Thursday, February 28, 2008

John Topham Butler house, Arizona, circa 1911

My mother, Olga Butler, is the girl in the low-waisted white dress by the gate. She died a few years back at age 96 3/4. I think she had to beat her mom, who lived until age 96 1/2.
This was another world, a world of hard work. I love the way these pictures show the whole house, along with the family. To have a nice place like this and a well-dressed family was a real achievement, against many odds. They all worked hard to maintain it and, in this particular case, almost lost it several times.
Nostalgia and the lost world: the fine strong voice of Pete Seeger, that pure uncorruptible spirit was on TV tonight. I had forgotten what a nice voice he had, sort of a rich quality, along with the infectious ability to get the folks to sing along. Most of the other folkies seem a little thin, vocally as well as spiritually, next to him, really. And sort of compromised by the willingness to do, say, a cigarette commercial, which was what caused him to leave The Weavers. He was who he was and stuck to it. He was lucky, I think, in the wife he chose--she had to work very hard. The documentary showed him chopping his own wood, which I hope he doesn't really have to still do all the time. I hope it was purely symbolic, because he didn't seem all that good at it, and I am not sure the ax was sharp. I hadn't known of his involvement in the movement to clean up the Hudson River. So he was involved in the best issues of his time: trade unionism, civil rights, peace, and ecological awareness. What a life!
There was some footage of Joan Baez--I had remembered her voice was spectacularly good, but had somehow forgotten the peculiar beauty of it.
It was lovely to revisit this time when I was young and we were all so hopeful. Most of it has come to naught and will have to be done all over again, if we can somehow manage it.

1 comment:

  1. I saw the same show and the haunting visions and sounds. Pete Seeger came to my college in the 60's and played to a small audience not in a stadium but in a large classroom. I didn't know how much history I was touching, but I know now, and it fills me with nostalgia and also I remember the hope. If I can feel it now, it still exists.

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