Satchmo's Mom Mayann
The great jazz trumpeter Louie “Satchmo” Armstrong referred to his mother Mary Albert (1886–1942) as “Mayann.” According to him she was a great cook who for little money could whip up a meal that could make your mouth water just smelling it. Born in 1901 into poverty, Satchmo lived on and off with his mother do to the family’s precarious financial situation. Like a lot of poor African American women in New Orleans Armstrong’s mother, in his words, worked hard as a domestic in “white folk’s yards, washing, ironing and taking care of the white kids,” to feed her family. He proudly remembers how is mother Mayann “could work miracles” at the grocery store in his neighborhood. “She went to Zatteran’s grocery, and bought a pound of red beans, a pound of rice, a big slice of fat back [salt pork bacon that contained more fat than meat] and a big red onion,” recalls Satchmo. “At Stahle’s bakery she got two loaves of stale bread for a nickel.
She boiled this jive down to a gravy, and . . . we would smell her pot almost a block away. Mayann could really cook” after “two encores” of red beans and rice, “I had to get up from the table for fear I would hurt myself.”