FolkWorks Board Member remembers Pete Seeger

By Stefani Rosenberg

Pete in late 1950s

When I was growing up, I loved the Weavers and when they broke up I went to every local Pete Seeger concert. The first one was in an elementary school auditorium. We were sitting on the floor. When he came out, rolled up his sleeves, picked us his banjo and began to sing, it wasn’t long before we all joined in.

My love of folk music began very early in my childhood. We had Pete’s albums and also the Weavers, Paul Robeson, Odetta, and Woody Guthrie. Of course, we did not have them all. So, sometimes I went to my cousin Deborah’s house to listen to her albums. Even if no one was home, I would let myself in, pull out her albums and listen to the songs on them. I memorized Abiyoyo and the Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase. I imagined how funny the corner store must have looked in his song about a foolish frog. I pictured tails swishing out the windows, grass, cows, fences, farmers and children eating crackers and drinking soda pop.

Deborah and I were constantly singing. Sometimes we danced to All Around the Kitchen having a great time, but probably looking quite silly since we were teenagers doing a song/dance intended for young children.

One day, I had this idea to write a letter to Pete. It wasn’t a fan letter. We simply wanted to let him know, from a personal point of view, who we were and that we enjoyed his music and how it sparked this tremendous interest in all things folk related. This love of folk music continues to this day.

I find the part of Pete’s letter that talks about an interest in learning to sail fascinating. As we know, many years later, the Clearwater was built and sailed along the Hudson creating a community dedicated to cleaning up its waters.

I cherish his letter and will miss this man who took the interest and time to write to a young girl who was eager to share her thoughts with him.