The ‘Queen of Travis’ enters the centenarians club! The secret to longevity? One ‘Manhattan’ a day!
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Milestones are always worth celebrating – but when you reach the milestone of the century, you deserve special attention.
The latest Staten Island resident to join the “Centennial Club” is Marie Bellezza, former Marie Veith, who turned 100 on December 11. In fact, the “birthday girl” made her debut the same year Gucci started selling handbags, Coco. Chanel introduced Chanel # 5, White Castle restaurants opened, and the Bloody Mary cocktail was invented.
Born in the Chelsea / Travis neighborhood of Staten Island, Marie is the second oldest of five children. At the age of 16, she was named Travis’ Queen.
Marie married Vincent Bellezza on May 16, 1943 – another longtime Islander and former baseball player. Rumor has it the couple met at Willowbrook Pond on a skating date when Marie was 19 and Vincent 21. They would say their ‘I do two years later at St Anthony of Padua RC Church in the community of origin of Mary. A reception followed at a small Italian restaurant on Port Richmond Avenue.
The Bellezzas spent their honeymoon in Niagara Falls, a hotspot for honeymooners at the time, and lived in New Brighton until they built their own home in Willowbrook in 1954.
Over the years, Marie has held a number of jobs, as a sales associate at SS Kresge, in Wallerstein’s making Bosco and hops for beer. She was also an accountant for the Weltersen agency.
Known for her culinary prowess, Marie became famous for her doll cakes, handcrafted to look like bridesmaids.
She also created new birthday and anniversary cakes from ârocket cakesâ for her son engraved with images of astronauts landing on the moon in 1969, tugs, hockey rinks and rides. She is also famous for her pies, especially the chocolate cream pies that her grandchildren adore, and her cheesecake.
Marie loves a good party and always does the job as ‘hostess with the most’ – with a highlight – her 50th wedding anniversary party in 1993. She also loves Halloween and has been seen decked out like a ghost , a witch and a scarecrow.
A competent seamstress, she hand-sews her clothes, curtains and everything in between, including Christmas pajamas, costumes and Easter dresses for her grandchildren.
Over the years, family vacations have been spent on the Jersey Shore or camping in upper New York State, Canada, and the entire East Coast.
A great traveler, at the age of 80, she left for Germany with her sister Clara.
Active at St. Rita RC Church in Meiers Corners and Monsignor Farrell High School, Marie has served as President of both Ladies Guilds.
Since the parish of Sainte-Rita became an integral part of her life, she still attends mass today as well as the weekly meetings of the Quilters Guild.
Marie is the mother of Vincent and James Bellezza, grandmother of five and great-grandmother of seven, with another on the way.
Asked about her secret to longevity, Marie says she indulges in a Manhattan cocktail hour every day at 4 p.m. – a custom that began when her husband returned from a long day at Gulf Oil. And the tradition has spread even further in games with family, friends, and U.S. Navy officers at Army and Navy games.
Marie still resides in the Willowbrook house she and her husband built, along with Wendy and Angie, two amazing caregivers.
Mary’s 100th birthday celebration took place at home at a party where she was surrounded by family and friends.
Happy 100th birthday, Marie!