March 27, 2014 ~
My name is Anna Canoni and my grandmother was Marjorie and this is the beginning of my journey…
My grandmother had many names and was many things to many different people. Perhaps you knew her?
- Did you know her as Marjorie Greenblatt – daughter of Yiddish poet Aliza Waitzman & Isadore Greenblatt – who was born in Atlantic City and grew up in Philadelphia?
- Or maybe you knew her as Marjorie Mazia, dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company and teacher to Merce Cunningham and Erick Hawkins?
- Perhaps you knew her as Marjorie Guthrie; mother to Arlo, Joady, and Nora?
- Or did you know her as Woody Guthrie’s wife?
- Did you know her as a counselor at Raquette Lake Girls Camp or Indian Hill Arts Camp?
- Do you attend the Marjorie Mazia School of Dance in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn?
- Perhaps you knew her as the woman who co-founded the Woody Guthrie Foundation, supporting the work of like-minded organizations like the Beacon Sloop Club and SingOut Magazine.
- Perhaps you knew her as the woman who worked and organized neurologists around the globe to come together in the hopes of finding a cure for Huntington’s disease?
- Did you know of her dream to one day opening an archive of Woody’s materials – to create a place that people would learn from Woody’s life’s work and be inspired to create?
She was many things to many people and this really is the short list.
I endeavor to create a place where I can learn who she was through the stories that are still around. I don’t know what the final outcome will be, but I’m interested in seeing how many of you out there knew about her. So let’s go back in time together and remember Marjorie Guthrie!
Peace and love,
10 thoughts on “About Me”
I knew Marjorie through a mutual friend, Professor Sheldon C. Reed, my PhD thesis advisor at the University of Minnesota. I was a young professor at Rutgers University and I invited Marjorie to speak to a class of genetic counseling graduate students and families from the community, at the Rutgers Medical School in May, 1979. She came to my apartment in North Brunswick, NJ for dinner prepared by my wife, Patricia, who was a medical student at the time and later that evening she was attending a 60th birthday party for Pete Seeger. After dinner, she spoke about HD, her life with her husband and how much more work needed to be done to better understand HD.
She inspired us all to understand what patients and families with HD were experiencing and to commit to making a difference in the lives of HD families, as only Marjorie could. She was determined for us to begin a program in NJ to care for HD patients and families and called the then Governor, Brendan Byrne, to provide funds to being our center now known as the Samuel L. Baily Huntington Disease Center of New Jersey, located at Rutgers and Rowan Universities, Schools of Medicine. Our HD Center in NJ opened in 1979 and has been continually funded by state appropriations annually since then. Our state also includes two private long term care units, established by statute, for late-stage HD supported as specialty care centers. Dr. Thomas Vogt, then a student at Rutgers, attended that evening lecture and likewise was inspired by Marjorie and has pursued a career working on genetics and HD and is currently Vice President at CHDI. Others have spent part of their career working in the field of HD including Professor Alice Lazzarini, who also attended that evening.
Marjorie was a true inspiration to me and many of my former students. Her life of dedication to service continues to inspire young professionals and families alike today. It was a great honor to have known her.
In the early seventies I stil lived with parents in a village called Schilde, near Antwerp in Belgium. From that adress I corresponded quit a lot with Marjorie. I don’t really remember but I guess it was all about Woody. I played guitar and banjo at that time en sang a lot of Woody’s songs. One sunny day me and my girlfriend were helping my mother cleaning windows from the outsite. Suddenly a car stopped in front of the house and out came Marjorie Guthrie! It took me a while to realize who she was. On here way to a congress, withouut GPS, she had found my home! We chatted for only a few minutes and on the road she went!
Marjorie was my dance teacher in Brooklyn in the 196o’s. I loved her classes! I can still picture her in the studio calling out the steps. She was a nice, gentle woman and really taught me a lot.
I am so happy that you are honouring your grandmother,Marjorie. I knew her as Marjorie Mazia when she was supporting the family with the dance studio in Sheepshead Bay. I took dance lessons with her in the 1950s. She was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known and I loved her. Everything she touched or did had a magic quality to it — every dance move came from an inner grace. I “helped” her with little children’s classes, as she feared that my family couldn’t afford for me to come more and once a week and she knew how much I loved those classes. She played the piano, and often would use Woody’s “songs to grow on” for the little kids.” There was a big pole in the middle of the dance studio, but in her class with the little children, it wasn’t a pole, it was a tree. We all went around the room, some on our “bicycles” which we then parked against the tree. By the end of the hour it really was a tree. I have privately cherished her memory and I still think of her, her extraordinary loveliness. So thank you.
I thought I had seen just about everything about Marjorie, but today I read the note just posted about Marjorie’s hoping and planning that Woody wrote. I wonder if we are capable of such beauty and innocence today.
We need it.
I was a dance student at Marjorie’s school for upwards of seven years. Each week I would take the Ocean Ave bus from Ave R to Ave Z and walk to dance school. Marjorie would greet us with warmth and enthusiasm. Each of us felt special in our unique way. I remember Marjorie’s daughter, Nora. She was placed in front of the class…facing and guiding us through all the floor stretches.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” Martha Graham
Marjorie was beautiful. I recall her full head of hair, often tied back. She was elegant and graceful. She was a 60’s woman, through and through. Marjorie’s dance felt like poetry.
There was such depth of feeling as she swept across the dance floor. She was telling us a hidden story, perhaps her story.
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique,
they are great because of their passion.” Martha Graham
Among other young girls, Marjorie selected me to be in a ballet recital. We practiced every Sunday with a tall male ballet instructor. I actually think the recital was cancelled, but the experience was very special.
Marjorie introduced me to the world of dance. I went to Belvoir Terrace, a dance camp one summer. I was even considering attending a specialized dance high school. Every year I enjoy dance performances at Lincoln Center or other stages.
“Movement never lies.
It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.”
Thank you, Marjorie, for supporting me to discover a barometer, a window into my soul.
Hi Nancy, thank you for sharing your beautiful memories here!
I happened upon this site in the middle of the night just a few weeks after the death of my beloved mother who grew up in Sea Gate, knew Woody and Marjorie, and used to babysit for Nora and Arlo! When I was about 6, my mom signed me up for dance classes at Marjorie’s studio in Sheepshead Bay. I loved her! She was really beautiful! I remember leaping over plastic flowers she had laid down on the floor… When Woody died, some of her students danced at Carnegie Hall at a benefit for him… I was one of those students. I will never forget that experience nor the aura of Marjorie— her grace, gentleness and beauty. Thanks for honoring her memory.
Hi Gabrielle, thank you for sharing your memory with me and please accept my condolences for your loss. As part of this project to learn more about my grandmother, I’m trying to speak with people who knew her. If you have the time and would be interested, I’d love to schedule a time to talk with you. We have photographs of Marjorie’s dance students at the Carnegie show and at her studio, that you might get a kick out of seeing. You can reach me at annacanoni(at)gmail.com, if you’d like to talk. Thank you again for sharing your memories here!
I took classes with Majorie in her Sheepshead Bay school when I was in high school. She was amazing! So dynamic, loving, supportive, creative, full of life. I have amazing memories of taking classes with her.
As an aside, my mother was Arlo Guthrie’s kindergarten teacher by default: during the first week of school, the other kindergarten teacher brought Arlo into my mother’s classroom and said, “He’s all yours!” I had heard he was a handful but my mother never had a problem with him:).