Family Friends Friday: Muriel V Arrington & Betty Mae Peters

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

[Muriel’s Response]
 Page #1

Dear Yvette,


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??)

Anyway-to continue-
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…

[Page 2]
…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.)

[Page 3]
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.

[Page 4]

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.)

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Betty Peters 1942 Journal Day #10: Amanuensis Monday

This is a continued effort to transcribe my Mother’s 1942 Journal when she was 14-15 years old. She never imagined that it would become a part of the World Wide Web… (Nov 17, 1926-Jan 5, 2004) In honor of my mother.

Betty Mae Peters-15 years old

Page #52 (Bottom)
September 2, 1942

Bottom of page 52

Hello again! Yep your’s truly is still enjoying the wonders of 171 King St.  Oh luck!  Oh Joy! O happy day!  I met Richard (Dickie) Holt.  Let me tell you he’s one of the golden 10 out of every thousand.  He’s 26 and I’m going on 16.  Nevertheless….

Page #53

Page 53

…he’s got something there that I like and I’m going to do my best to be one of the golden 10 in his estimation.  Whoa boy!  Yesterday Uncle Ed took me down to spend the afternoon at his job.  (He’s an insurance broker at the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Co.)  Did I have fun.  I wore my pink sharkskin with the stitched pockets and the pleated skirt.  It was the first time I had ever been in the building when it was occupied with workers (though I’ve been there often after office hours).  Uncle Ed introduced me to everyone as his daughter, but only two people (2 women) fell for it.  The other’s knew better.  I spent quite a while with….

Page #54

Page 54

…Miss Hampton at the “Women’s House.”  We had fun.  Nelson Bryant was all over the place.  (He’s taking me to the show again Thursday.)  I was sorry not to see the clown Otis summerville.  He was away on vacation.  All in all the day was one well spent. Uncle Ed and I had a ball.
P.S. I sighed longingly in the President’s lovely office.  Someday I hope to have a big office and a secretary too, I hope, I hope.  As evening came on Lensie called informing me that she and Arnie Cannon were coming over.  Having met Arnett the night before & Having been rather impressed, I was quite happy.  They came over here then we went to Lensie’s.  And yes Gods!!!!  What a juvenile…

Page #55

Page 55

..smoocher.  He’s around eighteen or nineteen & just at the puppy love stage.  I really believe that a girl fifteen is older than a boy eighteen.. He was naucious.  Oh he wanted to mooch, and boogie and hold hands, and hug and kiss and carry on.  Doesn’t he know that junk’s antiquated and out (but definitely out) of style as far as I’m concerned. By 13 or fourteen I would have been thrilled to pieces, but now going on 16, I’m looking for higher standards of co-ed companionship.  This “Hello messy, let’s get groovey?” stuff has got to go and so will Mr. Cannon (at least till he grows up.)   I still crown Earl & Dickie as the best.  They’re intelligent!  Thank God!

Page #56 Top

Page 56 Top

Aunt Ivy has a boarder, namely Myrtle Gaines (Who’s a blip).  We don’t know whether she’s a dope fiend or just a happy little moron, but something tells me (no matter what she is) that she won’t stay here long.
Saw Herbert Wilkins again in church.  Then he dropped by.  Too bad he’s marrying Rita & I’m not about 8 or 9 years older.  Well so long, pal.

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Betty Peters 1942 Journal Day #9:Amanuensis Monday

Every time I continue to transcribe my mother’s journal, I learn more about her as a child growing up in Harlem, NY.  I also have realized that the amount of journaling does not matter, it is the fact that one does journal at all is what counts.  I hope to leave something for my children and the next generations to read…and I feel that starting with my mom’s papers is a great beginning.

Betty Peters & Unknown Boy

Tuesday, August 25, 1942
Page #51

I’d better make this short because I don’t have much time.  I’m up in Springfield, Mass. for the first time in 3 years.  I’m sitting on the porch.  I have just finished writing 3 letters.  One to Mommie (telling her that Ruthie can’t come up with her this weekend.)  One to Ernestine Reynolds (Who is now at Camp Atwater and whose picture along with Louise Shaw’s and many others appeared in the Springfield Union Sunday) and one to Ear Miller (A very promising fellow whom I met about 3 weeks ago at the Cosmopolitan Tennis club’s 1st Annual Dance). Sunday I met Rev. Herbert Wilkins whose going to marry Rita Davis. He’s swell.  So’s she.  Jennie? is being like a sister to me.  She’s just…

Page #52

Page 52 Top

…swell.  She’s told me about lots of people.  I have met a portion of the Edmonds Family and  also Coolerige Breathweight also plays the organ beautifully.  I have not met Buddy, Lenny, Hal, Lucious, Lindsay nor Billy Gardner (Remember him).  Tonight I’m going to the show with Nelson Bryant.  He’ll do in a rush.  Oh I shouldn’t say that.  He’s nice.  Well so long till the next time.

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Betty Mae Peters Journal: Day #8

This is a continued effort to transcribe Betty Mae Peters Journal of 1942.

Betty Peters in Springfield, MA

Day #8
Page #43 (Bottom)
April 27, 1942

Page 43 bottom

Me oh my, how time does fly.  I haven’t written in this little pad in so long that for a moment or 2, I positively forgot it existed.  Instead of writing what “has” happened….

