Article from the 5/19/2017 Catalina Islander

Seeing a frustrated tourist family pushing their rented golf cart backwards, I walked over and overheard them, "WHY DIDN'T THEY INVENT A WAY FOR THE GOLF CARTS TO GO REVERSE!"  I walked over the showed them the "R" position.
When told that our toilets utilize salt water, "Do you make your own salt water?"
I was asked where our local "Lambergini Dealership" was.
"Where is your local 'Islanders' Boat Schedule' posted?  I know you DON'T use the same one that the tourists do!"
"Where is your 'Underwater Museum'?"
"SILENT MOVIES WERE NEVER SILENT" (Lillian Gish to Gaylord Carter).
You have a WONDERFUL opportunity to experience a rare showing of a classic "Silent Movie", original 1924 version of "Peter Pan", with scenes made on Catalina Island, in the magnificent historic "Casino Theatre", with live musical accompaniment, Saturday, May 20, 1p.m.  This will be the 30th Annual event so I thought you would be interested in learning how that yearly traditional got formulated.
It all started in 1987 when the Museum Board, realizing that the 100th Anniversary of the founding of "Avalon" was fast approaching, and wanting to participate in some way, directed the head of the Museum, Patricia Moore, to formalize an event.  She called together the President of the Board, Ron Doutt, who was also the Vice-President of the "Santa Catalina Island Co." (now called "Catalina Island Co."), and a few members of the Board, including myself.  It was decided that showing silent movies in our magnificent theatre would be a GREAT contribution!  Bob Salisbury, who was playing the organ at the beginning of films being shown in the theatre, was contacted and his ideas were requested.  It seemed only appropriate for us to contact Gaylord Carter (1905-2000), who was originally designated to be our theatre's first organist, in 1929.  He was unfortunately already committed to the "Million Dollar Theatre", so he never was employed by our theatre, except for special concerts over the last 58 years.
"Who" would be sent to San Pedro to have a meeting with Mr. Carter, regarding this event, especially considering that he was going to be asked to perform for FREE!?! Somehow, I got the "short stick" and so off to a luncheon with Gaylord I went. 
During our "uncomfortable" lunch, I finally bridged the issue.  You would have thought a bomb was ready to go off.  You must realize that Mr. Carter was considered the TOP in the theatre organ organization, and due to his short stature, he had a bit of a "Napolianic Complex", which I was to learn later, when I took care of him after his stroke years later.  He gave me that now famous "Carter Gaze" and I was afraid that I was going to melt!  He then made me realize that he was a professional organist much in demand and it wasn't his habit to do these "benefits".  He verbally thought through the process, realizing that one of his students, Bob Salisbury, was involved, as well as Catalina Island, which he loved!
After much deliberation, he decided to perform for us "gratis",  with two stipulations.  First, the movie he would show would be his personal copy of  "Wings", the first film to receive an "Academy Award" in 1927, which would mean that this would be it's 60th Anniversary showing.  Second, we would invite the star of the movie, Charles "Buddy" Rogers (1904-1999), a personal friend of Gaylord's, as our "special guest".  Without hesitation or permission from the Museum, I said "YES"! At a later time, I will share my experiences from this first "Silent Film" event in a later column.  VERY MEMORABLE! 
Saturday's version of "Peter Pan" had in it's cast, Esther Ralston (1902-1994).  She had come  to Catalina to be the Museum's "special guest" for "Old Ironsides", shown as part of the Silent Movie concerts in 1990.  This film was also made on Catalina Island, at Catalina Harbor (Two Harbors), in 1926.  Again, I was asked to be the escort of Miss Ralston as I had been for Buddy!
For some reason, unlike Buddy, Esther and I didn't seem to hit it off especially well.  In fact, she seemed to intentionally be ignoring me!  I turned on my "charm", but that didn't seem to break down the barrier.  As I was driving her to her guest condo at Hamilton Cove, I decided to give her my ALL!  I shouted, "Stick with me kid and I'll take you places!"  She told me to stop the car and, after slapping her leg and kicking (she did that quite often for emphasis sake), she let out a scream of laughter and said, "I HAVEN'T HEARD THAT LINE SINCE 1914 WHEN MARY PICKFORD AND I FIRST STARTED MAKING MOVIES!"  I now had her in the palm of my hand.  SHE LOVED ME!  Who said OLD pickup lines don't work anymore!?!
Her traveling companion, a young lady, certainly didn't know ANYTHING about make-up as it looked as if Esther's face was covered with blotches of paint applied by a putty knife.  I diplomatically "suggested" that she might want to freshen up at the condo, which I was hoping would mean that she wouldn't look so much like a circus clown!
Before I went back to pick her up, most of our guests were waiting in line to get into the theatre and the protocol was for our Hollywood "guest" to be escorted in first.  I made an announcement to all within hearing distance, letting them know that I was now going to get Miss Ralston so they would be allowed to enter the theatre, but I mentioned, as delicately as I could, that Miss Ralston didn't look as he did when the movie was made some 65 years ago and they probably wouldn't recognize her!  I had felt that she might be a tad bit vane, as Gloria Swanson was in "Sunset Boulevard", so I requested that when I arrived with an elderly woman on my arm, "PLEASE APPLAUSED IMMEDIATELY, AS THAT WILL BE MISS RALSTON!"
I pick her up, we arrived, much, much applause, she smiled and LOVED the attention, and I escorted her to the seat of honor in the front row.  A wonderful friend of mine, Carolyn Renton (she was Bostrom then), asked me to introduce her to Esther.  I took Carolyn down to Miss Ralston and. with a big smile, Carolyn said, "I've known this young man since he was just a boy!"  "AND YOU LET HIM LIVE!?!" was Esther's response, with a giant grin, and her traditional leg slapping and kick!  All went according to plan as we all bid here a fond farewell as we escorted the two of them to the cross channel boat.  Unfortunately, she was the last of the "special guests" connected with our "Silent Film" series as almost all of those who starred in silent movies were now dead.  I will "smile" when I see her on Saturday and will imagine her reaching for her leg!
Have you ever noticed that those who make the comment, "Age Is Only A Number", generally have VERY SMALL numbers!  I am going to be celebrating my 70th birthday the day after the "Silent Film", on Sunday, May 21, 2-4p.m. at the "People's Park", across from City Hall. My official birthday won't be until May 24, but  this Sunday event will also be my official "Coming Out Celebration"!  No presents, please, but cards and notes or support will be appreciated, and please bring a dozen cup cakes, to share with others, and your own beverage.  Some might even make a connection between the "Peter Pan" that will be shown on Saturday and my personal version of "Peter Pan" on Sunday (not suggestion that Peter might have been gay like me, but just a bit stilted!). 
I am OFTEN asked what changes I have seen in the last 70 years on Catalina and what I miss.  Here are some that immediately pop into my head, in no particular order: The Bird Park, our Casino Gym, our Avalon Community Chorus, Christmas "Handel's Messiah", "Lion's A-Poppin", diving for coins, S. S. Catalina, seaplanes, Community Singing/Dancing at the Wrigley Stage, Youth Center, Senior Citizen Center, Big Band Dances, comedy clubs, St. Catherine Hotel, Country Club Restaurant, "Blanche W.", greeting the cross channel boats,  horse stables etc.  I could write a column on each of these, and some I already have. 
Hopefully I will be seeing you at both events!