One of the historic sites in the history of jazz development in New Orleans – the store of the Karnovsky family that adopted singer and trumpeter Louis Armstrong in its youth and helped it in its infancy – was completely destroyed today (Monday) following Hurricane Ida. The storm left behind huge damage in Louisiana.
The Karnovsky family, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, operated a 428 tailors’ shop at 427 South Rampert Street since 1913, and then turned it into the first store to sell jazz records in New Orleans. For years, the historic structure was designated for preservation, but tonight it turned out that Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana with winds of more than 240 mph, completely destroyed it and turned it into a pile of bricks and trees.
In 1907, a seven-year-old black boy named Louis Armstrong came to the family looking for work and they warmly welcomed him. In the mornings, he went out with the family children to collect garbage in their carriage to sell profitable items, and in the evenings they collected coal and sold it.
The family adopted Armstrong, whose father abandoned him and his mother after the birth, and he lived on the top floor of the building. There, Armstrong was exposed to the love of music, when the mother sang lullabies in Yiddish, while Morris, a family member who became Armstrong’s best friend, bought him a tin horn with which he played near the carriage to attract customers. Subsequently, the family members gave Armstrong a down payment for the purchase of his first thyme. “Louis said the Carnovsky family was the one who instilled the love of music into his heart,” said former journalist John McCaster.
In late 1912, Armstrong was arrested after shooting with a handgun in the air, and was sent to a special detention facility for minors, where he became part of a band and began to improve his playing. Armstrong continued to keep in touch with Maurice Karnofsky, who turned the Tailors’ Store into a record store. Armstrong himself wore a Star of David to honor the Jewish family.