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Where the Birth of Jazz Originated from
. . . The first night after my great-grandmother told me to go, I attended the Grand Theatre and saw a play in which they sang a very sweet song, entitled, Give Me Back My Dead Daughters Child. I thought about how my mother had died
and left me a motherless child out in this wide world to mourn,
and I began to cry. Fact of the business, I was just fifteen and so dumb I didn't even know how to rent a room. So I walked the streets till morning and then caught a train for Biloxi where my godmother had her country place in the summer. 1 knew she would take me in, no matter what happened.
While there in Biloxi I began hanging out with older boys and thinking of myself as quite a man, which I was still just a kid. These guys told me that you could be a real man if you could take a half pint of whiskey, throw it to your mouth, and drink the whole thing down without stopping. Well, 1 tried that and it knocked me completely out. I lay under the bed at my godmother's house for three whole days before they found me. That finished whiskey and me for that time.
Well, I played in various little places in Biloxi, but 1 never made the money I had in New Orleans. I worked at The Flat Top until one night the owner was hit in the head with a pool ball, which has made him crazy till this day. Then I moved on to a job in Meridian, Mississippi. Mississippi was always my bad-luck state. I came down with typhoid fever and returned to Biloxi on a stretcher. My godmother fed me for three weeks on a diet of whiskey and milk, which almost ended me with liquor entirely. (I never took another drink, except occasionally. . . . Lord, this whiskey is just lovely!)