A grandson of slaves, a boy was born in a poor neighborhood of New Orleans known as the "Back of
Town." His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant. His mother became a prostitute and the boy
and his sister had to live with their grandmother.
Early in life he proved to be gifted for music and with three other kids he sang in the streets of New Orleans. His first gains were coins that were thrown to them.
A Jewish family, Karnofsky, who had emigrated from Lithuania to the USA, had pity for the 7-year-old boy and
brought him into their home. Initially giving 'work' in the house, to feed this hungry child. There he remained and
slept in this Jewish family's home where, for the first time in his life, he was treated with kindness and tenderness.
When he went to bed, Mrs. Karnovsky sang him a Russian lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs.
Over time, this boy became the adopted son of this family. The Karnofskys gave him money to buy his first musical instrument; as was the custom in the Jewish families.
They sincerely admired his musical talent. Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used these Jewish melodies in compositions, such as St. James Infirmary and Go Down Moses.
The little black boy grew up and wrote a book about this Jewish family who had adopted him in 1907. In memory of
this family and until the end of his life, he wore a Star of David and said that in this family, he had learned "how to
live real life and determination."
You might recognize his name. This little boy was called: Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Louis Armstrong proudly spoke
fluent Yiddish! And "Satchmo" is Yiddish for "Big Cheeks"!!!
Growing up I was a trumpet player. Louis Armstrong was my hero in music. When I ran across this bit of trivia, I wanted to share it. Many of the youth do not know Satchmo. He was the only trumpet player who played with air in his cheeks. There many trumpet players in his day, but he had a gravelly voice and had his own style with the trumpet.