Category Archives: Blog Posts-Personal Histories

Courtship, Marriage…and Murder: piecing together a lost portion of our family’s story

Don, Em leaving Church

My parents leaving the church after their wedding

As I worked with my dad to create a memoir for him to share with our family, we came to the year he spent courting my mother in 1949. Dad was more than happy to share the events of how he and Mom met, a story I had grown up hearing. But a significant event that occurred during that year before they married had been left out of Dad’s narrative.
Shortly before Dad’s memoir was to be published, my sister handed me a box that included letters my father wrote to Mom during that courtship year. In a few letters from my dad to Mom, Dad wrote some cryptic notes, including a comment that left me puzzled. Continue reading


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Happy Anniversary, Bellingham Library Writing Group


Cake with sprinkles!

“We should have cake,” I suggested. Carol, one of our long-time members, said, “Sure,” while Amy, my co-leader said to Carol, “What about your Depression era cake?” And so a party was organized, just like that, in celebration of our writer’s group meeting together for the past two years.  Continue reading

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Passing on traditions–Baking together

Checking out my mother’s well-used, well-loved copy of Joy of Cooking

In years past my granddaughter and I have spent time making salads, baking bread, and making cookies. But we had never made banana bread together. She and I had a free afternoon and I had bananas in the freezer just waiting to be transformed into bread that is great for breakfast (and other times as well!)

I reached for my mother’s “Joy of Cooking” recipe book, published probably in the 1940’s, and given to her, I suspect, as a wedding gift. Many recipe books have directions for how to make banana bread, but I really like how this one’s ingredients turn out. It must be the buttermilk. 

So many banana bread ingredients have fallen onto this page in the past!

As I opened to the page for banana bread, Nicole stared at the page and commented, “It looks like a lot of the ingredients fell onto the page!” We laughed, and I agreed that Florida Granny (her name for my parents were Florida Granny and Grampy) used this book many times. In fact, most of my memories were of baking banana bread with my dad. I suspect he had something to do with the “decorations” on the page too!

Egg cracking skills are getting some practice in Grandma’s kitchen

We got started and were soon assembling the ingredients, helping Nicole measure flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and butter. We paid extra attention to the teaspoon measures and practiced using fractions as we worked. Soon most of the needed items were collected. She cracked an egg into a separate bowl, I extracted a few stray egg shells, and on we went.

Chopping nuts!
Fun practicing using fractions using measuring spoons

With each step, Nicole had questions. What joy to share simple kitchen knowledge with my growing grandgirl, now nine and soon approaching my own height. She wanted a turn with the nut chopper and took great delight in whacking away at the nuts to pulverize them before dumping them into bowl with everything else.

Some mixed feelings handling frozen, then thawed bananas!

But the bananas were another issue entirely. She was willing, but not quite sure what to expect since the frozen, now thawed bananas were squishy, almost slimy in texture. But she soldiered on and got all the bananas into the bowl too.

Finished banana bread

Once everything was mixed and into the oven, she continued with questions. One question stopped me. “What will you do with this book when you don’t need it any more, Grandma?”

Ah, she is getting old enough to grasp that none of us lives forever, even if that’s not what she said. I admitted I hadn’t really thought about it. “Would you like it someday?” She nodded, and hugged me.

Passing on family stories happens in so many forms. Sometimes baking together and letting the conversation flow as our hands are busy is the most natural place to start. Making room for the next generation in our kitchens is a real gift–for the younger generation as well as those of us who have been around for awhile.

For those interested, here’s the recipe!

Banana Bread—older Joy of Cooking recipe

2 cups white or wheat flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

Cream together ¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, then add

1 egg

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then

add 2/3 cup mashed bananas

add 3 T. buttermilk (I use powered buttermilk and add the powder with three T of water)

Add ½ cup chopped walnuts, place in breadpan, bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.


beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project.

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed


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Effective Partnerships and Strategic Volunteering for Businesses

Video interview with Jan Miele of Benchmark Advisory Group. We talked about strategic partnerships, effective volunteering, and Easy Walks. Thanks to Jan and the Benchmark Advisory Group for inviting me back to chat again.

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Testing Out the Waters–The Power of Prayer


Testing out the waters

The other day, a dear friend at church, Barbara, approached me.”I get to pray for you!” she said. Sometimes, when people say, “I’ll pray for you,” it’s a somewhat smug way of telling the offender that they have messed up, but rather than say that, and be accused of being judgmental, they simply promise, “I will pray for you.” I guess it’s all in the tone of voice, but also in the intent. Barbara’s intent communicated her delight in being asked to pray for me. She assured me that the others who were helping with Vacation Bible School the following week would also be bolstered by their own personal “prayer warriors” — spiritual “secret Santas.” Continue reading

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Echoes Through the Generations

Caleb same pose as Grampie

Caleb Rae (with cousin Em Turner Chitty) 2017, Coalmont, TN

GH Kuhl portrait

Glen Kuhl, early 1900s, Wisconsin

The first time I saw the photo, my first thought was, “That’s my son.” But in fact, I was assured that the young man in the photo, who was standing in the dirt road, was actually my grandfather Glen, who had died before I was born. I’d never met him, and yet, I knew that stance. It was so familiar because my son often stood in this same pose, looking thoughtful, listening intently, or simply pondering his surroundings. Continue reading

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A Picture Tells a Thousand Stories

(Guest Blog post)-Shawon Davis is a wedding and women’s portrait photographer. She has been telling beautiful stories through photographs since 2011. Her studio is located in Medway, MA. You can read more stories on her blog: see her work here: and follow her on Instagram @shawondavis and Facebook @shawondavisphotography for daily storytelling, encouragement, and a glance at some of her favorite things.ShawonDavis


On any given weekend, a couple somewhere in the world is getting married. Chances are they’ve hired a photographer to capture the moments. They’ve hired someone to show up to take pictures of their special day.

As the couple looks back on their special day, they page through an album filled with formal family pictures, with everyone smiling at the camera. A few pictures show the bride getting out of the car before she heads into the church. There’s always a beautiful picture of the bride walking down the aisle, but she longs to see the expression on her groom’s face. Invariably, pictures of loved ones who have now passed away are among these photos, but the smiles the camera captured do not echo these loved ones’ humor or loving ways.

Although there were pictures, something was missing. Continue reading

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Partnering to Host Another “Make Your Own Storybook Hike” at Riverbend Farm, Uxbridge


Enjoying running in the open field

Parents of school-aged kids often look for activities for their children during school vacation. Well, 68 (give or take–it was hard to count!) children, adults, and grandparents descended upon Riverbend Farm on the most summery February morning I’ve ever seen, to join us for a “Make your own storybook” hike at Riverbend Farm. Continue reading


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Interview with Jan Lewis of “Be my Guest” Upton CAble TV

Marjorie is interviewed about “Make Your Own Story Hike” program by Jan Lewis, host of “Be my guest” UPton Cable TV



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Make Your Own Story Book Hike-Riverbend Farm in January


Heading out on the tow path on our Make Your Own Story Book hike

Working collaboratively is such an exciting experience. I’ve found that ideas bubble up when I open myself to others’ ideas, listen to what another person has in mind, and together we come up with something I’d never have thought of on my own. That may have been what happened when I met up with Kathryn, who works with programming at Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge. Continue reading


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