Old Man Traffic
Charlotte, North Carolina
The busy intersection of Queens and Providence Roads in Charlotte can be confusing, even with its traffic light. This disorder evidently obsessed Hugh McManaway, who, uninvited, spent 20 years standing in the street median, wearing a tie and a golf hat, directing traffic with his index finger and a white dish towel.
Short, plump, and bespectacled, Hugh lived nearby, in a 20-room mansion inherited from his parents. He was liked by everyone in the neighborhood, although no one understood his compulsion for directing traffic, not even Hugh, who cheerfully described himself as crazy.
"Old Man Traffic" was on duty day after day, year after year, never discouraged by the disinterest of the motoring public, until a stroke in 1976 brought an end to his self-appointed duties. But neighborhood residents never forgot Hugh, and spearheaded a drive through the local newspaper to have a bronze statue of him erected on his signature spot. Sculpted by Elsie Shaw, it was unveiled on December 9, 2000.
Hugh has posthumously continued to be a Charlotte ambassador of goodwill, as his statue is often dressed for graduations, anniversaries, holidays, and most frequently weddings at the church on the corner, where the traffic remains as chaotic as ever.