Remembering Marjorie Guthrie (1917-1983)

My grandmother Marjorie passed away on this date in 1983. Although I was only 4 years old, this is the first memory I have in life. I remember the feeling of her apartment without her in it, sitting on her bed and crying. Marjorie was a huge part of my childhood and I have lived my life carrying her with me everywhere I go. When she passed away she gave me a present, an oversized crocheted piece that said, “the best thing you can give your child is your time.” As a mother, I think of that phrase often as the best rule of parenting.

Grammy, I miss you so much and have delighted in learning more about your life, the relationships you had, and the indelible mark you left on so many of us.

If you have a memory or story that you’d like to share, I invite you to here.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Marjorie Guthrie (1917-1983)

  • March 14, 2019 at 3:05 am
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    Marjorie Mazia was my first ballet teacher in Seagate, in Brooklyn. I was only 4 or 5, but she remained my favorite. I studied later under Patricia Bowman and Alvin Ailey. She was so lovely and I aspired to be just like her. Truth be told, I was not talented enough, but she was very kind to me, kinder than my mother was.

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  • March 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm
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    I am Stetson Kennedy’s widow. Stetson often described Marjorie’s grace beyond describing her dancing, but as one who handled more than her share of life’s adversities with uncommon good grace. As one who knew Woody here in Florida and in New York, Stetson appreciated more than he ever told Marjorie how much he admired her loving care of Woody through difficult times.

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  • March 23, 2019 at 3:24 am
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    I recall Marjorie’s visit to the Library of Congress to see Woody’s materials in the Archive of Folk Song. She indicated first that she wanted to visit the Coolidge Auditorium. I led her there, she sighed, and said that she had been in Martha Graham’s dance group that premiered “Appalachian Spring” on that very stage. I also recall that she introduced herself as Marjorie Guthrie thusly: “If you’re over 50 I’m Woody’s widow; if you’re under 50 I’m Arlo’s mother.” And she’d add: “And I’m the only one who can tell Arlo to empty the garbage, and he will!”

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  • June 24, 2020 at 2:04 am
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    Marjorie was my dance teacher from 1964- 1969. I believe it was 1967 when she produced The memorial concert for Woody at Carnegie hall. It was a fundraiser for Huntington’s disease but it was also a momentous night. Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins were all there. Bob Dylan would not and had not performed live in 5 years but made his huge reappearance on stage for Marjorie. My Mom took me to her school in Sheepshead bay because they knew each other as youngsters from the Martha Graham school. Many of the parents who brought their children there did so in support of Marjorie and Woodies social activism activities. My grandparents and my Mom were labor organizers and social activists. Marjorie was incredibly beautiful with huge sparkling blue eyes and silvery hair always in a bun. Every movement she made spoke of grace and dignity. She treated children like adults a I do distinctly remember my Mom speaking with her when Woody was still alive. My Mom was a pharmacist so they often spoke of Woodies medical condition of which very little was know at that time. Marjorie was tireless in her care of Woody but was exhausted and upset that she needed to divorce Woody to protect herself financially due to the mounting medical bills. My Mom told her a piece of paper does not a marriage make. My Mom’s parents were anarchists who never married but were together for 30 years until my grandfather’s death.

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