High pitched goat cry’s weren’t the only odd noise around there. There were several nights my dad was called out to investigate a loud moaning people had called into the HP office. People were hearing a loud moaning like an old man in pain. It turned out to be an old seal who would get in peoples dinghies and lay there and moan. We found it pretty funny though others insisted it was irritating and interrupting their sleep.
Some things were not so funny like the dead whale that floated into the harbor and beached on the shore where the tide left him behind several yards from the water. Talk about stinky! It was while and decaying and totally gross. Several employees along with my dad had the task of trying to get it back into the bay and then out the mouth of the harbor. It was just nasty and then kept drifting back in for a while.
There was also wild boar. We were warned to avoid them cause they ran in packs and if they felt threatened they would charge. At night we approached the dumpsters with caution cause they were often hanging out there. We did end up having a run in with a herd, but it wasn’t at the dumpsters.
On on of the hills overlooking Cat Harbor was a hunting lodge we called the Banning House which is also a historical monument. In the winter it was often empty until hunting season. In the summer it housed the summer employees. The place was surrounded on three sides by forest and on the back side a road and homes across from the road. We often spent time at the Banning House to cook and eat dinner in the large kitchen and dinning area. It was also a nice place for meeting up with other locals and chatting. My dad enjoyed watching Hawaii Five-O in the lodge. When we went to the Banning House we used a tail that cut through the woods and around to the side where there was a brick floor court years mostly surrounded by bushes to the main entrance.
It was on one such occasion we had out boar encounter. We didn’t expect a herd of boar to be on the brick patio and the boar didn’t expect a herd of four humans to suddenly approach. Thankfully the boar did not translate the surprise into charging but rather skidding and hoofs screeching to a halt and sliding all over the place trying to turn around and run the other way. It was quite a site and quite hilarious. They were in such a tizzy!
There were horses there too. During the winter the horses and dogs could run free. It was so amazingly beautiful to watch the horses run along the hills and the beach. There were several brown colored horses and one pure white one. When they saw us walking along the dirt road that went between the Isthmus and Cat Harbor they would run up to us and try to investigate our bags and purses. We were told by the town locals not to give them anything cause then they would get even more demanding. They were just so cute and fun though. There’s nothing like watching them run and pl;ay along the shore line.
My dad made friends with a pelican once. Well, it was just overly friendly. We had never seen a friendly pelican before but this one like to join people in their dinghies. At first my dad thought is was really neat that the pelican had joined him while he was rowing home. It started off charming and funny when the pelican decided to get close and rub up against him, but all the charm was lost when my dad spotted the large lice the pelican was carrying around. I think his friendliness was due to other intentions.
Naturally the place had it’s ghost stories. My family was very charismatic pentecostal evangelical missionary type Christians and we didn’t believe in ghosts. We believed in angels and demons and figured the ghosts people saw were either their imagination or an angel or demon. But generally we just figured these folks made the stories up for fun.
We had that notion really shaken one dark moonless night when we were walking home from Isthmus to Cat Harbor. We couldn’t see very far ahead so we were already walking quite slow. There were not city lights to illuminate things. I remember the story a man told us about how he was stone drunk staggering to the Banning House when he ran smack into a hard object. It didn’t take long for him to realize it was a Buffalo. He said he sobered up real fast and took off running. He never looked back to see if he was being pursued.
So we proceeded in the dark very carefully. We all saw it and began walking even slower. It was a white shadow floating in and out of the tress just ahead of us. We all grabbed hands and took careful steps forward watching the odd white legless thing slowly move just ahead. All the ghost stories we had heard there popped into our minds. After watching with our eyes open as far as they could we started making out a shape, legs began to appear then a neck and then it was finally clear what we were seeing was the white horse appropriately named Spook. We had fun telling the locals we know who their ghost was. They still insisted they had seem ghosts other than the horse but we knew better. Now I can appreciate that maybe they did really see aspersions other than a live horse. But in those days my folks were very convincing that what they believed was right and everyone else was wrong or crazy.
There was a very large eel that lived to the side of the dock in Cat Harbor that we tied out dinghies up to. We would watch him swim around from time to time when the water was clear. He was kind of like our local harbor pet. I don’t remember what but we all had a name for him and just liked knowing he was there like people like having critters in their fish tank. During summer some tourist kids just had to find a way to kill him. It was like losing a pet, we were all very angry and sad and there was nothing we could do about it.
