Alanson Perry Holly by Alice Holly Matlack
Alanson P Holly was born in 1879. He married Mabel Elizabeth Barbour in 1905. The first of their six children arrived in 1906; the last, in 1921.
It is with love and appreciation for both our parents and for the quality of home life they provided for us that I, Alice Janette, the last “sprig of the Holly Tree” as Daddy might have put it, here give my impressions of the good I remember about him.
First, it was certain that he loved his family. He endeavored to enrich our lives in many ways. He read out loud to us, poetry by James Whitcome Riley, “Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens, and others. His obvious delight in them and his expressive reading were contagious. He could sing beautifully and taught us many wonderful songs, which we often sang together when traveling as a family in the car. We had summer season tickets to the performances of The Municipal Opera Company at St Louis, presented in Forest Park. I was allowed to go, too, even though I was under ten years of age. I greatly enjoyed them and still remember many of the stories and songs.
He suggested, when I was a little older, that I read “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Dickens, which began my continuing enjoyment of good literature. Also, he gave me a copy of Shakespeare's “Hamlet” and made it possible for me to attend most of the performances at “The Old Globe Theatre” given during the San Diego World Exposition. The was my delightful and an invaluable introduction to Shakespeare.
We, the children, were included! As a family, we went to fine places to eat, took exceptional trips such as the trip by train to New Orleans for the Christmas Holidays, and the extensive tour of the Southwest in 1930. That was indeed a treat for a nine-year old girl who dreamed of someday owning her own horse. It was a grand adventure, top drawer all the way.
Daddy was an ecologist well before most of the country. In our house, we did not waste water or electricity. Never did we throw anything from the car that would damage or deface the landscape.
We were made aware of beauty in nature, the sky, the stars, the earth and its creatures, both wild and tame. He introduced us to a variety of experiences, for instance, a walk through the woods and along a railroad track where we found a wounded black crow, brought him home to live on the screened-in back porch till he was well enough to take over his own life. Also, on weekends, we sometimes visited two different farm families, living in very rural conditions. At one of those farms, my brother, Forrest, became fond of a baby goat and was permitted to bring her home for a pet.
We attended a Black Baptist Church as visitors, in St Louis and once watched a group of Black people being baptized in the Mississippi River. Later when we lived in the West, we helped build our own cabin at the Ranch, we visited old Missions, saw rodeos, the desert in full Spring-time bloom, climbed a mountain, went to Indian Fiestas, and saw Indian dances. The most important of all to me was that he made it possible for my brother, Forrest, and me to have our own horses in Ramona, one of the greatest joys of my life.
When given a job to do, we knew it must be started promptly, worked at to the best of our ability, and completely and satisfactorily finished. He developed in us, integrity and self-reliance. When one was given the privilege of owning an animal, being it a rabbit, banty chicken, dog, or horse, the complete care and responsibility for that animal was the job of the owner, and we understood it was to be done well, consistently, and without being reminded to do so.
I started piano lessons, probably about nine years old, and well remember him telling me to set up my own practice schedule and that I could continue the lessons just as long as I faithfully practiced.
He was a leader. He gave us an example to follow of integrity, honesty, respect for others' rights and property, obeying the laws of the land, and an awareness and appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy in this great country. He encourages us to thank for ourselves and not just follow the crowd; to do the right thing, not necessarily the easy or popular thing.
I was soon to be 21 years of age when he passed on. As the above indicates, I still benefit from the influence he had on my life.
This cannot be ended without mention of our Mother. She was a lady, intelligent, with high standards and ideals, having a kind, gentle, good disposition. She was a loving Mother to each of her six children and a wife to this most unusual man. That is an accomplishment worthy of praise. I'm thankful to have been in this family.
Alanson Perry Holly by Alice Holly Matlack