Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers, my first folk hero

When I was six, Sister Mary Joseph, in full Dominican habit, sat cross-legged on the floor with her first grade class strumming an old classical guitar and singing.... "I'm being swallowed by a boa constrictor and I don't like it very much!" We giggled and squealed with delight. Then she sang "Puff The Magic Dragon", which I'd heard on the radio, and I was totally hooked. Throughout that fall, if we were especially good, Sister would open up the record player and put "Peter, Paul and Mommy" on the turntable. Through the magic of music we went to the zoo (zoo, zoo), had a song to sing (O!) and learned the mystery of "The Marvelous Toy".
When I saw PP&M on TV, it was so exciting! I wanted to be Mary Travers. I wanted long blond hair. I wanted to sing. I wanted to sing with boys! Then I heard the other songs. "Leaving On A Jet Plane", "If I Had A Hammer", "Blowin' In The Wind", "Lemon Tree", "Stewball". I learned them all. A few years later, when I began to play guitar, I learned them all again. When I heard that Mary Travers had passed, memories of all those songs and how much they meant to me and taught me in those very early years, flooded back. Somehow, I just don't think I'd been the same person had I been raised on Barney. RIP, Mary, and thank-you.

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