Article from the 3/31/2017 Catalina Islander

"Where is it 'safe' to shop?"
"Can the Island tip over if you get too many people on it?'
"Who is this 'Wrigley Dude' I keep reading about?"
"I have Carnival 'Ship Board Credit'.  Can I use it on the Island?"
"Is Catalina a territory of the U. S."
For others, see my past columns,
HOW AM I DEALING WITH LOSING, AFTER THREE YEARS, THE BEST JOB I EVER HAD AND THE ONE THAT WAS PERFECTLY SUITED FOR ME?  I think of the quote of Abraham Lincoln after losing one of his many attempts to win in local politics, "I feel like the little boy who stubs his toe.  I am too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh!"
POWER OF THE PRINTED WORD:  I was standing in line at the Mole and in front of me were two mainland residents who also own a home on the Island, Harvey and Linda Hyde.  They recognized me from this column and wanted to know if I could use my "printed influence" to help them out!  They LOVED getting the "Los Angeles Times" delivered in Avalon daily so they could "keep up" on what was going on "over there", while enjoying the tranquility "over here".  This daily newspaper delivery has ENDED along with SO MANY OTHER TRADITIONS!  Anyone else miss getting this paper?  If so, let me know ( and hopefully enough of you will justify SOMEONE continuing to get the delivery here.
With "April Fools' Day" upon us, I felt it only appropriate to share those attempts to "fool" on Catalina.  I will lead off with the ONLY one that I have ever attempted.  I was only 11 and I came up with the "brilliant joke" of exchanging all of the salt and sugar in the house!  What happened?  DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL!  NEVER TRY IT!  Surprisingly, Mom let me live to celebrate my 12th birthday!
The first practical joke that I was able to document was in a 1914 issue of the "Islander".  The story told of a local sitting next to a tourist on the "Hermosa II" steamer heading for the mainland.  The excited visitor was returning with a glass bottle filled with some clear liquid.  When queried as to its content, the visitor shared, "I am from the Midwest and this is my first time to see any ocean.  I have bottled Catalina water to take back to my family and friends to show them what the ocean looked like!"  The Islander, with a straight face, cautioned the tourist, "You had better dump some of that water out to leave space at the top of the bottle, because when the tide rises, the pressure is going  to pop the cork, or worse, break the bottle!"  This new knowledge caused our friend to quickly remedy this oversight by pouring a couple of inches of liquid back to "Davy Jones"!
One question that so many of us are asked about is regarding the alleged bridge connecting Catalina to the mainland!  "When was it here and does it still exist?" As far back as the middle '70's, and for a number of years afterward, "Antonio's Original Pizza Deli", 114 Sumner, fed into this myth.  They had a window facing the alley, between them and the "Glenmore Hotel", with a picture of the "Brooklyn Bridge" with the caption, "Constructed in 1896, Avalon to  Willmore Town (Long Beach).  Destroyed in storm, November 1905."  EVEN LOOKED CONVINCING TO ME!  Good job Jack!
Our "City Dump" is located beyond "Pebbly Beach".  It was started in 1905 and for the next 100 years, garbage was permitted to be burned here.  While coming over on the cross channel boats, first timers would often notice plumbs of smoke emanating from it and would often ask any locals traveling with them what caused that.  Unfortunately, many of us were conditioned to respond, "That is our active volcano, 'Mt. Garbagio'!"
Back in the late '50's, there was a radio commercial for "Pizza Man" (does that business still exist?)  It was never located in Avalon.  The pitch man would state enthusiastically, 'If you are within the sound of my voice, we will deliver a pizza to you within 45 minutes or the pizza is FREE!"  Knowing the schedule of the "S. S. Catalina" and the seaplanes, I would wait to call the "toll-free number" and tell them that I was calling for my "free pizza".  "What do you mean 'free'?  If you heard our commercial, then we can deliver it from one of our pizzarias in less than 45 minutes!"  "You had better start swimming now as I live on Catalina Island that that is the ONLY WAY you will be able to deliver the pizza within 45 minutes!"  Needless to say, I NEVER received a FREE or any other kind of pizza, but they soon terminated that commercial!
It was either in the late '60's or early '70's that the extremely popular television program, "Candid Camera" came to the Island and set up a toll booth in Avalon.  I seem to recall it was set up either at the Mole or near the "Via Casino" arch.  Arriving tourist were instructed to walk thought this device and eventually the flow of bodies would be halted and told that "Catalina is full, you will have to go back to the mainland!'
When giving my famous/infamous tours of the Island, I would point out the "fire breaks" on the outskirts of Avalon and tell my trusting passengers that those were "ski slopes" that were built for the last "Winter Olympics".  "They told us, 'if you build them, they will come.'  Well, we did, but NOBODY came!"  (Last snow of any sort on Catalina was 1976).   If these visitors were from the Midwest and had never seen the ocean, when leaving the "Airport-In-The-Sky" at a vantage point where the backside of the Island could be spotted, I would share this important (?) bit of information.  "We originally left the 'Pacific Ocean', you can now see the 'Atlantic Ocean'!" Usually, this was greeted with chuckles, but ALL TOO OFTEN,  "Quick, Helen, get a picture of BOTH oceans!" 
As to how the buffalo got to the Island, "they floated over here on kelp beds."  When asked when they could be spotted, knowing the boat that these visitors were leaving, "The local Indians daily herd the buffalo into Avalon".  Of course, this ALWAYS occurred AT LEAST 30 minutes after the tourists were scheduled to depart.  Luckily I don't know of any of them who took a later boat and paid the $5.00 service charge to change boats and witness this "event".
Sherri Walker Cline reminded me that soon after she became the new publisher of the "Islander", that she instigated a new column, "Find The Fake Ad", around 1995/6.  Her first story covered this "Running Of The Buffalo" down Crescent Avenue and it was pointed out by her that these ads were presented in such a way as to guarantee that NO ONE would ever believe them.  WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, SOME PEOPLE READ WHAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE.
I was doing security at the entrance to the Casino Ballroom for a Sunday evening public event.  One of the first ones to queue up was a women with her baggage and her young son who was obviously very tired and irritable.  I told her that she would have to wait about an hour for the doors to open and she said that she was in no rush. I couldn't help noticing her suitcases and so asked her why she had them with her to this event.  She told me that she and her son had just arrived and they hadn't had time to locate a hotel room.  She then ENTHUSIASTICALLY shared with me the fact that she had read in the newspaper that there were "mansions" with large yards, for sale in Avalon for ridiculously small prices and because she couldn't afford to live on the mainland, SHE COULD NOW RELOCATE TO CATALINA!  She had brought EVERYTHING she had with her and she couldn't wait until the next morning to meet with a real estate agent.  She had the "Ad" with her and enthusiastically showed it to me!  I turned to the front page and pointed out the CLEARLY MARKED "Fake Ad" and had the horrible position of having to let her know that these "homes" were the "fakes"!  I WILL NEVER FORGET THE LOOK ON HER FACE!  She blurted out, "WHAT DO I DO NOW!?!  I HAVE NO HOME ON THE MAINLAND AND NO PLACE TO STAY HERE!"  I took a gulp and tried to think FAST.  I STRONGLY suggested that she should go back on the next boat as she would have a better chance of finding immediate affordable housing there and then a chance to find permanent housing tomorrow!!!!!!!!  HORRIBLE POSITION FOR EITHER OF US TO BE IN!
For those contemplating the perfect "April Fool's" prank, PLEASE remember the salt/sugar and the lady wanting to buy the mansion!