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Meet the Seegers: 1921

Meet the Seegers: 1921


Charles Seeger, Wife and Three
Sons See World While
Living Outdoors


Click here for the rest of the story.

May 1921. Washington, D.C. "Professor Charles Seeger, a composer, is a brother of Alan Seeger, the war poet. His wife is a distinguished violinist." Little Pete Seeger, 2 years old, and family along with their camping rig, last seen here. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Pete did discuss the trip

Responding to JohnHoward, I spoke with Pete about the trip briefly, but he was eighteen months old when they left in November 1920 and barely 2 years when they got back in May 1921. When I spoke with him he was almost 90, so he really didn't remember it well. His older brother John remembered it better, and tells something about it in this LOC blog post.

There are also accounts in published biographies of Pete's father Charles, who was an important figure in his own right.

Incidentally, the photo up top, with Pete holding Constance's hand, is not the photo that ran with the Washington Post story "Travel and Live in an Automobile."

I'm With Dave

Pete Seeger has been a National Treasure for my entire lifetime and as Dave has suggested, "He was an intelligent man of principle who was able to change his mind when the facts warranted." I will miss Pete.

Looking Back Is Grand for Certain

Pete Seeger carried a card declaring himself a communist, never served his country and made wonderful folk music.

I loved the guy and his music as a Vietnam Marine. Maybe I should have been smarter earlier or maybe he should have been a better banjo player. Either/or I mourn him and salute him. His kind is sorely missed today.

["Never served his country"? Pete Seeger began his Army service in 1942, assigned to duty in the Pacific as an aircraft mechanic. Then reassigned to entertaining the troops. Discharged as a corporal in 1945. - Dave]

I like Pete Seeger

And I am most definitely on the starboard of his politics. Seeger is a product of his times and family. But the music is American and I like that part.

Uncle Alan Seeger

Ironically, Uncle Alan couldn’t wait to get to WWI and joined the French Foreign Legion (because the USA was still neutral) so he could fight to save the crowned heads of Europe.

Uncle Alan promptly got himself killed.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

I think all the flowers went on Mrs. Seeger's dress. looks like she might have taken frugality to heart, and made the ensemble from some old curtains. Politics aside, of course.

Consider the irony

This photo was taken in the 1200 block of F Street NW, with the photographer facing northwest. At left is the Homer Building, which occupied the NE corner of 13th and F (as well as the entire 600 block of 13th).

Below is a similar view (from a higher floor & a point further east) from circa 1938. The north side of this block is also visible, in varying degrees, from spots in the 1300 block looking eastward here (alas, obscured by cropping tape) and here (center, in distance, prior to construction of the Homer Building).

Shorpy has previously featured the south side of the 1200 block. Ironically -- and perhaps intentionally -- our gritty travelling minstrels find themselves more or less in front of Erlebacher's and across the street from Rizik's, two stores specializing in high-end fashions.

Just stop

Can't we please have one tiny corner of the internet where people aren't constantly spewing their political opinions? Please?

Politics of yesteryear aside

Given the Model T's glacial pace under such a burden, that rig is probably not as much a hazard to navigation and its occupants as it might at first appear.

That Old Red Phony Seeger

Or maybe, just maybe, Dave he really was a person with a diseased sense of politics who never really got the disease of the soul that he got at a very young age. He may have been a Communist that consumers liked but he still loved that old method of killing off millions and he never, but never, really denounced it.

Bottom line, he liked it.

Oh I think it took him decades to "change" his mind about Stalin.

["Loved that old method of killing millions" -- the bloodthirsty little socialist. Another perspective here. - Dave]


Was she the first to ever wear a camouflage uniform?


Washington Post, May 22, 1921.


Charles Seeger, Wife and Three
Sons See World While
Living Outdoors


Mrs. Seeger Famed as Violinist.
Husband Professor of Music
In California.

      Bound for wherever they happen to stop, paying no attention to daylight saving or other forms of time, and spreading music wherever they go, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Seeger, once of the University of California and now "wandering minstrels" of the world at large, are encamped at Rock Creek park, their home an itinerant Ford and a home-made trailer. They are accompanied by their three little boys.

      Mr. and Mrs. Seeger, the latter known in musical circles as Constance Edson Seeger, are taking the boys to museums and places of interest wherever they stop, and the two [older] boys are learning to play the violin.

Their Profession in Music.

      "We are trying to solve the problem of educating three boys, and at the same time lead a worth-while outdoor life," said Mr. Seeger yesterday. Mr. Seeger says that they got the idea while they were at the University of California, where he was head of the music department for seven years after graduating from Harvard and studying music in Europe and where Mrs. Seeger gave violin recitals following her graduation from the New York Institute of Musical Art and a course at the Conservatory of Paris.

      The Seegers came here from Richmond and to that city from Pinehurst, N.C., where they spent some time. In addition to the three boys, Charles, 8; John, 6, and Peter, not yet 2 [actually, he had just turned 2], they have taken with them Miss Marion Brown, whom they picked up at Pinehurst and who tutors the children and cares for them while their parents are giving concerts.

      The Seeger "home" is a house of five and a half feet in width by fourteen feet in length, and contains all the comforts of home, including a sewing machine, a portable organ and games for the boys. It even has a front porch, which slides under the trailer while traveling.

Going to New England.

      The Seegers spent the winter at Pinehurst and are now en route to the New England States for the summer, expecting to go back South when the winter approaches again. Increasing rents make no difference in their lives, as a camping place is always available.

      Mr. Seeger is the brother of the famous war poet Alan Seeger, whose "I Have a Rendezvous With Death," written shortly before he died, has become immortal.

      Mr. and Mrs. Seeger gave a concert lecture at the Corcoran Art Gallery last night.

An Interesting Picture

but it's possible to be more nostalgic about Pete Seeger than he really deserves. He sang functionally pro-Nazi 'pacifist' songs when the Germans and Soviets were allies, but when Hitler invaded the USSR the CPUSA did a right-about-face and Seeger became a war supporter. The guy was basically a tool.

[Or maybe he was an intelligent man of principle who was able to change his mind when the facts warranted. - Dave]

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