Dusty And Honey

If you heard the news that Isabelle Marranzino died last month, at age 86, it might not have meant much. Her name was not well known.

But when you see this picture, you realize instantly that you knew her.

Marranzino sisters

We saw Isabelle and Martha Marranzino — “Dusty” and “Honey” — often around Westport. They dressed alike, every day.

Most of us assumed they were twins. They were not. They were sisters, born 3 years apart. They had 4 older siblings.

They lived together, in rooms with matching chairs. Their twin beds — in the same room — had the same stuffed animals. Over each bad was a crucifix. In between was a photo of Frank Sinatra.

They kept to themselves, enjoyed each other’s company tremendously, and made us smile.

They lived in Westport for nearly 40 years. They served Assumption Church as housekeepers for the clergy. They lived a quiet life, filled with faith and friendship and love.

(Photos by Katharine Hooper)

(Photos by Katharine Hooper)

They had a moment of fame in 2000, when Staples graduate Hillary Frank profiled them on Ira Glass’s “This American Life.”

Listeners learned that Dusty and Honey worked together all their lives: first in sweatshops, then in a home for the elderly, finally at Assumption.

Dressing differently, they told Hillary, would mean “betraying each other.”

They said of their lives, “this is what was meant to be. As long as we don’t hurt anyone, or break a commandment, it’s fine.”

“This American Life” ended with Hillary’s description of the sisters lying in their beds each night. They would make plans for the next day. Always, they talked about what they would wear.

Dusty and Honey had a special relationship. They were, Hillary said, “like best friends on a sleepover that never ends.”

Except now it has.

(Click here to listen to Dusty and Honey on “This American Life.” Click here for a previous “06880” story on the 2 sisters.)

19 responses to “Dusty And Honey

  1. They were sweet ladies. Not twins but they dressed as if they were. My Mom was pals with them when she went to live in Canal Park some 14 years ago. She passed at almost 94 years of age in her Canal Park apartment. These ladies were very sweet to my old Mom as were so many of the residents in that great facility.

  2. Wow.. what a story. I wish I had known about them before this.. What a lovely photo essay that would have been!

  3. I used to love seeing them around town, I am sorry to hear the duo is parted– when you hear about sisters like that, one hopes there’s an after life where they can have fun together again.

  4. They always made time to chat, and made a very wonderful duo about town. Twin bonds are tightly woven, and although they were three years apart in age, I’m sure the loss must be as heartbreaking as if they actually had been twins.

  5. All these years I have not known that San Francisco’s Vivian and Marian (aka, the Brown Twins) have had an echo across the country in my hometown….this news reminds me of the sad loss of Vivian in January. Vivian and Marian….”they were never happy apart, so they created a job were they could be together, and that job was being the Brown twins.”

    • Thanks, Doug, for a fascinating article about the Brown Twins. The story mentions that “haberdasher Wilkes Bashford recalled how he liked to stand off to the side and observe the twins as they worked their magic. ‘There are certain things that are San Francisco to the core,’ Bashford said.”

      One more Westport connection: the Mitchell family of Westport bought Wilkes Bashford a few years ago. Tyler Mitchell — Ed Mitchell’s grandson — now runs the Union Square and Palo Alto Wilkes Bashford stores.

      • Amazing! I had no idea that Wilkes Bashford was sold, let alone to Mitchells! (though one should exercise caution around these parts and avoid using phrase, “Mitchell Brothers” as it might conjure images of Artie and Jim, who were as far away as can be on the haberdasher scale, being decidedly “clothing optional”)
        So I’ll have to drop into the Union Square shop and chat up Tyler about serenading the family’s Christmas soirees as an Orphenian, back in the day, while wearing Mitchell’s blue blazers and grey flannels…maybe i can score a free pair of socks?

        • John McCarthy

          The Orphenians “Mr. I” brand blue blazer, thanks for the memory Doug. Wonder if it is still in my parent’s house? I’m sure it still fits.
          Have memories of guys taking a razor to the gray pants to shave off the pilling.

  6. Babette d'Yveine

    So sorry to learn this. I used to see them walking around town, and they always brought a smile to my lips. RIP Dusty.

  7. John Hartwell

    So sad. I heard the This American Life story before I came to Westport. To think that these two women had such incredibly connected lives was truly amazing. They took a path less traveled and were very happy, but now one is gone. I imagine the other is inconsolable.

  8. John McCarthy

    Very nice story of two very helpful and friendly people. Lives well lived.

  9. When I heard Isabelle was on the decline, I prayed especially for Martha. Holding a private vigil, I recalled all the times we sat a row apart in church, the times our children and I would give them a lift home, when (so long ago) they invited us into the rectory kitchen for a soft drink. I’ll miss darling Dusty but my heart aches at the loss of “the two”– the faith-filled, Frankie fanatics who with their loving compassion for each other and their many niece and nephews, brought such joy to so many. I wonder if they even realized it? Martha, we love you. Keep well and know of our affection.

  10. Beachwalker 13

    Dan, thank you for sharing that story. We noticed only one of the ‘twins’ at church recently and were hoping that maybe, one of them was just on a mini vacation somewhere. So sorry to learn of the loss of dear Dusty.

  11. Holly Wheeler

    A beautiful, and sad, story. Sending Martha lots of strength and love.

  12. I would run I to the girls at the bank and the gap! They loved clothes and we would speak about what’s new and what they were buying. Loved them!

  13. Terry Surette

    I remember them well on visits to the rectory when I attended Assumption School in the 70’s. They were truly part of my childhood. I had the pleasure of spending time with Martha while Isabelle was getting treatment. Never was there a more devoted sister than Martha. We’d drive in the car listening to Ole Blue Eyes. May Isabell Rest in Peace and Martha continue to know she is a beloved part of Westport until she’s with her family again.

  14. Dan, thanks for “recognizing” these two special women. It’s these little people and their stories that create the charm of Westport. Thanks for the link to the American Life interview.. It’s a dandy one.
    Dolores Bacharach

  15. Jo Ann French

    I was privileged to know Martha and Isabelle as workers and friends. We worked with one another at Assumption Church for many years and stayed friends for many more. Together they were the kindest, most loving, friendliest and most interesting two ladies one could ever hope to know. Now Martha must carried on without her soulmate and I believe she will.

    We will all miss Isabelle.

  16. Dusty and Honey, my aunts. Growing up in a Italian family is unique and wonderful and having aunts like Dusty and Honey was the best. We shared so many great times at family picnics, sing alongs, going to basketball games, the beach and of course our Sunday visits. As a close family we have written a family song and would always sing it whenever we were all together. I thank God everyday for my wonderful family and especially Dusty and Honey. Although 20 yrs my senior they were at times my best friends. Great memories will last. Thank you Dusty and Honey.