Dorothea Harfield's Banjer, The Ding Dong Clocks, & Her Love of God - Robert Chapin

Dorothea Harfield's Banjer, The Ding Dong Clocks, & Her Love of God

By Robert Chapin

  • Release Date: 2011-09-01
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs


In the summer of 1959, I met Dorothea Harfield. Her father and three brothers from the hills of North Carolina were working for a logging company on our property in Massachusetts, harvesting timber.

She was not the prettiest girl, matronly and with a lazy eye was the subject of ridicule and downright prejudice in our small town. What she lacked in outer beauty she more than made up for with her inner qualities.

The Harfield family lived on our property in a company provided trailer while harvesting timber and Dorothea and I had shared our childhood. My mother recently divorced my father who was addicted to alcohol. When she re-married, it was to a fine gentleman who adopted my two sisters and me and we were now living in the "lap of luxury," and I was about to forget my roots forever. I tried to convince her that I too was poor. I was the product of two hard working Italian immigrant grandparents and how I somehow lost my way.

Since my mom's re-marriage I felt I now had reached the pinnacle of success inasmuch as I placed my values in life in material riches and Dorothea rattled my cage telling me that "God don't need your "stuff" cause' He's the richest person ever and Jesus don't care about no new fashions cause' He put you here to glorify Him and to use your "stuff" to help others."

A strong southern Christian, Dorothea was also a self taught musician. She invited me to "supper" at their modest trailer home and when Dorothea her mother, father and three brothers reached for their instruments following dinner, they tuned then broke into one of the finest performances I have ever heard of Earl Scruggs "Foggy Mountain Breakdown".

Dorothea never learned how to read music, but did show me the basics of banjo playing. I don't know where she finally settled - if at all, but from that time on, I have silently thanked Dorothea for her kindness and the new direction I have taken in life.