|Visit Us On FB
THE BITTERS WITH THE SWEET
I must admit Billy had been good to me. He used to pay a hundred and fifty for a costume anytime 1 wanted a new one, and he put three diamonds in my teeth, like the one half-carat Jelly always wore. That was a common tiling with theatrical people at the time. Billy had three himself. Baby Cox had one. Butterbeans and Susie had them. Just something of the theatrical business.
Well, I did my tap numbers in a lot of shows after that— "The Blackbirds" and then, with Florence Mills "From Dixie to Broadway." "Shuffle Along/' 1 was in that. Worked in the 7-11 Club. Some summers 1 toured the South with my own plantation show, trained my own acts, and helped manage the show. I did well in the theatrical business, and when Jelly met me, I had a job in the best club in Chicago.
That evening he asked me over to his table after my number of course, I was very, very much impressed, although I thought he was just kidding me along. He was very pretty and he had on the best clothes you ever saw. When he sat down, he took out three or four thousand dollars and laid it on the table. 1 said, "Somebody will stick you up." He just laughed at me, "Not with this big .45 I have under my coat. Just let anyone touch it," he said, "Let um touch it, Im not afraid."
So Jelly wanted to take me out for a drive after work and I said, "The only place for me is to go home and get a shower and a rubdown in alcohol and go to bed."
"Aw naw, 111 take you out in my big Lincoln car and let the cool air blow on you," he said.
I told him, "No, I still have the teaching of my mother. A man is not going to give me anything unless he's looking for something in return. That's a known fact. When Im on the floor entertaining and you give me money, that's a different thing; but, when you say you re going to put something in my stocking, I know you're looking for something in return."
He told me he didn't like for me to be out there dancing in that short costume of mine in front of all those guys. I told him that was my profession, so what did it matter to him.