(From my good friend and study partner Dr. Jack Cohen)
He was a grandson of slaves, and 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 and his first gains were the coins that were thrown to them.
A Jewish family, Karnovsky, who had emigrated from Lithuania to the USA, had pity for the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. He was initially given ‘work’ in the house to pay for his keep. Then he remained and slept with this Jewish family 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 Karnovskys gave him money to buy his first trumpet; 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 he said that it is in this family that he had learned “how to live real life and with determination. ”
This little boy was Louis Armstrong.