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.
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.