by Carolyn L. Brown from our Riverside Court location in Woodstock, NB.
This week, I have included photos of two residents we are so proud to have living here at Riverside Court. I want you to meet Donnie Cluff and Muriel Hartley.
There is nothing quite like seeing Donnie’s eyes light up when he picks up the fiddle and starts to play. Let me say, it is not just music to his ears but to ours as well. Donnie got his first fiddle when he was 13, ordered from the Eaton’s catalogue. He spent countless hours listening to Don Messer on the radio, his idol, and memorizing the tunes he was playing. He played while he grew up on the family farm and continued over a lifetime while working in the family business after they gave up the farm. Donnie has a lovely bass voice and enjoyed singing in his church choir as well as playing the saxophone in a band. He is a long-standing member of the Tuesday Night Fiddlers. Donnie also belonged to the NB Fiddle Orchestra and joined them in Ottawa to play in front of the Parliament buildings on Canada Day a few times. He particularly enjoyed playing in Fiddle Doos, for benefits and for Seniors. But then, what he calls the Highlight of his life, he was induction into the NB Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. We can’t think of a more deserving person to be honoured in such a way and we feel privileged to have him with us in “the big yellow house”.
Muriel Hartley is so excited to have her piano back. When she first came to Riverside Court a few years ago, it didn’t come with her, but it is here now and what a joy to stand in the hallway and hear her play. When I chatted with Muriel about her music, she told me her first lessons and experience were with a pump organ in her home as a child. In High school, she played the piano and took more lessons learning to read music as well. Muriel’s teaching career allowed her to be involved with music in the school system which she loved. As a child, she also remembers playing the organ in Sunday School at the Tracey Mills Church and as the years flew by with marriage and children, she found herself the organist at the church for pretty much 40 years. Music is a gift she has cherished and she tells me she was told her great-grandfather sang bass in a choir at this same church. She fondly shared how she and her husband went piano shopping at Jones Music Store in Woodstock and bought the piano she still has. She said there was a less expensive one she said she would take but her husband insisted on the more expensive one. Indeed, it has served her well and she is thrilled to have it with her again, as are we!