Back to the Age of Idealism

Last evening my bride and I attended a concert at the Holly Theater in Dahlonega, Georgia. The attraction was Banks & Shane with Mike McDonnell performing a tribute to the Kingston Trio. Banks & Shane have been performing in the Atlanta area since the early 70’s. Banks Burgess and Paul Shane at one time owned a couple of supper clubs and continue to be popular performers well beyond the confines of metropolitan Atlanta.

If you are a big fan of the Kingston Trio, you might have noticed that Paul Shane has the same last name as Bob Shane. Bob Shane was not only one of the original members of the Kingston Trio, he eventually became the only remaining original to continue performing with the group. Bob finally stopped performing in 2005. We were told that Paul is the nephew of Bob. Because of the relative connection, the Kingston Trio were frequent performers at the Banks & Shane establishments.

Needless to say, last night we were treated to a wonderful dose of nostalgia. Mike McDonnell did a marvelous job of joining Banks & Shane to perform all our old Kingston Trio favorites.

A point of interest concerned a young lady in the audience. Jessica Broman was there with her father, Jack, who is a professor at North Georgia College and State University. Jessica is a student at the college and had no idea what to expect. Her initial reaction (before the show) to the idea of  ‘folk music’ was what you’d expect from someone who has sung folk music from various countries. She truly had no idea what to expect.

Her reaction afterward was what we had hoped. She really enjoyed the music.

One of the last songs performed by the trio was ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

That song was extremely popular when I was a freshman in college back in 1962. While Vietnam had not yet exploded into the unpopular war that caused so much pain in later years, it was seen by us idealistic youngsters as one more bloody conflict that should be stopped.

We, rightfully so, believed that all wars are disgraceful and a tremendous burden. Young people are sent to die because old men in positions of power cannot work out their differences in a peaceful, civilized manner.

The Peace-niks of the era had everything right… with one major exception. They blamed the soldiers and treated returning veterans in a despicable manner.

In 1962 – forty-seven years ago – I was as idealistic as my classmates. We were all just as idealistic as the war protesters of today. We believed that all armed conflict could be avoided if leaders would simply sit down at a conference table and work out their differences.

As I recall, when the United States, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam finally agreed to peace talks, it took weeks, if not months, to agree on the shape of the conference table. Obviously people in the position of power enjoying wielding that power in whatever ways possible – even if their actions are seen as ludicrous by us simple folk.

Forty-seven years, and numerous armed conflicts and terrorist attacks later I’ve come to realize that stopping all wars is still the ideal. It’s just not realistic. As long as there is evil in the world, peace loving people are left with a choice – fight the evil, or be controlled by it.

Personally, I would not wish to be a subject of Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il, or any other tyrant.

The bottom line says what is idealistic is not always realistic. Based on what I’ve seen in my lifetime, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

But it was nice to be transported back to my Age of Idealism by the music of the Kingston Trio.


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