Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ma Marraine "Margie": When Marie Marguerite Yetto was "Miss Cohoes"

Sonny, Aunt Claire and Margie (my godmother)

In the past week, beauty and talent contests were in the news. The Miss America Pageant made headlines for selecting a young woman of South Asian heritage and in France, the government made it illegal to host beauty pageants for very young girls. Whenever I am reminded of beauty contests, I remember my mother always telling me my godmother was a very talented and attractive young woman who won the Miss Cohoes pageant sometime when I was too young to notice. This memory made me try to find out exactly when this event occurred for "ma marraine", Margie (pronouced Mar-Gee) Yetto.

Al Rivet and Marguerite Yetto, my godparents.

Margie was thirteen when she stood in the vestibule of St. Joseph's Church in Green Island and became my godmother. Thirteen years older is just the right number of years to create an image of an fascinating teen idol to a very young school girl and that is what Margie became to me - gorgeous and talented. I idolized her and usually just stared at her whenever she walked into the room when I was at my Aunt Claire's house on Summit Street in Cohoes. I would usually visit on Saturdays in the company of my Uncle Al who would fix something for his sister, Aunt Claire. There was always a faucet leaking, the refrigerator needing some attention. I was 3 or 4 years old and too young to fully understand all the happenings in the household on Summit Street. It was about that time, 1951-6, that Margie
started showing up in the Cohoes section of The Troy Record newspaper. She was the Grace Kelly of Cohoes and when I search the newspapers at that time Margie is winning art contests sponsored by the Lions club (1951), portraying characters in high school plays and working on costume design.

Then in 1956, she is selected "Miss Cohoes". I found the news story in the Times Record thanks to a subscription to Ancestry!  My dear mother was not fooling!  How I wish I had a picture of Margie in her Miss Cohoes regalia!

As Miss Cohoes, Margie appeared at Cohoes parades, dedications and city events like the one below as an ambassador of youth. She was quite stunning from all accounts.

Margie was engaged to be married by her senior year of high school.

She was full of promise but she and her young family endured several sad events including the tragic accident of her father leaving him disabled and the death of her daughter in early childhood.  Despite her personal tragedies, Margie raised her family wisely and well. I lost communication with my teen idol as I grew older and went my own way though college, career and family but in the year before she died (2002), she and I had two lengthy phone conversations which I will treasure in my memory bank for a long time.

I only have a few pictures of Margie from the 1950s when I was a toddler and she the young girl growing into a beautiful young woman of promise and dreams.  That's how I will remember "ma marraine".  AND "YES" - Margie was MISS COHOES 1956!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cohoes on Ebay!

Here is something quite interesting on EBay today 9/3/2013, especially if you have a genealogical connection to Louisa S. Phillips of Cohoes circa 1911! The starting bid is $14.99.

Louisa S Phillips left a great census trail from Colonie to Watervelit to Troy and is easily researched. Doesn't seem like she married but she did have many siblings, nieces and nephews. Below, she appears in the 1880 census in Watervelit as 35 years old and single:

Years later, she is 85 when the 1930 census comes out and she is living with a nephew who is a farmer in Colonie...

Although I can't claim any connection to Louisa, if descendants of her nieces and nephews check out Ebay they might find a prize OR perhaps they are the currents sellers putting it up for bid!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thinking of the Mohawk Valley and Green Summers

It is the beginning of September in New York and usually by this time grass has yellowed and landscapes start to dry out but not this year. We have had sufficient rain to keep lawns and landscapes moist and green.......I suspect the Mohawk River at Cohoes generated a great deal of power for Brookfield Renewable Energy Group this summer. With such a green summer I was looking forward to exploring the history of New York's bread basket - the Mohawk Valley.

In past blog stories I ave emphasized the Hudson River and the Champlain Corridor between New York and Montreal and neglected the Mohawk Valley. My plan was to use some vacation time this summer to become more reacquainted with the Mohawk Valley. My mother always took me to Auriesville, the shrine of the North American martyrs Issac Jogues and Rene Goupil. Antique shops in Fonda and Cherry Valley were always important road stops as well as Sir William Johnson Manor House and dinner at Union Hall (my mom and I called it the Johnstown Inn) in Johnstown, NY.  I remember loving the corn fritters they served in the 1960s and according to the menu on the web, are still served!

Anyway summer 2013 didn't work out exactly as I had planned and an accident with a broken arm put a quick stop to excursions in the Mohawk Valley. Before the accident occurred, I did go back to the Cohoes Falls, Fort Hunter, Oriskany Battlefield and Fort Stanwix. There will be more summers. The Mohawk Trail awaits!

Here's a little capture of the great Cohoes Falls with a beautiful rainbow this summer!

and Fort Hunter at Schoharie Crossing.....