musician and entertainer. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana,
the son of Mary Ann and Willie Armstrong. The date of his
birth is questionable. Armstrong always claimed to have
been born on July 4, 1900, a date he gave to a draft registrar
in 1918. Several of his early associates insist he was born
about 1898, a date that squares better with events of his
youth. However, recent research strongly suggests that he
was actually born on August 4, 1901, and it is this date
on which many jazz scholars agree. Early chroniclers have
given Daniel as his middle name, but Armstrong himself denied
father, Willie, rose to become straw boss in a turpentine
factory. Willie abandoned Armstrong's mother, probably about
the time of his birth, and Armstrong remained bitter toward
him until the end of his life. His mother (usually called
Mayann) was about fifteen at the time of Armstrong's birth.
She did domestic work and was probably a part-time prostitute
as well. While Armstrong was still an infant, she moved
into a rough vice district, leaving him in the care of his
paternal grandmother, who worked as a laundress and domestic.
the birth of his sister, when Armstrong was about five,
he moved back in with his mother. Armstrong was raised in
extreme deprivation, both emotionally and physically. Surrogate
"stepfathers" came and went as Mayann changed
boyfriends. Some were kind to Armstrong and some were not.
At times he had to scavenge for food in garbage cans or
eat remains of dinners scraped off restaurant plates by
a stepfather who worked as a waiter. He went barefoot much
of the time and owned little more than the shirt and pants
he put on in the morning. Mayann was wayward and frequently
left Armstrong to take care of himself and his baby sister.
this rearing, Armstrong often spoke of his youth with fondness.
He was apparently well liked, or made himself so, by the
prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, and toughs of the neighborhood.
He sang in a street-corner quartet for pennies, sold newspapers,
ran errands, and apparently felt relatively secure in this
rather vicious environment. It is worth noting, however,
that he did not return to his hometown for nearly ten years
after he left it and subsequently visited only for professional