Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 26, Number 1, Spring 2014 Page: 28
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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Garden Ship of Dreams
BY CYNTHIA SHEARER
st published accounts of Cosette Faust-
Newton's flamboyant life begin in medias res, fo-
cusing on her starring role in a legendary code
compliance vendetta in the 1950s with the city
fathers of Highland Park. In 1941, on the strength
of a permit to erect a pergola in her back yard at
4005 Miramar, she had built an enormous mock
yacht, christening it the S. S. Miramar. She launched
it amid fanfare adroitly ginned up herselfjust days
after Pearl Harbor had been bombed, awarding
white kittens as party favors. In Faust-Newton's
eyes, the mock yacht was a symbol of her ear-
lier glamorous globe-trotting career that had
been foreshortened by the fates. To the citizens of
Highland Park her "Garden Ship of Dreams" was
an inappropriate eyesore. The rest, as they say, is
history--twenty years of legal conflict that a Tex-
as Supreme Court judge quipped resembled the
Journalistic coverage of Faust-Newton's life
has never quite adequately reconciled the two
vernacular "Dallas myths" about her. One myth
is that she was an eccentric, dangerously deranged
old lady of Highland Park; the other hints that
she may have been the victim of what Harvey
Graff has described as "the Dallas Way" of punish-
ing transgression against the local power structure.
The facts of Faust-Newton's early life, as they can
be established from newspapers, surviving per-
sonal papers, and ephemera she saved in a scrap-
book, suggest that she was destined, even formally
trained, for difficulty with authorities, well before
she stepped off a train in Dallas in 1917, a newly
hired SMU English professor with a Radcliffe
Mary Cosette Faust was born in Kemp, Tex-
as, on July 18, 1889, to Edwin Michael Faust, a
schoolteacher, and Susan Noble Faust. They
named her Cosette, after Victor Hugo's ill-fated
heroine in Les Miserables,2 shortening it to the less
formal "Cosy." E. M. Faust's Masonic membership
record suggests a peripatetic life for the family in
Cosette's early years as they moved gradually far-
ther west in Texas, staying only two or three years
in towns that had peaked in the 1880s, such as
Cooper, Commerce, Yowell, and Bloomfield. By
1907 the family had relocated to Baird, the last
Texas and Pacific railroad stop before Abilene. As
an adult, Cosy Faust would claim that the first
book she ever read was Gibbon's Rise and Fall of
the Roman Empire.
Cosette's name first surfaces in The Dallas Morn-
28 LEGACIES Spring 2014
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 26, Number 1, Spring 2014, periodical, Spring 2014; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth586972/m1/30/?q=cosette: accessed August 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.