Talk about naughty tourist kids… Cat Harbor was normally a very quiet place with only a few boats moored and anchored at a time. But during the summer holidays it was packed solid. The boats would tie up to each other in rows so you could walk across the harbor from one boat to another. It was fourth of July and my sister, mom and I were in the banning house cooking and doing laundry. We heard a truck drive by on the dirt toad and Bombards sons wife announcing on a bull horn that there was a fire and everyone was expected to help put it out. There was no fire dept. there so the folks with any experience were sent to the front lines with shovels and those with no experience were sent to the fire breaks to re-dig them while others ran for containers to fill with water. You see, the two near by yacht clubs had used all the water up spraying down their roofs. I remember running out of the banning house to get the fire hose ready with my mom and turning it on to only have a small trickle of water come out of it. My dad was sent to the front lines, my mom to the fire breaks and my sister took charge of getting all the dogs off the hill. She ended up getting a fast ride down cause they all took off with her holding their leashes down hill. I was tasked with finding trash cans to add to the pick up truck so they could be filled with water and taken back up to the burning hill.
The kids had gone ashore and started setting off fire works at the baso of the very dry hill that the homes ad Banning house just happened to be on. Thankfully it was a ways off so it didn’t catch the buildings on fire right off. The employees were mostly young summer staff and many had ran off to help out in shorts and no shoes. The only restaurant cafeteria was turned into the medical area to treat those who had smoke inhalation and cactus needles impeded into their legs and feet.
My sister was very upset with me because she didn’t know where I was and hadn’t gotten her permission to help out. I felt I had acted responsibly and that there wasn’t anyway to have really communicated with her.
The boys were easily identified but their parents hid them on their boat and insisted they had been there the whole time. The fire breaks did not good cause the fire leapt over them and continued to consume the hill. My mom let us all know later that she and another Christian friend prayed for Jesus to stop the fire when suddenly the wind switched direction and burned the fire out just before it reached the buildings.
Life just wouldn’t be right with out of getting to be in Cat Harbor for its hundred year extreme tear everything up over a hundred knot winds storm. It blew just right right down the funnel and racked havoc. My dad spent the day in the HP boat rescuing boats dragging anchor and staring into the needle like rain. I remember popping my head out to check things out and being surprised how painful the rain drops were. Thankfully we were moored behind the small strip of land that housed a yacht club and help break up the rough water. But the folks moored just head of us weren’t so fortunate. It was horrifying watching our friends aboard their huge power boat watch helplessly as a large sail boat was lifted into the air and set down on top of the power boats bow. Talk about major damages. Thankfully all the people aboard were safe. My dad had been far sighted for a few years and after the storm he became near sighted as well. We figured looking into the needle piercing rain likely set off the eye damage.
All the same, my dad loved his job…but not his boss. But I”l talk more about that later.
At some point we had made arrangements with two other families to share a place in the unused summer dormitory during the winter and split up the cooking and cleaning duties with them. Life in Twin Harbors was rather expensive so working together just made sense. There was one very small store there that marked up all it’s items terribly and nothing was every really fresh. It was just common to buy moldy bread and cut the mold off before eating it. Most our bulk shopping was done in Avalon. The grocery store there was also overpriced but still much better them the tiny store in the Isthmus. We either sailed around the Island to get there or one of my parents rode along in the company truck on one of their scheduled routes. We didn’t have or need a car there. There was a company pick up truck that was shared for local things when needed.
Normally sailing around the island was delightful even though I get terrible sea sick. It was on those trips that we got to watch the dolphins spin along side out boat and jet ahead to jump and flip just in front of us and then swim off just in the nick of time. They were delightful to watch and it was amazing to see them having just as much fun doing what they do all on their own accord.
One such trip didn’t end up so delightful. On this trip we had another sailor accompany us. It was Eddie Murphy. Eddie was an old hermit who lived on a small sail boat neat us in Cat harbor. The trip to Avalon was fine, it was the attempted trip home that was disaster. We often referred to that trip as out twenty four hour trip from Avalon to Avalon. It started out fine till we neared the east end of the island. Our engine died so we had to rely on the sails and it was storm conditions. Not exactly sailing weather. We fought the wind and water to try to make it home but it was only getting worse. Our dinghy tore lose from the rope pulling it and disappeared. Losing a dinghy is like losing a car. It’s an awful thing to lose. And worse yet the only shore near by was the jagged rocks on the east end.
My sea sickness was in full swing. All our books and items had fallen off their shelf and onto the floor along with the bedding. We had a kerosene stove and useless oven attached to stainless steel swivels which somehow managed to corrode and broke causing the stove and oven to come crashing down onto the already cluttered floor. I was laying on one of the beds throwing up into the blankets on the floor and my mom was the mirror image of me on the other side where there was another bed area. My dad didn’t normally get sea sick cause he could successfully keep his mind busy but Eddie insisted on taking the helm (as in steering the boat) so he and my sister passed a barf bucket back and forth.
