Monday, June 27, 2005

Charlie Parker's boyhood home - discovered

Actually two of them, still standing, discovered by an intrepid Kansas City jazz historian after pouring over 70 year old census records. Here is a portion of the article from the Kansas City Star... (link for complete article)

Posted on Sun, Jun. 26, 2005
Scholar discovers missing links in Parker's past

Two of Jazz legend’s former KC homes still stand

The Kansas City Star

Every decade millions of families fill out census forms.

Mundane stuff. Names and ages. Do you own or rent your home? And, in the 1930 questionnaire: Do you own a radio?

Like millions of others, the Parker family — Charles Sr., Addie and 9-year-old Charlie — are listed on the 1930 survey.

They didn’t own a radio. But someday, Charlie’s music would be heard on the radio. And someday, the legend of Charlie “Bird” Parker, one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, would be known around the world. But facts of Parker’s childhood remained a mystery because no one found the paper trail.

Now, new details have emerged from these mundane sources. Details that have uncovered two rare jewels: Parker’s boyhood homes still exist.

The 1930 U.S. Census forms, which the government released 72 years after people filled them out, recently became available in area public libraries. Kansas City author and jazz scholar Chuck Haddix took a peek.

“It was like finding a diamond,” he says.

Parker biographies state that when he was a boy his family moved from Kansas City, Kan., to a house in the 1500 block of Olive Street, just a few blocks from 18th and Vine.

But census and school records show a move in between. The Parkers lived in Westport for seven years in a mostly white, wealthy neighborhood, where his father worked as a janitor.

Unlike the homes in Kansas City, Kan., and on Olive Street — both long torn down — their Westport apartment still stands. Plus, when Haddix shared his news with a British jazz scholar, Llew Walker, he learned there was yet another Parker apartment just around the corner from the first. Both are in the old Hyde Park historic neighborhood.

“This is so much different than the story told before,” Haddix said. “… I drove over to the house and stood there with my mouth open, knowing that this was where Charlie Parker had lived.”
(link for complete article)


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