RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps. And on this St. Patrick's Day, many people in New York will be thinking of Jess Buzzutto. He was known as The Leprechaun of Yonkers. He was 5 feet tall, always wore green from head to toe. Buzzutto died in 2012. But two years earlier, he came to StoryCorps with his sister, Eileen, and his niece, Tori.
JESS BUZZUTTO: I saw this guy with a hat. It was a green felt hat. And I looked at it. And I said, I want that. And then one day, I grew my beard and mustache. And all of a sudden behind me I keep hearing leprechaun, leprechaun. And I started to enjoy it. So I started to emphasize the leprechaunishness (ph).
Now, as I go down the street, I get top of the morning to you. Where's your pot of gold? Hey, Mr. Leprechaun, give me some luck. And as I tell people that ask me if I'm a real leprechaun, I'm the realest leprechaun you're ever going to see in your life, man.
EILEEN LOGIUDICE: How has it changed your life?
BUZZUTTO: It's given me a warped view of the world because everybody is happy when they see a leprechaun. One day, I went down to the DMV, and I stood on line. And I saw this person behind the counter giving everybody a hard time. And I gave her my paperwork. She looked at it and said this is wrong, next. I said what's wrong with it? Next. So I went home. And I figured out what might have been wrong with it. And I came back the next day. And she takes the paperwork, says that's wrong. But she looked up at me. And she got a big smile on her face, said, oh, no, that's all right. And she corrected what was wrong. And I got outside. And I scratched my head. And when my hand hit my hat, I said that's what happened. She saw the leprechaun. And she changed 180 degrees.
Every couple of years I'll out without a hat and I'll dig way down to the bottom of my closet and find something that isn't green and wear it out just to see the different reactions from people. And all of a sudden, people don't want to meet your eye, don't want to talk to you because I'm so small that they're afraid they're going to insult me if I catch them looking at me. But when I become the leprechaun, they look. And they say, well, that guy doesn't mind being looked at. I mean, he couldn't possibly if he dresses like that.
LOGIUDICE: What are the most important lessons you've learned in life?
BUZZUTTO: Don't take today too seriously. Things may look very bleak right now but they'll be turned around. It's just a matter of holding on till they do. I never planned on being a leprechaun. People don't even know what a leprechaun is, neither do I, to tell you the truth. But when something good is dumped in your lap, you take it.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LOGIUDICE: My name is Eileen Logiudice.
TORI MEDINA: My name is Tori Medina.
How do you keep his memory alive?
LOGIUDICE: Well, I have a lot of his clothes. I wear his T-shirts, his polo shirts. They're all green, you know. And I remember a lady came up to me. And she said are you the leprechaun's sister? And I said yeah, how do you know that? She said you look just like him. But I really never realized how popular he was until he died. At the funeral...
MEDINA: There were so many people there. I remember the mayor came. You know, and the thing I really learned about life from him was basically love thy neighbor. I think he made me a kinder person.
LOGIUDICE: It's a wonderful tribute. He was a great guy.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: That was Eileen Logiudice and Tori Medina remembering Jess Buzzutto, The Leprechaun of Yonkers. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress.
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