Article from the 2/10/2017 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 62,785 questions.
SHOW SOME CONSIDERATION:  Don't hold up the 7:45am boat to Long Beach because you HAVE to buy a cup of coffee.  If you are running late, BUY IT ON THE BOAT!  Once you unload your groceries to your car/golf cart, return the carts to the front of "Von's".  LEASH YOUR DOGS and clean up after them!
COME ON, YOU KNOW YOU HAVE SOME CATALINA HISTORY THAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD.  Contact me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m
Many of you remember Paul Puma, City Councilman, 1988-92.  He is coming to the Island with over 20 of his family and friends, February 10-12, to celebrate his 90th birthday! If you see a gentleman who looks directly out of the "GODFATHER", that is probably Paul!  Congratulate him!  Not many mafia lords make it this long! lol!
STOP ME!  A few weeks ago I "stole" a golf cart.  I HAD BORROWED ONE AND THIS ONE LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE  IT IN THE DARK, AND THE KEY FIT!  Once I realized my mistake, I "turned myself in", much to the surprise of the Sheriff Dispatcher, and within an hour the cart was with its rightful owner!  I am sure that this happens more often than we realize and it doesn't ALWAYS involve me!
WHERE DOES SANTA GO AFTER CHRISTMAS?  Over 40 of them came across on one of the "Carnival Cruise Ships" a couple of weeks ago!  Brought a lot of color (red) and cheer to Catalina!
Ever noticed how happy, content, and conciliatory people are when licking an ice cream cone?  Maybe we should lock the City Council, Edison, and the PUC in a room with ONLY ice cream cones!  EVERYTHING ELSE HAS BEEN TRIED!
CONSPIRACY?  Sheriff Capt. Doug Fetteroll recently "stuck it to me", but in a friendly way, that his column, "SHERIFF'S LOG", has slowly, but steadily been moving from the middle of the paper to last week, when it was on page 2, opposite my page 3!  Jim Watson, BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID OF YOUR PAGE ONE POSITION!  Also note that Doug's picture is in color and mine is b/w! 
ALL'S QUIET IN AVALON.  A couple of weeks ago I was leaving a meeting late, around 8:15pm on Crescent, and I noticed some work being done.  I commented to the workman that he was working late and he assured me he had JUST STARTED!  He didn't want to make noise during operating hours of the local restaurants and he knew how annoying and distracting that could be!  HE'S MY HERO!
What ship sailed between Catalina Island and the mainland from June 30, 1924-September 14, 1975, was 325' long, had a 52' beam, weighed 1766 tons, at one time carried 2500 passengers?  TOO EASY? THE "S. S. CATALINA"!  (read about my involvement with her and see a picture of the ship, "Throw A Coin", September 25, October 2, 9, 2015,
Although over her 51 year lifespan, she had the singular distinction of carrying more passengers than any other ocean going vessel in the history of navigation (over 25 million) and transported more troops during WWII, than any other ship, including the "Queen Mary" (over 850,000) at the end of the summer season, 1975, she was no longer needed and worse, no longer wanted.  She was primarily used only during the Spring-Summer season and only made one round trip daily, two often during the summer weekends.  She was slow, 2 1/2 crossing, and only left from one facility, Wilmington/San Pedro.  Faster, more frequent trips and different locations caused her to lose the glimmer that was once hers. Seaplanes were much quicker and actually cost approximately the same.  Finally, the Unions had demanded more hours for more crew and the costs made it prohibitive.   
M.G.R.S. had taken control of her from the Santa Catalina Island Co. from 1966-69 when they sold her to Carolyn Scalan who didn't know what to do with it.  She sat in Marina Del Rey and  Santa Monica accumulating barnicles and mooring fees (the ship, NOT Miss Scalan), and so with the guarantee that the fees would be waived, but not the barnicles, she was put up for auction on February 16, 1977. 
The only two representatives from Catalina were Mayor George Scott and myself, Chairman of Avalon's Planning Commission.  We flew over on a seaplane to San Pedro and while airborne, George kiddingly asked the other passengers for donations (he really wasn't THAT far off!).  We then drove to Santa Monica where we were take by boat to the "GRAND OLD LADY".  When we arrived I IMMEDIATELY noticed that most of the brass was missing, especially those egg shaped handles on all of the doors and the light fixtures.  There had been a security guard living on the ship to guarantee that NOTHING was taken off the ship.  THINGS WERE MISSING!
We took our seats on the ship and waited for the auction to begin.  If I recall, there was only ONE BID!  Hymie Singer wanted it for his wife for "Valentine's Day" and what better gift than the "S. S. Catalina"!?!  With little fanfare, he bid either $70 or $75,000 and down came the gavel!  Forget the fact that she cost Mr. Wrigley $1,000,000 in 1924 (cost was worth many times that in our present money) and her remarkable navigational historical significance!  A "VALENTINE'S GIFT" for less than $80,000!  George might have been able to pull together close to that amount on the seaplane coming over.  Certainly the money might have been raised on the Island IF we knew how cheap she was going to go for!
Now that he and Mrs. Singer had her, WHAT TO DO!?!  Should she become a museum, convention center, shopping mall, whatever?  WHO WANTS TO MOOR HER?  No one, including Catalina, could see the possibility of having her docked in their port.  Only San Diego showed ANY interest at all, and she never went  there!  In 1985 she was towed to Ensenada, Mexico where she was turned into a "Night Club" and her once rich white coloration was replaced by a myriad of gawdy colors.  She stayed upright, until 2001, when she heavily listed to her side and took on water and sea lions until the Mexican Government insisted that SOMEONE should take her over and get her out of their Harbor!  A couple of good intentioned, yet conflicting, groups bickered and fought over her until time and money ran out.  In 2010 Mexico, unable to wait any longer, had her taken apart for scrap metal.  Some of her structure was saved and is housed, literally in houses, around the West Coast.
In the 1990's, a reporter tracked me down and asked "What Do You Want To Be Done With The 'S.  S. CATALINA?"  As my Grandmother had recently died, I used her as an analogy.  I explained that although I LOVED MY GRANDMOTHER DEARLY, when she died, I wanted her buried; NOT stuffed and sitting at our dinner table!  In the same way, I LOVED the ship!  She had been GREATLY disrespected since her last sailing and I would NEVER go to San Diego to visit her as a Museum, as he was NEVER intended to be a Museum.  Much to the HORROR of other Island "Natives", I suggested we find 500 donors who could cough up $1000/each and get the ship off the sandbar and in condition to move.  Then have it towed with these LUCKY passengers from Mexico to Avalon where she would be moored long enough for everyone to board her one last time and take all the pictures they could.  Then have her towed to the middle of the channel and sink/bury her with all of the love and honor she deserved!  She and we all needed "closure". She was painted up to look like a cheap whore; stripped and dismantled!  Alas, it was not to be in a way we had hoped! 
February 14 has NEVER seemed the same to me since!