Riders of the purple tuna

The island of Santa Catalina is also famous for something it lacks. Something most Americans think is a necessity. Something they simply can’t do without. Can you guess what it is?

Cars! Islanders and tourists get around on electric powered golf carts. There are a few gas powered vehicles but not many.
But unless you live on one of the hills, walking is the best way to see the town’s many eclectic shops and restaurants.
Original American Fish Art!
A peek into the window. The store opened and closed on “island time” (whenever the owner felt like it and he wasn’t feeling it when we were there)

As I mentioned before, the island has long attracted sport fisherman, primarily those hoping to hook a blue fin tuna.

Front entrance to the Tuna Club of Avalon, America’s oldest fishing club (circa 1898) whose members have included three presidents, Winston Churchill, Cecil B. Demille, Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby and …
Zane Grey, considered the Father of the Western genre

Before they get established, most writers have a “day job” which supports them. Grey’s day job was, well, interesting for a man who once said “Realism is death to me. I cannot stand life as it is” and described his black spell as “a hyena lying in ambush.”

Side view of the Tuna Club

He was a … dentist. A dentist who really really liked to fish. And, in order to spend more time at sea, toward the end of his life Grey built a getaway on the Island.

Zane Grey’s getaway on top of the hill. Now it’s a swanky hotel.

Here are a couple of random shots.

The sun finally going down
The most popular beach

25 thoughts on “Riders of the purple tuna

  1. I really enjoyed this post, JT, and learned a lot, especially about Zane Grey. I thought the octopus lamp stand in the Fish Art store was interesting and who knew there was so much fish art? 🙂 Thanks for the visit and entertaining tour.


    1. How many times does a dentist become an acclaimed writer? I wish the fish art store had been open. If there is a next time, I’d like to stay a couple of days – who doesn’t love traveling around by golf cart???

      1. Pulled down Riders of the Purple Sage from Gutenberg. Wow, ol’ Zane surely didn’t like the Mormons. Can’t blame him.
        Curious about his name, Grey, the English spelling, while in his story he sticks with the Americanized “gray”.
        He does have the knack, I will say. Funny how it’s books like this where I’m sure I inherited the unassuming trait of using “telling” dialog tags: “retorted Tull.”

      2. From what I’ve read, Gray’s wife heavily edited his work. Despite being a dentist, he wasn’t well educated and his rough drafts were full of typos, etc. His birth name was Pearl Gray – the color of Queen Victoria’s garb after Albert died.

      3. “No. I believe Mormon women are the best and noblest, the most long-sufferin’, and the blindest, unhappiest women on earth.”

      4. I suppose this is what I’d call “Western Romantic Surrealism”. Based in reality but, so far, the characters are caricatures, romanticized stereotypes. I can see how this would make a popular film.

  2. That tall tree in the sun going down shot was amazing

    And the getaway must have been super fun to have !
    Also – the reminder about the day job and his being a dentist reminded me that Twain operated a ferry boat on the river for years – and that helped his writing immensely – hmmm

    1. Thanks! Twain did a lot of things. He lived for a while in Virginia City, which is close to where I grew up. Quite an interesting man for soooo many reasons!

  3. The first question you asked and the photo made me think, there are no cats on the island. I was close anyway, missed it by one letter. Duke

  4. For someone who purports to hate realism, that mansion looked pretty real to me.
    I love the idea of golf carts. Think of the money you’d save on speeding tickets.

    1. Zane Grey died in 1939. I doubt the house he built and the current structure have much in common besides location! I love the idea of getting about on a golf cart.

    1. Zane Grey is famous in the American West for inventing the stereotype of the strong silent cowboy, ala John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. Not sure if his movies made across the pond.

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