Seeger Reunited With Missing Banjo
ROSENDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Pete Seeger can strum again: His 55-year-old banjo, which disappeared earlier this month, has been found.
Gary Schneeweiss Jr. was driving home from visiting his father when he noticed the green banjo case beside the road on Aug. 8, the same day it was reported missing, according to Rosendale police.
On the case was Seeger's name and a phone number.
''I got a call yesterday from this young man who found it,'' said Toshi Seeger, Seeger's wife, said Monday. She said he had tried to call them earlier but ''the lines had been out of service for the last two weeks.''
Schneeweiss, 31, returned the banjo to the Seegers on Monday afternoon when he met the couple at a bookstore in Poughkeepsie. The Seegers gave the self-employed painter a $500 reward.
Schneeweiss, who did not know the folk-legend status of the banjo owner, said he didn't expect a reward and just wanted to return the instrument to ''whoever Pete was.''
''I saw Pete Seeger's name on the case, but it was just another name to me,'' he said. ''It's all a shock to me. I still don't really know who he is.''
The long-neck banjo was made by Seeger in 1945 and can be heard on such recordings as ''Where Have All the Flowers Gone.''
Seeger, a longtime activist, had said the instrument was believed stolen from his car during a trip to a political rally in Rosendale. But his wife said it was possible her husband left the banjo on top of his car and drove off, sending the instrument tumbling to the roadside.
The missing banjo had generated international intrigue and even a hoax appearance on an Internet auction site.
''Everyone has been calling us saying that they've seen the banjo all over the place,'' Rosendale Police Chief Jim Rowe said. ''The only thing that irritates us is that it was found the day it was lost.''
Seeger, 81, started his career 62 years ago. In 1940, he formed the Almanac singers, which another folk icon, Woody Guthrie, joined a year later. He reached commercial success in the 1950s with the group the Weavers.
Besides ''Where Have All the Flowers Gone,'' Seeger wrote or co-wrote ''If I Had a Hammer,'' ''Turn, Turn, Turn,'' and ''Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.''
He was credited with popularizing ''We Shall Overcome,'' which he printed in his publication ''People's Song,'' in 1948. He later said his only contribution to the anthem of the civil rights movement was changing the second word from ''will'' to ''shall,'' which he said ''opens up the mouth better.''