- Posted February 22, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Louis Armstrong - my family's untold story
Life during the Great Depression and in Harlem was really hard for my parents and their families. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and grew up in during the Harlem Renaissance. Both of my grandfathers died when they were young leaving the families to struggle during extremely difficult economic times.
Though the family was together when they were in their teens, my mother's younger sister lived most of the time with another family. Teresa was two years younger than mom and the youngest in the family. She stayed with a family my grandmother had met when she first arrived in New York. The Noisette family had money and gave Teresa anything she wanted. They lived on the upper West Side of Manhattan and their own daughters were connected with radio and stage.
I do not have the woman’s first name in my family files. My genealogical research suggests that a dancer in the 1930s named Julia Noisette as a good possible candidate for the daughter. It was through the Noisette connections that my mother's family met Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong. My mother remembered he gave her 50¢ the first time she met him. He later gave Teresa a beautiful Samoyed puppy, which she named "Satchie." He became my grandmother's dog and slept on the floor near her bed. They had him several years but one day he didn’t return when he was let out. They believed that he was stolen because he was so unique and beautiful with his blue eyes. Satchie wore a collar so if he had just wandered off, he could have been returned. The family were so distraught and asked the Sanitation Department to be on the look out for the dog but they never heard anything.
In order to complete this story, I would need to more information about the Noisette family. I have a formal portrait of the woman but no first name. During my research I found the Noisettes mentioned in many Harlem newspaper articles as socialites. I hope to find the pieces that would flesh out my own family’s story.