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Chambers Bay Golf Course: A Moment with Bill Reflection

Updated on June 10, 2015

The Present

In exactly one week, the greatest golfers in the world will converge on University Place, Washington, for the U. S. Open Golf Championship. Tens of thousands of golf fans will watch from the sidelines. Millions around the world will watch the event on the television.

This is the first time the U.S. Open has come to the Pacific Northwest. The choice of Chambers Bay is astounding in that it is a public course (open to anyone) and has only been in existence for eight years. Add to that the fact that this is a “links” course, an unusual choice for a U.S. Open, and it is easy to understand why the golf world is fascinated by this upcoming event.

I am not a golfer. I tried it for about a year and failed miserably. I’ve never picked up a club since then.

So why am I writing this article? Why am I so interested in a former sand and gravel quarry turned golf course?

Pioneer Sand & Gravel, back then
Pioneer Sand & Gravel, back then | Source

The Past

My father, Dale LeRoy Holland, was discharged from the United States Army in September, 1945. He returned home to Charles City, Iowa, gathered up his wife, Evelyn, and step-daughter, Darlys, and moved the family to the Pacific Northwest. He at one time had been stationed at Fort Lewis just outside of Tacoma, Washington, and vowed to return there if he survived that damned war.

Survive he did, and in January, 1946, the young family escaped the cold Iowa winter and drove west to Tacoma and its incessant rain, green trees and promise of a good future.

Finding work in Tacoma at the end of the war was not easy, but eventually Dale Holland found a part-time job at Pioneer Sand & Gravel on the outskirts of Tacoma in a sleepy bedroom community called University Place. An odd name for a town, for sure, since there was no university located there, but be that as it may, Dale Holland was determined to make that part-time job into a full-time job. He believed in hard work; he believed in giving it your all; and he believed a man provides for his family and does everything necessary to do so.

The years rolled on. The family of three moved out of a tiny apartment into their first house in 1948 because their tiny family increased by one, a tiny package named William Dale Holland. Three years later they moved into a bigger home, and there they would stay for the next twenty-seven years.

And all that time, Dale LeRoy Holland worked for Pioneer Sand & Gravel.

Pioneer Sand & Gravel today
Pioneer Sand & Gravel today | Source

Time Advances

Dale LeRoy Holland died in 1969, a cold January night in a cold January month. His funeral was attended by all of his co-workers from Pioneer Sand & Gravel. Most of them had worked by his side for all of those years, and a member of their family had died…so they were there.

The years passed, and Pioneer Sand & Gravel was sold to Lonestar Sand & Gravel, and the calendar kept turning its pages and eventually demands changed, marketplace influences changed, and Lonestar closed the business, leaving Pierce County with 950 acres of seemingly unusable land.

Today that land is Chambers Bay Golf Course. One-point-four million cubic yards of sand and gravel were removed from the former quarry, and one of the greatest golf course designers was brought in, and from a waste land came a world-class golf course.

Chambers Bay Golf Course
Chambers Bay Golf Course | Source

Time Marches on but Memories Remain

I look at it today and I barely recognize it. A portion of the great dock that seemed to stretch forever can still be seen in the background. We used to fish off that dock. I would call up a friend, ask him if he wanted to go fishing, and then ride to work with my dad and spend the day in the sunshine fishing from the dock. Exciting times for a young boy. The trains would stop at the dock to be loaded with sand and gravel. Barges loaded from that dock. Huge machinery, the bulldozers and front-loaders, went by constantly, moving earth, hauling earth, sorting the earth, all to satisfy demand in a thousand cities across the country.

Of course all the workers knew me. I was Dale’s kid. They were big men, hard men, men who worked eight long hours, five and six days a week, out in the sun, out in the rain, out in the snow, sleet and howling winds. They worked as long as their bodies held out. The day would end with a loud whistle; the men would climb in their cars and trucks, dirt and dust caked to their faces, hands and clothes, and drive home for a well-deserved dinner. Those who had children, like Dale Leroy Holland, would play catch with their sons after the meal, or give their daughters rides to dance recitals. They would then climb wearily into bed, sleep like the dead, and get up the next morning to do it all over again.

And they were my friends. There was Oly, a Swede from Minnesota who also moved to the area after the war. There was Gus from Topeka, and Louie from Brooklyn. They worked hard, they played hard, and they laughed hard at raunchy jokes I was privileged to occasionally hear. When the lunch whistle blew I would join my dad, and his friends, and I happily sat on a bench and ate with these strong men, men who had defended their country, and they would ask me about school, and talk to me about girls. They would ruffle my hair with their large hands, and tell me secrets reserved only for men. When I graduated from high school they were there, sharing in my triumph, and they were proud of me for going on to college, a privilege none of them ever had.

