Remembering Marilyn, a downtown light

Shannon Duff
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She wasn’t just a street person. She was Trixie, and if you met her only once in the downtown area of St. John’s, you’d remember her.

Marilyn Hazel Young-Hiscock in downtown St. John’s. Known to many as Trixie, she died Wednesday at age 64

Trixie, also known as Marilyn or Hazel, dressed more like a rebellious teen than a woman of retirement age.

She wore her bleached blond hair in a bun piled on top of her head like a melting soft-serve ice cream cone.

With her fake leopard print fur coat, mini-skirt and  go-go boots, she could often be seen — and heard — walking along talking and sometimes cursing herself and others and the demons she battled, all the while protecting her suitcases of things as though they were bags of gold.

News of her death Wednesday night spread quickly.

Within hours, a Facebook page honouring her memory was created, and less than 24 hours later thousands of people, some from clear across the country, signed on to share a memory or two.

Despite that, many of the people with memories and stories to share say they were initially caught offguard by the off-colour language she often used, but most said that took a backseat to the fact she made a lot of people who interacted with her smile.

Robert Young, co-owner of Celebrity Studios in downtown St. John’s, was among those who knew her.

A few years back, Young created what he calls “The City Character Collection” — photos of everyday people who were well known downtown for one reason or another.

“She was easily one of the most recognizable of all the people in the Character Collection,” he said.

“A lot of people would come in and ask, ‘How did you get her to stop for your picture?’ … It’s a beautiful portrait of a person who can easily take a not-so-beautiful portrait. She used to come in every couple of months and make sure the portrait was still on our wall.”

Young says he’s sad she has died, and humbled by the outpouring of emotion from people who knew of her.

“It makes me terribly sad that we’ve lost such a great character to St. John’s. But what really makes me happy is the way the community seems to be reacting. I think politicians or famous business leaders, when they pass away there’s all kinds of tributes. But somebody who is not as socially acceptable — to be that well recognized, to be that important, I think is really, really lovely. I’m grateful that the city is reacting this way.

“I’m really encouraged that there really seems to be a lot of love for her.  She’s had lot of issues over the years and people are recognizing her for her humanity.”

Lynda Younghusband, originally from Ontario, was one of the many people who posted on Facebook.  

“I remember that a professor new to MUN was amazed that we knew the names of our street people and knew something about them, as well. Those of us at lunch that day explained how we valued these people in our lives. Of course, Marilyn was one of them.

“Another time, a person new to St. John’s called me to say that (Marilyn) was sitting at the War Memorial with many bags and that she had been there for hours. What should she do? I suggested she call the RNC because I felt sure they would take her back to her boarding house, and of course, they did.”

Geoff Adams recalls the first time he met the woman he knew as Trixie.

“It was in Halifax in the spring of 1988. I was convocating from the school of architecture. We were holding our ring ceremony and were hanging out on the front steps of the association’s office on Hollis Street. She came up to our group and started to inquire about a ride to Newfoundland. She wanted to go home.

“In that meeting, we all had a great laugh, though brief. The lads I was with said I should offer her a lift, but with a U-Haul, myself and my parents and grandparents, that wasn’t going to be possible. Well, she must have lucked out somewhere as it was within the next six months I saw her on the streets of St. John’s — she’d made it home.”

Adams lived in B.C. for the next 16 years, but says he would often see her during his trips to St. John’s.

Information about her personal life is not nearly as plentiful as the  aliases she seemed to use. Some knew her simply as Trixie, others by just Marilyn, or Marilyn Cooper or Marilyn Hiscock.

Her real name though, according to Robert Young — no relation — was Hazel Young, originally from Torbay and in her mid-60s.

And while she spent much time walking up and down the streets of the city, she lived in a downtown house. He says besides the countless people who knew her  as Trixie or Marilyn, she leaves to mourn children as well as sisters.

The outpouring of affection through social media has been such that some people say they will try to raise enough money to pay for a funeral, with others suggesting they’d like to see the city celebrate her life with a mural or some other kind of a tribute in the downtown area.

A funeral service for Marilyn Hazel Young-Hiscock will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. in the chapel at Barrett’s Funeral Home, 328 Hamilton Ave. in St. John’s.

Organizations: Celebrity Studios

Geographic location: Ontario, MUN, Halifax Hollis Street Newfoundland B.C. Torbay

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Recent comments

  • Buck king
    February 01, 2016 - 15:32

    3 year old article...i give up on u guys...obits only while I'm away...

