A snowy afternoon found me digging through a box of keepsakes. There were old newspaper columns, drawings and cards my children gave me when they were young, newspapers from 9/11 and when Joe DiMaggio died, rejection letters from publishers and agents, a forgotten letter from the great poet Robert Lax, my mentor and dear friend — and a forgotten and very moving letter I received from the late, lamented Pete Seeger nearly 20 years ago.
I’d met Pete years before. About six months earlier he had driven down from Beacon, N.Y., to western New Jersey and performed a benefit show (along with his grandson, Tao Rodriguez, and local performers — Amy Torchia and Jenny Avila, fiddler Bill Huber and the Jugtown Mountain String Band) for a charity I was running. He very much liked the charity, which was called the Delaware Valley Holiday Fund, telling me it fit perfectly with his notion that small groups, not big organizations, would solve the problems of the world.
So now we were planning a return performance — this time it would be held outdoors, in the summertime, with a host of other performers, and Pete had asked me to come up with some candidates, and so (as I recall it, albeit vaguely) I’d sent him a CD of some of the performers. And Pete, in his note, was apologizing because he had not had time to listen to the CD — he asked to me to just go ahead and come up with some possible dates for the festival.
Here’s part of what Pete wrote:
“…Toshi and I have too much mail to handle these days…I don’t have time to listen to all the tapes sent me, nor read all the books sent me, nor answer properly all the mail sent to me….
“I guess it’s one more way in which science and technology have unbalanced the world — the economy, the ecology, the population, the personal relationships — and our personal lives.
“Half the world is too busy and the other half is unemployed. Nevertheless, don’t give up — There are miraculous things going on. Right?