It's now time to put our collective hands, arms, legs, faces, and voices together for Dudley Laufman.
A week ago Dudley went into a Concord, New Hampshire hospital for bypass surgery, and Dudley is no longer a young man (early 80s), although you would be surprised and inspired at just how 'young' Dudley has lived most of his life. A professional fiddler, contra-dance caller and dance caller, as well as accomplished poet, gardener, folklorist and father, and so many other learned crafts is all about the man.
Dudley once told me this was one of his favorite photographs and he does look pretty snazzy in red. Fiddle (always) in hand, even when it isn't. That's the tiny hamlet of a house he built himself when he had a family to raise and all pitched in; children he recalls right to this moment with complete affection. How and where he and his first wife tucked away all these kids in that tiny house of heart, with the firewood piled deep at the entryway, is beyond me, even when Susan and I paid Dudley and Jacqueline a surprise visit one rainy fall day last year. No one knew we were coming. We didn't even know we were coming. . .quite by a rope pulled fantasy is the car being towed off the main highway and up through the tall woods to the hilltop of Canterbury, New Hampshire. Shakers land. There's a large rock testimonial in the center of the village graveyard that simply states SHAKERS. Try to go in there and shake up some spooks. It ain't happening. The sky and air and even the road you are now on seems like it's circling the region like one of the rings around Saturn. Somewhere up there, in this little house since remodeled by the carpenter of the duo (Jacqueline) you'll find them tucked away behind the trees, gazing further from the house to almost a sacred open grassland out back.
We were brought in from the cold and rain for hours with homemade soup ladled out of the jar, warm lamps, a wood fire, all of us around a long wooden pound-your-spoons-on-it kitchen table. It's one big room with other doors and hatchways ducking away elsewhere, a wooden ladder in a corner going up, plank floor, sink counter, open shelves stuffed with garden, jars, colors, practical living, a library of well worn books across the room, benches and cushioned seats, windows peeking out to greenery. It's simply good living. It takes just the right practitioners to make it have a go of it. Dudley's been here from what others would proclaim as forever.
And when Dudley's not here, he's with Jacqueline on some tour with both their fiddles striking up the band in some local high school, or across the country in Port Townsend, or overseas, or right up the road in the town hall, or someone's house, or parade, or on the street once with me and some others reading poems and making music and raising a few shekels to send as donation down to folks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina busted the city and surroundings up. In 1965 Dudley was on the stage with his merry band of musicians playing their way at the same event in Newport when Dylan went electric. That changed the scenery. If he had his way, he'd be back at Newport playing, or in some New Hampshire small town fair, but right now he's trying to get his hoarse voice back to mellow after surgery which has taken a slow hand to him. He's in the ICU. Family is visiting. No flowers. Music is playing, and Dudley is squeezing a loved one's hand when a loved one speaks to him.
This is why he needs our hands. Send a thought and hand~squeeze in that direction. Concord, New Hampshire's a town and a place where you can see the state capitol golden dome from almost all the highways. The woods are a ten minute drive away. The White Mountains stand above the city as the greater capitol further northward. You're in the gateway when in this town. One of its terrific son's is calling.