Billy Mitchell 1 of 6
Martha Mendenhall February 17, 04
My mother ran with Billy Mitchell when she was about 20 years old. She was from the Detroit area. I believe she was in love with Billy and possibly he with her. Having grown up in a time when innerracial relationships were frowned upon (especially in Detroit/Flint)I think they simply couldn't go through with nurturing a solid permanent relationship. They stayed in touch through the years and kept many mutual friends in the Jazz world. My mom led a very unglamourous, normal, single parent life of struggle, which is far from what her life would have been had she and Billy pursued a life together.

I accompanied my mother to the Montreaux-Detroit International Jazz Festival in about 1980 or so. Billy and many of my mothers old friends were playing there. She was called backstage before the show and we were escorted to Billy's dressing room. He hadn't seen her in many, many years. When their eyes met I knew there had been a flame that had never extinguished. I was honored to meet him, along with many other Jazz greats. Leaving Detroit that night was very difficult and emotional for my mom. She had a wonderful night of feeling like the person that she knew she really was inside, yet, leaving was like putting it to rest forever.

I later visited NY and called Billy. He wanted to come pick me up and take me to the Blue Note and a few other clubs that my mom and he and the gang used to frequent. We weren't able to coordinate and I regret it to this day.

If anyone reads this and knew my mom (Patty McFarlane)or any history of Billy and my mom hanging around together and the people they knew. I would appreciate an e-mail or comments on this web site. Martha Mendenhall

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