Article from the 3/17/2017 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 64,590 questions.
 
WHY!?!  I THINK I am finished with my column, it goes to print, and two weeks later my computer brain (?) comes up with "Dummy, you FORGET to include.....!"  Here is one of those more recent cases.  March 3, 2017, "NOT YET READY FOR TAKEOFF!" (this article as well as ALL of my other ones, www.catalinaislandman.com) discussed the movie "THE AVIATOR" made on the Island, using the "Airport-In-The-Sky".  I should have mentioned three other notable films used this location simulating locations around the world:  "THE IN-LAWS". 1979, Mexico, "THE FINAL FLIGHT", 1994, New Guinea, "FANTASY ISLAND", 1979, ?
 
 
"HOW DRY WE WERE!"
 
Any discussion of the formation of the present tourist city of Avalon without the discussion that the role that alcohol played would be a MAJOR MISTAKE! 
When George Scatto took over Catalina Island in 1887, in hopes of turning the location of Timms Landing into a tourist destination, he was extremely concerned about eliminating any signs of alcohol so as to insure families coming to his newly acquired paradise.  The first thing he noticed was that 
Billy "Bruin" Brohan and George Bryant, friends of the city's name sake, Capt. August W. Timms, had built a "Hardware Store" near the present location of the "Tuna Club".  Basically, the ONLY "hardware" here was to built it!  It harbored alcohol for the fishermen and sheep herders who occasionally frequented this small and primitive location.  On seeing this monstrosity, George quickly had John McLean and Harry Elms destroy it.  Not to be deterred, Billy and George placed a floating "Hardware Store" a few hundred feet from the previous location, I guess "assuming" that these were in "International Waters", out of the control of owner Shatto.  Correct or not in their "assumption". McLean and Elms were once more commissioned to put out of sight and mind this structure of "fire water'!
Mr. Shatto, now feeling in control, faced the fact that the town of "Timm's Landing" was now being called "Shatto Town", out of respect to its new owner.  George had enough insight into human character to realize that EVENTUALLY alcohol would show its ugly face again and he definitely DID NOT want his name connected with alcohol.  He called a meeting of his family to come up with an appropriate but non-family connected name and, to our ever lasting gratitude, the classic literary background of his sister-in-law, Etta Marilla (name sound familiar?) Whitney, we got the name of "Avalon" from Lord Tennyson's poems, "Idylls Of The King".(Etta and her family were given Avalon's first permanent home at 133 Vieudelou.  This home of MAJOR HISTORICAL SIGNICANCE is now being planned to be bulldozed down!  If you agree that Avalon can't lose this building due to its unequalled importance to our history, let the City Council Members know of your feelings!).
Now came the planning of this new city.  Crescent Avenue, the "front street" of Avalon, was built up to the beach, with structures only on the South/West side as to guarantee that NO ALCOHOL WOULD BE ABLE TO SNEAK INTO AVALON WITHOUT BEING NOTICED!  Unbeknowest to poor naïve Shatto, his real estate agent, Charles Sumner (name sound familiar?), who laid out the town of Avalon into lots for sale in 1888, had taken over a room in the hotel that he was now managing for George, the magnificent "Metropole Hotel", and utilized one of the rooms to "secretly" sell "hootch"!
When the three Banning Brothers, Hancock, Joseph, and William took over the Island in 1891, this "dry tradition" was continued due to the "prohibitionist" attitude of the oldest of the three, William, who primarily controlled the behavior of the town, as his brothers concentrated more on their shipping pursuits, "Wilmington Transportation, Company".
Things went well until 1913 when Avalon became incorporated and broke away from the brothers' 1894 established company, "Santa Catalina Island, Company" (now "Catalina Island Company").  In order to secure an initial and ongoing flow of financial revenue, alcohol was permitted to be dispersed in five locations, MUCH TO THE DISGUIST OF THE BANNING BROTHERS, and often discussed in their newly established company newspaper, "The Islander" in 1914. 
The obviously negative effects of the major "November 29, 1915" fire, which destroyed the West half of Avalon, forced the Bannings to sell the Island to gum magnet, William Wrigley, Jr. in 1919. William and Ada had a son, Philip Knight.  He married Helen Atwater (name  sound familiar?) in 1920.  They built and named the "Atwater Building" out of respect for their new daughter-in-law.  She was a follower of the "Christian Science Church", which would have NOTHING to do with the use of alcohol.  As the United States law outlawing alcohol coincidentally came into affect the same year as their marriage, EVERYONE was happy, except of course fishermen, many who believed that one of the main reasons you fish is to justify getting drunk!  When alcohol was once more permitted in1933, with "Prohibition" being repealed, liquor stores sprung up all over Avalon.  "Abe's Liquor Store", 122 Sumner, was the first in Avalon, and one of the first in the state of California, to immediately start dispersing "boos", and still does.
The Banning Brothers, in a drastic, but feeble attempt to rebuilt their economy after the disasterous 1915 fire, built the palatial "St. Catherine Hotel" in the Descanso Beach, in 1918.  The first "casino", "Sugar Loaf Casino", was built at Casino Point in 1920 and replaced by the present "Casino" in 1928.  No worry of alcohol use in these or any other premises until the repeal in 1933 and then the decision had to be made.  The terrific pressure of those wanting to really "DRINK" again forced the Wrigley family to "permit" it, especially during the "New Years Eve" celebrations.  It was decided that the use of alcohol was only going to be permitted at the "St. Catherine Hotel", but NOT in the "Casino"!  Although the Wrigleys now owned both buildings, the "justification" of this seeming hypocracy, was most likely justified as the "St. Catherine Hotel" was built by the Bannings, NOT the Wrigleys.  This philosophy continued until soon after the war, 1948, when the pressure was TOO MUCH to meet the needs of so many of those coming to the Island to "relax and enjoy", so that year alcohol was introduce into the Casino Ballroom where it has flourished ever since.
Next week how alcohol in Avalon affected my family.
"CHEERS"
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