We never finished our conversation at Elizabeth's, about
that book I want to write. I'd really like to interview you, Aibileen.
I know it's scary. Aibileen Clark: They
set my cousin Charnelle's car on fire, just cause she went down to the
voting station. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
A book like this has never been written before. Aibileen Clark: Cause
there's a reason. I do this with you, I might as well burn my own house
down. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
I promise we'd be careful. Aibileen Clark: It's
already ain't careful, Miss Skeeter! You not knowing that, that's what
scare me the most! It scare me more than Jim Crow. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
Alright. Here's my phone number. And my car's here, I
could just take you home. Aibileen Clark: No,
ma'am. [Aibileen turns and
walks away from Skeeter]
Mississippi's 'The Laws Governing the Conduct of Nonwhites and other
Minorities'] Aibileen Clark: [voice over] No
person shall require any white female to nurse in wards or rooms in
which Negro men are placed. Books shall not be interchangeable between
a white and colored school, but shall continue to be used by the race
first using them. No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white
women or girls. Any person printing, publishing or circulating written
matter urging for public acceptance or social equality between whites
and Negro's is subject to imprisonment.
[on the phone to
Aibileen] Minny Jackson: Aibileen,
I done went and did it this time! I went to Miss Hilly's house this
afternoon. Aibileen Clark: Why,
Minny? Minny Jackson: She
done told every white woman in town I'm a thief. Said I stole a
candelabra. Oh, but I got her back. Aibileen Clark: What
you did? Minny Jackson: I
can't tell you. I ain't tellin' nobody. I done somethin' terrible awful
today to that woman. And now she know what I done. Aibileen Clark: Minny! Minny Jackson: She
got what she deserved, Aibileen! But I ain't never gonna get no job
Aibileen has called Skeeter and invited her to her home] Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
I know now that it's against the law, what we're doin'. [Aibileen just looks at
Skeeter] Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
I've never seen you out of uniform before. You look really
nice. Aibileen Clark: Thank
Aibileen Clark: I
ain't never had no white person in my house before. Miss Skeeter, what
if you don't like what I got to say? About white people? Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
This isn't about me. It doesn't matter how I feel. Aibileen Clark: You
gonna have to change my name. Mine, Miss Leefolt's, everybody. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
Do you know other maids that are interested? Aibileen Clark: It
gonna be hard. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
What about Minny? Aibileen Clark: Minny
got her some stories, sure knows. But she ain't real keen on talkin' to
white people right now.
[looking at the picture
of Aibileen's son on the wall] Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
Is that your son? Aibileen Clark: Yes,
ma'am. Can we move on to the next question? Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
You know, Aibileen, you don't have to call me ma'am. Not
Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
Do you wanna talk about the bathroom? Or anything about
Miss Leefolt? How she pays you? Or has she ever yelled at you in front
of Mae Mobley? [Skeeter sees Aibileen
looking distressed] Aibileen Clark: I
thought I might write my stories down or read 'em to you. Ain't no
different in writin' down my prayers. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
Okay. Sure. [Aibileen gets her
prayer book] Aibileen Clark: When
I say my prayers out loud, find I can get my point across a
lot better when I'm writin' 'em down. I write and hour, sometimes two,
every night. And after my prayers last night, I got some stories down
too. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
[reading from her prayer
notebook to Skeeter] Aibileen Clark: My
first white baby to ever look after was named Alton
Carrington Speers. It was nineteen twenty five, and I just turned
fourteen. I dropped out of school to help mama with the bill. Alton's
mama died of lung disease. [Aibileen put he
notebook down] Aibileen
Clark: I loved that baby
and he loved me. That's when I learned I could make children feel proud
of themself. Alton used to be always be askin' me how come I was black?
It just ate him up. Then one time I told him it's cause I drank too
much coffee. [Aibileen laughs and
Skeeter laughs with her] Aibileen
Clark: You should have seen
Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
This was just so great. I can't tell you how much I
appreciate you doin' this for me. What changed your mind? Aibileen Clark: God.
And Miss Hilly Holbrook.
[trying to ask for a
loan from Hilly to pay for her two sons college tuition] Yule Mae Davis:
Well, now we're faced with having to choose which son can go if we
don't come up with the money. Would you consider giving us a loan?
I'd...I'd work everyday for free till it was paid off. Hilly Holbrook: That's
not working for free, Yule Mae. That's paying off a debt. Yule Mae Davis: Yes,
ma'am. [Yule Mae takes the
breakfast dishes and turns to leave] Hilly Holbrook: As
a Christian, I'm doin' you a favor. See, God don't give no charity to
those who are well and able. You need to come up with this money on
your own. Okay? [Yule Mae is almost in
tears now] Yule Mae Davis: Yes,
ma'am. Hilly Holbrook: You'll
thank me one day.
