Still going strong at 101 Carmichael resident shares memories of a century of living

Photo by Lance Armstrong
Bingo is one of Carl Holland’s favorite pastimes. He holds an oversized bingo card in his Carmichael home last week.


At 101, Carl Holland is assuredly one of Carmichael’s most senior residents. But based on his ability to remember, many people would believe he is much younger.

While visiting with the Arden-Carmichael News last week, Carl proudly spoke about how simple it is for him to recall past events.
He noted that his ability to remember well dates back to his childhood.

“When I was going to school, I never had to take books home to study or anything like that,” he said. “I would study at the schoolhouse. Remembering was just so easy. As a result, reading and spelling were the two things I was so adept at, and I spent a lot of time doing both of those. It really helped in later years.”

Despite being able to remember things well, Carl often said during his interview for this article that many answers to questions about the first 35 years of his life were available elsewhere, as they have been captured in book form.

That book, which is titled “Beyond the River Bend,” was authored by his eldest son, Phillip.

Carl mentioned that he is one of various characters in this book.

“In the book, my name is C.T. Barton – Toby Barton – and every name in there is not the real name, except for one person and his name is Procedo, and he lives on the East Coast. Everything is true (in the book) up to a point.”

Altogether, Carl and Phillip spent a year collaborating on details for this book.

Growing up in Texas

The book’s title derives from part of Carl’s past.

Carl said that he spent the first 10 years of his life living in the Red River Valley in Texas, where he excelled in the games of tops and marbles.
“You’ve heard of (Red River Valley), if you’re a cowboy,” he said. “It’s on the line between Texas and Oklahoma – Red River – and there was a bend in the river there, and there’s the little community Preston Bend. There was nothing much there, except a Methodist Church and a hay and feed barn, a grocery store, a blacksmith shop and a harness shop.

“There weren’t too many people there (in Preston Bend), but that’s where I was born. But it’s not there anymore, because (in the 1940s), the federal government put a dam across the Red River (called the) Denison Dam, and Preston Bend, Texas now is under about 40 feet of water.”

Photo courtesy of Holland family
Carl and Elwood Holland are pictured in about 1940.

Life in Oklahoma

Carl said that when he moved to Oklahoma in the late 1920s, that place was still fairly young as a state.

“In 1907, Oklahoma became a state,” he said. “Before that it was an Indian territory. Directly across the river, the Indians, they lived almost like they used to be 250 years ago, easily. They would have bonfires and I could see (the fires), and you could hear (the Indians), but you never did get to see them.”

The Holland family then included Carl, his parents Howard and Pearl, and his brothers, Glen and Jimmy. Carl had another brother who died when he was a week old.

Carl recalled living in Oklahoma during the Depression.

“Nobody had any money,” he said. “There wasn’t any Social Security or major medical or anything like that.

“Up until, I guess, 1939 or 1940, most people just then started making enough money to get out of the Depression that they were in. But nobody had anything.”

Carl added that his father suddenly left his family during the Depression, in about 1931.

“He just left us,” he said. “I never knew what a father was.”

To financially assist his family during that era, Carl sold copies of the Ada Evening News, first on the streets and then as a home delivery newsboy.

Oklahoma was additionally special to Carl, considering that it was there that he met his then-future wife, Elwood Johns.

Carl said that he met Elwood – who was named after her male doctor – in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was operating a portable roller rink. They were later married, on Jan. 1, 1938.

Regarding the skating rink, Carl said that he would travel to different cities with others, who also operated the rink.
“In those little towns, if you bring something in there that’s different than what they’re used to, they think it’s a great thing to do,” he said. “They participate in it until it gets to be a little old. So, that takes about two months, and then we would pick up the skating rink and we went to another little town.”

While still living in Ada, Carl and Elwood had their first child, Barbara, on Dec. 8, 1938.

With his family still residing in Ada, Carl took a construction job in Dallas in about 1939.

It was that job – building a Procter & Gamble Co. facility – that led to his 35-year career as a Procter & Gamble employee.

Under government orders

Carl said that because of his employment, he received a deferment from military service in World War II.

“At that time, I was working for Procter & Gamble, in essential the war industry,” he said. “We were producing glycerin for dynamite, and everything we produced, the federal government told us what to do with it. We were shipping glycerin to Russia, because Russia was our ally at that time in fighting Germany.

“I couldn’t quit the job. In fact, I volunteered to go to war and they wouldn’t let me. We were tied to the job and we worked six or seven days a week.”

Carl Holland is shown in an official Procter & Gamble Co. photograph in about 1968.

Holland family has lengthy history in Sacramento, Carmichael

Carl and his family came to Sacramento in 1952, when Carl relocated to the Sacramento Procter & Gamble plant at Fruitridge and Power Inn roads.
By that time in their lives, Carl and Elwood had two other children: Phillip and Jim.

All three of the Holland children would eventually graduate from El Camino High School, with Beverly graduating in 1957, Phillip in 1959 and Jim in 1968.

After three years of living in a home at 39th Avenue and 44 Street, the Hollands moved to a residence at Arden and Eastern avenues, in the Garden of the Gods neighborhood.

The Hollands spent 13 years living off Madison Avenue, near American River College, before moving to Oklahoma City in 1976.
That was a short-lived experience, however, since Elwood wanted to permanently return to California.

In 1978, Carl and Elwood moved to Carmichael, where they continued to live together until Sept. 16, 2000, when Elwood died. Carl has maintained homes in Carmichael since that time.

Although Carl is legally blind, he said that he still finds ways to entertain himself, including following the San Francisco Giants, a team that he became a fan of in 1958, when they relocated to the Bay Area from New York. He also enjoys listening to music and playing bingo with oversized cards.

With his continued zest for life, Carl said that he is looking forward to celebrating another birthday – his 102nd – on Oct. 9.

One Response to Still going strong at 101 Carmichael resident shares memories of a century of living

  1. Alison says:

    Thank you for writing the article. I have the privilege of working with Carl every day at Aegis of Carmichael, and he is such a great person, brilliant and fun to talk to. We adore him!

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