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6277Re: Jelly Roll Morton's birthdate

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  • John O
    Sep 5, 2008
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      In the hand-written "Fragment of an Autobiography" Morton gave to Roy
      Carew in 1938, Jelly stated he was "about 14" when his mother died.
      According to Gushee's 2001 Afterword in 'Mister Jelly Roll', Louise
      Monette "probably died in 1906."

      Jelly's 1918 draft registration information states a birth year of
      1884--the earliest "official" date we have, which may simply indicate
      an attempt to avoid being drafted. On his 1921 Mexican visa, Jelly
      himself apparently wrote his birth year as 1890 (pasted over, visible
      through the opposite side, not quite certain).

      According to his younger sister Frances, in 1925 he wanted to seem
      younger, not older, than he was: when she visted him in Chicago that
      year, he emphasized that she should keep her age secret and to agree
      that he was 28(!).

      I'm slightly partial to 1889, the year given by sister Amide and by
      Anita (on his death certificate). It's not incompatible with a
      Storyville professorship (at age 13) and "New Orleans (Blues) Joys"
      authorship (with help, Jelly freely admitted, from a piano instructor)
      in 1902.
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