[to her daughter, Sugar,
giving her instruction on how to act as a maid] Minny Jackson: You
cooking white food, you taste it with a different spoon. They see you
puttin the tasting spoon back in the pot, might as well throw it all
out. Spoon too. And you use the same cup, same bowl, same plate
everyday. And you put it up in the cabinet. Tell that white woman
that's where you gonna keep it from now on out. Don't do that? See what
[giving instructions to
Sugar on how to act as a maid] Minny Jackson: Servin'
white folks coffee, sit it down in front of 'em. Don't hand it to 'em.
What your hands can't touch. And don't hit on their children. White
folks like to do their own spanking. Last thing, come here. Look at me.
No sass mouthin'. [Sugar looks away and
Minny pulls her face towards her again] Minny Jackson: No
[referring to Minny's
oldest daughter] Aibileen Clark: [voice over] Leroy
had made Sugar quit school to help them with the bills. And everyday
Minny went without a job, might have been a day Leroy took her from our
world. But I knew, I knew the only white lady Miss Hilly hadn't gotten
to with her lies.
Minny Jackson: I
work Sunday through Friday. Celia Foote:
No, you can't work at all on the weekends. Minny Jackson: Okay.
Well, what time do you want me here? Celia Foote: After
nine and you gotta leave before four. Minny Jackson: Okay.
Now, what your husband say you can pay? Celia Foote: Johnny
doesn't know I'm bringin' in help. Minny Jackson: And
what Mr. Johnny gonna do when he come home and find a colored woman in
his house? Celia Foote: It's
not like I'd be fibbin'. I just want him to think I can do this on my
own. I really need a maid! Minny Jackson: I'll
be here tomorrow mornin' about nine fifteen. Celia Foote: Great! Minny Jackson: Miss
Celia? Celia Foote: Mmm? Minny Jackson: I
think you done burnt your cake
Aibileen Clark: I
reckon I'm ready to talk about Miss Leefolt now. Baby girl still gotta
wear diaper when she sleep at night and don't get changed till I get
there in the mornin'. That about ten hours she got to sleep in her
mess. Now Miss Leefolt pregnant with her second baby. Lord, I pray this
child turn out good. Not a good road if mama don't think child
is pretty. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
That's very true. Aibileen Clark: Miss
Leefolt should not be having babies. Put that down. [Skeeter writes what she
says down] Aibileen Clark:
Treelore would like me doin' this. He always said
we're gonna have to write on the family one day. Always thought it was
gonna be him. Maybe it's gonna be me
[after she stumbles upon
Skeeter at Aibileen's house] Minny Jackson:
And just what makes you think colored people need your help? Why you
care? Aibileen Clark: Minny. Minny Jackson:
Maybe you just wanna get Aibileen in trouble. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
No! I wanna show her perspective. So people might understand what it's
like from your side. Minny Jackson: Now,
that's a real fourth of July picnic. It's what we dream of doin'
all weekend long. Get back in their house, polish the silver. And we
just love not making minimum wage or gettin' social security. And how
we love they cheerin' when they're little and then they turn out just
like they mama's. Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan:
I know. Maybe things can change. Minny Jackson: What
law school say you got to be nice to your maid? Aibileen Clark: You
don't have to do this now, Minny. Minny Jackson:
You damn right, I don't! You two give me heart palpitations! [she turns and leaves
Aibileens house banging the door shut] Aibileen Clark: And
that's a good mood!
[Minny returns to
Aibileens house] Minny Jackson: Alright,
I'm gonna do it. But I need to make sure she understands this ain't no
game we playin' here. [to Skeeter] Minny Jackson: Slide
your chair out from under that table. Face me. [Skeeter slides her
chair out to face her] Minny Jackson: I
need to see you square on at all times. [she sits opposite
Skeeter waiting for Skeeter to speak] Minny Jackson: I
gotta come up with the questions too? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Oh! Uh...lets begin with uh...with where you were
born. Minny Jackson: Belzoni
Mississippi, on my great aunt's sofa. Next?
Aibileen Clark: [voice over] Once
Minny got to talkin' about food, she likely to never stop. But when she
got to talkin' about the white ladies, it took all night!
[referring to the
Shinalator as she's doing Skeeter's hair] Charlotte Phelan: The
whole system cost eleven dollars. It smells expensive. You're gonna
look beautiful on your date tonight. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: I can feel the hope in your fingers.
[on their first date] Stuart Whitworth:
So, what do you do with your time? Do you work? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: I write. But right now I'm working on a domestic
maintenance column for the Jackson Journal. Stuart Whitworth: You
mean, housekeeping. Jesus, I can't think of anything worse than readin'
a cleanin' column, accept for maybe writin' one. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, I can. Working with a bunch of greasy,
stinky men in the middle of the ocean. Stuart Whitworth: Sounds
to me like a ploy to find a husband, becoming an expert in keeping
house. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, aren't you a genius! You've figured out my
whole scheme! Stuart Whitworth: Ain't
that all you girls always major in? Professional husband huntin'.
