But this is a story about their brother, Holden. Holden was an athlete, a military man, and a business man. He held a state record for high school track in Idaho, retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, ran a Denver ad agency, and taught environmental education. But it was his passion for singing that gave him a couple of interesting connections to noted contemporary figures.
While going to school at the University of Idaho in the early 1930s, Holden met Thomas Collins. They became good friends over the years, and Holden became godfather to Tom’s daughter Judy Collins, the well-known folksinger.
Singing took Holden to sea. He became the headline singer for a cruise line on a cruise to South America. He met a young man named Jerome who was staff on the ship. They became fast friends. The two toured the towns where the cruise ship stopped and shot the breeze. Jerome told Holden he was a writer. He liked Holden’s unusual first name and told him he would probably use it someday in a story.
When Jerome got around to using Holden’s name, the writer was going just by his first initials, J.D. J.D. Salinger. The author of Catcher in the Rye once wrote to Holden Bowler and said about the character who borrowed his name, “what you like about Holden (Caulfield) is taken from you, and what you don't like about him, I made up.”
Holden Bowler passed his passion for singing on to his daughter, Belinda Bowler, who I’ve heard called “Idaho folk music royalty.”