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Wardy Forty

I stumbled across an abandoned file room at Greystone Park and discovered Woody Guthrie’s medical records. I didn’t know Woody Guthrie was a patient there. In fact, I didn’t know much about him beyond he wrote “This Land Is Your Land” and his son Arlo sang at Woodstock.

That night, I searched the Internet and learned that the Woody Guthrie Archives were in New York City. I made an appointment and met Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, who ran the Archives. She confirmed that Woody had been a patient at Greystone Park while suffering from Huntington’s disease and that this was where Bob Dylan first met him! 

Nora gave me Guthrie’s case number and on my next visit to the Greystone Park, I found his intake and discharge photos in those abandoned files. Here started my journey…

Prolific American folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie is best known for his song “This Land Is Your Land.” Unknown to many, Guthrie spent the last 15 years of his life in hospitals, suffering from the degenerative neurological disorder, Huntington’s disease.

Through never-before-published family letters, historic family photographs, and rare personal interviews, this book explores the five years Guthrie spent at Greystone Park State Hospital in New Jersey. Phillip Buehler’s contemporary photographs of the now-abandoned hospital bring these years to life.

Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Fortywill be a cloth bound, hardcover, 162-page art book printed in the USA.

 ABOUT THE BOOK
The book includes:
  • Over 60 contemporary color photographs of now-abandoned Greystone Park State Hospital by Phillip Buehler.
  • Over 20 rare family photographs from Nora Guthrie’s personal collection.
  • Historic, never before seen photographs by world-renowned photographer John Cohen
  • Never-before-published photographs by Guthrie’s close friend Bob Gleason.
  • Personal letters from Guthrie written at Greystone to his wife, Marjorie and children, Arlo, Joady, and Nora.
  • Archival documents and writings from the Woody Guthrie Archives including a scene from an unpublished play Guthrie wrote here.
  • Rare personal interviews with Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Harold Leventhal, and Guthrie’s doctors at Greystone.
  • Handwritten lyrics by Bob Dylan to “Song to Woody” that have never been published
  • A very special epilogue written especially for this project by Alice Wexler, Ph.D, author and founding Board member of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, with a brief history of Huntington’s Disease and an update on recent research and steady progress towards a cure.

NORA GUTHRIE REMEMBERS

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to release many of the images and writings of Woody which give insight into his many years spent coping with Huntington’s Disease. I always felt that they were historically important, as he continued to write, think, and live with this tragic illness. Additionally, it seemed important in terms of understanding HD and the ways it effects a person’s abilities to live and cope with the knowledge of such a hopeless condition. When Phil Beuhler came to me with these photographs, I knew immediately that this would be the way to communicate and hopefully illuminate Woody’s heretofore unexplored life with HD. As he so often determinely proclaimed, “I ain’t dead quite yet”.

I hope when you look through this book, in addition to seeing the inevitable decay all around,  you’ll also see a man with twinkling eyes, and humorous grin. He lived this way, consistently. He strived to learn and grow even as he went through each day of his illness. And although Huntington’s Disease was his own personal trial, he never became Huntington’s Disease. His understanding of life came through loud and clear.

As I look through this book, I see through the tragic images and find a beauty that has taken me over fifty years to recognize. These images are merely the ruins, the gross leftovers, the little pieces, the chipped and peeling fragments of a life felt and lived so vividly and boldly.

I want to thank Phil Buehler for creating such a special work of art. By piecing together these fragments from the past for us, I see now that these ruins are what we all live to ultimately transcend. That’s what makes them so profoundly beautiful. -Nora Guthrie

FINE PRINT

  • Type of binding: Hardcover, Bookcloth, Casebound
  • 162 pages
  • Dimensions 11-7/8″ x 9-5/8″
  • Paper: 100# Phoenix Motion Xantur Text
  • Printer: Meridian Printing
  • Publisher: Woody Guthrie Publications