The day Paul Stookey introduced me to C. S. Lewis
March 14, 2013
It is an implausible story, so all the more believable.
Come back with me to 1968 when I was a sixteen-year-old kid, a couple of years a guitar player and a rabid fan of everything that had to do with acoustic music.
That was the heyday of a trio named Peter, Paul and Mary.
Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers took the raw music of a young singer-songwriter named Bob Dylan and brought it into the mainstream of folk music. Remember Blowing in the Wind and Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right ?
They were playing a gig at the Old State Fair Music hall on the grounds of the Texas State fair, so a couple of my buddies and I got tickets. On the assigned day, the concert was scheduled to begin at eight o’clock p.m. To ensure we weren’t late, we left Kilgore early.
It was about noon when we pulled in front of the music hall.
Like I said, we didn’t want to be late. We were just a tad excited.
The doors to the concert hall were open, so we walked in to take a look around. There were vendors setting up tables, workers milling around in the lobby. We were talking to a guy who was organizing programs for the show on a picnic table, when a fellow approached him. He had a brief conversation with him about some detail, and then we got a good look at him.
I’m not kidding.
He was nice enough, shook hands with us and left.
That evening we attended the concert.
It was Peter and Paul’s practice in those days to mingle with the crowd outside the venue after the show.
We walked out of the auditorium and saw a group of fans gathered around Peter Yarrow.
We already knew him.
We came to another, smaller ground of a dozen or so people.
They were gathered around Paul Stookey.
Paul looked like Jesus. He had luminous eyes and the manner of a Brahmin. When I got next to him, he was answering a question about his recent religious conversion.
“What book would you recommend we read?” the curious fan had asked.
Paul paused and thought about it.
“The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis,” he said.
I stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes and listened to him before he excused himself.
And I went home and bought The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
The Screwtape Letters, by the way, is a collection of letters to the Devil from one of his underlings who has been sent to Earth and has become confounded by those mysterious beings known as humans.
C. S. Lewis is known to readers today for The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, etc.), but I will always remember him as the man Paul Stookey introduced me to outside the State Fair Music hall in Dallas, Texas, on a magic night so many years ago.