[to Stuart on their
first night out] Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: I'm sorry, but were you dropped on your head as
an infant? Or were you just born stupid? [she gets up and leaves]
[to Celia as she's
showing her how to fry chicken] Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Fryin' chicken just tend to make you feel better
about life. At least me, anyway. Mmm, I learned me somethin' fryin'
Celia Foote: I
just want you to know I'm real grateful you're here. Minny Jackson: You
gots plenty more to be grateful for than me. And look, now I ain't
messin' round no more. Now Mr. Johnny gonna catch me here and shoot me
dead right here on this no wax floor! You gots to tell him. Ain't he
wondering how you cookin' so good? Celia Foote: You're
right! Maybe we oughta burn the chicken a little? Minny Jackson: Minny
don't burn chicken.
[on the phone] Elain Stein: Eugenia,
Martin Luther King just invited the entire country to march with him in
D.C. in August. This many Negro's and whites have not worked together
since Gone with the Wind. How many stories have you recorded thus far? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: The...the ones you've read. Elain Stein: Two
domestics, that's all? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: I'm real close to gettin' more interviews. Elain Stein: Don't
send me anything else until you do have more maids. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Yes, ma'am. How...how many more? Elain Stein: I
don't know! At least a dozen. My advice to you is to write it, and
write it fast, before this whole Civil Rights thing blows over.
Phelan: We need a dozen more. Minny Jackson: Me
and Aibileen done asked everybody we know. Thirty one names. They all
too scared! Think we crazy. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, if we don't get more we're not
gettin' published. Minny Jackson: I
gots plenty stories, Miss Skeeter. Just write 'em down and invent them
maids yourself. You already makin' up names, just make up the maids too. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: We're not gonna do that. That would be
wrong. Aibileen Clark: Don't
give up on this, Miss Skeeter. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: It wouldn't be real!
[to Skeeter] Aibileen Clark: They
killed my son. He fell carrying two by fours at the mill. Truck went
over and crushed his lung. Minny Jackson: Aibileen. [Minny reaches out her
hand to Aibileen to comfort her but Aibileen pulls away] Aibileen Clark: That
white foreman thew his body back onto the truck. Drove to the colored
hospital. Dumped him there and honked the horn. There was nothin' they
could do, so I brought my baby home. Laid him down that sofa right
there. He died right in front of me. He was just twenty four years old,
Miss Skeeter. Best part of a persons life. Anniversary of his death,
every year I can't breath. But to you all it's just another day of
bridge. You stop this, everything I wrote, he wrote, everything he was
is gonna die with him!
Hilly Holbrook: Aibileen,
are you enjoyin' your new bathroom, over at Elizabeth's? Nice to have
your own. Isn't it, Aibileen? Aibileen Clark: Yes,
ma'am. And I thank you. Hilly Holbrook: Separate,
but equal. That's what Ross Barnett says and you can't argue with the
Governor. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, certainly not in Mississippi. Birth place
of a modern day government.
Yule Mae Davis: I
already know what you're gonna ask, Miss Skeeter. Minny and Aibileen
already did. I'm tryin' to get my boys off to college. Now, it's worth
while what you're all doin', but...but my boys are worth more. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: I understand. [just then Hilly walks
in on their conversation] Hilly Holbrook: What
do you understand, Skeeter? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: You're maid was just sayin' how excited she is
that her boys are gonna go to college. [to Yule Mae] Hilly Holbrook: Did
you also ask Miss Skeeter if you could borrow money? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Of course not.
Skeeter, did you intentionally not put my initiative in the news letter? Eugenia 'Skeeter'
No. No. Not at all. I just have been really busy with mama. Hilly Holbrook:
I know. I know. You must be so worried about your mother, but um...I'm
worried about you. Readin this stuff! [she holds up
'The Laws Governing the Conduct of Nonwhites and other
Minorities'] Hilly Holbrook: Believe
it or not, there are real racists in this town. If the wrong person
caught you with anything like that, you'd be in serious trouble. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, I'll be on the look out. [Hilly gives Skeeter a
cold hard look] Hilly Holbrook:
Put my initiative in the news letter. Okay?
Charlotte Phelan: There's
a particularly tall and very handsome man, named Stuart, here for you. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Oh, God! Oh, mother! You would not like him,
trust me. He's a drunken asshole. Charlotte Phelan: Love
and hate are two horns on the same goat, Eugenia. You need a goat!
Stuart Whitworth: Look,
I know it was a few weeks back. But I came to say I'm sorry for the way
I acted. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Who sent you, William or Hilly? Stuart Whitworth: Neither. [Skeeter gives him an 'I
don't believe you' look] Stuart Whitworth: Hilly.
But I wanted to come, okay? I was rude and I've been thinkin' about it
a lot. Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan: Well, I haven't. You can just go. Stuart Whitworth: God