My wife and I just returned from our first visit to Catalina Island a couple of days ago, an experience which brought Zane Grey back into my thinking after many years. Everyone, of course, is familiar with Riders of the Purple Sage, his 1912 reputation making novel of the West. [Grey had decided to try writing novels after reading Owen Wister’s The Virginian. His first four novels were rejected by publishers.] I knew vaguely of Grey’s reputation as an outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, but it was in learning of The Tuna Club in Avalon, and then driving by the Zane Grey Pueblo, his Avalon estate later converted to a b&b (and now closed awaiting a new owner), that really triggered my interest in renewing my acquaintance with Mr. Grey.
In the Catalina Island Museum, I discovered a photo of Grey with an enormous sun-fish (412 pounds!). On another day, he was pictured with a very large record-setting sword fish. But it was a short-lived record as the petite wife of one of the other Tuna Club members, later that same day, caught a sword fish weighing two pounds more than Grey’s. Grey immediately challenged her record, declaring that she was too small to have landed such a large fish herself and must have had help, which, according to the Tuna Club rules, no help can be given in landing any fish if it is to be considered for a record. The woman insisted she had caught it herself, consequently the Club gave Grey two choices, apologize or resign. Zane Grey did both. Fascinating. I need to learn more of Zane Grey.
As I am researching Tahiti and the surrounding islands for two current projects, I have purchased a copy of his novel set in Tahiti, Reef Girl, which was published forty years after his death in 1939.