Born in a log cabin, single parent, former civil servant, activist, and folksinger. writer, mother, grandmother, song seed planter and so much more. If there was a mothership of the San Francisco Folk Music scene, that would have been Faith. For 30+ years she opened her home to the San Fran Folk Club for Friday night sing-alongs and jam sessions. Her home was a huge Victorian in San Fran where she has covered expenses from day one with rent from foreign students. She wanted her daughter to grow up in an interesting household.
In 1988, Faith booked her own tour in Australia via snail mail, at the age of 83. Our tour that spring was booked by an agent, but we were at many of the same festivals and venues. Faith had a hard shell case for her guitar for the first time and realized she could barely carry it from stage to stage, let alone get from city to city. We became her happy defacto roadies whenever possible.
This is the woman who took the passenger seat out of her car in order to make a bed so she could drive from San Francisco to the Winnipeg Folk Festival and beyond, without paying for a hotel. This is the woman who in Australia, wowed the crowd with her long grey braids and folksy look while singing, “If you haven’t got a penis, then you can not be a priest.” Talk about a crowd pleaser!
This is the woman who attended our kids show at the San Francisco Public Library and when we mentioned we might go over to city hall to get married, immediately volunteered to be the celebrant. We had lunch first, sauntered over to city hall to see if there were any openings or cancellations, and when there weren’t, all said, “next time” and moved on with our days.
Faith told us that the Philadelphia Folk Festival hired her to perform in schools in Philly’s inner city. They sent her to the toughest school where she found herself in a classroom of rough kids from the African-American “hood” who assumed this little ole white lady was a joke. She looked them in the eye, started talking about being born in a log cabin, and captivated them for the next 45 minutes.
Women’s music festivals, folk festivals, picket lines, labor events, food banks, folk clubs-she not only participated, she organized and encouraged.
We last saw Faith in May of 2011. She had just recovered from her second hip replacement surgery. She was waiting for us in her dining room, and we spent two hours catching up with each other,. She showed us youtube videos of granddaughter Alex doing some amazing acrobatics that landed her a TV slot. She had a tight and awesome relationship with Alex. About 20 years ago, Faith wanted to try to pull Alex into the music fold and bought the young girl a Ukulele and Marcy’s “Ukulele For Kids” CD. She then had to buy her first TV and VHS machine. A few years later she confessed that Alex didn’t want to play music and after a few tries, the TV and VHS were never turned on again.
We invited her out to dinner. Faith loved a restaurant 2 blocks away. We offered to drive her since walking was difficult, She suggested we walk, with one of us on each side of her for stability. It took us about 20 minutes to walk the 2 blocks-20 delightful minutes I might add. We walked with a slow, steady, careful pace while continuing the conversation. After dinner, she refused a ride in a car and insisted on taking the same walk home.
After a few accidents and two hip replacement surgeries, many people continued to ask Faith the same question- “To what do you attribute your longevity?” Her answer was simple, “Good genes I guess”. Those good genes held court for 98 years and we were all better for it. We’ll miss Faith, but hers was a life well lived, full of adventures, and she will be sweetly remembered. Aloha Faith Petric.
Faith singing “It’s A Pleasure to Know You”
Faith singing Barry Louis Polisar’s “I Wanna Be A Dog”