THERE'S ALWAYS A SICILIAN SHOEMAKER, SEZ DIZZIE

1936 | Barone’s Shoe Repairing | Madison Shoe Co. | Lester Pincus Shoe Corp.
Manhattan: Duane Street - West Broadway

LILIAN TERRY: 
“… But tell me, how come you played a Sicilian instrument (1) while living in the Deep South? Have you ever lived near an Italian community?” 
DIZZY GILLESPIE: 
“Yes, but not as a kid. About fifteen years ago we lived in Corona, in New York State, where also Louis Armstrong used to live. I remember this little Italian shoemaker, on my street, with whom I had become friends. 
Every time I came home from my tours I would go look him up, sooner or later, and have a talk. Yeah, he hadn't the slightest idea of who I was. To him I was just a neighbor with whom to share a bottle of wine, homemade by him. And he would fix my shoes with his magic hands. One day I tell him I'm going to Europe and what would he like me to bring him back? ‘A Borsalino hat!


Borsalino
Advertisement designed by Max Huber
Source: Italian Ways

When I got back to the States I gave it to him, but I would not take his money; we were just good friends. Anyway, one day I come home from a tour and find his shop is closed. So I ask his neighbor at the candy store: ‘Where's Frank?’” 
“‘He has a bad heart, so he's shut his shop and gone to live with his daughter in the Bronx. Here's her phone number.’ 
So I call her: ‘Is Frank there, please?’” 
“Yes, can I ask who is calling?” 
“Dizzy Gillespie.”


1948 | Dizzie Gillespie
Source: LIFE magazine October 11, 1948

“She drops the receiver, amazed, and I hear her asking her father, ‘What? You know Dizzy Gillespie?’ 
He comes to the phone: ‘Who's this? Dizzy who?’ I explain to him who I am and in the end he says, ‘Ah, sure! Gillespie, my next door neighbor…. So you are…YOU?’ 
How we laughed! He'd never had any idea of who I was; we were simply good neighbors. Great old man. He was Sicilian.”

Lillian Terry
From: “Dizzy, Duke, Brother Ray, and Friends.” - (University Of Illinois Press, 2017)


(1)

"Sicily’s where I got my collection of ‘Jew's harps.’ Do you know I used to play it as a kid? But when I listened to those Sicilian harps…wow! Boy, they were perfection, not like the American ones. So I got myself a whole box in Palermo, but now I have only four left. I've got to return to Sicily to get another box.”

The proper name in Italy is not Jew's harp but Marranzano.”

Dizzy Gillespie
From: “Dizzy, Duke, Brother Ray, and Friends.” - (University Of Illinois Press, 2017)



Marranzano AKA Jew's Harp

 

TheHistorialist On Instagram

Archive