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THE BITTERS WITH THE SWEET
grievance. Stimulated by the interest of Washington college professors and their friends, his historical sense began to grow like a liana vine around a palmetto.
The mine was laid and the detonating trigger cocked. A broadcast of the late Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not program in the spring of 1938 touched off the explosion. Jelly, an ardent fan, blew his top as he heard Ripley introduce W. G. Handy (composer of the St. Louis Blues) as the originator of jazz and the blues. Mister Handy is a modest fellow and this claim was certainly made for him by a careless Ripley script writer, but Jelly Roll suspected Mr. Handy.
**W. C. Handy is a Liar," was the leading sentence of his fetter of protest to the Baltimore Afro-American, In a four-thousand-word missive addressed to Ripley (with a copy to the jazz magazine Downbeat) a wounded tiger and a polemicist roared.
"Dear Mr. Ripley;
For many years I have been a constant reader of your cartoon. I have listened to your broadcast with keen interest. I frankly believe your broadcast is a great contribution to natural science.
In your broadcast of March 26, 1938, you introduced W. C. Handy as the originator of jazz, stomps, and blues. By this announcement you have done me a great injustice and you have almost misled many of your fans. ...
It is evidently known, beyond contradiction that New Orleans is the cradle of jazz, and I, myself, happened to be the creator in the year 1902. ... In the year 1908 ... I met Handy in Memphis. He was introduced to me as Prof. Handy. Who ever heard of anyone wearing the name of a professor advocate Ragtime, Jazz, Stomps, Blues, etc.? ... Of course, Handy could not play any of these types and I can assure you ' has not learned them yet. . . .