The story of Louis Armstrong’s childhood is told by a cornet that Louis yearned to buy from the pawn shop in his New Orleans neighborhood. The cornet as narrator allows the young reader to slide by some difficult issues in Louis’ childhood. According the cornet, Louis was always happy: happy to live with his grandmother when his mother couldn’t care for him, happy to move to his mother’s when she was ill and needed him to hustle in the streets of New Orleans for food, and happy cleaning toilets at the Colored Waifs home. Young Louis did love the New Orleans music from the churches, the parades, and the clubs. Whether “joy bubbled in his heart” at the Colored Waifs Home is a question for discussion. The author cites Armstrong’s autobiography as a source for the claim of Armstrong’s happiness. Other biographers believe that 1930′s “autobiography” was heavily edited by publicists to market their image of a contented colored man. That’s a hard image to swallow in 2011.
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