Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ozark Vacation: Visiting Mr. Holland

Readers who've been around since February of 2008 will remember an earlier Ozark trip and therefore might recall Mr. Albert Holland, my old scoutmaster, who was almost 90 years old at the time. You see him below in this photo taken by my wife, Sun-Ae:

As you see, our two kids met his dog Lady on that wintertime visit. Well, a couple of days ago, my wife informed me that she had made plans to visit him again. Initially, since she isn't entirely secure about her own driving, she had wanted to meet him in downtown Salem and treat him to lunch at the Southfork Restaurant, but he wasn't able to drive this time:
"I have just talked to Mr. Holland, and we're going to his place this afternoon. He said that he hurt his arm and has also people fixing something there whom he has to take care of for lunch. So he invited us to his place and gave me the direction. I'll try. Near [the] clinic, we have to drive on Highway 395 North, about 5 miles, and he will put out his whitish truck so that we can know where to drive in. He said that we have to pass a burnt house (a junkyard) and cross a small bridge. Before we leave, I will call him, and he will wait for us ready serving watermelon."
They made it fine despite my wife's concerns about driving, and Mr. Holland did serve them a melon, for Sun-Ae tells me, "He cut a big watermelon and served it. He gave the [other] half to us to take with us [later], saying, '[Jeff's brother] John can eat the seeds.' He was joking":

Cutting the oblong melon . . . into two long, heart-red halves:

Sa-Rah prepares to dig in and dig it:

Our melon-jolly baby? Smile for the camera, Sa-Rah! Be an openly appreciative guest! My wife goes on to write of Mr. Holland's hospitality:
"He welcomed us warmly, showed his garden (gave tomatoes and cucumbers to take with us), let [the] kids play with his Lady dog who is very smart! They did throw and fetch with the dog in the yard and later at the pond, as you can see from the pictures."
Let's take a look. They first have to get to the field, so they pile into the back of Mr. Holland's pick-up truck:

Once at the pond, En-Uk takes his turn tossing a large stick into the water:

Sa-Rah then follows . . . and shows good throwing form in following through as the stick shoots forth like a missle:

Lady, dutifully fetching the tossed stick from the pond, gets soaking wet:

And somewhat reluctantly returns 'her' hard-earned stick to the dominant human beings:

After all that watersport, En-Uk typically exaggerates about something:

Perhaps that big catfish is getting bigger with each telling? Or is he informing us about some even bigger stick that he once threw? Or maybe using hand gestures to relate how old Mr. Holland is? By my reckoning, Mr. Holland must have been 89 when we visited in February of 2008, for Sun-Ae tells me:
"Mr. Holland will turn 91 on [the] 13th of October this year and is still very healthy."
Healthy, yes, and he remains vigorous enough to dance later with Lady, now again dry:

He is a bit hard of hearing, but that's to be expected of a 90-year-old man who saw military action in World War Two and the Korean War and must have endured a lot of the noise that battle brings. Modern technology, however, helps make up for that aural disability:
"He uses the hearing equipment, so most of the time, he hears well. He is still very talkative and remembers a lot of things from his long life. He is a good storyteller, and what he tells is all very interesting. He is witty, wise, warm-hearted, and I really like him. En-Uk said, 'Because you are so healthy for your age, you can live until 100.' Yes, I wish him those years and more. His dog takes care of him well so do other people around his area."
And he remembered me, of course, for we've known each other since about the late sixties, some 40 years:
"He asked why my 'big boy' didn't come, and wanted to see you next year."
I hope that he and I get that chance, and perhaps we will, for I might not have to teach in summer school next year and can thus afford time away from Seoul . . . if I can get some research done in the early summer.

If I do go, I promise to take the camera from my Sun-Ae's hands and shoot some of the photographs myself so that my lovely wife will appear in an embodied form rather than solely as our perspectival point.

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At 9:13 AM, Blogger Teacher Leo said...

Your family is blessed indeed to have such a vibrant example of a fully lived life!
May he indeed make his century!
In our family, my daughter was born on her great-great-grandmother's birthday. Maria Christina turned 97, Christine starting down the road. Four years later, the day after celebrating 101 and 4, Maria Christina left us, slipping away in her sleep.
I am not yet a grandmother, so it seems this will not happen again in our family - my kids (37 and 28 respectively) are firmly single and unattached.
As far as I'm concerned great stuff - I'd be a rotten grandmother!

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oh, you might be a good grandmother. You'd get to spoil the grandkids and leave the consequences to their parents.

But maybe that's not good, now that I think about it.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:06 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

I always seem to notice the food. I have not seen that type of watermelon in almost forty years. I liked to go with dad to the farmers market(a railroad depot) and watch how he picked out the melon.

You family's visit is somewhat nostalgic for me. As a child in the south, I had very old neighbors and friends. I remember one couple who had this beautiful huge Magnolia tree in the front yard and I would sometimes go over and sit on their porch an chat awhile.

Now, I think people and generations are too isolated. The old people move out, while young parents move in. Older communities are devised so that older people cannot be bothered by children. Even though I may have to, I don't relish living in a community with only old folks like myself.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well said, Hathor. I think about these same things.

The small-town, rural way of life is passing away as America's population increases and even the small communities grow larger and larger. There's not much isolation anymore, and community bonds have loosened. When I was a kid, Salem was still tiny and hard to get to. Everybody knew everybody -- of all ages.

It's still pretty small, but places nearby are growing and gradually but inevitably encroaching. Fortunately, there are no big cities in the area, so it'll stay rural for a while still.

As for the watermelon, I've also not seen that kind in years and years. It reminds me of an oversize cucumber! It always did.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Richardson said...

Reminds me of home...

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Oh, right. You're from Missouri, aren't you?

By the way, Mr. Holland is one of the "Chosun Few" -- those who made it back from the Chosun Reservoir in North Korea in the dead of winter, where they had been surrounded after the Chinese intervened (if I recall).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:22 PM, Blogger Deplorably Bonnie Blue said...

Looks like another great vacation day.

In the picture with Sa-Rah and her watermelon; those cups down in the lower left corner of his china cabinet, I have some that look just like his! Mine is a set; a teapot and cups, no handles on the cups. I wonder where he got them. My mother-in-law got mine for me at an estate sale years ago.

Oh, and his dog, my son has one just like Lady, only brown and white.

Now, if I just had one of those watermelons...


At 9:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cynthia, getting one of those watermelons is easy. Just drop by Mr. Holland's place.

Jeffery Hodges

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