Skip to comments.Exclusive: New details emerge about Satchmo's arrest at 9
Posted on 04/30/2017 5:35:51 PM PDT by BBell
Six boys were arrested on an unseasonably warm day in New Orleans Chinatown in October 1910. The alleged ringleader of the group was Henry Smith, a 15-year-old from Lafayette Street who had been in trouble with the law before. Among his alleged accomplices was a 9-year-old who lived in the neighborhood where the crime occurred: Louis Armstrong.
That incident was lost to history until I unearthed it several years ago. It was an episode perhaps alluded to in contemporary media coverage of Armstrong's more famous arrest for firing a gun on New Year's Eve in 1912; a crime brief about that case published in early 1913 describes the child who would become a recording star as "an old offender."
In my initial story about the arrest, details were threadbare. There were names and ages and a location. And there was one perplexing riddle: A newspaper story on the arrest of the boys said they had been taken to jail for being "dangerous and suspicious," a catch-all charge that was sometimes criticized for being overly vague and as not meeting constitutional muster. But in documents from the Colored Waifs Home, a reformatory where Armstrong landed at least twice, the alleged crime in 1910 was entered as "pilfering."
Now, after piecing together clues from crime stories and court reports from 1910, it is clear just why Armstrong and the other boys were accused of doing: They were allegedly trying to steal scrap metal -- brass, no less -- from the ruins of a burned building, presumably intending to sell it at a neighborhood junk shop.
If Armstrong hadn't been arrested in 1910, he may not have been considered "an old offender" in 1913, and it's possible he would not have been sent to the Colored Waifs Home for firing the gun --
(Excerpt) Read more at nola.com ...
Nearly an entire block in New Orleans Chinatown was consumed by a fire on Oct. 17, 1910. Louis Armstrong, 9, and five other boys were arrested at the site four days later, accused of trying to salvage brass from the rubble.
I had no idea.
Thanks for posting this.
Thank you for posting
The news article is interesting. I wonder how many kids turned their lives around after the newspapers printed their names in connection with a crime, unlike the policy of the media today.
That said, my 9-year-old self would have been right beside Louis salvaging that brass!
A long climb up for Satch, but he made it to the top.
In those days, it would’ve been considered embarrassing to the families to have the wayward youts be publicly named and shamed. Today, they’d consider it a badge of honor.
F LBJ and his great society!
Film at 11...
But dey wuz all honor students...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.