Page 44

…in the life of me since March 1st, I’m sure it would take up much less time and space if I jotted down what hasn’t happened.  However here goes with the latest news.
Directly following Gwennies party, Barbara threw a little shindig that was quite nice.  All the gang minus Jimmy + Lloyd was there and I would have had a fine time if it had not been for Ed Watt who seemingly took a shine to me and wouldn’t give me a moments peace all night. Yesseree Gods I don’t mind being (That is I simply love being) wooed by someone I like but mushy, slushy Ed Watt Phooie!  However, all of my running away was not in vain.  I think….

Page #45

Page 45

…that he’s cured because recently he gave a party to which I was not invited.  I never thought I’d really be glad to miss an invite to a social but this time it was music to my ears!  Gods he’s naucious!!
Item 2 on the list is Dottie’s party as of last Saturday night.  I won’t go into the details lest some prying eyes should fall on this page, and the mouth belonging to the same face owning the eyes should speak a word of it to the outside would, but I will say this much.  I was doggone glad when mother came and took me out of that “place.”  Ruthie has been telling me so much about Robbie Green well I…

Page #46

Page 46

…met him at Dot’s and agree with Ruthie “he’s swell.”   He likes me too.  Well now! That’s something!

I missed the Tovanni’s this year but all who went told me it was fine.  I know it was cause Lois belongs to it.  She’s a peach.  I’m going to visit her before anyone else.  Lord knows I owe her a dozen.  Jimmie T. has finally found her and it looks like a match.  I hope so.  He’s run around with so many drips (and I do mean W.B.) that maybe someone decent can do something decent with him.  Poor lil’ fellah.  He thinks that I’m still angry about the football game.  As if anybody could stay angry with a fellah with all…

Page #47

Page 47

…his personality for very long.  He’s a devil, but I like him.  Ho-hum wonder Billy is.
I have decided that I want to be a Doctor.  It’s the greatest ambition I’ve ever had. Here’s hoping I’ll stick to it and how!  Mother thinks it’s a swell idea! Halp! We agree!!!  (I’ll have to go to Mrs. Barnes in the Main Office (She’s my G.W. 4-7 grade advisor and ask about having my Spanish changed to Latin.
Speaking of Medicine and such mess, I went to the Dentist (for the first time in 7 years) a few days ago.  Dr. Anna Johnson is my dentist; I think she’s swell.  Women make fine dentists I’LL say!!!

Page #48

Page 48

The other day Ruthie and I saw Merle Oberon on fifth Avenue.  She’s stunning!  It was then that I decided to be a doctor.  Her presence gave me inspiration.  But now as I write I still know that if I thought I’d have 1/10 of a chance I’d turn all my thoughts toward Journalism, my true love.  Ah!  Life is a mudda, I can’t make up my mind about anything, career, boys, or anything.  But then there’s more variety in in changing around and oh how I love variety!
Charmaine is still running wild over Nickie Haurnakoff. Note”Twenty years from now, I’m going to have her in stitches teasing her about it.  So help me!
Likewise Muriel and Leslie only they’re both the some color (well almost the…..

Page #49

Page 49

…same) and besides that the feelings mutual.  I can see his pint but not exactly her’s.  The better for her, I’ll never try to steal him.
Ollie Stewart is Australia bound to be a Foreign Correspondent covering the war. Boy, I envy him.  I think maybe I’ll be a Journalist after all, Who knows?
JN is at a new camp, I don’t know where.
Lloyd Rogers has lost his mind again (probably over some girl).  Now he wants to join the Canadian Air Force and die before he’s 26.  Some peoples children!
My little chum (Barbara of course,) spent the weekend in Philly watching Frankie…

Page #50

Page 50

…Dickson (of whom we are all proud) and dozens of other fellas do their stuff in the annual Philly Track Meet.Scottie (Gladys to you) went with her, and they stopped with her friend Valerie.  I’ll have more to tell you  after I see her (She’s coming home tonight) By the way she likes Desmond Margeston, now he’s cute.  I hope this is really a match there, both so cute.  Especially together.
Some G.W. people
Howard Edmead, Sonny Louth, Hatting Cuttingham, Gladys, Chammy of course, Niki, and lots more  but I can’t think of them all.  I’m going to Camp Atiwater “I hope, I hope”

Gee more than anything else in the world right now I want to get to know Richard well. He’s the answer to a Maiden’s prayer.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Betty Peters Journal Day #3, January 4, 1942

(This is a continuance of my mother’s diary) I will be posting a portion of it daily for the next few weeks along with some of the Blogging Prompts.

Photo of Betty Peters in 1930 in Sugar Hill, NY

January 4, 1942
[Her horoscope for the year]

Page #24-bottom of page

Pg 24

Yesterday I bought my horoscope from “Woolworth’s Five & Ten” on the….

Page #25

Pg 25

…corner of 146thst and Broadway.  “Zolar” was the name of it.  My birthday is on Nov. 17 and I am born under the sign of “Scorpio” and I am ruled by the planet “Mars,” The god of War. (A few weeks ago it brought me great pleasure to find out that Hedy Lamaar, one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood, was also born under the sign of Scorpio. `Ey Now !!!).

My horoscope only gave me information concerning my planetary influences until the month of April.  Then I’m supposed to buy the second edition, that will tell me about a few more months, then I buy another. (A nice money-making scheme, the hisles).  I enjoyed reading my horoscope.  The things….

Page #26

pg 26

…than interested me most I have copied word for word in the following passage:

For Those Born Under The Sign of “Scorpio,” or on November 17th.

(More to come tomorrow)