Cadillac History: Bumpy Johnson’s Caddy


Cadillac is a classic … even amongst gangsters. We recently told you about Al Capone’s Caddy and, guess what, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, the legendary Harlem gangster who was depicted in the movies “The Cotton Club,” “Hoodlum,” and “American Gangster” also tooled around town in a Cadillac. When Mayme Hatcher Johnson, his widow, passed away a few years back, her life story came to light and isn’t it interesting that the North Carolina native was proposed to inside of Bumpy’s Caddy. From her book:

“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.”

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