Lolo Saldana is an Avalon treasure
For the past 60 years he has run the local barber shop in the Island Plaza. Lolo’s is an island tradition, a place to gather and chat while waiting for your haircut and learning the latest Avalon news. Every kid in town knows that Lolo is always ready to give them a piece of bubblegum or candy when they stop in to say hello.
Lolo’s dad immigrated to the US in 1915. In 1919, hearing that William Wrigley Jr., the island’s new owner, was going to start a large building project and needed workers he then moved to Avalon. He met his lovely wife on the island and went on to have a family of 11 children.
Lolo was born on the island and went through school here. He likes to tell you that he is 6 weeks younger than the Casino Building. As a young athlete, Lolo was a huge fan and friend of the Chicago Cubs while they spring trained on the island. Charlie Grimm (then manager of the Cubs) had Lolo try out for the ball team but Lolo’s true love was golf and as a scratch golfer he wanted to pursue golf.
He received a partial golf scholarship from Long Beach City College. It was there that he was recruited by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and became San Luis Obispo County Golf Champion.
Following college, Lolo went into the army and served in Germany. Upon return he went through Barber College on the G.I. Bill. After working as a barber in Long Beach, Lolo received an offer from an Avalon businessman to run a barbershop in the Post Office Arcade. The lure of returning to the island was too strong and he made the move back to his hometown. He immediately became part of a young group who enjoyed each others company and loved to go dancing at the Casino Ballroom. Some of the young ladies of the group were telephone operators that had recently been transferred to the island. Lolo fell in love with one, the lovely Lidia, whom he married and together they raised four wonderful children. His second son became Avalon’s youngest mayor at 22 years old.
Lolo started the Kids Baseball Program in 1961 with Long Beach School District allowing the use of the school ball field. It is an all volunteer organization and kids from 7 to 13 participate. Sportsmanship and team spirit are stressed in addition to learning the skills of baseball. Once the program concludes, the kids go overnight camping on the backside of the island and take a trip to a Dodgers game. Lolo fondly recalls once taking 100 island kids to see the Dodgers play. Even with other coaches and chaperons, what an achievement!
Lolo, with his brother Frank, were founders of the Junior Golf Tournament. During their years in charge Tiger Woods, Amy Alcott and Corey Pavin were participants. Lolo’s son continues to run the tournament.
As you can see, the man truly is an Avalon treasure.
Did you know that as a youngster Lolo was a golf caddy often caddying for Hollywood’s famous?
One of his favorites was Johnny Weissmuller, star of the Tarzan movies. Hole 4 was opposite the Bird Park and was filled with hundreds of exotic birds. When Weissmuller and Lolo would reach Hole 4, Weissmuller would call out his famous Tarzan yell inspiring the birds to put up an incredible racket of noise. Fellow golfers weren’t real thrilled but Weissmuller thoroughly enjoyed the show.