Harold Dockendorff | Bowing Down Home
Harold Dockendorff grew up on a mixed farm in north-central Kings County. Neither his family nor his immediate community showed much interest in music, but somehow Harold developed a passion for the sound of fiddling. As a teenager he frequented schoolhouse dances and hall dances in many of the surrounding communities: particularly the ones where the fiddler hired for the evening was the renowned Jack Webster of Cardigan.
Dockendorff took up the fiddle at 13 and after just a few years got good enough to play at local dances himself. Once he and a cousin were playing at a schoolhouse square dance where it seemed the dancers would never quit. If the two musicians hadn’t made a clever escape, they might have never made it home that night.
In the mid-1950s, Harold went to work on a project building radar stations in Labrador for what became known as the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line. Many evenings after work he would gather for a music session with a guitarist, a singer, and a few step-dancers from neighboring provinces. Because it provided both good acoustics and adequate sound insulation, they always held these sessions in the workers' washroom.
Dockendorff quit playing in 1956 and did not pick the fiddle up again for nearly 50 years. He remembered the coordination of playing and some of his old repertoire, but after such a long lay-off he was finding it difficult to regain the facility he had once enjoyed.