Pete was a great shorewalker and a friend. He told me about his long mileage walking experience as a teenager. We started walking, talking, and writing to each other in the 1960’s. We walked the Hudson together. When he joined the Shorewalkers as a Life Member he donated over $500. He loved to walk.
Pete wrote “I love the title Batt to Bear For folks who like walking from here to there…” as part of the introduction to my book Walking the Hudson From Batt To Bear. He wrote the introduction to Walking Manhattan’s Rim-The Great Saunter. We will miss him.
We explored areas of the Hudson Coast together along shore north of Peekskill and south of the P’ok bridge. Since he was sensitive to the sun I lent him my shirt with sleeves. Several times we walked legs of the Great Saunter together. He liked to take the train to Spuyten Dyvil and joined me at Inwood Hill Park.
We wrote a song–The Shorewalkers Saunter–based on blues melody. It has become a walking standard:
You don’t know this town,
you don’t know this town,
you don’t know this town
Till you join the Shorewalkers and they get you walking around….
Pete was an extraordinary composer and musician. We wrote other songs together, Pete doing mainly the melodies and me the lyrics. One song was about the Happy Hudson Bass, another–Where Was Our Brave President–about George Bush.
A few years ago, with Susan Wright we worked on a children’s cantata: Thank You Skin, Couldn’t Live Without You. He wrote a song for it which was performed by kids at the Beacon H.S.
In 2013 we wrote a song against gun violence:
Hurrah, hurray for the NRA,
Another kid was killed today
To raise money for NYC Friends of Clearwater Pete sang in my apartment at a party of about 50 people. Many musicians crowded in and performed. We have a recording of the event. He slept on my couch that night.
Toshi and Pete were always welcoming and cordial. I stayed a few times in his Beacon hill house overlooking the Hudson.
Pete has an extraordinary range of interests, and a well-read knowledge of science and history and of course politics. He would come up with facts which amazed me. In a telephone conversation one day he talked about American history during the Taft Administration, then how African drummers communicate, and then the philosophy of Greece. We will miss him.
Never saw him in a suit. He told me he had trouble finding an old tuxedo when he was given a Kennedy Center Honor in 1994 and had to go to Washington.
Since he did not use a computer, we communicated mainly by phone and U.S. mail. I have three thick folders of correspondence – Lots of postal cards with his clear scripts, songs we worked on together; some drawn on staffs that he drew, some typed.
A good, generous, creative, adventurous walker.
………………. We will miss Pete.