Often recognized by long-time staffers as “George’s kids,” three generations of Rileys and their extended families met for a reunion at Armstrong’s restaurant on July 26th. These are the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Frances and George Riley, who lived full time on the island for many years.
George Riley was a Rotary member and was a regular at Armstrong’s, his favorite restaurant. On what would have been George’s 99th birthday, 26 family members reconnected at the restaurant from as far away as Texas, Iowa and Washington DC. They visited many of the same sights they’ve been visiting for decades.
Tom Riley showed his grandchildren where the former steamer pier used to be and where he and his brothers Bob and Jim dove for coins thrown by visitors arriving on the S.S. Catalina. Jean Brewer recalled going to dances at the Casino as a teen-ager during their summer vacations. Leslie Chartier, a granddaughter, ran into adults who had been children in the Avalon summer day camp where she worked in the 1980s. Pat Rasmussen and other family members re-walked familiar steps to Mt. Ada where she remembers listening to scary stories told with flashlights and embellishment, causing the children all to scream on the run down the hill back home.
Younger family members took up the tradition of a “Big Olaf’s” after dinner and participated in the annual fishing derby at the end of the pier. Others enjoyed some of the island’s newer attractions, including zip lining at Descanso and bubble rolling in the plaza.
The Riley family had owned two homes in Avalon for more than 60 years. “The Life of Riley” on Descanso Street was purchased by George’s parents in 1948. George and Frances purchased “Riley’s Roost” on Lower Terrace in 1972; it was sold in 2008. It was the site of the island’s first hill-evator.
After a week, everyone went home feeling the island remains a favorite family destination where they can relax, enjoy each other’s company and feel the children are safe enjoying childhood.