And then it was all gone. Dale LeRoy Holland died, then Oly, then Gus and Louie. I graduated from college and none of them were there except in spirit. I had achieved what they had not, and I’m quite certain they were with me that afternoon when I accepted my diploma, hard men who had lived hard lives, and who had taken moments during their lives to make a young kid feel welcomed and cared about.

And then the quarry was sold, and then closed, and the wind blew over an empty landscape for many years until a golf course was built.

Thanks for the memories, Dad!
Thanks for the memories, Dad! | Source

TODAY

I’ll most likely watch part of the U.S. Open on television next weekend, not because I’m terribly interested in over-priced athletes, and certainly not because I’m interested in golf. I’ll be watching because the guys will be there. As Phil Mickelson lines up a putt, I’m sure I’ll see Oly standing nearby smiling. As Tiger Woods hits a three-iron, I have no doubt that Louie will be watching the ball soar majestically over the dunes that were once sorting stations. And as Rory McIlroy hits a long drive, there will be Dale LeRoy Holland, smiling that smile, telling me the secrets of life, and once again sharing time with his son.

So it was.

So it is.

So it always will be.

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't either, vkwok, but I'm always fascinated by history and human connections. Thank you!

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      This is another incredible article Bill! Though, I'm not much of a sports person so I don't usually watch sports of any sort.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Deb! The past meets the present and prepares us for the future. Such is life.

      Thank you my friend.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      A place can change until it is almost unrecognizable, but the ghosts of the past will always be there, in the same places that they always were. Another time, and place, another dimension, and it is all as it was. A perfect description of both times ad places. I can do the same with some of my own jewels...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank. I'm grateful for your visit this morning. Have a great day and blessings to you always.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      thank you for this reflection.. so many memories can put a mind at ease when they get shared.. I so glad im part of the audience.. bless you

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you PS! When I was younger I didn't find the importance of these connections with the past. Now I can see it all so clearly, and I find wonder and peace in it all.

      The angels are coming soon bearing gifts

      bill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Awesome, bill. I was there with you as you shared this place and these amazing individuals with us...and can feel the impact they made on little bill which remains with you today.

      How blessed we are that when things change as this did we have the lovely memories stored to keep that place and those people alive. No doubt your Dad is watching you today and bursting at the seams with so many feelings 0f wonder as he watches you share these stories with us....stories that we will remember and often reread.

      Many blessings and hugs on the way.

      Know once again that Angels are winging their way to you ps

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And again, Flourish!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      There will be for sure, Flourish. Thank you for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed my look back.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      What. a great story! Loved it! There will be many long gone friends and employees who will be happily watching those golfers.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      What. a great story! Loved it! There will be many long gone friends and employees who will be happily watching those golfers.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      What. a great story! Loved it! There will be many long gone friends and employees who will be happily watching those golfers.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool, Eric! You just reminded me that I need to go to the museum soon. It's been too long. Thanks, buddy, and have a great day with your son.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Told you that I would keep thinking about this. I will take my son to a local history museum section at our library today to help him grasp the way things used to be.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      sgbrown, thank you! I'm just glad, as Bill pointed out, that they didn't put a Walmart there.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      What wonderful memories you have of this place. I'm glad that the land did not go to waste and has been turned into something beautiful. Enjoy watching "the game".

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Molly, and thank you. Just getting back to my writing roots. When I first started writing on HP I did a lot of these. This is the type of writing I love to do, and I missed it...so back I went. :)

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 2 years ago from Alberta

      This is an extremely beautiful hub! Your memories of the quarry are clearly meaningful to you, and you've conveyed this meaning well.

      I notice you've written many Moment with Bill Reflections lately. Is there a particular reason why?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Clive, I'm with you, although I suspect I hate the game because I'm horrible at it. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eva, thank you! I am touched by the number of kind comments, yours included. Again, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, what a beautiful thing for you to say. Thank you so much. To answer your question yes, I do realize it. I feel like every single day is Christmas and I'm the only one getting presents. :) You are too kind but thank you, thank you and thank you!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And thank you again, Maj!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maj, what a beautiful comment. The home where I grew up is still standing. One day I'll knock on the door and go inside to visit my memories.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, it's nice to hear from someone who remembers the old pit. Thanks for your thoughts....and no, you will never read an article from me about golf. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill! I can't imagine a Walmart there, so I'm grateful for little favors. :) I appreciate you stopping by, my friend, and Happy Thursday to you.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      nice piece, but i hate golf....give a a game of soccer any day.

    • Eva Hard profile image

      PE Hardwicke 2 years ago from Midwest USA

      A truly great and timely story - golf tournament and father's day. And the disappearance of old working places and hard working guys. I see from the comments that so many were touched - so was I.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      I nearly held my breath during the whole read. Such beautiful memories. You just dragged me brilliantly into a past life of you and your beloved ones. Great work, my friend, great work.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      So beautiful. Do you realise what a great life you lead? I can't help but envy you sometimes. To me you represent all that is good about humanity...and it give me hope knowing there are people like you still around. Blessings to you and your family.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      I feel your yearning Bill, along with acceptance of change.

      I visited my village in England recently - I stood outside a small cottage, I knew it so well.. Nothing has changed. My grandfather was born there - my father was born there - I was born there.

      I wanted to walk in and claim it.

      I'm familiar with change, my life now is a world away, but the nostalgia remains and haunts me.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      I feel your yearning Bill, along with acceptance of change.

      I visited my village in England recently - I stood outside a small cottage, I knew it so well.. Nothing has changed. My grandfather was born there - my father was born there - I was born there.

      I wanted to walk in and claim it.

      I'm familiar with change, my life now is a world away, but the nostalgia remains and haunts me.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, thank you for sharing your sweet, perhaps bittersweet memories with us. I know there is a yearning that things would never change and loved ones would never leave us. But they do, and they do.

      The gravel pit (I remember it too) has become something that can be enjoyed by so many more people--not just because of the golf, but the walking paths, dog park, and reveal of some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, or at least in the Puget Sound area. I'll bet your dad is looking down and is pleased.

      (P.S. I'm glad this wasn't a hub about golf).

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. If I happen to watch the U.S. Open next week I certainly will be thinking of you, your dad, and the gang from Pioneer Sand and Gravel. Change is just a part of life, sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the not so good. If they were going to turn that parcel of land into anything I suppose a golf course is better than a Walmart, although a park would have been nice. As you watch the US Open, which I suspect you will, may you have nothing but the fondest of memories. Have a great week Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      lions44, have a great time at the Open. You're right about the condos...it could be much worse. As for me and golf, I think I'll pass and enjoy just watching. :)

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Bill, when I'm there next week I will probably be thinking of Pioneer Sand and Gravel. Hopefully, NBC or the Golf Channel will do a story on the area's past.

      Great article. At least they didn't turn it into a bunch of condos and take away the view. And you should try playing golf one more time. Take a lesson. it's worth it. Voted up and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is for sure, Ann. I find no sadness in these place, nor do I find sadness in the memories. It is life, and it fills us all, and it is a part of who we are, and I find comfort in that. :)

      Just as I find comfort in friends like you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eric. I do the same thing....sweet melancholy, I call it. To have someone say they will think about my article for quite some time is music to my ears. I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you drbj...that's how I see this tournament and course....a living monument to some good men.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, thank you so much. My dad was very much an old-school man who walked the talk way back when America understood about certain values. I've tried to live a similar life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Manatita, and I believe your trust is warranted. I've got some good people I want to reunite with when my time comes.

      blessings always, my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Yes, time marches on sometimes for the best but not always. I enjoyed reading your memories of this place, celebrating the lives of your father and his workmates. Those times were valuable for you and obviously you have fond memories.

      I have similar memories of some places which no longer exist; we have to move on but it doesn't mean we can't cherish and celebrate those times in our hearts. It's part of who we are.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Really interesting. I still have to grapple with any changes made to the way things were. There is a certain melancholy no matter how hard I try to accept things. I will be thinking about this article for quite some time.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      This was a sweet and loving tribute to your proud father, Bill, and his men friends. I'm sure they all were just as proud as he was when you graduated college.

      Now the grand new golf course is a memorial to them!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thanks Heidi. I will have a dandy of a Father's Day. I like what you said about spirits living in these places. I tend to agree.

      Good to have you back catching up.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      So, I begin reading your story and when partiually through it I ask myself, 'Why do I know this story?' Then I get near the end and see the picture of your Dad, and remember him, and some of his story from Mysterious & Miraculous. He sounds like a man whose life resembles the pride we talk about when we remember an America of an earlier era.

      As a tribute there is no finer.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      What a beautiful way to tell a story! Hats off to you, Bro. Yes, quite likely that your Dad will be looking down with Divine Pride. Pioneers are the fore bearers of great dreams, and your dad was most certainly one.

