Article from the 2/17/2017 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.
 
"HAIL TO THE CHIEFS"
 
I can't be pretentious enough to speak about other newspaper column writers, but I go into a MAJOR "tail spin" each week, looking at a blank computer and wondering "WHAT IN THE HECK AM I GOING TO WRITE THIS WEEK REGARDING CATALINA?!"  I have more admiration for those remarkable men and women who are able to put out a daily column!  Luckily these last two weeks have been very lucky for me!  "Valentine's Day" and "Presidents Day" column are about the easiest ones to write as there are basically only one story each that I am familiar with concerning these two days. 
I have been asked many times which U. S. Presidents have actually visited the Island and under what circumstances.  I have also heard "rumors" of Presidents being here, who never were. To help dig through this maze, I have decided to cover them in chronological order.
Grover CLEVELAND (1885-89, 1893-97) (D), William MCKINLEY (1897-1901) (R).  Neither actually came to the Island, but became some of the first honorary members of the "Tuna Club".  Why they were chosen, is not quite clear, as neither were considered outstanding for their fishing or conservation concerns, but it seemed that they started an early tradition of the Club wanting to recognition and show their support/or receive support of the White House.
Theodore ROOSEVELT (1901-09) (R) was definitely one of the most allusive Presidents to study regarding Catalina.  Yes, he was also an Honorary Member, but his involvement in the Tuna Club seems to be a bit clearer and understood.  As a world famous sportsman and conservationist, he was a good friend of the founder of the Tuna Club, Charles Frederick Holder. On  August 27, 1902, a historic event, both for Catalina and the rest of the world, occurred.  A telegram was sent from Catalina to President Roosevelt in Oster Bay, Long Island:  "Catalina Island, California, heretofore isolated in he Pacific Ocean sends greetings to her great American President on the occasion of her being put in communication with the entire world, brought about through the medium of the Pacific Wireless Telegraph, a purely American invention now in successful operation." (A. L. New, General Manager).  "Please extend my greetings to the citizens of Catalina and my cordial congratulations upon the establishment of telegraph
communications." (President Theodore Roosevelt). I know of those who claim that President Roosevelt stayed in a hotel on Catalina.  BELIEVE ME, I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS PROOF!  Alas, I contacted this historical figure's official biographer and was informed that the closest that Theodore Roosevelt ever got  to Catalina was Riverside, California!  PLEASE PROVE US BOTH WRONG!
William TAFT (1909-1913) (R) was on a fact finding tour of the West Coast in October, 1909, and it was hoped that by making him an honorary member of the Tuna Club would entice him to make the 20+ mile voyage with his large imprint to the Banning owned Island.  Alas, it wasn't enough and he never ventured here.
Warren HARDING (1921-23) (R),  The Wrigley Home on Mt. Ada had recently been built and what better to break it in than have a sitting President as your house guest?  On his way to fulfill his invitation from the Wrigleys, President Harding made a fateful and last souljourn to San Francisco and this cost him his life on August 2, 1923.  He was expected to be on Catalina on August 3.  Instead of a welcoming ceremony, which was already prepared, Catalina accorded President Harding his first funeral service.  What did him in was a heart attack.  What caused the heart attack? Read the journals.
Calvin COOLIDGE (1923-29) (R).  As Harding's Vice President, President Coolidge succeeded him and, as the Presidential bedroom at Mt. Ada was still clean and  proper, he was now invited to be the first President documented to be on Catalina Island and the only one to actually stay at the home of an Island owner.  This was 1930 (I assumed the room needed a bit of dusting and tidying up over this 7 year waiting period). He was pictured throwing the ball with the "Chicago Cubs" while they were there for their Spring Training.  He also made friends with some feathered inhabitants of the Bird Park. The Island was preparing for his second visit in 1933, only to hear of his passing.
Herbert HOOVER(1929-33) (R) visited Catalina twice, 1927 (Secretary of Commerce) and then 1933 (ousted President, replaced by another Roosevelt, Franklin Delano).  His purpose for coming was totally recreational both times as he was out to catch a swordfish, but although he succeeded in catching at least one, never landed it.
Harry TRUMAN (1945-53) (D)  As the Tuna Club and the ownership of Catalina have been primarily supporters of Republican figures, in 1942, then Senator Truman, came to Catalina on a fact finding mission to study the usefulness of Catalina facilities, especially at two Harbors, for our involvement in WWII.
Richard NIXON (1969-74) (R).  President Nixon came completely on a whim to Catalina by helicopter from his Western White House in San Clemente, California.  He was accompanied by his youngest daughter, Tricia, and close personal friend, Charles "Bebe" Rebozo. He arrived with little warning at the "Airport-In-The-Sky" in 1971.  Mayor Harvey Cowell had just enough knowledge of this arrival to rush up to meet him.  The four then drove into town and spent a few hours walking down Crescent Avenue and seeing how well the local  businesses were doing.
Ronald REAGAN (1981-89) (R)  This most discussed and beloved President to grace Catalina was doing "color commentary" for Wrigley's "Chicago Cubs" in Iowa over radio station WHO.  He was intent on making his career in movies, but didn't have the financial means to make the trek to Southern California.  He convinced the station manager to send him out to Catalina to cover the Cubs Spring Training, in 1936 and 37. During the breaks in training, Reagan would venture to the mainland.  The event in April, 1937, would literally change the world.  A storm came up, which is quite common in Catalina during this time of the year, which caused "Dutch" to be stranded on the mainland.  Not wanted to waste valuable down time, he looked up some friends who were connected with "Warner Brothers" movie studio and they suggested that he try for a "screen test".  He did, it was accepted, and thus started his short lived and lack luster movie career, but would catapult him into the political arena. From this he got involved in Union leadership with the movie organizations, became Governor of California (1967-75), President of the United States (1981-89) and, whether you liked his politics or not, the "Berlin Wall" might still be up if not for him.  I have never visited the Reagan Library in Santa Barbara, but I was told that there was/is a plaque thanking Catalina Island for giving him the start of his FABULOUS CAREER.  Unfortunately, he never ventured back to the Island after 1937.
Who is going to fill the position as the six President to visit our shores?  I am taking bets and I believe his initials will be D. J. T.!