There are times when a person’s death affects everyone. Such is the case with the recent transition of Clarence “Little Scotty” Scott. He was an entrepreneur many knew by his trade name: Buttonman. But he was more than just a person who sold buttons to earn a living. He was also a community activist who was one of the first to appear at protests.
Just this past October, he had called and told me he was going downtown every day to stand with the people who were involved in the Occupy Chicago movement. Little Scotty was the kind of person we could always count on to appear whenever there were issues of concern involved.
I had seen Little Scotty over the years standing outside of events selling the buttons he made. When he learned that I had published my first novel, he made me buttons to wear promoting my book. But the buttons he made were just a means to an end because what Little Scotty did best was sing the Blues. I never thought I wasn’t much of a Blues fan until I heard Little Scotty sing. He was a showman extraordinaire.
I can still recall the first time I saw the show he put on at his senior citizens building for his birthday. He had a “revue” featuring a long list of Blues singers. They performed well, but they all paled in comparison once Little Scotty took over the mic. He used a trachea tool when he spoke. So the first time he went up to the mic to sing, I wondered how he was going to do it. But singing was Little Scotty’s passion and when he sang, he didn’t need the tool. His voice was strong and he sang the classic songs that made the blues the Blues. You know, a woman done him wrong; employment and the lack thereof; sexual innuendo with humor and so on. I was hooked and went to see him perform whenever he called and told me he would be somewhere.
Scotty had a lot of reasons to sing the Blues. As a young teenager, he got caught in a house fire that burned him over a large percentage of his body. He spent years in the hospital recovering from those burns. But his spirit never diminished. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, he stood up to the Ku Klux Klan and survived their attempts to kill him.
Little Scotty loved all people and he stood for fairness. I hadn’t talked to him for a couple of weeks. This past weekend, I called a mutual friend to see if anyone knew how he was doing as I had called the hospital where he was supposed to be and they didn’t have a record of him. The call I got back wasn’t what I wanted to hear. God was hosting a Blues revue and he wanted a new singer. So he called Little Scotty home.
Scotty’s funeral will be held this Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, at Holy Rock Missionary Baptist Church, 5854 S. Morgan. The wake will begin at 9:30 a.m., the funeral at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be at Mt. Hope Cemetery, 11500 S. Fairfield. I am asking everyone to show up and send Little Scotty home with a crowd of mourners. The family also needs help with the costs. Donations can be sent to Callahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted, Chicago 60621. In the memo portion of your check, write the name Clarence Scott.