photos by Sandy McKay
A large party in honor of Charles Brayton Holland, Jr., was held on July 17 at the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, Stonington. The Gift Of Rhyme by Claudia Gauches was read for his 85th Birthday celebration, commemorating his life in rhyme! The following are a few excerpts taken from Gift Of Rhyme:
The Early Years
Eighty-five years ago, on July 20th, 1925,
Charles Brayton Holland, Jr. came alive.
Charles Brayton Sr. and Alice, his wife,
Were the parents who gave him life.
The first of their children, Charles created quite a stir
Until five more Holland kids there eventually were.
Jack and Bob followed Charles, each fifteen months apart,
Then Ronnie and Carol – maybe a run on girls she’d start?
But Gerry followed Carol to become the youngest of all six,
Adding one last boy to the Holland family mix….
Charlie’s Mom learned piano from the nuns when she was young.
Classical music was her favorite, not music to be sung.
An upright Ivers and Pond piano into the house she brought
And, at age thirteen, learning to “tickle the ivories” Charlie sought.
Without formal lessons, although Ms. Healy did teach him a few,
Miraculously, Charlie played like trained pianists do.
He needed little instruction to find middle C.
Instinctively he knew just where it would be.
So “The King of Instruments” became his best friend
And Charlie played on each day for days on end….
Mom enjoyed the fact that Charlie could make the piano glow.
She loved to listen as he made the melody and harmony flow.
Though at times, her criticism could get a bit rough.
“You have a beautiful touch until you start all that crazy stuff!”…
On the GI Bill, to college he was bound.
After the Air Force, college had an appealing sound.
First, Mitchell College in New London was his place
And then URI he decided to grace.
Graduating with a degree in hand,
He went off to work, still playing in a band….
About this same time, romance in the air did brew
As Charlie fell in love, as lots of young men do.
A Westerly beauty, Martha Moorhouse, caught his eye
And soon they decided to give marriage a try.
Eloping was their way of starting married life
As Charlie and Martha became husband and wife….
The “All Stars”
The crème de la crème of all the places you play
Is Skipper’s Dock from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on each Sunday.
“Charlie Holland and his All Stars” is how your talent is billed.
With the sounds that you make, Stonington Harbor isn’t stilled.
Quite the contrary, and all who attend do enjoy
The musical skills you and your group employ.
We all disagree with what your Mom once said to you.
We think that crazy stuff is the best thing you do!
What an amazing life your eighty-five years did sow,
From the early days in Pawcatuck to here now in the Boro.
Happy Birthday, Charlie, may you have many more.
Whether you know it or not, you’re part of our local lore.
Whenever we think of you and all that you are,
Charlie Holland’s your name — you’re our local star.
May the proverbial road always rise up to meet you
And may the tricky old wind know just what to do.
Let it be generous at your back, throughout your life.
May you have few worries and personal strife.
Your family and friends have one last thing to say
We wish you always, the black and whites to play