Satchmo in Liberia
“With little else to do I rode my Vespa motor scooter from Harbel to Roberts Field. Perhaps there might be some excitement around the airport, but no such luck. Eric Reeves the Station Master and Air Traffic Controller was in the tower and was in communications with the incoming airliner. Everything was quiet in anticipation of a Pan American Clipper’s arrival. On the ground floor all was quiet except for a solitary passenger in the terminal. Apparently he was waiting for the next flight out, which wasn’t due for another two hours. As I approached him, I could see that he looked familiar…. I immediately recognized him as a world class trumpet player and gravel voiced singer from New Orleans. He must have seen the look on my face and broke the ice by introducing himself as Louie Armstrong. “Hi,” I answered, “I’m Hank Bracker, Captain Hank Bracker.” I noticed that he was apparently alone sitting there with a mountain of belongings which obviously included musical instruments. Here was Louis Armstrong, the famous Louie Armstrong, all alone in this dusty, hot terminal, and yes he had a big white handkerchief! He volunteered that the others in his party were at the club looking for something to eat. With no one else around, we talked about New Orleans, his music and how someone named King Oliver, a person I had never heard of, was his mentor. At the time I didn’t know much about Dixie Land music or the Blues, but talking to Louie Armstrong was a thrill I’ll never forget. In retrospect it’s amazing to find out that you don’t know what you didn’t know. I found out that he actually lived in Queens, NY at that time, not too far from where my aunt and uncle lived. I also found out that he was the Good Will Ambassador at Large and represented the United States on a tour that included Europe and Africa, but now he was just a friendly person I had the good fortune to meet, under these most unusual circumstances. His destination was Ghana where he, his wife and his band the All Stars group were scheduled to perform a concert in the capitol city of Accra. Little did I know that the tour he was on was scheduled by Edward R. Murrow, who would later be my neighbor in Pawling, New York. Although our time together was limited, it was obvious that he had compassion for the people of the “Third World Nations,” and wanted to help them. Although after our short time together, I never saw Louie again but I just know that he did. He seemed to be the type of person that could bring sunshine with him wherever he went.…”
Louie Armstrong & his trumpet
“Suppressed I Rise,” is now available for $14.99 at all Book Stores & Distributors! It tells the harrowing saga of Adeline Perry and her two young daughters, surviving World War II, in Nazi Germany.
Also available for $14.99 is “Salty & Saucy Maine – Sea Stories from Castine” which tells many sea stories of Captain Hank’s years at Maine Maritime Academy and certainly demonstrates that life should be lived to the fullest! It is rapidly becoming the most talked about book Down East!