Tuesday, November 08, 2011

When my mother in law met Louis Armstrong

My life is a bit surreal at the moment to say the least. A bit of me wants to write about what is going on, and more of me wants to keep it private, so instead, I thought I'd share with you some of my mother in law's amazing stories from the war.

Rosemarie grew up on an estate called Isenschnibbe on the outskirts of a small mediaeval town called Gardelegen, about two hours drive west of Berlin. Her father was an estate manager who ran Isenschnibbe for the Prince of Lippot Detmolt, who thanks to the war, never came to visit. So her father, Walter was a man of great importance in the town, being in charge of all the estate workers.

At the end of the war, Gardelegen was eventually handed over to the Russians, but first of all the Americans took over Isenschnibbe. And the two Major Generals in charge got on famously with Rosemarie's family. As she had learnt English at school, Rosemarie was often required to translate.

One day, one of the Major Generals came to Rosemarie's parents to invite them to a concert. Louis Armstrong and his band were going to entertain the troops. I'm not sure how long they stayed, but Rosemarie couldn't believe the lavishness of the event- Louis Armstrong was flown over from the States, roses were flown up from Rome, for a family who lived off the land and wasted nothing, it seemed the height of waste, luxury and extravagance.

What was Louis Armstrong like I ask? Nice, says mil - but that's what she always says, everyone is nice to mil - they all were. And we enjoyed listening to him play. For several Christmases afterwards, he wrote to Rosemarie's mother. We still have copies of those cards.

So you liked him? I say. Oh yes, says mil, shutting her eyes and going back to sleep. He was tip top, very nice. It was lovely.


Persephone said...

One of my husband's band teachers had a sadder memory. As a young musician, he approached Louis Armstrong to tell him how inspirational he had been. "I don't talk to white boys," snarled Satchmo. I guess Pops had been having a particularly bad day.

Jane Henry said...

Oh that's terribly sad. Mil and her parents loved him.

Anonymous said...

That is very sad, but who knows the circumstances behind it. I just came across this while looking for Julia's email address. she gave it to me awhile ago and I misplaced it. I am one of Rosie's carers. I loved the story of Rosie and Louis Armstrong