When I was in 10th grade my best friend was learning flamenco guitar from her dad and wanted to know if I wanted her old guitar because she was graduating to a better one. I had always wanted to play the guitar and of course, said a resounding yes. My next one would be purchased with Blue Chip Stamps when I outgrew the first one. (google Blue Chip Stamps and Green stamps if you don’t know what they are.)
I had been steeped in folk songs of all kinds all my life. Grandma and Mom bought us and taught us Scottish folk song records on 78 and 33 1/3 and one of my first memories was learning, “Speed Bonny Boat” with my Grandma. We had Danny Kay and Burl Ives folk song records. We learned them around the campfire at Carlsbad, the adult choir’s family retreat every year and it was 1963 and folk music was the popular music I snuck under the covers to listen on my transistor radio at night when I was supposed to be sleeping so I could hear the Kingston Trio, The Weavers, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, The Seekers, The Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Baez and Judy Collins and so many others.
Having a guitar was my dream. I wanted to play so bad and then I had one. Dr H, my best friend’s dad taught me a few chords and I was on my own. (Learning from him took great bravery on my part since I was terrified of him and he hated me. I never really knew why but my mom said it was because I learned easily and didn’t study as much as his daughter had to and he didn’t think that was fair. I guess Mrs H had said something about it to mom. All I knew was that when he disapproved of me he would clear his throat in a way that if I hear it even now from a man can scare the crap out of me because it used to be followed by a really nasty remark.)
When I got the guitar the first thing I did was beg my dad to take me to Dick Charles Music Store. It was the only music store in Glendale that carried sheet music. I came home with a few books but I still remember and have somewhere my copy of “Lemon Tree” by the Kingston Trio and it was the first thing I learned on my own. That led to my collecting songs and somewhere along the line they evolved into many, many volumes of songs from all over the world.
I don’t play much anymore, encroaching deafness makes it hard to tune my love of many years, a bright red Gibson J45. It was a friend of my Dad’s who was a professional backup guitar player and sold his a lot of his guitars when he decided to retire. I got it for my tax refund of $200 and it was worth way more than that. I love it. It sings.
So thank you, Mr Seeger for being a big stone in my pathway and for helping create a legacy of collectors and singers and songwriters. Thank you for helping me to be a bard and a Pied Piper to many campers at camp.