Left blind, music became his window to the world

Posted at 12:10 AM, Mar 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-27 00:10:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) --Harold Hausenfluck was blinded at birth 60 years ago Monday when doctors gave him too much oxygen.

He’s seen some tough stuff along the way.

“Trying to get around by yourself, bumping into things,” he said from his room at The Virginia Home overlooking Byrd Park.

Little Harold was just starting school when his father gave him a harmonica. It was his first glance at something he could do just as well as anyone else. Music quickly became his window to the world.

He fell in love with Old Time music, the precursor to bluegrass and country and folk. He’s a huge fan of the Crook Brothers. He found something beautiful and innocent about true country living.

“Boy, that just hit me hard,” Harold said. “I have just loved the country folks all my life.”

Harold found a good job as a piano tuner and technician. He’s a ham radio operator and a total electronics geek. As a younger man, he was engaged to be married. But she ran away.

So music was the way he saw the world. He became a champion old time banjo and fiddle player. He played near and far, square dances, hoedowns, festivals.

Then a stroke stole it all from him.

“Two o’clock in the afternoon, July 22nd, 1999.”

He lost movement on his left side. His fretting hand became useless.

He was blinded all over again.

“I mean, I’ll just say it outright,” Harold said. “It’s hell.”

So he went back to his first love, the harp. It’s something he can do one-handed.

He and his friends play regularly, at the Virginia home and elsewhere. If there’s a square dance going on, look for Harold.