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PeteSeegerSeeger enriched my Scarsdale-bound life long ago--and still does today: Like many kids growing up in Scarsdale in the early 70s, my universe consisted of my front and back yards. If you'd asked me where I was from, I would have answered "my house." There was, of course, a world beyond the split-level ranch I was lucky enough to call home, but unless my parents drove me somewhere in our Chevy Impala, I probably wasn't going much farther than kindergarten.

Expanding my horizons wasn't about traveling far and wide, but rather about reaching for something small and round—the Pete Seeger LP on our living-room shelf. It was tricky making the music happen: My chubby little fingers often dropped the record-player needle on the vinyl too abruptly, summoning a staticky burst that would earn me a reprimand from any adult within earshot. But then I'd get to hear Pete sing, and all was right again.

The album of his I so loved, if I'm remembering correctly, was called "Pete Seeger: Children's Concert at Town Hall". There was no Waist Deep in the Big Muddy on it, no Where Have all the Flowers Gone; none of the seminal Seeger anthems of the dynamic generation before my own. I knew nothing of Pete's contributions to society. All I cared about was listening to "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and my favorite, "AbiYoyo."

That last tune has been lost to time (or Beyoncé and Eminem, take your pick). But I recall it vividly, for it told one heck of a tale. Pete sang of a boy whose noisy ukulele playing got him ostracized from his town along with his father, a naughty magician who'd make chairs disappear just as people were about to sit down. Yet when a menacing giant called AbiYoyo showed up, it was this odd pair who saved the village. The son played his ukulele faster and faster till the dancing giant collapsed, then his father made AbiYoyo disappear by waving his wand and yelling "Zoop!".

I'd circle the coffee table in my parents' living room as Pete strummed his ukulele, pretending I was a misunderstood child stalking Abiyoyo, getting ready to take down the monster. And just like that, Pete's music transformed me, as it had my predecessors in the 50s and 60s. I was only five, but in my mind I was a giant-slayer– never a bad way for a child to be made to feel.

Or any of us, really. And that was perhaps Pete's biggest gift. He gently goaded listeners, everywhere, to realize they could take on the world's problems, even the seemingly huge, unbeatable ones. He urged us all to realize that our pooled strengths could overcome individual weaknesses; that answers could come from the most unlikely places; and that when you use your imagination, magic happens.

So maybe I shouldn't be feeling so silly, after all, to have found myself welling up more than a few times this week at the news of his timely passing. (I think Pete himself would have called it that—I can't believe otherwise from the man who reminded us that to everything, there is a season.) I feel I've lost an old friend; a wise guide through those bright and shiny, but often bewildering, days of early childhood. He didn't have all the answers, but he pointed us toward them. To quote a comment someone posted on YouTube this week: "Pete's done teaching. What did you learn?"

Listen to Abiyoyo on YouTube:

skolnikheadshotContributor Deborah Skolnik is a Greenacres mother of two and the Content Director for Myron Corporation, a large business-gifts firm in Maywood, New Jersey.

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