Noel Stookey

THE VELVET HAMMER

For a junior high school civics lesson in 1963, we were asked to bring to class something illustrating what my teacher called "current events." I brought the album "Peter, Paul and Mary," a recording by three young folk singers who had recently made a name for themselves in New York's Greenwich Village.

The album cover showed three hip young people dressed in black. The two guys, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, wore neatly trimmed little goatees. Mary Travers, who died this week at the age of 72, wore her blond hair long with bangs. They were the coolest folk singers I had ever seen.

Still, my classmates were baffled by the choice. For them, folk music was...

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