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Alan Bates 12-18-2006 04:22 PM

Dorothea Frye
There was a lot more to Dorothea than artistic paintings. She was an excellent musician and singer, and an avid correspondent with many excellent ideas. For some abstruse reason she tended to denigrate herself, saying her works were not up to some unattainable ideal, while others viewed them with awe.
When I think of her, I recall impeccable grooming. She was the sort of person who could and did all sorts of home projects - carpentry, painting, housekeeping - and always with every hair in place, every fold of her clothing just-so and the work itself done with professional expertise. She was an epitome of grace.

Keith Norrington 12-19-2006 07:45 AM

Thank you, Alan, for such an excellent description of Dorothea. When she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and told she had six months (she only lived two) she told me that she most wanted all of us to accept it and that she would devote her remaining time to getting things in order and telling all her loved ones farewell. Although we talked on the phone frequently, I wrote her a very lengthy letter in which I thanked her for all that her friendship of nearly 30 years had meant to me and of how her love and guidance had enriched my life in many ways. She was astounded that I, and many others, were so affected by her presence which, as you said, was the very epitome of grace. I was awed by her quiet elegance from the first time I met her on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE when I was a teenager. Besides our mutual interest in steamboats and music, we shared a love of southern plantation houses. One of the items DF (as we affectionately called her) bequeathed me was two ornate pieces of cypress decorations from the capitals atop the columns of BELLE GROVE, the 1857 palatial plantation home on the Mississippi near New Orleans that lay in ruins until it was destroyed by fire in 1952. A New Orleans antique dealer had picked up the pieces at the site some years prior and DF had purchased them during one of the fall trips to "The Big Easy" that she took with Larry and Ethel Walker for several decades. Hauntingly beautiful photos of BELLE GROVE are featured in the book "Tales of the Mississippi" by Leonard Huber, Ray Samuel and Warren Ogden. It's always a comfort to re-read the stacks of letters I have from DF and I can "hear" her soft voice talking to me. Nearly 7 years have passed since her death, but she is still much loved and greatly missed by those who were privileged to be counted amongst her multitude of friends.

Shipyard Sam 12-19-2006 10:14 AM

A Musician, Too
I hope Mickey sees all these tributes to his beloved mother. Isn't it something how much she meant to so many of us? Just like she was our mom, too.

Dorothy was also an accomplished musician and played the slap bass in a country band when Cincinnati was the home of country music. I loved to sit with her at John Hartford's Christmas parties when someone, totally unknown to me, would make their appearance into the room. [I]"Oh, Look! There's so-and-so-- he (she) played fiddle for the Haystack Roundup Band (or whatever)." [/I]Dorothea knew all those old-time C&W entertainers; so being with her at John and Marie's made the evening that much more special and entertaining.

Keith Norrington 12-19-2006 10:27 AM

Dorothea told me once that, during the time she sang on a radio show, a lot of the musicians ate lunch in a chili parlor where the coney island sandwiches were five cents. She recalled that in the restaurant she frequently saw Capt. Billy Bryant and members of the crew and troupe from his showboat, which was permanently moored at the Cincinnati waterfront.

Among her country music favorites, Dorothea loved "The Wildwood Flower" and a recording of it, played by Dorothea & Roscoe Frye, on bass and guitar - with Capt. Doc Hawley at the piano -- and made at the home of Mrs. Letha C. Greene in the 1960's -- was played at the memorial service held for Dorothea at the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta during S&D weekend of 2000. A number of pieces of her fantastic artwork were displayed in the church that evening where many of DF's best friends "gathered at the river" to honor her memory.

Ted Guillaum 12-19-2006 10:36 AM

Sam, Keith, Judy, or anyone. Can someone post a nice photo of Dorothea?

Judy Patsch 12-19-2006 11:57 AM

Look back in the River Artistry thread, the 5th posting. I've got a picture of her with Larry and Ethel Walker and me in Doc's courtyard in 1986. I'll post a more recent shot, although she never seemed to change, later. I'm in a 'cleaning the house crisis', as I'm having friends over for gumbo and ferdens tomorrow. Anyone who lives alone, or worse, alone with 4 cats, knows there's some work to be done to get the place presentable for other people! Someone mentioned DF as a mother figure - that she was. My phone bill was filled with post 10PM calls to her unlisted number. I had to wait until her favorite shows were over - she'd take the phone off the hook during them(and sometimes forget to put it back on). She listened to my laments in dealing with my mother, and she completely understood because she also had a perfect sister out of town while she cared for her mother and could do nothing right. It was amazing after DF's death how much more difficult it became to deal with Mom, mainly because I didn't have that safety valve to let off steam. DF got it, everything about life.

Ted Guillaum 12-19-2006 12:50 PM

Thanks Judy, I found it. I missed that entire thread somehow!?!

Alan Bates 12-20-2006 09:17 AM

Sam, those Christmas parties were strange in one respect. The great musicians: Chet Atkins, the Scruggs's, Roy Acuff, John and their ilk, played on the ground floor. The not-quite-so-good went to the second floor and the also-rans went to the third. All were welcomed and none were scorned, but they sought their own level as if by gravity. I took my horn down there one time, by invitation, and quit after one tune. On the third floor!

Shipyard Sam 12-20-2006 10:49 AM

Hartford Place Parties
That ranking order may have stemmed from the days when there were no second and third floors at Hartford Place on the bluff above the Cumberland River. Remember? Everyone was packed onto the one level, and that was where the food and drinks were, too. [I]King [/I]Roy Acuff held court in the kitchen, close to where the hot country ham and biscuits were coming off Marie’s busy stove. Beautiful and talented [I]Emmy Lou Harris [/I]was my favorite of all the lustrous friends of the Hartford's, but I was too shy to strike up a conversation with her, so my admiration remained at a distance.

There was but one privy on that level, next to the Jacuzzi tub, where a long line formed. As I stood queued-up for my turn, [I]Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys [/I]came bustling in the room, tearing off their heavy coats and getting their instruments from their cases, and I swear it was them who climbed into the dry tub and began playing. Wife, Pagan, though, claims it was the [I]Riders of the Sky [/I]and not the “Father of Bluegrass Music” who set up in the Jacuzzi brother’s hot-tub. She says I had a nip too much of the celebrated Hartford wine punch to know the difference.

[U]Hartford Week[/U], as I want to call it, begins right after Christmas: the time of the legendary parties, John's birthday, their wedding anniversary, and sadly, Marie's death all occured with the three days of 28-30 December. Next week will be the right time to remember our good friends, the Hartfords, and to celebrate the contributions to [I]music and the river [/I]that remains John Hartford's lasting legacy.

Danny Gray 09-29-2008 01:23 PM

Dorothea Frye
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I'm so sorry to learn of Dorothea's passing. I met her through Capatain Roddy. She was a wonderful painter and I was inspired by her. She came to my apartment to see my oil paintings and what an honor it was.
oil painting by Robert Dan (Danny) Gray Jr.
JESUS Loves Dorothea.

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