It is so true that Genealogy is the Study of our own ancestry…but our families are not on an Island all their own. Family Friends Friday is a prompt that I will use so I can incorporate other individuals that interacted with my family and had major impacts in my Ancestors, and family’s life. This is where many of the stories come from as we all know some friends are closer than family.
|Muriel V. Arrington & Betty M. Peters with their dates
Before I went on my trip to Sugar Hill, New York City, I contacted some of my mother’s friends that grew up with her. I wanted to get a full picture of my mother, and how New York was when she was growing up.
I wrote Muriel Ferguson, one of my mother’s closest New York friends to see what type of response I would receive. Included with the letter, I added a questionnaire. (not included in this post).
September 7, 2009
Mrs. Muriel Ferguson
It was a pleasure speaking with you the other day about my mother Betty Mae Peters and the few things you shared with me about the two of you growing up in New York.
I had been thinking about you over the years as my mother told me that you were one of her dear friends from her childhood. She shared with me the photo of the two of you with your dates. Wow! What a wonderful picture.
As you should already know, my mother enjoyed writing and she shared with me years before she passed that one day she would take the time out to write her memoirs. She left me with some notes, journals and some things that she wrote down on paper, but she never completed her story.
As her daughter, I am researching and interviewing individuals so I may add to her story as I would like to write her book. I am hoping that you might be able to help me by sharing with me stories of your life with my mother growing up in Manhattan. Anything that you might have to share would help tremendously. I have included some questions that might spark some stories. You can answer some of these or tell me whatever you like. I appreciate all that you can do to help.
I would love to come visit you, but will have to plan it for after the New Year. I promised you my contact information, so here it is:
Yvette Porter Moore
xxxx xxxxx xxxx
xxxx xxxx xxxx
With much Love,
Yvette Porter Moore
|Muriel V. Arrington
1945 George Washington H.S. Year Book
The three of us, Betty, Joyce and I were like sisters. That phase of our lives was happy.
I don’t know why Betty did not mention our third friend (it may have been due to something later in life that occurred. I know that Aunt Edna and Joyce went to visit Betty and Aunt Agnes in California probably in the 70’s and there was some problem??)
Did your mom ever mention her elementary school? I went to Public School (PS) 186 on 145th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway. It was an old school and may have been torn down by now.
|Public School 186
Photo by Vanessa Moore
We three all lived in 460 West 147th St. (3 blocks from PS 186) an old apartment building, once inhabited by whites. The apartments all had one room with tiny wash room sinks, toilet for a live-in servant!
The entrance to the building was brick paved and led to about 3 steps to a wrought iron and glass doors, when we lived there, there was an elevator man waiting to take you up to the floors. Around the elevator on each side were marble steps leading up or down.
|Apt at 460 West 147th Street
Photo by Vanessa Moore
Betty and Aunt Agnes and “Uncie” lived on…
…either the 5th or sixth floors. I don’t remember the apt number. You entered a front door that went down a long hall. The apartment had several rooms, maybe 6. The living room and dining room was separated by French doors (or maybe it was pocket doors) was full of fabric and a dress form and spools of thread, scraps, ironing board + iron. Aunt Agnes was a magnificent seamstress. Nothing she made looked “Mammy Made”.
In fact when I went away to Howard University in 1945, she made me 2 beautiful suits, which I wore one, a light pearl grey wool suit when I got married in 194_/. PS. Uncie had been a problem?
Joyce and Aunt Edna (also a seamstress for a designer house) lived on the 3rd or 4th floor of the building.
My mother and I lived on the second floor with my aunt and uncle-They were seldom home (They worked “in service” and my mother took care of me and my aunts 2 children).
Getting back to Betty’s and our activities-We three were the 3 Musketeers. I believe Betty was 8-I was 7 & Joyce 6? (let me know how old Betty was and then we will know the correct ages.)
We bought small dolls at Woolworth and Aunt Agnes would always give us scraps of used materials to make dresses (No pants then!) for our dolls and we would set on the steps of the building and sew our creations.
As we grew a little older we created our own language (on the order of pig latin). Each of our parents would get annoyed because we wouldn’t and they couldn’t tell what we were saying.
Some Saturdays my Mother (Aunt Tillie) would take us to the movies close by on Broadway to see cowboy pictures etc.
We three played 24-7. We were happy together.
When I was about 12 years old, yes, after I graduated from elementary school in 1939, My mother and I moved to 153rd St. 7 blocks North of 147th St. I went to Edward W. Stitt Junior H.S. My memory quits there-Where was Betty? I do know that sometime later she and Aunt Agnes moved to California to be near Aunt Zara.
|Stitt Junior High School
Photo by Yvette Porter Moore
You asked about George Washington HS. I went there in the Ninth grade & graduated in 1945, then to Howard-Betty and I always kept in touch but we were far apart.
Joyce and I remained close, she moved into the same brownstone house (153 st.) Owned by a policeman, when her mother met and married him he and his children/grown, Joyce and Aunt Edna all lived on the lower 3 floors. My mother and I lived on the top floor. Joyce had twin boys November of 1953 and I had my twins (identical) in January 1954. Your mom, My Betty, still kept in touch with us.
In 1972, I married Richard Ferguson, my 3rd marriage, and in 1984. We moved into our own home in Englewood, New Jersey.
I have forgotten the year, but in the 1980’s the phone rang, I answered and it was Betty and Walter Porter! I was having a Birthday Party for Richard in the backyard, Betty and Walter joined us and I spent most of my time with my dear friend.
When we moved to our 1st home in Virginia, I spoke to her regularly and I was with her by phone up to the end. I have been blessed with so many friend through the years and Betty was at the top of the list. (over)*
Betty always spoke of you and your brother. You filled her life with joy.
Yvette if I think of anymore, I will call or write you.
Don’t forget to let me know Betty’s birthday year. I know it was 11/17/? Our phone is xxx-xxx-xxxx. I have your number and I promise I will call.
Lets continue what your mom did 🙂
Love “Aunt” Muriel
PS. Let me know about your brother
(Since this letter we have spoken on a few occasions, while I have pen and paper in hand. Her memory is not what it used to be as she is 82 years now. My mother did attend Stitt Jr. High and she graduated the same year Muriel graduated from H.S. in 1945. While Muriel went to Howard U., My mother attended NYU.)
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