For many couples, reaching their 50th wedding anniversary is a major milestone — Beverley and Ora Ernest “Ernie” Holloway are two decades beyond that.
The Holloways were married Dec. 14, 1947. Beverley was 20 and Ernie was 19. He would turn 20 the day after their wedding.
Beverley had relocated to Crescent City from Klamath Falls with her family, but since there wasn’t a whole lot to do — most activity ceased when the tourist season was over in September, she says — she decided to go back to school.
“There was this tall handsome curly-headed guy I sat next to in class, and that started the whole thing,” Beverley said. “We’ve been together ever since.”
The Holloways were married at a time when the lily bulb industry was a major player in Del Norte County. Beverley said her father moved his family to Crescent City because he wanted to grow lilies. In the 70 years they’ve been together, Beverley and Ernie have seen industries come and go, weathered tsunamis and floods and raised four kids.
Ernie said he moved to Crescent City with his family in the spring of 1942. His father bought a fishing boat, which he helped man during the summer. Throughout his high school years, Ernie said he had a number of different jobs. In 1948, Ernie began working for a privately-owned propane company that has since evolved into Suburban Propane.
Through his job in the propane industry, Ernie said one of his tasks was to find and shut off all the tanks in town following the 1964 tsunami. After convincing security to let him and a co-worker into the tidal wave zone, Ernie said they found tanks that had floated through windows into businesses and others that had floated blocks away from their original location.
“People thought they had a right to them and declare salvage,” Ernie said. “Well, little did they know that martial law had been claimed by the sheriff’s department, which meant that anything that washed up any place, you can’t claim it. I spent more time than I want to remember arguing with people down on the beach saying sorry, that tank belongs to us.”
Ernie also recovered propane tanks and helped people put their houses back together, including their appliances, following the floods in Klamath.
“You walk into these houses, or look through the door, there’s a foot and a half of mud on the floor,” he said, “mud that was so dense that you stick a shovel into it you couldn’t pick it up.”
In 1977 the Holloways left Del Norte. Ernie’s job took the couple from Lakeport to Eugene to Fallon, Nevada. Beverley and Ernie said they both enjoy history and since Fallon was on the Pony Express route, there were remnants of old weigh stations.
Former salt mines, deep holes, also dotted the desert and filled with salt water so quickly that workers couldn’t remove the equipment before they became submerged, Ernie said.
“The water was so clear that on a real calm day you could actually see down and see what was down there and it was about 200 feet deep,” he said. “The salt or whatever it was in the ground kept the water clear and it was a scuba diver’s haven. They’d go out there and they would dive down... it was a real sport out there.”
Ernie said he was working in Fallon and had driven out to service a propane tank at the site of a geothermal electric generating plant when his truck broke down and he found himself stranded in the desert in the middle of December.
“I was 40 miles out from where the compound was and I was still 20 miles from Highway 50,” he said. “I could see the lights of the cars going by out there and I could turn around and look the other direction and I could see the lights of the compound. The temperature was about 15-16 degrees. In a broke down truck with no heat, no way to keep warm, that was a miserable night.”
Ernie said that experience convinced him it was time to retire.
He and Beverley moved to Napa where they were the assistant managers in a retirement facility and then went to Gresham, Oregon, where they worked in a similar facility. They returned to Eugene where they still owned property and then to Maxwell, California, outside of Sacramento where they were pastors of the local United Methodist Church for about three years.
Ernie says it’s their work in the church that helped keep him and Beverley together. He and Beverley even helped build the United Methodist Church on H Street.
“I think we are probably the only still-living people that were in the congregation at the time the church that’s there now was built,” Ernie said, adding that he and Beverley were married in the old church building on G Street. “We were members of the church before that was built.”
In addition to their four children, the Holloways have six grandchildren, six great grandchildren with a seventh due in April. They also have several step-grandchildren and step-great grandchildren.
When asked what has kept them together for 70 years, Beverley said:
“I guess we love each other and have learned tolerance.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .