The ‘Peace Pilgrim’ Guitar – Owner: Robert Barnett
(Story at the end of this post)
Attractive ‘bear claw’ configuration on the soundboard.
STYLE 854 DESCRIPTION from c.1924 catalogue, page 51:
Large Concert size of the 650 Style: Rosewood back and sides. Spruce top, inlaid purfling around sound hole, top and bottom edges inlaid and bound with Rosewood, inlaid strip down center of back.
Curly Maple neck, beautifully shaded, Ebony fingerboard, edges bound with ivory celluloid, inlaid pearl position dots. Rosewood veneered head-piece. Machine heads.
Overall Length: 968 mm, 38.1”
Body Length: 493mm, 14.4”
Top Bout: 264mm, 10.4”
Bottom Bout: 372mm, 14.6”
Thickness at End: 105mm, 4 1/8”
Scale: 641mm 25.63”
Width at Nut: 46mm, 1.8”
The ‘PEACE PILGRIM’ Guitar:
In the early 1950’s Mildred Ryder adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” and for 28 years from 1953 until her death in 1981, continually walked across the United States speaking with people about peace.
Her message was “Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth and hatred with love.” And:
when enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”
(If you are interested in finding out more about Peace Pilgrim and her message you can read more with the Friends of Peace Pilgrim organization).
Mildred (Peace Pilgrim) was supported by her sister Helene, who received her mail at the Cologne Post Office, and forwarded it on to wherever on the planet Peace Pilgrim might be due next.
Robert Barnett continues the story about this guitar:
My spouse and I lived in South Jersey from 1981 to 2018, and from 1986 on we helped organize and run a monthly singalong. We lived in the town Peace Pilgrim came from, Egg Harbor City, but had never met her, since she died in 1981, and was always “on the road” while she lived.
Helene became part of our local folk-singing community in the 2000s. In 2010 she brought down from her attic this guitar which had been owned by her uncle. The guitar was in need of some repair, so I had that work done. We used the guitar at our monthly singalongs, often singing Helene’s favorite peace songs: “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” “Down By The Riverside,” and “Song of Peace/Finlandia.”
I even play a song on the guitar ABOUT Peace Pilgrim, written by Pat Lamanna, so over the years we’ve gotten to calling it the “Peace Pilgrim guitar.” We don’t have any certain evidence that Peace ever heard the guitar played, but she was about 19 in 1927, so there is a good possibility that she did.
After a few years Helene told me she wanted me to keep the guitar. I resisted for a while, but Helene insisted that no one would appreciate it the way I do or be able to tell its story. Over the years I’ve
grown to love it and decided I should honour Helene’s wish and accept her gift to me.
Helene is just as remarkable as Peace in many ways and up until her 102nd year was riding her bicycle around town every day, and also picking up the trash on the side of the highway between her house and the Cologne Post Office.
I received a message from Robert this week saying: “Our dear friend Helene made her transition on the morning of Thursday, January 14th 2021, just about a month short of her 106th birthday”.
Namaste all, Chaitanya das aka Charles Robinson