Some where along the line we ended up back in Avalon. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally be out of the rage of the storm and tie up. Eddie make quick arrangements to get back home via land and left us to our own devices. It took a while to get the engine repaired and we had a pleasant uneventful sail back home. My sister and I didn’t mind the extra time in Avalon. After all besides a different view and more people there was a wonderful candy. There was also a church there that my mom made friends with that we would sometimes hang out at. Well, I am sure there were plenty of churches there but this one was non-denominational and her style. One time a group from the church came to the Isthmus to visit us. They brought buffalo meet and made buffalo hamburgers which I had never had. I found the meet taste very strong and though I didn’t complain I didn’t care for it. After the churches visit my mom was delighted to hear them tell her that they considered us missionaries to the west end. My mom’s whole joy about moving on a boat and sailing around the world was so she could be a missionary. More about that subject later.
Back home in Cat Harbor while my dad was doing his usual patrol a fisher man offered to sell a dinghy to my dad. Wouldn’t you know, it was our dinghy the man was offering to sell us. Our dinghy has CF number so it was illegal for that man to do that. My dad could have turned him in but instead he said he wanted it, tied it up to his patrol boat, let the man know it was actually his dinghy and took off.
That poor dinghy went was only starting to get abused. During the holidays when the harbor was overcrowded the dock didn’t have enough room for all the dinghy’s so we would all climb over each others boats with a long rope and tie off that way. On such one occasion someone carelessly crashed into our dinghy and broke the front end. We learned to not appreciate the rich yacht tourist that we called yachties. They just didn’t understand that our dinghy’s were like cars to us, we really needed them and relied on them and couldn’t afford to replace them. A similar thing happened once when we tied our dinghy up in Avalon, someone crashed into it and broke the back end off. We still had enough free board to use her but it was real beat up looking and we had to be careful not to weigh her down so she wouldn’t take water in.
Back to the subject of religion and missionaries. I remember one such person my mom regularly “shared” her faith with was a lady named Sea. Sea and her husband were employed by the science facility near by (http://dornsife.usc.edu/hyperbaric/home/index.cfm). They had two kids and were very into nature. I guess now I would call them pagen but then we thought of them as New Age. My mom loved learning about the healthy natural things she knew and would often have Sea teach my sister and I about stuff. Sea also taught us to snorkel and about the natural sea habitat along the Isthmus. My mom enjoyed sharing her faith with Sea who never seemed to mind. I was just a kid so if she did I didn’t see it. I remember thinking sometimes that my mom overdid it though and it made me very uncomfortable. I also didn’t understand how my mom would tell my sister and I about how the things Sea believed were wrong and even demonic but then she would have Sea teach us stuff. That was only the beginning of the propaganda my parents would end up filling my sister and my head with. My sister and I also learned just how allergic to rabbits we were while playing with a bunch of Sea’s baby bunnies. Ouch! We turned into rash city. Even now when I play with the bunnies at a pet store I end up either wheezing or sneezing and itchy eyes and stuff. But they are so darn cute! I wish now I had paid better attention the things Sea was teaching us. I love to know about herbs and natural remedies.
The local dogs provided joy and entertainment in Twin Harbors as well. There was Nari, the red golden retriever. She would run sideways along the hills while her gorgeous red coat blew in the breeze. She was amazing to watch until she got close, and she always got close. Nari loved to be loved and would run right up to you with a large strand of gooey slobber draped from her mouth over her nose and on down a bit. I don’t know why I bothered trying to avoid that strip of slobber because Nari was so loving she always ended up smearing it on me some kind of way. Still she was a load of joyful fun. The best part of watching Nari run was that she not only ran sideways in a straight line on the hills but she ran sideways in a straight line on a flat road. It was just to funny to watch.
There was also the black pug named Buddy that had an island reputation. His family’s house on the Isthmus side and his man worked as a Harbor Patrol in that harbor. Buddy didn’t like it when his guy left him so he would brake at the guy from the beach disturbing the sound for all those on in the town, beach and in the harbor. The man tried tying him up at home but Buddy was an escape artist. One day the man got smart and tied Buddy up real good to a huge heavy log. But not even a log could keep Buddy from his beloved dude. Buddy managed to drag the log all the way down to the beach where he proceeded his obnoxious barking at the man who so rudely left him home.
Other memorable dogs were an Alaskan husky named Doughnut who belonged to the dive instructor. When my dad was taking sucaba diving Doughnut would often join the folks on their bay lap swim exercise. Though my dad was older than the other participants he usually ended up ahead of everyone because he didn’t start of trying to prove anything but paced himself. Doughnut figured when he got tired he could just hitch a ride on my dad.
