Nine-year-old Thelonious Monk DeCay stood at his opened bedroom window and listened to the coo of mourning doves in the willows. From Holy Cross Church came the toll of a bell announcing early Mass. He had two more weeks before the start of home schooling. Labor Day meant fewer tourists coming to New Orleans and the end of summer freedom.
Sitting on the floor behind him, his best friend used Superglue to attach metal beer caps to the soles of his oxfords. “Monk, if you don’t hurry, we’ll lose our corner.” Percy Brown blew on the glue to hasten drying. “I’m about too big for these shoes,” he said. “I hate to give them up. They’re the best taps I ever had.”