By the first verse the tears were streaming down my cheeks. My mother sang it to me constantly when I was little.. it was our song (along with the rest of the country). She and I had left Long Island when I was a baby and moved out to San Francisco.
From California to the New York Island...
For years, I had thought my mom made up that line just for us. She always sang folk songs to me... most of which were ones that she learned at summer camp in the 50's with none other than Pete Seeger! She went to Camp Woodland in the Catskill Mountains, a very special place steeped in folk music and the beginnings of social change. It's a huge part of her story, but I didn't think I'd be writing much about it when I began this post. My search for links lead me down a wonderful path. In order to link up Camp Woodland, I discovered their fairly new website... the sidebar had a section with photos. Now wouldn't you want to see if there were any old and long forgotten photos of your mother as a child... and teen? I certainly did! Within seconds, I was staring at a girl that was about the same age as my son... and most certainly her!
Since my mother was at work, I called her little sister- my aunt, Amy. "Is this mom!?" She was practically speechless... not only was it definitely my mom, but as she looked at the other pictures, she said "Did you know I went there too? I went to Camp Woodland when I was little! I recognize these people and the cabins and....". Can you imagine being able to go back in time 50 years? That's just how she felt... suddenly transported.
With this new information, I went scouring through the archives like a madwoman looking for a tiny Amy... and I struck gold! I'm getting goosebumps as I write this... here is my mother teaching her little sister how to float on her back.
When I saved the picture to my computer to send to my aunt, I saw the imbedded title. The name of the girl standing in front (an old long forgotten camp friend) and my mother's name. The little mysterious floater... well, I knew just who that was! Unlike today, where we're all snapping pictures every second, this photo was taken at a time when folks savored their film and only took a few select shots.The sweet girl posing was aware of the lens focused on her, but my mother and her little sister never knew this photo existed until now, 50 years later. There is something extra poignant in their candidness, don't you think? What an amazing gift, to go back somewhere so dear, when you didn't think you could. And it all came from one song, This Land is Your Land, which I'm listening to right now, as I type. Thank you Jonatha.
p.s. I will write more about Camp Woodland some day soon- it was an extraordinary place at a very volatile time in American history.
p.p.s. I promise to return tomorrow with some craftiness, but I just had to share these photos with you first... I couldn't get them out of my head. And I knew you'd appreciate them, because that's just how you are!