Johnny, America’s “Tap Dancing Aristocrat”

Once upon a time there lived a talented man.  He was born in New York City around the turn of the 20th century and was immediately given up for adoption.  As a young child, he was adopted by a sweet young family, but when the mother became ill, he was returned to the orphanage.  Several years went by and he was put on a train.  They called it the orphan train.  Strange name, but true story.  Orphans were placed on a train that traveled to the west.  When the orphans stepped off of the train, they would be examined by possible parents or families looking for a servant.  In this little boy’s case, he was chosen to be a servant.  He spent his life living with a man who beat him for everything he did wrong.  But he lucked out because this stern man had a loving sister who took care of him and gave him the love he needed.

This little boy eventually grew up and became a man.  He taught himself how to play the piano by ear.  Not only did he teach himself to play the piano, but he also became a self-taught tap dancer, winning 1st place at dance competitions and was a dance instructor.  Pretty good at it, I might add.  He was so good that he traveled around the country dancing & performing in Vaudeville shows.  After the thrill of the Vaudeville days died off, he continued to perform as a jazz pianist.  This man had it all. . . .a sweet demeanor, musical talent, and a love for everyone no matter what color!

On Valentine’s Day in 1948, he married a young lady.  He continued to perform in nightclubs all over the city and was very well known in the area.  His wife would follow him everywhere he went and tap her foot to every tune.  Eventually, this young lady and piano man had 2 children.

This little orphan boy was my granddaddy.  I never had the opportunity to meet him because he died a few months before I was born.  But in everything I do musically, I feel him there.  A person whom I never met has influenced my life in a significant way.  Oh how I would love to be able to chat with him for just an hour and get to know him, to hear him play, to watch him dance.  Introduce your children to the world of music when they’re young and see what it can do for them.  They may not grow up to be a modern Beethoven or Chopin, but they will have a gift that will never grow old.  Music is so important.  It surpasses generations.  It surpasses old age.  It is a priceless gift that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.  Never take that for granted.Image


One thought on “Johnny, America’s “Tap Dancing Aristocrat”

  1. Hi there! My name is Heather and I was wondering if you could answer a question about your blog! If you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com I would greatly appreciate it!

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