There was also Cookie’s dog. I believe is was an old fat golden Lab. It didn’t do much but lay there but we adored ‘em. Cookie and her friend were a lot of fun too.
A “wild” cat had laid her litter under the stairs leading to the Banning House kitchen. One of them my sister and I and some other kids named Sloopy. We would sing it the Snoopy come home song but exchange the name snoopy for Sloopy. I was very attached to Sloopy although she really wanted nothing to do with any of us.
There was a girl about a year or so younger than me who lived in a house behind the Banning House that became a friend. One day she gave me her green beaded necklace. It was just a costume piece but I didn’t get gifts often and especially not jewelery so I prized it. I wore it daily till one day she asked my why I always wore it in disgusted tone. I was embarrassed and stopped wearing it.
There was a discussion among the parents there once about the new song that came out called Billy Wants a Doll. My mom was disgusted that people were writing songs to try to get people to accept homosexuality. I believe that was the first time I ever heard of it. I didn’t think the songs was just about being gay but my folks insisted that if parents let their boys do girls stuff it could lead to the horrors of being gay. It would be many many years into my future before I would understand how awful that frame of mind is and how much harm the way my parents were programing me would cause.
Fly me to the Moon… or actually the main land would do just fine!
Catalina had two air ports. One was for sea planes in Avalon and the other was near the middle of the island on a mountain top called Air Port in the Sky. APS (or so I am calling it) had one small run way that had a cliff on each side of it so it was really quite dangerous.
My Uncle Brett was getting married in La Jolla, Ca so we went to the Air Port in the Sky to try to get a flight to the main land. It was very overcast so the flights in were getting canceled. Leaving the area would have been fine but landing there wasn’t and there were no domestic planes already present. While waiting to be sure it wasn’t going ot work out two men noticed out dilemma and offered us a ride in their six man Sesna. They said they would figure out what we owed them mid flight depending on the weight and fuel usage. We took them up on their offer. My sister and I have never flown before so it was all quite exciting. Sadly since it was overcast all we could see was clouds but it was still thrilling ot be up in the air. Midway to the main land they announced our weight didn’t add much to the flight cost so they didn’t charge us anything.
My mom ans sister and I continued on to my Grandma Dotties home in Glendale, Ca. While my dad did some business and headed back to Catalina. His flight home was quite interesting. He was able to catch the commercial twelve passenger plane to Air Port in the Sky. He shared the ride with a plane full of retired folks on a vacation trip. There was no co-pilot so the pilot offered him the seat next to her. All was wonderful until just before their landing. Since the plane was small everyone aboard could hear what was said over the radio between the pilot and the air traffic controller. No one was thrilled to learn that the pilot had never landed an airplane at Air Port in the Sky before. Just looking out the window would tell you there wasn’t any room at all for error. My dad suddenly found his amazing co-pilot seat not so amazing anymore. It was a huge to relief to all when the pilot actually did land the plane safely on the runway.
Mean while the three of us were enjoying my Grandmas company but were disappointed that no one would give us a ride to my Uncles wedding. Since we were not able to attend it my mom took my sister and I to see the newly released movie called Chariots Of Fire. There was some technical problems so stayed to watch it again. I believe it had some more problems so my mom talked the manager into letting us come see it again the next day. Basically she was in love with the movie. Although I found my moms pleas to the management embarrassing I did really enjoy the movie as well and adored the theme song.
Back on the island my dad was able to discover the beauty of the different coves and harbors since Bombard owned a large portion of the place and it was my dads job to patrol them. One time he took us to Emerald Bay. It was so beautiful there. You could see the patches of emerald colors thirty feet down. We got to go snorkeling and check out the sea life. One time while swimming off the boat a huge shadow appeared so we got out. It was a huge sting ray likely pretty far down but we couldn’t tell for sure so we waited on the boat.
The sea creatures are so amazing. I loved the soft fur feel of the sea slugs and how they arch their back when you pet them. They can also leave a black ink mess when they are frightened. There were these little slug looking things that were very purple with a hot pink Mohawk on their backs. On nights when the bio-luminescence was in full swing my dad would sometimes take us out at night on the HP boat. When he sped through the water the green flow would flow off the bow in and sparkle in the wake. We would also see all kinds of creatures from large fish to eels as they swam and the bio-luminescence illuminated them. It was really quite a magical feeling to take all that amazing beauty.
To be continued…
I had edited this and forgot to update. So as of 12/30/12 it has been updated and edited. I also plan to add more photos when I have time to go through my old pictures and post them.