Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Woody Guthrie visits East Orange: 1959 to 1961

Singer-songwriter, folk musician Woody Guthrie was hospitalized at Greystone Park Hospital in Parsippany, NJ from May 1956 to April 1961 suffering from Huntington's disease.

Starting in 1959, music fans Bob and Sid (Sidsel Mari) Gleason of East Orange brought Woody to their 4th floor walk-up apartment at 182 North Arlington Avenue (near the SE corner of Park Avenue and North Arlington Avenue) on Sundays. This provided Woody's New York City friends, family, and fellow musicians a closer opportunity to visit with him regularly.

People hosted by the Gleasons on the Sunday visits included musicians Pete Seegar, Phil Ochs, and  the newly-arrived (January, 1961) musician Robert Zimmerman (See Bob Dylan in East Orange). Also visiting were Woody's family who lived in Brooklyn including son Arlo.

In April 1961, Woody was moved to Brooklyn State Hospital;  he passed away in 1967.

More details of Woody Guthrie's life and his time in East Orange are available in several biographies; excerpts from some of those biographies are available on Google books.

More about the Sunday visits

Greystone (above in a very early photo)  received recent notice as the exterior shot of the hospital (referred to as Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital) where the tv character Dr. Gregory House went in the final scene of season 5 and where he is in the first episodes of the sixth season of the tv show House.

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