  • regina best
    January 31, 2016 - 23:18

    Was she the same person that wa known as"water street mary?

    • Joe
      February 01, 2016 - 08:21

      No, although Mary also passed away some years ago.

  • Andy Conway
    January 30, 2016 - 11:25

    I met Marilyn about 42 yrs ago, my she was a beautiful woman in her early 20's. Back then she was a normal you woman and was very pleasant to know and talk to. She brought a ray of sunshine with her where ever she went back then, and it seems she had that same effect even until today. RIP Marilyn

  • Andy Conway
    January 30, 2016 - 11:25

    I met Marilyn about 42 yrs ago, my she was a beautiful woman in her early 20's. Back then she was a normal you woman and was very pleasant to know and talk to. She brought a ray of sunshine with her where ever she went back then, and it seems she had that same effect even until today. RIP Marilyn

  • anastasia
    January 30, 2016 - 02:40

    R.I.p beautiful you were a great women if only people actually got to know you for you

  • Bryan Green
    October 21, 2013 - 00:31

    I am a trucker and about 2:00 am one cold, rainy, windy morning around 1990, at the Whitbourne intersection, I saw a blonde lady in a leather jacket, hitchhiking. She looked very wet and cold so I stopped and picked her up. It turned out to be Trixie. Needless to say, the trip from there to Donovan's Industrial Park was quite entertaining. She wavered back and forth between a sullen silence and rants about people she assumed that I knew. Occasionally, she would hit a period of lucidity and would engage me in very delightful conversation. She never did hurl any profanities in my direction but she did thank me profusely for the ride several times. I moved to Ontario in 2000 but in the ten years between, I occasionally ran into Trixie on the streets of St. John's. I don't know if she remembered the rainy night but she always smiled and waved when she saw me. I like meeting people and usually find something interesting in everyone I meet...Trixie is definitely near the top of this list. May she rest in peace.

  • sid
    October 19, 2013 - 10:36

    Marilyn spent most of her time just around the corner from our house. I often felt it strange to turn that corner and not see her. She always spoke and if someone had a few coins to share she always responded with thanks. She did smile each time our dog was with me and would speak to him gently. She will be missed.

  • Rest in Peace
    October 18, 2013 - 21:25

    Rest in peace young doll. You were cared about more than you would ever would have realized. Now you are with God and the Angels.

  • Peggy Mcgrade
    October 18, 2013 - 19:05

    Rest in peace dear lady you will be missed

  • Karen
    October 18, 2013 - 18:23

    God bless her, I hope someday a book about this lady is written. I so enjoy reading all the comments on facebook in the last two day..Rest in peace Marilyn!

  • seanoairborne
    October 18, 2013 - 16:45

    She was the "Silly Willie"of her day!I had cause to meet her on George St. while on a visit to the rock back in 2001.Me and my significant other got a kick out of her and I slipped her a ten and addressed her as Maam the whole time we spoke.She really liked that and told us so.She never had all her oars in the water but she was a person that made our day ,and she did cuss like a Paratrooper!In fact that's what I liked about her.Even though she probably didn't realize it and rambled a lot she was totally unpretentious."There but for the Grace of God go I" is all I could think of while conversing with her.RIP "Trixie,Marilyn or Hazel" wherever you are!

  • wanda smiyh
    October 18, 2013 - 16:26

    had a pleasure to read about Marilyn She was my sister in law Inow live in Kitchener on. Im so proud to be a newfie, here in on. they would probally say another one of the system . humanity is well and alive. GOD BLESS ALL US NEWFOUNDLANDERS. RIP Marilyn you were always a star sincerely wanda smith

  • elizabeth o'leary penney
    October 18, 2013 - 15:35

    On a recent trip back home beginning of Oct 2013 My self , husband, daughter seen Marilyn on Water St. though we didn't know her, feel a great sense of lose. Sure many people from home will never forget her & will miss her terribly from Water St. R.I.P.

  • Greg Lecuyer
    October 18, 2013 - 14:08

    I hope you are on those Streets paved with gold were you belong

  • Anon
    October 18, 2013 - 07:08

    she was rude, racist and appalling. I won't miss her.

  • cher
    October 18, 2013 - 06:19

    Rest in Peace Trixie, you will be missed

  • Jeanette Costello
    October 18, 2013 - 05:04

    While I did not have the pleasure to meet Trixie she made lots smile she was loved and no otehr place in Canada shows class to remember a lady like Trixie than Newfoundlanders no matter how she lived she was loved and I am proud to say that I am a Newfoundlander for we sure have class God love us