Mayme Hatcher Johnson was the wife of notorious Harlem Gangster, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.
Johnson was born in 1914 in NC, and moved to New York City in 1938, where she found work as a waitress in a club owned by singer/actress Ethel Waters. In 1948 she met and married Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, the legendary Harlem gangster who was depicted in the movies “The Cotton Club,” “Hoodlum,” and “American Gangster.”
In her book, Johnson told of meeting Bumpy for the first time in a Harlem restaurant.
“Before long I was known as Bumpy’s girl. It was a good title to possess. It meant I could get in anywhere I wanted to go, I was treated as queen wherever I went, and I was showered with gifts and jewelry on a steady basis. It also meant that I was constantly accosted by other women who were in love with Bumpy and wanted me out of the way. At first I was upset, but then I pretty much learned to ignore them. Like Bumpy said, they wouldn’t even be stepping to me if they didn’t realize that I was the one real woman in his life. And hell if I was going to let them back me away from a man who treated me as good as Bumpy treated me. . .
Bumpy and I met in April 1948. In October that year we were driving past 116th and St. Nicholas Avenue in his Cadillac when he suddenly turned to me and said, “Mayme, I think you and I should go ahead and get married.” I was stunned, but I kept my composure. I said simply, “Is that right?”
He said, “Yes, that’s right,” and kept on driving. We were married in a civil ceremony just two weeks later.”
In 2004, Johnson moved to Philadelphia, and three years later decided to finally write a biography about her husband, so that “people could know the truth about him rather than all the myths.” Harlem Godfather was published in February 2008. Mayme Hatcher Johnson died on May 1, 2009.
Sunset: Mrs. Mayme Hatcher Johnson, Harlem Mourns Widow of Bumpy Johnson
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