Louis Armstrong’s 1969-1971 Scrapbooks: Scrapbook 2

Back in June, we did a three-part entry on a scrapbook Louis Armstrong compiled while convalescing at home in Corona, Queens after two stints in intensive care (here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Armstrong labeled that particularly packed volume as scrapbook “1” and compiled it from late 1969 through the end of the summer of 1970. Today, we will explore scrapbook “2” from the same time period.

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On the inside cover, we’re immediately greeted with this beautiful image of Louis and Lucille in Louis’s den. As mentioned previously on this site, Lucille had the den renovated while he was in the hospital and had those Tandberg tape decks installed so he could dive back into his hobby instead of worrying about going back to road.

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The tribute to Lucille continues here with an earlier shot from their globe-trotting days, complete with a taped caption, “Mee ‘n Moms.”

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Multiple readers came through on this next one (thanks to Rob Rothberg, Brian Soule, Scott Lebensburger, Desmond Polk and more!). We don’t know the event but that’s Jerry Vale standing on the left, his wife Rita Grapel Vale in the middle and Catherine Basie, Count’s wife, seated on the right.

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Looks like another photo from the same event–anyone know the identities of those surrounding Louis? Our readers were phenomenal in ID’ing photos in the last batch of scrapbook posts; let us know in the comments!

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This publicity photo was shot by Jack Bradley in the 1960s. We love the caption: “Well of course. Who Else??”

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Armstrong’s longtime manager Joe Glaser passed away in June 1969. There have been some who have claimed that Armstrong despised Glaser and spent his final years badmouthing us but our Archives have no proof of that whatsoever. This scrapbook was most likely put together in 1970 and here’s Armstrong describing Glaser as “The Greatest” and “My manager and best friend.”

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We’ve shared one of these next two photos in our post about Armstrong’s Corona, Queens neighborhood, but here’s the full set, taken one block away at Joe’s Artistic Barber Shop c. 1970.

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Does anyone know the identity of these children of Corona?

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We leave Queens and head to France for this photo of a bust of Sidney Bechet, originally dedicated at the first Antibes Jazz Festival in 1960.

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The earlier scrapbook we shared had a handful of photos of Louis at the Americana Hotel for tribute to Teamsters Vice President Harold Gibbons on December 3, 1969. He must have liked it there to return another night in this era, snapped at the Royal Box while having dinner with Lucille Armstrong, longtime road manager Ira Mangel and Mangel’s wife.

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Back to France for this photo of French jazz authority Hugues Panassie and longtime companion Madeleine Gautier, in a photo most likely taken by Louis Panassie.

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At this point, we travel back to the spring of 1969, when Louis was released from Beth Israel Hospital in New York City after his second life-threatening stint in intensive care. His main doctor, who he always credited with saving his life, was Gary Zucker, shown on the left here (and described as “MY DOCTOR” in Louis’s taped note). The next several photos were taken at Beth Israel; if you know the names of any of the hospital personnel, please let us know!

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Then it’s back to Hugues Panassie’s office in France for this photo, which also includes Panassie’s son Louis and his wife Claudine.

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It’s worth taking an interlude right now to show a video shot by Louis Panassie on June 17, 1969 when he and Claudine visited Louis at home in Queens. For our “That’s My Home” theme, this is a perfect clip, shot in Louis’s backyard as Claudine valiantly teaches him to sing “That’s My Desire” in French!

From France, it’s over to Germany for this offering from our good friend Winfried Maier. As mentioned last time, Winfried was one of Louis’s close friends in West Berlin and eventually donated his impressive private Armstrong collection to us in 2015. It appears that Louis wrote a letter to Winfried, reminiscing about “Eisbein und Sauerkraut.” Winfried returned it with two photos of himself. Armstrong made a collage out of all of it, his original letter, the photos of Maier and even Armstrong’s Queens address.

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Last week, we told the story of Louis’s longtime neighbor Selma Heraldo. Here’s another Armstrong collage made from birthday cards given to him by Selma, her brother Arthur, and their mother Adele, signed “Mom Heraldo.”

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The signature on this politically incorrect birthday card has faded so it’s a mystery who sent it, but it still inspired Armstrong, who cut out every line of the original card to make another unique collage.

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Lossie and Clayton Joseph were two close friends (Lossie was Lucille’s best friend and Clayton was the recipient of an order of Swiss Kriss as detailed in the previous scrapbook we covered). Here’s their birthday card, which Louis cut into so many parts, he needed to number the correct order.-

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William Hassan was another friend of Louis’s who sent him this card in 1969, featuring his four sons. Dan “The Man” Hassan is a reader of this site and we hope to feature him and his family on a future post about a tape they sent Louis in the late 1960s, and Louis’s taped response.

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Once again, the identity of the sender of the following letter has faded away, but they were from Washington D. C. and happy to trade corresponance with Louis for his birthday in 1969.

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Louis must have had many copies of this 1968 publicity photo lying around the house as it inspired multiple collages in his final years.

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From birthday to Christmas, here’s that same photo from the Royal Box of the Americana, but now adorned with Christmas wishes from Lucille, aka “Madam Armstrong aka “Moms.”

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Lucille’s birthday was in January so we’re most likely back in 1970 at this point. I cannot quite make out the signature but this card was from a friend of Lucille’s and was enough to inspire another Armstrong collage.

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Louis found a cozy spot for a tiny photo of himself in the “R” of this invitation to the “Resurrection’s Rock ‘n’ Roast” in Flushing Meadows on December 5, 1969.

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Bill Hirsch of Tokyo, Japan sent this card, which immediately got Scotch-taped into the scrapbook. -(Thank you to Joseph Bassin for sending along this note: “The Japanese card with the figure on a bull (ox) playing a flute is from a series about Zen Buddhism and training the mind. The bull is a symbol for the mind, and finally having gained mastery, the man playing the flute on its back symbolizes the enlightenment of man.”)

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It’s almost impossible to make out the signature on this next card, but it’s from “Italia.” Italy, Japan, France….Armstrong remained Ambassador Satch until the end!

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We actually close in France with a letter from Madeleine Gautier, sent on Hot Club Du France stationary. On the bottom of this page, barely legible, is publicity for the film Hello, Dolly! with Barbra Streisand.

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Gautier’s letter, dated January 22, 1970, details how the publicity barely mentions any of the other stars and focuses on Louis and notes that the audiences in the theater applaud when Armstrong appears.

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That concludes our look at Scrapbook 2! We have more scrapbooks to go through but we’re also toying with the idea of doing more with the collages and catalog pages for the 170 or so tapes Louis made at home in the last two years of his life. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Published by Ricky Riccardi

I am Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

6 thoughts on “Louis Armstrong’s 1969-1971 Scrapbooks: Scrapbook 2

  1. I think Louis and his work means so much to me….collected his Music Sinne 1981….travelled Europe to find his records….listened to his music from King Oliver Days up to the very end 1971…greetings from Germany and God bless YOU all
    …good night everybody..swiss kriss πŸŽΊπŸ‘πŸ˜‰

  2. 8.54-05 is Jerry Vale and I think he is with his wife, Rita Grapel Vale, who I believe was a former burlesque dancer. Ricki, how about a signed book as a prize?

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