PART ONE: The Day I Began -Visiting Pete Seeger, 1953

Bob Gibson (November 16, 1931 – September 28, 1996) grew up along the Hudson River north of New York City where he sang in the church choir. When he left high school, he hitchhiked around the country, eventually returning to New York City to become a partner in a company which taught speed-reading.

A smiling Pete Seeger, barefoot, carrying an axe, coming down a path.

Pete Seeger greets his guests with his ax in hand.

In his autobiography, I Come For To Sing, Bob begins his story with meeting Pete Seeger in 1953. He and his friend Dick Miller went to see Pete to interview him for an article. After spending an afternoon helping Pete build a chimney, listening to stories about Bill Broonzy and Woody Guthrie, Toshi made a wok full of vegetables for supper.

“After the meal, it was very quiet, very nice and very…kind of holy. I don’t use that word lightly. Pete stepped inside the house, took this long necked banjo off the log wall and played Leather Wing Bat and some other songs. By the time the evening was over, I knew I was going to get a banjo. The setting and the man already captivated me, but when he played the banjo, it blew me away. It changed my life. IT CHANGED MY LIFE!

Dick Miller’s unpublished article and photographs from the visit with Pete Seeger are here.

Bob plays Pete’s banjo as his wife, Rose watches.