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Remembering an old chum who never grew old
With homage and great respect I tell this story of Holbrook McCurry, who lived many years ago as I grew up on Old Creamery Road a mile south of Ceres.

This tale may be a bit repetitious of an earlier story a while back but I feel it should be told because of the goodness and qualities he possessed.

His was a personality very common to the time and the place of my childhood. He had all the dreams and ambitions of all the kids in our classes in Ceres Grammar School in the early 1930s.

Holbrook McCurry was not outstanding nor destined to become famous someday. But he was a good pal, liked by all the kids. He was just one of the gang!

Holbrook was named after an uncle, New York actor Holbrook Blinn, who performed in and directed plays on Broadway and the New York stage. He was in a few old silent movies produced in Hollywood, one with Marian Davies. Blinn and his wife had visited the farm on which this boy was raised.

Holbrook dressed overalls and shirts and at times was a bit unkept in his dress and unruly hair. This wasn't important to us because he was our classmate, our friend and a good buddy. I recall that he was an "average" student who, like most of us, enjoyed the various activities offered in the lower grades. Times were tough as our great nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. His folks, like mine, had to save every penny for that rainy day that always came. Many times he and I would walk home from school instead of waiting for the bus by using a shortcut over Highway 99 and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. We would split up at a certain point with him going his way and me going another to our respective homes. A few times I would accompany him to play in an abandoned house on the property or in the bamboo patch growing on this farm. His family had many dogs that loved to chase after sticks we threw. We did what little boys are supposed to do - play and enjoy life the fullest!

I remember once in P.E. playing baseball and Holbrook was clobbered in the head, purely by accident, by another boy swinging a baseball bat. A big lump the size of an egg raised on his head and he fell to the ground crying and holding his head. After that he never wanted to play baseball, preferring instead to run in the relay races.

Time went on.

In the fall of 1936, probably early November, his mother was wounded and bleeding. Neighbors were close in those days and my father went to their place to try to help. I wasn't allowed to go into the house but I can still see Holbrook wandering about the yard, crying, bewildered and upset about his mother. Then he rushed back into the house, confused about what to do next.

Shortly after Thanksgiving Day, 1936, my father came to me and told me that one of the three McCurry boys had been accidently killed by a shotgun blast in his home on Gondring Road. I will remember the next moment until the day I die, when I asked, "Which one?" My father wasn't sure, but I learned in a short time that it was Holbrook, my old pal. Tears are now in my eyes and I find it difficult to describe my sadness then and now.

My father and I went to his funeral to say goodbye to my old pal, my confidant and faithful comrade. We also attended his internment at the Masonic Cemetery in Modesto.

With the former Miss Marian Gondring and her husband Jim Sanders a few years ago, we found his grave, marked with a simple concrete headstone which reflects the essence of his short time on this earth. His headstone simply reads: Holbrook McCurry, Age 11.

Such goodness cannot be forgotten and his memory will linger with me always. I am sure he has found a place of righteousness in a faraway place where I hope to see him again someday.

Let us all remember Holbrook who died so young some 69 years ago. The boy who never got to Ceres High School, never dated a girl, and never married. He did, however, escape possible horrors of World War ll.

In my autograph book - which I have kept all these many years - Hollbrook wrote to me in his boyhood script on January 10, 1936, just 11 months before his death:

"Dear Billie, Remember that game Stanford and California when Stanford beat and California lost 2-0 what a score. I'd better quit or I won't have any lead, not a bit. From Holbrook Mc."

Bill Noble may be reached via email at