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Darn! I Missed MADONNA!
by Marcie Noonan
August 8, 2003

Timing is everything in life!

If only my sweet tooth had acted up on Wednesday, August 6, and if only I had stopped by the St. Laurent Brothers store in Bay City that day to satisfy it -- I might have seen "Madonna", the most popular female figure in the history of pop rock!

Well I wasn't "lucky", but a few other individuals were -- those working at the store that day and about a half dozen customers.

There is no mistaking that she was there with her husband, Guy Ritchie. They were accompanied by another person that witnesses believed was their body guard and chauffeur. Where they came from and where they were going is unknown?

If by chance you saw a navy blue Chevrolet Suburban that day -- it may have been Madonna's. You can at least lay claim to circumstantial evidence that you witnessed her vehicle being in Bay City, that should earn you some bragging rights with your friends, if not them, at least it does with me!

My guess is that she was in Michigan to see her father and step-mother and while here decided on the trip north to show her husband where she was born. After all, Madonna's family roots are here -- the place her parents married and once lived, the home of her grandparents with whom she spent a few summers vacationing with during her youth. She may have been raised in Pontiac and lived in Rochester Hills for a time, but Bay City is where her family roots are.

I am a die hard Madonna fan, have been from day one. But, some of you may not be aware that Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Bay City at 7:05 AM on August 16, 1958 at the old Mercy Hospital {View Picture} quite unexpectedly. Her parents, Sylvio Anthony (Tony) Ciconne (6 Jun 1931-) and Madonna Louise Fortin (2 Jul 1932, Bay City - 1 Jan 1963, Pontiac) were here visiting relatives when her mother who was pregnant at the time went into labor. It may have been written in the stars that the faithful event should happened here!

Madonna's parents were married at Visitation Church over on State Street taking their vows on July 2, 1955. Her mother's parents, Willard and Elsie Fortin, also belonged to the church and both families lived the vicinity of the church. Madonna was the third child and oldest female, her siblings were Anthony (1956-), Martin (1957-), Paula (1959) and Melanie (1962). Her grandparents on her father's side were Gaetano Ciccone and Michelina Dijulio, both born about 1901 in L'Aquila, Italy where they married before immigrating to the US around 1922.

Madonna was only 5 years old when cancer prematurely snatched her mother away leaving a huge gap in the family and dramatically altering each of their lives.

Madonna and her mother

Her father, an automobile engineer, hired a nanny, Joan Gustafson, to help with the children. The arrangement led to a deeper relationship and in 1966 they married. They added two more children to the family, Jennifer in 1967 and Mario in 1968. Madonna was now 10 year old and an attractive young lady in development. As a teen she lived in Rochester Hills and attended Adams High School and during those years her love of dancing turned into a passion taking her to the University of Michigan to learn art form. She spent one year there, then made the leap to New York City in 1977 knowing it was there that she had the greatest opportunity to develop her dancing skills and earn an income while doing so. It was a decision that started on the path to fame and fortunate. Her success would come from her combination of intellect, savvy and perseverance. With these skills and her character, she was able toy adapt a style that successfully differentiate her from rest of the competition. When I think of Madonna, I see a woman whose statement of meaning could very well have been, "I am woman, hear me roar!" The rest... well, is history still in the making.

Whatever your opinion of Madonna may be -- there can be no disagreement about her success. Nor, about her connection to Bay City. She may have been raised in Pontiac, but her family roots are here. She and her mother were born here. As a youngster she spent vacations at her grandparents home here and most likely attended mass with them at Visitation church. On an MSN special, "Chat with Madonna", which took place on December 12, 2002 she commented on the subject ...

    Chatter Adriana D'Amico posed the question,
    "Hi Madonna, being married to a Brit and living in England, do you feel that you've lost your roots in a way, or will you always be that Italian chick from Bay City, Michigan?"

    And, Madonna's reply was,
    "I will always be that Italian chick from Bay City. I get home sick when I'm here, but I like adventure and think it's great to move around. I will never lose my roots."

Madonna People Magazine cover.
1985: People Magazine

Today, Madonna is no longer that brassy in your face young woman hell bent on making her place in the rugged world of entertainment. She has earned her star. She is now a mature lady very much focused on becoming a star mother. Her life has been a remarkable evolution, from a distraught child caught up in the drama of life who overcame the odds and fulfilled her dream. It's a story still being written. Hopefully, this community will be a part of the story. That one day there will be a reunion that will allow us to honor her achievements as a child of this community. That she will be able to visit us openly and be welcomed among us as one of us and not just the rock star born in Bay City, Michigan.

When that day arrives, I hope she will feel comfortable in spending as much time as she wants or needs to revisit her family's memories that bind her to this community. And, that we'll respectfully allow her the space to visit her grandparents final resting place without the imposition of flashing cameras or autograph seekers intruding on the solemnness of such an occasion. It is our soul is that is the essence of our life, not the media hype that temporarily creates an illusion of who we are.

Check out Madonna's website [View]

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