Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018

Capturing the Artists, Hustlers, and Junkies of 1960s Pittsburgh / Mark Whitaker

When Freddy Kittel moved to Crawford Street in 1965 and changed his name to August Wilson, he purchased an aged secondhand phonograph to keep in his boardinghouse room. Up Centre Avenue, there was a thrift shop run by the St. Vincent de Paul charity where he could buy used 78 rpm records for five cents apiece. He snapped up stacks at a time, whatever happened to be there, mostly old pop tunes like “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” by Patti Page. One day, he was sorting through his latest purchase and found a 78 whose faded title was covered with a yellowed, typed label that read: “Bessie Smith: Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine.”

Wilson put on the record, and a piercing, plaintive voice filled the room:

In a bakery shop today, I heard Miss Mandy Jenkins say
She had the best cakes you see, and they were as fresh as fresh can be
And as the people passed by, you would hear Miss Mandy cry. . . .

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