Louis Armstrong Arrives in San Antonio,Texas by Jim Cullum Jr

Left to right: John "Curly" Williams, Jim Cullum, Sr., Willson Davis, Louis Armstrong, Harvey Kindervater, Jim Cullum, Jr., Gene McKinney. Photo courtesy Jim Cullum Jr.

This was 1965 and I had just graduated from Trinity University at 25. The president of the student body approached me with news that Louis was appearing at Trinity and that they were having a hard time selling tickets.

We dreamed up many promotional schemes, one of which was to take the band to the airport for the arrival, thus increasing news coverage. Also present was a group called the Red Carpet Committee. These were prominent citizens, including the mayor, who would roll out a red carpet, don red jackets, and welcome celebrities to San Antonio.

Jim Cullum Jr. and Louis Armstrong, 1965. Photo courtesy Jim Cullum Jr.

Louis's plane arrived, taxied into position, and the Red Carpet Committee was in place. Louis emerged and we struck up Milenberg Joys. Instead of going to the Red Carpet Committee, Louis immediately went toward the band, ignoring the mayor and the other prominent people waiting by the red carpet. He was all smiles as this picture was taken.

Then Louis flattered me and invited me to ride with him down to his hotel. When we got there, he showed me his gold-plated Selmer trumpet and presented me with some of his special lip salve, saying in his gravelly voice, "If you don't use a good lip salve, your lip's gonna split like a pig's foot!" Then, as I was leaving, he filled my pockets with Swiss Kriss (his famous laxative) and added, "Remember, you can't blow unless you're cleaned out real good!"