Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Louis Armstrong House

Louis Armstrong "What a wonderful World" for your listening pleasure as you read.

Louis Armstrong House Link
Age appropriate:  9+, unless your little one is a jazz lover
Cost:  We went for free on the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live
Time: About 1 hour-ish to walk through the whole museum
Photography: Not allowed in the house portion

This had to be one of my most favorite museums in all of NYC, if not my favorite.  It was not about all the places Mr. Armstrong played or all the famous people he met or even all the fans he had (though we all know he is legend).

This museum was about his family life.  It was about his amazing wife Lucille Wilson and Louis' life with her. It was about his love of music and how he devoured it and how he recorded everything (what a gift to the world!). He even recorded himself eating dinner with his wife.
Source--in their den 1970
It was about how Lucille Wilson Armstrong planned on getting a bigger home and hoped that the Corona, Queens one would be a starter home, but Louis loved the neighborhood so much (even though it changed a lot over and over) that they didn't want to move. It was how they wanted a house of the future. It was about their relationship with each other, their neighborhood, their home and even  to God.  Lucille was a devout Catholic and she had her own little special space set up with a little place to ponder, read, pray, knit and sew.
Many of the neighbors would come and sit on the front steps just to chat.  The neighbors protected the house from any vandalism throughout the years for the loving memory they have of the Armstrongs.  H, our tour guide, said that when Mr. Armstrong sang "It's a Wonderful World" he said that he pictured the faces of the neighbor children.
When inside the home, you can almost picture that the Armstrongs had just stepped out for a few minutes to get you a drink of water and you can hear them chatting to each other.  It's like you could sit and have a conversation with them, but you don't even have the desire to talk, you just want to watch and listen.  They laugh and tenderly correct each other in front of you and you can't help but smile and hope that someday your relationship with your dear one will be like that.  You can almost hear the doorbell ringing and the neighbor kids coming to ask of Louis could come play. . . almost.

The rooms were not roped off, except for two, they had a special rug they asked visitors to step on. It was difficult for my children not to want to touch everything, and they were watchful and kind. My dear husband, a great jazz musician, held my 4-year-old through the entire museum. I think I had a huge excited smile on my face the whole way through, because it gave me a whole new respect for the Armstrongs and just made me feel happy.

Go! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

If you're reading this and you can't go but you'd like to see photos of the inside, just do an image search--there are many photos of the inside on the internet or click on the source links of the photos above. I couldn't find photos of the prayer nook.