Former Lexington mayor Pam Miller knew singer-songwriter James Taylor back when he literally was “Sweet Baby James.”
She first baby-sat the five Taylor children when James was 7 and Miller, then Pam Gundersen, was 17. It was in Hancock, Maine, where Gundersen’s family had a summer house.
The next summer, the Taylor family went to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and Gundersen went there for six weeks to help with the children.
The third year, she went to Switzerland with the Taylor family for about a month while the family toured the country. That was the summer that Isaac Taylor, a physician and professor who later became dean of the medical school of the University of North Carolina, told son James, then 9, to stop playing the same songs over and over on his harmonica.
Miller volunteered to teach James, then 9, to play the ukelele. As a child Taylor, also would learn the cello and guitar.
When Miller heard that Taylor, whom she had not seen for 42 years, would performing in Lexington, she sought to set up a meeting with him. She was told it would be only four minutes; they chatted for 20.
Miller, 77, had stayed in touch over the years with Taylor’s mother, Trudy Taylor, who died in October 2015. Trudy Taylor saw four of her five children — Alex, James, Livingston and Kate — go into music. Alex died of a heart attack in 1993. The Taylors had one other son, Hugh.
Miller remembers the young James Taylor as “very cute and very nice and a little impish.”
Once when he was sick, Miller said, young James put up “kind of a Rube Goldberg kind of contraption” with a pail of water above the doorway, set to fall on one of his brothers.
During their April 24 meeting, Miller and Taylor talked about Taylor’s oldest son, Ben, who appeared on the Lexington-based WoodSongs radio broadcast in 2013. Ben’s mother is Taylor’s ex-wife, Carly Simon.
“We talked quite a bit of politics, actually,” Miller said. “He’s very upset about what’s happened in North Carolina” during the tenure of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.