Article from the 11/23/2017 Avalon Bay News

"INTERESTING/UNUSUAL QUESTIONS/COMMENTS CONCERNING CATALINA" 
From March 10, 2014-March 16, 2017, when I was "Catalina's Official Greeter", through the Catalina Chamber Of Commerce, I answered 64,590 questions from the cruise ships' and cross channel boats' passengers.  That amounts to greeting approximately 650,000 visitors!  Here are some of the inquiries I had to address (additional ones, www.catalinaislandman.com):
"When was there a bridge to Catalina?"
When a driver on a Island tour informed the passengers that our drought was causing major problems, especially for our local bison, a woman raised her hand and said she had an easy solution.  "Simply heard the animals down to a cove and let them drink the ocean water!"
"Can we rent rooms in the Casino?"
"How do I make reservations in the 'Undersea Gardens'?"
"Why don't you clean the harbor by putting in locks and draining it every now and then?"
 
Let's make Avalon an even friendlier and nicer community.  Here are some suggestions.  Please let me know if you have any ideas (chuckliddell.catalina@gmail.com):
Whenever you see visitors looking at a map, ask if you can help them locate something.
As the holidays hold very sentimental significance to so many, pay for a meal for someone who is down in their luck.  Even better, invite them to eat with you and your family,  especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Clean up after your dogs and keep them on a leash.
Pick up your own trash and at least one other, left by someone else, each day.
Thank the city work crews who work so hard to keep the town looking as good as it does.
Always offer to give a lift to someone, even if you don't know them, especially if they are carrying groceries up a steep street.
 
"HOW DID I GET HERE?"
 
Visitors often ask me how I ended up on Catalina Island.  I am sure there are many stories that would be of interest, and I am now going to submit my humble contribution.
My family's name was originally "LIddle" (we changed it in 1898 to "Liddell") and we were from Scotland.  We settled in New York the 1700's.  We were "Loyalists" (supported England) in the War of 1812 and so fled to Canada when the war was won by the colonies. We stayed there until things were "safe" to return and then settled in Janesville, Wisconsin around 1835.  My grandfather, my name sake, "Charles Marcus Liddell" was born there in 1861. When he was around 20 married a Native American.  At only 21, in 1885, he was hired by the Santa Fe Railroad to be an "Indian Fighter" to sit in the locomotive of the train when the railroad, for the first time, connected Chicago-Los Angeles and thus opening up the West Coast as never before to the rest of  the country and the world.  His job was to shoot any "hostile Indians" that would interfere with the building of the tracks.  Luckily, family tradition tells us that he never fired a shot!  Just wonder what caused him to go into this line of work.  Probably his first wife?
Falling in love with Los Angeles, Granddad then brought his father out, along with his brothers and their families, but left his now divorced wife behind.  They were farmers by trade.
 He didn't have much money, but a MAJOR gift of gab (I inherited some of this.  O. K. A LOT OF THIS) and would regale wealthy socialites with his stories of the Old West (Wisconsin!?!). They would then invite him to join them on their yachts to Catalina and he was immediately smitten by it.  Charles married Margaret "Maggie" Schlegel in 1899.  She was born in Abilene, Kansas in 1877 and when she was around 12 came out to Los Angeles with her parents and grandparents who were from Switzerland.  Along with here came her 11 siblings.  They took up homesteading on approximately 250 acres in the center of Los Angeles, in Northwest part.  They were farmers by trade and leased some of the property to Chinese growers. This is where Dad was born in 1902. 
By this time, Granddad had long ago put away the rifle and become a building contractor. D.  M. Renton, working for William Wrigley, Jr., asked him to build permanent homes on Descanso Street, behind the "Pavilion", in 1921.  Up to this time there were only tents.  Mr. Wrigley, who had purchased the Island in 1919, wanted to entice W. W. I veterans to move to his Island and take up residency in these new homes.  Granddad did his part, but the veterans never flocked to the Island.
At the same time my Mother's parents, William and Effie Sims, came out from Georgia. He was a pig farmer.  He decided to move to Oklahoma where he decided he couldn't make ends meet there either (before the "Dust Bowl").  He then was promised as job by my Grandmother's sister in Anaheim, California, so they came out here, but the job never materialized.  Grandma took up raising chickens on her homestead, just 1/2 miles from present day "Disneyland". As the Knott family had just moved to Buena Park, she provided them with the chickens that became the staple for the Knott's family business, along  with their boysenberry pies, sold at a roadside stand, until they built "Knott's Berry Farm" some years later. Bill Sims eventually worked for the City of Anaheim and retired after 35 years as the lead for a sanitation vehicle (trash truck).  I was so proud of him! Really.
Mom, Betty Jean Sims, was born in Orange, California in 1925.  Eventually both of my parents ended up working for the Wilshire Oil Company in Los Angeles during W.W.II. and got married on Mom's 20th birthday, June 14, 1945.  There  was a 22 year difference in their ages and his parents, Charles and Maggie, had a 16 year difference!
Dad had made MANY trips to Catalina, along with his parents and grandparents, so when the war was over, he and Mom decided to move to Catalina to retire there (he was only 42!).  Mom had never been to Catalina.  They had to wait until August, 1945, as Catalina had been taken over by the U. S. Government as a military base starting in 1942 and remained so until the end of the War. 
When Philip Knight Wrigley, son of William Wrigley, Jr. (he died in 1932), discovered that Dad was a 1924 graduate from Cal Tech in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, he made Dad "an offer he couldn't refuse" and so instead of retiring, he became the Island's Chief Engineer from 1945-60.  He was in charge of all of the roads, building, work cruise, basically the entire island! 
Dad proudly bought one of the homes that his father built, 330 Descanso, in 1945, for $9000!  That remained in the family until about 30 years ago when it was sold to our present Mayor, Anni Marhall, and Billy Delbert for considerably MORE than $9000!
I was born on May 24, 1947, 3:55am, where the present Sheriff's Department, Court House, and Library now stand, 215 Sumner.  That was the original home of Judge Joseph Banning, who, along with his two brothers, William and Hancock, owned the Island from 1891-1919, when they went bankrupt partially due to the devastating 1915 fire and were forced to sell the Island, luckily taken over by Mr. Wrigley.  When people say I made the right decision to be born on Catalina, I have to point out that Mom and Dad had A LOT to do with it and I couldn't be happier with their choice!
That is MY STORY (I know there is a wonderful friend of mine, C. B. H. H. B. R. who is upset as this has become another one of "All About Chuck Stories", but I thought it would establish my presence on Catalina and now is the opportunity for others to share with me how they ended up here on the "Rock".  Please send me your stories, P. O. Box 1533, Avalon, CA 90704, and I will try to share as many of these stories as possible.  If you have any suggestions as to future columns, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..