A centennial celebration for the ages
by Staff Writer
Dozens of friends and family from as far away as Colorado gathered Saturday, Aug. 27 at Huntersville Presbyterian Church to celebrate Cara Holbrook’s 100th birthday.
A special guest at the event was Holbrook’s 91-year-old sister Josephine Hill from Hickory. They also have a 103-year-old sister, Ella Goodnight, who lives in Salisbury.
“We’ve had about 100 years of fun together,” Hill said.
A native of Huntersville, Holbrook was born Sept. 1, 1911, to M. Roy and Leslie Holbrook. Cara was one of seven children and grew up on a farm in the Stumptown community.
Besides his duties on the land, her father was a rural mail carrier for over 50 years, a task she recollected him performing faithfully.
“When he first started the job it was on horseback,” she said. “He would deliver mail all day long and sometimes not return until after dark. It was 1923 before he got his first car to deliver the mail in.”
Other memories Holbrook has of her childhood in Huntersville included the day she saw her first airplane.
“We heard it and everyone ran out in the yard,” she said. “Another time a plane landed in the field near our house and we went over to see it.”
She also recalled the sense of trust that folks had of each other back in then.
“We walked everywhere we wanted to go,” she said. “We could go anywhere and not be afraid. That’s the biggest difference between then and now.”
Early on, Holbrook decided to become a teacher. She graduated from Catawba College in 1934 and went on to teach second and third grade classes for 42 years at locations such as Long Creek in Mecklenburg County and Conover in Catawba County. Her starting pay was seventy dollars a month.
“My career was my own,” she said.
Needing to get around, Holbrook bought her first car, a four-door Chevy, in 1938 for $350 at the Dwight Cross Chevrolet dealership in Huntersville. The deal set payments at $25 per month, except for the summer months when she wasn’t teaching. Remarkably, Holbrook was still driving until just a few years ago.
Several at her birthday party said the sense of independence she has maintained is her trademark. And even though family friend Tom Barnes does the driving now, she still gets out and about as often as possible.
“Every Friday I pick her up and we go get a copy of the Herald Weekly, then I drop her off at the hair salon,” Barnes said. “She has no trouble getting around. She doesn’t even need a cane. Her eyes are so sharp she pointed out a four-leaf clover to me in her back yard.”
Holbrook’s connection with Huntersville Presbyterian is strong as is her faith.
“She is a lifelong member and rarely misses a Sunday,” said Jane Plyer. “If her ride is late she walks to church from her house on Holbrook Street.”
Still bright and witty, Holbrook doesn’t attribute her long life to vitamins, exercise, or a special diet. Instead, Holbrook has another theory.
“God hasn’t decided to take me yet.”