John Monroe Johnson Holliday…what a piece of work. Daddy was the baby in his family, just as I was the baby in my family.  He had bowed legs; I have bowed legs. He had a large head (7 5/8″ to be precise) and I have the same size head.  Some say the bigger your head, the smarter you are.  Of course that’s an old wives tale, but even if it were true, I would disagree with this premise.  Instead of being smarter, I truly think it means you have the capacity to have more common sense, wisdom and discernment.
Now that doesn’t mean your grandfather wasn’t smart. He was extremely bright, carrying around both “country smarts” and “city smarts”.  He could talk to anyone.  He made them feel comfortable, welcome and always found the time to visit with someone who just dropped by without giving any notice.  He always offered them a chair, a package of nabs and a small coca-cola in a bottle.
Daddy (sometimes I called him Poppa Doodle) was born and raised in Galivants Ferry.  He belonged to the third generation of Hollidays to live in this Horry County Township located on the banks of the Little Pee Dee River.  I’m sure, being the baby, he was spoiled, but he grew up quickly, since he was the youngest of seven — five sisters, a brother, and daddy (twin brothers died earlier at young ages).  He was home-tutored in a little schoolhouse next to the cement tennis court.  The school house isn’t there anymore, but I remember small yellow and pink roses growing rampantly around it.  He graduated from Aynor High School and became the youngest cadet ever to enter the Citadel in Charleston, S.C.  It was and still is a fine military school. He went in as a skinny young boy, prospered and graduated in 1936 as a Lt. Colonel. He remains the youngest graduate in the Citadel’s history.  He went on to teach military history in Tennessee.  During World War II he only traveled once to Europe, to bring soldiers home. Thank you, Lord, for protecting my Daddy.
Daddy was completely honest with regards to all business matters. It was engrained in him.  When daddy shook your hand, it was better than a legal “high dollar lawyer” contract.  When we all sat down together and crossed our legs, he would say “the meeting is in order.”  He told fellow business associates you could take his “words” to the bank.  Now, no one is perfect, except God — not even your granddaddy – but he tried his best to be fair to all and treat them with respect.  He always started our family meetings, held every Wednesday morning, with the same prayer:  “Lord, let us make the right decisions for the right reason. Amen.”
Daddy had lots of “sayings”.  One of the more memorable was, “I’ll bet you a Pepsi-Cola”.  He wasn’t a gambler, but when he thought he was right, he loved to win. He hated to borrow money, but sometimes he had to – especially during the beginning of the tobacco-growing season.  He told everyone we had to hurry up and pay the money back to the bank ’cause “the interest grows all day and all night.”  He didn’t cuss much – instead he’d say “Great Day in the Morning!”, “Something’s rotten in Denmark” or “What in the Helena Montana is going on”. He taught Sunday school, so I reckon he had to stay in practice not cussing so bad words wouldn’t slip out of his mouth.  He always wanted me to play “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” on the piano for church services.  I never did.  I wish I had. (On September 23, 2010, I played this hymn in the Galivants Ferry Church on the old piano. I know Daddy was there in spirit. It made me feel better. I know he enjoyed it.)
His favorite joke was about brains. It goes something like this:  One day a man walked into a BRAIN STORE that specialized in South Carolina College Brains. He looked at the Citadel brain and it cost $50. Then he noticed a University of South Carolina brain and it cost $100. Finally, he saw a sparkling clean Clemson brain that was so shiny, he asked for its sale price – “$1,000,” the salesman said.
Daddy asked, “Why in the world is the Clemson brain so expensive?”
The salesman said, “‘Cause it’s never been used!!”
Your granddaddy laughed harder than anyone every time he told this joke.  I can hear his contagious laugh right now. It makes me smile.
Another favorite hobby of Daddy’s was to hand out cigarettes on “National Quit Smoking Day”.  He never smoked except on that one day.  He’d go into banks, stores and offices of his buddies, chatting, giving out free cigarettes and telling them how much healthier cigarettes were than liquor.  He even said if marijuana ever became legal he’d be the first to grow it. I ‘ll bet’cha Pepsi Cola.
Daddy never lost his allegiance to The Citadel. In fact, he LOVED the Citadel. It was his second home.  He always said he’d attended more graduations than anyone – and my mother would add, “so have I.”  They always stayed at Mark Clark Hall, as did I when I was a boarding student at Ashley Hall School.  He was a very active member of the Citadel Alumni Association, a member of the Board of Visitors and a past chairman.  His portrait still remains in the Citadel Library. Before he died, he was able to attend the grand opening of the Holliday Alumni Center, which y’all attended.
I really feel God kept him alive to attend this momentous occasion.  He was in rare form that evening and with a strong voice, gave his last speech at the Citadel.  Wasn’t it wonderful!  That memory makes me cry and smile at the same time.
Your granddaddy was sporty.  He excelled in golf and tennis.  Being ambidextrous, he played tennis right-handed, golf left-handed, and wrote right-handed.  I don’t remember how he played shuffleboard.  He always dressed well and loved Brooks Brothers clothes.  Poplan or seersucker suits could carry him anywhere and he’d fit right in.  He would always tell you,  “When you go somewhere carry yourself well, have confidence and know you belong there.  Talk to everyone.”
He married your grandmamma, which I’ll discuss later.  It was the best decision he ever made.  For now, I want to tell you how daddy was my mentor.
Daddy loved me.  I was his “Crystal Ball”. I looked like him, walked like him, and talked like him.  He made me feel special.  I never recall him really being angry towards me or spanking me.  Back in those days, you “knew better” and respected your elders, especially your parents.
He didn’t really spoil me, even though most folks would dispute that fact.  Raised by Depression-era parents, my siblings and I learned the value of a dollar.  Just because I lived in a big white antebellum home, people assumed we had lots of money.  I did not feel rich.  I did feel richly loved by my family and the folks around me.  Daddy paid me a nickel for every pair of shoes I polished, and I mowed the grass for several dollars.
Daddy’s best friends called him “Monroe”.  He named me Christian Monroe.  I became “little” Monroe to his friends, including the man who became governor of South Carolina and later a U.S. Senator, Fritz Hollings.  That made me happy and proud.  He was always home at suppertime and helped me with my history homework.  He liked putting me to bed and sometimes let me stay up past my bedtime to watch TV, like the time I was eight, when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  When I got up in the morning, we always ate breakfast together at 7 a.m.
Christmas mornings were very special to your granddaddy. I’m glad you got to experience some of these wonderful days with him and your Grandmama. Do y’all remember him picking up the youngest child? Or the cat, after y’all got too big? He would knock on the doors to the living room and say, “Santa Claus? You still in there?” Y’all never got the matching Scottish Holliday clan robes, but before y’all were around, you had to wear it, take a picture and then you could enter the living room. When your father was presented with one of these robes, he knew he was a welcomed family member.

My sister, Russell, is 5 years older than me and my brother George was 10 years older.  Because of the age differences, I was nearly raised as a single child and Daddy was able to spend individual time with me.  He loved telling me stories of his growing up at the Ferry.  He made me feel special and instilled in me a love of home. One day, it was a ‘red letter day’ — Daddy used to call special days ‘red letter days’, I don’t know why. He picked me up from school himself, and we went to see Babes in Toyland at the Holliday Theater in Marion. I’ll never forget that special afternoon.
Daddy was also clever. He and his brother, Joseph, were creative businessmen. In the late 1970s, an interesting event happened with one of their picture shows. The Rocking Chair Theater at the beach was playing Fritz The Cat, an off-color animated film not appropriate for most folks. The police had already told my Uncle and Daddy to take the movie off the screen…or else. They must have been busy and forgot. The police called again and said that a cruiser was coming to the theater to arrest them. When the officer showed up, they were informed that The Ten Commandments was playing instead of Fritz the Cat. They left empty-handed.
Daddy loved the fact I played golf.  Our whole family played golf together after church on Sunday afternoons.  It’s not proper golf etiquette to play as a fivesome, so I’d throw my 3-wood, 7-iron and putter in Momma’s bag, run barefoot down the first fairway and tee off on the second hole.  The Dunes Club or Pine Lakes in Myrtle Beach were our favorite golf courses.  I’ll never forget parring the ninth hole at the Dunes Club while playing barefooted.  Neither did Daddy. It tickled him.  I can hear his laughter now.
Business for Daddy was simple: tell the truth and be fair.  If you always tell it like it is, you won’t need to remember what you said.  Cash was the best way to pay for everything!  He wrote his own leases, contracts, and deeds. It wasn’t until much later in life he switched to using lawyers. He did not want to do this at all.  He hated paying lawyers, especially for phone calls.  He’d tell his lawyers, “Don’t turn that hourglass over, I just want to talk.”  However, times were changing and the “good ole way” of doing business and being able to trust people was sadly becoming a thing of the past.
He did, however, stick with the way he sold timber.  We’d all gather in the conference room at an appointed time with timber companies.  He would flip open the lid of his treasured old tobacco box. There was a slit cut in the top, big enough for bids to be put on paper and slipped inside.  He’d read the results and announce the bid winner. That was that.  Timber and tobacco put me through school.  When I was young, going to tobacco market was fun.  I didn’t have to go, so I guess that’s why it was fun.  I had a choice.  The auctioneers, the smell of tobacco, eating a chili hotdog and visiting with the farmers made for a great day with my daddy.

I worked for Daddy after college and between marriages (details to come later).  Our desks faced one another.  It was wonderful.  I learned to love the land, our heritage and honor our traditions.  He showed me the way.