FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Raymond Hudd, An Overview October 4, 2017

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Raymond Hudd (Huddlestun) was born Dec 19, 1924 in Custer, MI, Mason County, and died July 20, 2010, in Muskegon. MI. His parents were Glenn and Vilma Huddlestun.  Glenn Sr passed away in 1981 but in 1972 compiled a family history which goes back before Norman the Great in England, of landed gentry.  Later early ancestors, in the US, relocated primarily to VA, where there is a town named Huddlestun.

Early Years

Raymond’s father had moved to Michigan as a child from IL. When he grew up he became a carpenter, and had a farm. Raymond loved to tell the story of his mother’s affection for violets. In spring, when the first of the violets appeared the children were then allowed to go barefoot outside. Vilma passed away in 1946, and of a total of five boys, Raymond focused upon helping his younger brothers, including Ivan. Raymond worked locally, at the Campbell Wyon Cannon Foundry after high school, but moved back to the farm when his mother passed away. The favorite pastime was listening to dance music broadcast from Chicago.

“In a 1988 interview with the Tribune, Mr. Hudd said his first creation was a mud-and-leaves hat for his two mules, Jack and Fanny. It took a while to train them to keep on their hats, but they finally caught on and wouldn’t leave the barn without them,” Mr Hudd said.”

“From barnyard mules, