A Real Renaissance Man
Cecil Holland could do everything. He was a painter, a wood worker, a sculptor, an inventor, a jewelry maker, an engraver, and the best friend a kid ever had. I remember that he used to smoke a pipe, and the tobacco smelled great. But his pipes were memorable in themselves because he carved them. He had a large collection displayed on the shelves of his sunporch. Mostly they were white Meerschaum pipe bowls, all elaborately carved with wild animals, dragons, heroic figures and vegetation.
Mr. Holland taught me to do mosaic tiling. Except I am not sure that he was the one who was doing most of the mosaic work I saw at their house. His wife Norma, besides being an actress, was also an artist, and I think the mosaics might have been hers. But I do remember him working on a large oil painting and explaining what he was doing as he painted. He had also done some elaborate murals of jungle scenes and animals that were displayed in their home and I wonder if they had originally been in their Coldwater Canyon home.
He showed us a bomb he had designed for the Army Air Corp during WWII for use in the African Campaign. He told how troops would advance across the desert while hiding behind tanks for protection. This bomb would be dropped from an airplane, and about 30 feet above the ground, four or five cannon would drop from the sides and fire into the air and hit anyone hiding behind the tank. Then the bomb would explode when it contacted the tank itself. The mechanism was very simple and ingenious. Pretty exciting stuff for a 13 year old.