[Dixielandjazz] Bugling Sam DeKemel

macjazz macjazz at comcast.net
Sat Jul 5 15:11:12 PDT 2008

This isn't really about the music but may be of interest to some.  The recent query about Sharkey Bonano's "Midnight in New Orleans" LP mentioned Bugling Sam DeKemel.

He really was a waffle man in New Orleans in the 40's and 50's when I was growing up there. He had a horse drawn "Waffle Wagon" with charcoal fires all down one end.  Over these on the top were (to my memory) maybe 10 metal waffle plates that would slide back and forth and could be flipped to cook the waffles on both sides.

He played a standard army bugle to let you know he was in the neighborhood and pretty well had a standard call, but would add licks every so often.  he would show up about lunch time at the school yard or sometimes at the end of the school day and sell waffles.  You got a stack of 5 (each about 5" x 3" or maybe 6 X 3 1/2 -- remember, I'm doing this from memory over 50 years later) covered with confection sugar and ina curl of white butcher paper for a nickel.

the kids would yell "play for us Sam" and if business had been good, he would play some as he drove away and everyone would cheer.

I was also impressed because the horse always knew when things were slowing down and it was time to move along without an obvious command from Sam.  About the time the last kid hot his waffles (girls didn't do it much as I recall) the horse would just start to go on down the route.  This would be in the late 40's when I was in 6th/7th grade.


Martin D. McKay (Designated listener)

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