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!!!

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