Mary

I had an odd habit when I was very young, which has admittedly carried through to my adult years. Every now and then, I just don’t feel like sleeping, and I stay up all night and read, think, ponder the ups and downs of life around me, and generally escape from the hustle and bustle that’s surely ready to greet me tomorrow.

One such night in 1962, I was pulling an all-nighter, reading a book called “Hit and Run,” as I recall. I didn’t have lots of these nights, so it’s relatively easy to recall what I was reading. Truth be known, I didn’t read that many books at that age … Hardy Boys and a few sports-oriented young guys’ novels that I inherited from my uncle Ron was pretty much it.

So on this late night in ’62, 1260 KYA, AM radio played this new song by a folk group called Peter, Paul and Mary … called Lemon Tree.

– Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

They actually played it several times that night / early morning, and I fell in love with the whole folk scene in one fell swoop. I became a sucker for the likes of the New Christy Minstrels, the Serendipity Singers, even British wannabe’s like Chad and Jeremy who owed a debt of gratitude to Peter, Paul and Mary.

Amazingly, I only saw them live, once. And it was late in their collective careers. Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, late ’90’s, outside on a beautiful summer evening. The sound was amazing, the music of course classic, and it was the first time I saw Mary Travers live. She’d aged since her “Lemon Tree” days, and put on quite a bit of weight, but her voice was like a nightengale. She had the capacity to hold the audience of 5000 appreciative fans in the palm of her hand, with nothing more than her incredible voice.

We lost Mary Travers today at the age of 72. Not young, but certainly way too young to leave us. She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007, and like my father who had the same fate, it took about two years to end this gift of a life.

I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago about Ted Kennedy’s death, and how it ranked with a few other dates over my lifetime that will stand out as “where were you when …” dates. Tonight, I was watching a dancing show on TV when I received an email from my dancer-sister that we’d lost Mary Travers. And I’ll never forget it.

We’ve lost a wonderful soul. A beautiful voice. The voice of peace and freedom, of hope and positive thoughts. A voice that stood out in an era when the world needed it … along with Dylan, father and son Guthrie, Baez, Pete Seeger, and so many folk groups of the 60’s and 70’s. It’s an era that made a difference in how people think, and look at their fellow citizens around them. And Mary was a huge force in it.

We’ll miss you Miss Travers. Your style. Your grace. Your beauty. Your contributions to the world around us. Rest in peace.
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