Woody Guthrie, Marjorie, Mama & Me: A Memory for the Woody Guthrie Centennial
by Terry Roland–In Memory of Doris Madeline Roland-Hutson Oct. 9, 1921-May 31, 2012
It’s been 100 years since Woody Guthrie took his first breath of Oklahoma air. Although he died more than 45 years ago, Woody is more alive today than many people still walking around the planet. He was one of the first artists to teach me about roots in music and life. He brought my mother and I together at a time when most teens felt alienated from their parents. He nudged me into writing, to being unafraid of the creative thought and expression.
As we read each chapter we both fell in love with Woody and his stories of hardship in America during the Great Depression. His stories always caused Mom to tell more stories. As she described her adolescence during the 30’s I found she
She attracted many suitors, but the one she fell for would later be my dad. He was a troubled kid who ran afoul of the law. By the time he was 18 he had already been to reformatory. Even so, he was a bright and gifted young man with a unique wild streak that attracted her.
His father was an evangelistic preacher whose bad temper wouldn’t allow him to pastor a regular church. Instead he specialized in the hell-fire brand of religion. When he wasn’t behind a pulpit he took his anger out on his sons. My dad ran from his abuse and rebelled from his religion.
Mom knew she could love the wild out of him. My dad had constant hard luck. He even had the eight letters of the two words tattooed on each finger, h-a-r-d l-u-c-k. He was killed in a plane crash in Hobbs, New Mexico in 1956. I was a little over a year old. In my 14 year-old mind I saw my dad and Woody as brothers. The more I listened to Woody the closer I felt to my dad and my mom.