite a bit left of my final speech/song.  Not only was I now solo, but "a cappella"!  As I panicked, I started digging my fingers into the youth's shoulder!  The LONGER I went, the DEEPER the finger hold!  I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO CUT OR WHEN TO STOP UNTIL I WAS FINISHED.  The poor boy kept slipping deeper and deeper into pain and slowly fell to the floor.  Being a real trooper, he didn't say ANYTHING, but gave me the saddest puppy look as if to say, "Why are you trying to hurt me!?!"  (If you know who this boy was, PLEASE NOTIFY ME, chuckliddell.catalina@gmail.com).
Curtain closed, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE, LAUGH, LAUGH!  When the last of the patrons had left, I rushed down to the piano where Bob was still sitting, taking his usual bows. I grabbed him around the neck, shaking him, half pretending to be choking him, and DEMANDING that he explain his letting me hang out there!  He said that he and Margaret had felt that the first night took too long, so they decided to cut short my final song.  Unfortunately, each had ASSUMED that the other had told me!!! 
A few months later we staged "Oklahoma", but I was only a bit player in that (WHAT A SURPRISE!).  The "Catalina Community Chorus" disbanded so no more musicals for many years until Sean Brannack came forth and Catalina was filled with music again!  This Christmas we had a "Community Sing", just like we did from the 30's-60's and it was FANTASTIC!  I wish that the Chorus would come back again so that locals and visitors alike can show their love for Catalina by celebrating in music!