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Holbrook family dedicates rich memories and new bench to eight family grads at QHS

Mary Lou Holbrook, left (QJSHS Class of ’54) came to Quincy on Oct. 17 to dedicate a new engraved bench to the Holbrook family grads with her brother, Bob (Class of ’48) and sister Phyllis Holbrook Mounkes (Class of ’51). Photo by Roni Java

A very special reunion took place Oct. 17 on the south lawn of Quincy Junior-Senior High School.

Three members of the Holbrook family came together to dedicate an engraved bench honoring eight members of their family (and a couple of extras) who all graduated from QJSHS over a 48-year stretch.

Meet the Holbrooks

Bob Holbrook (Class of 1948) joined his sisters, Phyllis Holbrook Mounkes (Class of ’51) and Mary Lou Holbrook (Class of ’54), to see the new bench they had purchased that was installed by Plumas Unified School District personnel and Stonehenge Signs owner William Jacks, who built the piece.

The bench commemorates all of their family grads:

– Bob, Phyllis and Mary Lou.

– Rita Blankenship Holbrook (Class of ’48), Bob’s late wife.

– Charlotte Holbrook (Class of ’69), Bob and Rita’s daughter.

– Rick Holbrook (Class of ’72), Bob and Rita’s son.

– Mike Holbrook, (Class of ’96), Bob and Rita’s grandson.

–Charles Mounkes (Class of ’51), Phyllis’ late husband.

Although not listed on the bench, two additional extended family members also graduated from the school: Charles Mounkes’ sister Wilma (Class of ’50) who married Gene Parker (Class of ’49).

Trojan Terrace benches project

The Holbrooks are participating in an alumni program that allows grads, families and students to dedicate an engraved brick or paver in the Trojan Terrance on campus, or to have an engraved bench installed elsewhere at the school site.

Alumna Nancy Gambell, a former QJSHS cheerleader herself, oversees the program in a volunteer capacity and said there are already 17 stone benches at Quincy High.

Fond memories and Phil Harris

While they attended Quincy High in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mary Lou and Phyllis lived in Sloat.

Mary Lou has two favorite memories of her QJSHS years. One focused on being in the Quincy High jazz band and the other was when she received a $250 scholarship from the Soroptimist International of Quincy club.

“I received that scholarship in my senior year in 1954 and I can’t say thank you enough,” Mary Lou said. “I couldn’t have gone to college without that money. I was so grateful for that start and I went off to Cal State Sacramento feeling great. Please let the Soroptimist members know how much I appreciated it.”

Her other most-favorite memory is of playing the trombone in the school band under the leadership of Clarence Schott (a legend in his time who has his own bench situated right outside the QJSHS music room) and traveling around for performances. On one trip, they played at the California State Fair.

“We’d already marched and performed and they gave us seats right down in front for the Phil Harris Band’s show!” Mary Lou recalled with a broad smile. “The dancers and the costumes were wonderful.”

Phil Harris, for those not-so-cool hepcats who don’t know, was described in a 1995 New York Times obituary as “Phil Harris, the brash, bourbon-swigging, fast-drawling band leader who became a comic radio star as a Jack Benny sidekick in the 1930s and then enchanted new generations of fans as the unlikely voice of Baloo the Bear in Walt Disney’s ‘Jungle Book.’”

Big band sound and great trips

Asked about her best times at Quincy High, Phyllis recalled that she also loved being in the band most of all.

Phyllis played the mellophone, a marching French horn jazz band instrument (that looks like a trumpet). Her then-boyfriend and now late husband Charles Mounkes lived in Keddie and played saxophone.

“Actually, I liked being in the band a lot because I got to go on trips with Charles,” Phyllis laughed shyly. “He and his friends used to like to swipe my homework and copy it. But the band trips were the best. Of course, Mr. Schott came up and down the aisle (of the bus) every few minutes, so everyone was properly chaperoned.”

Phyllis and Charles both graduated in 1951 and married soon after.

Dancing the night away

Big brother Bob Holbrook is especially proud to be included in the Holbrook Family bench placed alongside the south lawn of Quincy High School.

He was serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II and didn’t get to graduate with his class of 1948, so he’s an honorary grad, said bench coordinator Gambell.

The Quincy High band was always in demand for dances and funny enough, there’s a theme here.

Bob’s favorite memories of those 1940s high school days also centered on the band and he often went along with hopes of dancing with his best girl.

“I really liked going with Rita when she played in the dance band,” he said. “She was a very good musician and played two instruments. Mr. Schott always liked to have her play the bass saxophone. That band played everywhere and won a lot of awards. I didn’t get to dance with Rita much, maybe one dance (per show)!”

Gambell affirmed the Quincy High jazz band was extremely popular in its heyday. She said the ensemble “played everywhere and people still remember it.”

In fact, when an alumni group of former musicians from the band reunited in the area some years back, they played at the Plumas County Picnic and were a big hit.

Today, the Holbrook family bench provides a vibrant reminder of many happy years and memories of being part of Quincy High’s history. It’s a history the Holbrooks are proud to be part of.

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