From an article that appeared in the Smithfield Herald, Smithfield, Johnston County, North Carolina, Tuesday, May 2, 1950


Woman, 83, Loves To Tat And Dance


      Mrs. P. H. Holland, known in her family as "Granny" was 83 years old Monday, May 1, and on Sunday all of her children gathered here at the home of her son W. A. Holland, with whom she lives, and celebrated the occasion.

      Tall and slender, straight as an arrow, her hearing perfect, never a sick day since she was a small child, Mrs. Holland maintains an appearance, which in spite of her snow-white hair and absolutely toothless mouth belies her 80-odd years.

      She said her eyesight was failing some; and I could well believe it for my eyes would have been put out had I tatted the dainty, lovely tablecloth that she had just completed.  But she told me she could tat with her eyes shut, so failing eyesight is no handicap to her best-loved hobby.  The tablecloth made of number-30 thread is a marvel of sheerness, though not nearly so filmy as a luncheon set, which she tatted with number-70 thread.  Then there was a bedspread made entirely of tatting, which she has given to her oldest son.  Incidentally the cloth just finished has been presented to her five-year-old grandson, W. A. Holland, Jr., who played around her knees much of the eight or nine months she was working on it. 

     Baby caps, booties, yokes for underwear and yards and yards of edging have been tatted by Mrs. Holland. She has sold perhaps a thousand dollars worth of her handiwork, besides what she has given away.

     Mrs. Holland is a native of Wayne County having been born in 1868 near Eureka, formerly called Sauls Crossroads for her Great-grandfather Sauls. Her parents were Mary Sauls and F. E. Woodard. On October 22, 1883, when only 15 years old, she married P. H. Holland (Perry H. Holland) also of Wayne County. Since his death 25 years ago she has lived with her children. She came to Smithfield about seven years ago, two of her children, W. A. Holland and Mrs. A. F. Bowen, being residents of this city. Other living children of the thirteen, which she had, are R. E. Holland of Warsaw, Richard Holland of Sampson County, and Mrs. J. E. Waddell of Fremont

      Mrs. Holland declares that tatting is not her only hobby; that she dearly loves to dance. "Do you mean that you really dance now at 83?" I inquired. "If good fast dance music comes over the radio I sometimes just have to get out on the floor and try again those old Virginia Reel steps," she replied.

     Then She told me how she had always loved to dance; and the first thing I knew I was living over with her a tournament ball of 70 years ago at which she was crowned queen.

     I had heard my mother tell of tournaments in which gentlemen riding horses competed in some sort of ring throwing contest and they always wound up with a grand ball, the winner in the tournament being permitted to select and crown the queen of the ball.

     It was at just such an affair at Saul's Crossroads that Mrs. Holland's fiancé won out and chose her to be queen of the ball. Mrs. Holland described, as though it were yesterday, the crown of garden roses and ivy, which her young gallant placed upon her head.

      But the interesting thing about that ball was Mrs. Holland's drastic efforts to have curly hair for the occasion. She said her hair had always been as straight as an Indian's. But she was fully determined to have curls for that tournament ball. She dampened her hair with sugared water and rolled it up on Monday. The ball was not until Friday night. Twice each day, from Monday until Friday, she ironed those cuds, taking no chance on having her hair straight. Alas, she confided, an hour after the crown had been placed upon her brow on the night of the ball, her tresses were stingily straight. But even that did not spoil for her the tripping of the light fantastic. She reiterated, "I still love it."

This article was provided by Tommy Mull, Jr., of Swansboro, North Carolina, great-grandson of Fannie Woodard and Perry H. Holland. 

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This Holland site Published 10 July 1996. This page added 18 March 2004.   Last updated 10 March 2014

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