Butterfly McQueen

I can’t resist adding one more story to my two recent posts about Gone with the Wind.

Back in the early 70s, when I was living in New York City, I did all my banking at a savings-and-loan in Times Square.

One day while I was making a deposit, a middle-aged black woman on another line handed the teller two dollars and asked for a roll of nickels. There was no mistaking that voice! It was Prissy (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no baby”) – the actress Butterfly McQueen from Gone with the Wind.

Everyone in that lobby (including me) let out a gasp…and then there was pandemonium. Bank business halted as tellers and customers rushed to shake “Prissy’s” hand.  Someone fetched the manager, who came down from his office and solemnly handed “Prissy” her roll of nickels. (I am not making this up.)

So much for blasé New Yorkers.

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One afternoon a few months later, I was riding the M104 bus back to my apartment on the Upper West Side – and there she was, wearing a coat with mismatched buttons, listening to the Mets game on a transistor radio.

I wanted to talk to her – but then I thought of the chaos that was sure to follow. (Imagine triggering that reaction every time you opened your mouth to speak!)

I got off at my bus stop a few minutes later, leaving Butterfly McQueen – Prissy – to listen to the Mets game in peace.

Click here to see a youthful Butterfly McQueen in a scene from Gone with the Wind.

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