More memories from Bay City, Martin Ciccone speaks
Article by Ryan J. Stanton from the Bay City Times
While the star known to the world as the ”Material Girl” takes the stage tonight to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, family and friends remember the pretty little girl who once enjoyed Bay City.
”Bay City holds a real personal place in her heart, I know that for sure,” says Madonna’s older brother, Martin Ciccone of Beverly Hills.
Martin Ciccone said he and his siblings – Madonna included – all have fond memories of visiting Bay City during their childhood summers, weekends and holidays. ”She appreciated the fact that we got to go there and visit our Nanoo,” he said, referring to their grandmother, Elsie Fortin, 96. ”She took care of us after our mom passed, so that was a big deal being able to get up there.”
Although raised in Rochester and Pontiac, Madonna and her siblings spent considerable time in Bay City – so much that Martin Ciccone says they ”grew up” here. ”We would go to State Park Drive, go up to the park, go fishing and swimming,” he recalled.
”We would go to Tony’s Park and ride the carnival rides and play golf and all that,” he said, referring to the former amusement park off of Beaver Road. ”We would go fishing in Quanicassee with my uncles, we used to go smelt dipping.”
On a hot summer day, he added, they’d get Coney dogs at the former Red Lion or grab malts at a shop owned by ”the Beson boys.” And in the winter, they’d go skating on a makeshift ice rink near Anderson Pharmacy, 1108 Marquette St.
”You know what she loved to do?” Martin Ciccone said, recalling one of Madonna’s favorite parts of Bay City. ”We’d get in the back of the car and make my dad kind of go fast over the viaduct (on Marquette Avenue) and it’d make your stomach jump.”
Madonna, who now lives in London with her husband and three children, has three sisters – Melanie, Paula and Jennifer – and four brothers – Martin, Mario, Christopher and Anthony. Because the family was so large, the kids sometimes took turns visiting, especially during extended stays, but other times – at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving – they all came.
”I can still hear those kids coaxing when they’d come to Bay City, ‘Take us to Tony’s Park,”’ said Elsie Fortin, who still lives on Bay City’s West Side. ”That was a fun place.”
Fortin became a motherly figure to the Ciccone children when their mother – her daughter – died of cancer in 1963. Madonna was 5.
Elsie Fortin was the mother of eight children, all of whom grew up in the Banks neighborhood at 1204 Smith St., the same home where the Ciccone children visited. ”We all enjoyed each other, in spite of the loss,” Fortin said.
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