On the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving my mother would usually take the bus to my grandparent's home in southern Wisconsin to help grandma prepare for the next day's feast. My father would pick me and my little brother up after school, and we would drive down to meet them. Our mini two hour road trip would wind south down Wisconsin Highway 26, through rolling hills in the heart of America's Dairyland. Some of the small municipalities would already have their downtown's decorated for Christmas, much to my delight. We would always stop halfway at McDonald's for a kid-approved dinner, and be on our way.
One evening as we pulled out of the Golden Arches and got back on the road, my dad fiddled around with the radio trying to find something to listen to. News? Boring. Early 1980s rock? Awful. So dad put in a cassette: The Best of the Kingston Trio, harkening back to my dad's late teenaged years of hanging out at the rathskeller with his buddies, drinking warm beer and eating cold pizza.
Traditional folk music by it's very nature is easy for kids to pick up. The lyrics are relatively simple, verses and choruses are repeated often, and themes at their most basic level are things that children can relate to. It wasn't long after my dad popped in the tape that we were singing along to "Tom Dooley," "Tijuana Jail," and "M.T.A." My most vivid memory is of my little brother, who was around age six, singing "A Worried Man" at the top of his lungs. "We're worried now, but we won't be worried looooooooooong!" I sang along, and my dad laughed and laughed, as we headed down the highway to our grandparent's house for Thanksgiving.
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