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See the Film

51 Birch Street


Read the Reviews

"With 51 Birch Street, Doug Block has fashioned an engaging and at times even suspenseful mystery out of his family's story and, along the way, a social history of the American family unfolds, from the uptight 50s through the 70s (a swath of story worthy of Updike, Cheever or Roth) to the present."


Share Your Story

51 Birch Street and the story of the Block family has had a powerful impact on audiences all over the world.  Now we invite you to share your personal reaction to the film, and how it hit home for you regarding your own family.

Art Schultz (age 48)

I attended my first ever independent film screening Saturday night at the Flicks in Boise, Idaho.  Mostly out of curiosity, partially because of my involvement as a board member of the PIX Theater Foundation, in Nampa, Idaho and the Foundation’s desire to include independent films as part of it’s future venue. And partially out of response to a write up about this particular independent film in the Idaho Statesman.

The film is called “51 Birch Street”, filmed, documented and narrated by Doug Block.

Never having previously attended an independent film screening, or…

[Read more of Art Schultz's story]

Valerie Matthis (age 53)

Mom lead me on. She did this for the first 18 years of my life. Then one day she admitted that the man who I thought was my father, wasn’t. I felt so betrayed after her confession. I wish that I could say that the situation brought us closer, but it didn’t; there was always a bit of unspoken tension between us. Shortly before her death, Mom started confessing things nonstop; I can honestly say that I guess that I never really knew her. Then there was the matter of her personal effects that told of a life that was…

[Read more of Valerie Matthis's story]

Barbara McMahon (age 60)

As children, my sibblings and I all heard the stories of how my parents met and my oldest sister’s early arrival, 7 months after their marriage. Of course she was premature, an early delivery. My parents were as different as night and day. My father had recently joinned the Navy in 1944 and was a poor farmer’s son from Illinois. My mother’s father was a doctor and she had been brought up with maids and private schools and most of the better things in life. Needless to say their marriage was a rocky one and as children we often witnessed…

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boomer (age 50)

My mom passed away nine years ago.  We grew up in a small, Catholic town.  My parents were married 25 years, and during that time, my dad carried on an affair for about 21 of those years-a relationship that produced a child.  My mom had one for the last few years of the marriage that continued until her death 21 years after the divorce.
I was aware of Mom’s affair early on, but had no idea that it lasted the rest of her life.  Another family member new, and thought I was aware of it.  I didn’t learn…

[Read more of boomer's story]

millie rivera (age 50)

i am also a journal keeper, have kept track of my life from a young bride of 19 until the present. a menopausal woman still married to her prince charming whom has developed a paunch and jowls to match.  32 years of trials and tribulation.  my journals are my intimate friends.  within these pages are thoughts, feelings, my life in progress.  recently, my coworker expressed an opinion that she would not want her children to know ‘the bad things’ about her life, especially her marriage. is she correct?  am i leaving a shattered glass for my children?? should they know…

[Read more of millie rivera's story]

Steve Holmes (age 49)

This is not a dramatic story as some here have been. Rather, a subtle evolution in the relationship with my mother. We’re still parent and child, of course, and I’ve found out that moms never stop worrying about their offspring, even as the kids start to get membership invitations from AARP.

The relationship has deepened into friendship, in which she feels free to confide her concerns and seems to respect, take to heart and even act upon my advice. If this were a film, it would need a plot twist, an “ah-ha” moment that sends things off in…

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Cheri Pugh (age 44)

Doug I’ve missed your film so far and I’m looking forward to seeing it from all I’ve heard about it. These are universal issues, the different ways we understand (or misunderstand) our parents over time, so it is not surprising it is touching many people.

I also have to thank you for asking me to write something which made me sit down last night and try to write it and I guess I got on a roll.  I might even develop this first draft further somehow. But it became a bigger story than I thought I should put…

[Read more of Cheri Pugh's story]

Sandy Romagnuolo (age 52)

Here I sit at my computer on Soundview Road (not Port near the movie theatre as everyone thinks, but Great Neck, NY) same as that day in August, 2005 six months after my mother passed away and BAM!! “Your were adopted at birth, Sandy and you’ll never find your biological mother because she just went into the hospital saying she was Marilyn”!!! Marilyn is the mother that raised me. I can’t even bring myself to call her my “adoptive” mother as I now see is the correct lingo as I register on all of these adoption search sites. 

[Read more of Sandy Romagnuolo's story]

Nina Gilden Seavey (age 49)

I haven’t seen Doug’s film yet (because it hasn’t yet come to Washington - which we all hope it will!)

But here’s my thought.  I actually know way more about my parents than I ever wanted to.  There is an aspect of divorce, and my parents divorced when I was 12 - or at least that’s when the process started - where I ended up finding out a lot about them and their relationship, lots of things that I never wanted to know anything about nor really had any business knowing about.

My parents got divorced…

[Read more of Nina Gilden Seavey's story]

Peyton Hayslip (age 40)

When I saw the documentary, 51 Birch Street, for the first time at SXSW 2006 in Austin, Texas, I sat, utterly mesmerized through the entire film.  Although I was at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater, and had a hot pizza and glass of wine on the ledge in front of me, I did not reach for either, and did not miss them.  I watched. Studied?  Wondered. Found myself ensnared in the threads of a story that could be mine.  Or might be yours.  Is probably all of ours if we are honest with ourselves.

In late January of 2004,…

[Read more of Peyton Hayslip's story]