Tag Archives: family stories

Transforming trash to treasure

Our family has a story that has been passed down through the generations. The tale, detailed in My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places, tells of an encounter my grandfather had with a farmer in Quebec. The farmer had a chicken coop. My grandfather visited the farm, and realized that one side of the chicken coop was constructed from a cherrywood table. As you might expect, the table was in rough shape, sharing company with a number of chickens.

The story goes that my grandfather asked if he could purchase the table. “No, I need a chicken coop,” was the farmer’s reply. My grandfather then offered to build him another chicken coop. Could he then buy the table? Of course, the farmer agreed.

Grampie brought the table back to his workshop and cleaned, then polished the table he had retrieved from the farm. Instead of being a dirt-covered portion of a chicken coop, it soon stood in a place of honor in his home, used to bring our family together for both daily and celebratory meals. After he died, the table passed to his daughter, my aunt, who continued honoring the transformation of the restored cherry wood table, where it became a gathering place for family and friends at her home.

Aunt Em and Liam at the cherry wood table

When my aunt had to move to a smaller place, my son said his family would be glad to have the table at their home, Solace Farm Homestead. But this time, rather than returning to its long ago role as part of a chicken coop, the table has become an important part of their daily life.

The great grandson, Caleb, and his wife Amy, welcomed the cherry wood table to their farm

Here’s an excerpt from my book:

My grandchildren will now grow up hearing the story of the grandfather from years past, who had eyes to see beyond the grime of the chicken yard and understood the potential that lay underneath the grit and muck. The table was transported once again, to another generation, and back to the farm. It and the stories that lie behind the glowing cherry wood had found their way home.


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.


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Women’s work-sign your work Anonymous needlepoint

I had meant to clean my dusty needlepoint doorstop and finally got around to pulling out the lint remover, which allowed the intricate needlework to be on display once more on our small doorstop. (I have a very uneven house–doorstops are essential or the door won’t stay open!) Once I started handling the doorstop to clean it, I wondered if there might be any initials on it. I knew the doorstop had come from my grandmother Marjorie’s (my namesake) house, and was brought to my parent’s house after my grandmother’s death, then moved to my house after my grandmother’s death. Once all dusted off, I looked closely, but found no initials.

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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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Just a Whistle


When you have a bunch of kids, sometimes you need to whistle to get their attention!

Working as  a personal historian, I never know what it will take to get someone talking. Some folks easily call up memories, while others need the stories drawn out of them. And then sometimes, all it takes is a whistle. MTH

It was just a whistle—I looked around but saw no one whistling, and the woman behind the desk was fussing with her phone. I finally asked her—“Were you whistling?” Continue reading

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A Trip in Time–Visiting Wellesley College’s Botanic Gardens


In the greenhouse at Wellesley College

The trails hereabouts were all clear as we approached spring, until we were hit with a late season blizzard, and so it’s back to icy trails and the challenge to find safe places to walk. When my hiking buddy Jennifer suggested visiting Wellesley College’s Botanic Gardens, my first thought was, “Yeah, no ice!” I did not, however, expect to be transported back to the years of my childhood. Continue reading


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A question and a story

Don & M 3-7-09

My dad and I

Do you know when you’re going to die? Well, I don’t know the answer to that, for you, for others, for myself. But since I’m a storyteller from way back, here’s a story:

You know, my dad was lucky. Three months before he died, Dad sat in his living room watching four of his teen grandchildren gathered on the floor around him, reading chapters of his soon-to-be-published memoir. He and I had spent a number of weekends together over the previous several years, working together to help document his life lessons and experiences. I clarified details of stories that didn’t quite hold together, drawing out more information. The more he shared, the more he remembered other events. Continue reading

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Connecting the dots–talking about personal histories and Easy Walking trails

Here’s a fun conversation I had recently with Liz Myska of Worcester, who invited me to appear on her “Connecting the Dots” community cable show. We talked about personal histories, and our love of the outdoors. Liz is visually impaired and advocates for the elderly and disabled in her capacity as a lawyer. She is also a great friend.


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Making Thanksgiving Family Memories


Pumpkin pie in the making at Grandma’s house

Pie-making was on the agenda for today, as was putting together the cranberry relish. My grand girl Nicole was available and willing, so I grabbed her from the bus and brought her straight over to my kitchen for us to get right to work together. Continue reading

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Story Magic


Sharing stories between generations is magic, no matter the form those stories take

Here’s a recent blog post  I shared, of discovering the connections between the performing Storytelling world and the community of Personal Historians. The most important commonality? Story magic.


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Time Machine a Reality? Only if You’re Very Lucky

I was recently invited to guest post on Family Legal Partner’s blog about ‘legacy’ and thought of a story I could share. It’s a simple story of something my dad taught me as we worked to share his stories of growing up. When I thought about what happened to him in this process, I realized he had given me a key to creating a personal time machine.

One of my dad's first letters to the woman who would be his wife for the coming 50 years

One of my dad’s first letters to the woman who would be his wife for the coming 50 years

To learn more, Continue reading

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