      I trust that you will tune in to his cheerful Heart in Heaven.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      What a lovely Father's Day tribute... and a tribute to the area. I have memories of areas around Chicago that, today, are nothing like they were when I was a kid. Yet, driving or walking past them, I can still see what and who was there. I think spirits live on in these places, making them special. Voted up, awesome and interesting! Have a delightful Father's Day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. I would think this story was right up your alley, a lover of history....I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Sally! I was hoping all of you would feel that way. History surrounds us, as you well know, and I am a lover of history.

      Happy Wednesday to you

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yes it is, Lori. It's a great physical setting for a golf course and I think the world is going to fall in love with the Pacific Northwest.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I would be watching the golf tournament in any event, but it will certainly be with increased, and changed, interest now. Thank you, so much, for sharing this marvelous story about your Dad, his hard-working friends, and your own involvement with the environment there. Must admit I was on the verge of tears, all the way through. Thank you, again, so much!! ;-)

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      billybuc

      Hello Billy,

      I had to keep reading until the end. I know I will be watching this US Open with interest, especially now that I know the story about the birth of a golf course. MsDora beat me to it an Awesome story.

      Enjoy the rest of your week,

      Sally

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I saw a wonderful special on the course and I was astounded at its beauty! It is thrilling to have this event in our neck of the woods!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Mike, and thank you for stopping by and reading/commenting. Always good to see you.

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      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      What a beautiful "from the heart" story. Thanks for sharing with us Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, you said quite a bit more than awesome, and I thank you for every word of it. I'm glad you were touched by this one.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, DJ, thank you so much. When Bev and I went there two years ago I had tears in my eyes. I can't help it...I'm just an old softy at heart.

      Thank you for caring so much.

      Bill

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      What a beautiful, nostalgic, soul-and-spirit story! Add historical, familial and full of connectedness. What I really want to say is Awesome!

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      This one left me in tears, Bill. Simple, yet it shot right through my heart.

      Beautiful, but painful to read.

      I hope you spy each man in the crowd. May the likeness of each face bring a familiarity that leaves no doubt that they have shown up

      just to touch your heart.

      That read was amazing!

      Thank you,

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Larry. i'll settle for goosebumps any old day. i agree with you about the courses and their effect on the environment. Seems like a waste of water to me. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PNW, thanks for reading my reflection. It is an interesting choice of golf courses for such a big event. I sure hope thousands don't fall in love with our area. We don't need anymore traffic. :)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I'm one of the world's worst golfers, and I have mixed emotions about the sport. On one hand it's a sport, and I love sports. On the other hand, the building and upkeep of these admittedly beautiful courses is not always environmentally friendly.

      Loved the article. Gave me goosebumps.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 2 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I really enjoyed the history lesson and your personal recollections about the site of the Chambers Bay Golf Course. Very timely since there is so much buzz about the US Open. The weather forecast for the event couldn't be more perfect and unfortunately the gorgeous summer weather that we of the Pacific Northwest try to keep secret will be out.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vellur. I appreciate you taking the time to read about my memories.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Fond memories from the past, beautifully expressed and thank you for sharing these precious memories. Am sure your dad and his friends will be watching.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sha! Bev and I went there a couple years ago and it was surreal to be back and to see the massive changes. Oh well, time marches on, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marlene. I just wanted to show that every place has a history, and that history is made up of real people and the lives they lived. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      It must be sad to see a place that was such a big part of your life completely transformed. I'm not a golfer either, but I had to watch the videos to get an idea of what once was. I've never seen a golf course like that. Interesting.

      I have no doubt your dad and his pals will be there. In fact, I'd bet that if you were there, you'd feel their presence.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory. I don't golf either, but I do watch major events. This year, as I watch this event, my enjoyment will be enhanced by the story behind the scenery.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am what I am, Larry, for better or for worse. Thank you for joining me on another Wednesday. May we both have many more of them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, that's a great memory you shared. Perfect example of this article. Thank you for that...a farm to a runway...progress?

    • profile image

      lawrence Kitzmann 2 years ago

      It must be Wednesday because here I am reading another of your most excellent essays, reflections or ?? Many thanks my friend memories be they good bad or somewhere in between are part of what make us who we are good bad or somewhere in between. Have a great rest of the week.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Everything that has a beginning has an end. Every ending is a beginning.

      Reminds me of one time in my college years that I sat in a car with a girl in sight of one of the runways of O'Hare Airport, and she pointed to where her family farm had been.

      I'm glad to read about those boyhood experiences, one of the sources of your values. Well told.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. I'm glad you enjoyed my trip back to the past. Have a splendid birthday day!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Aw, beautiful absolutely beautiful and got chills reading. I am sure your dad is watching from above and smiling down completely. Have a great day now once again!! ;)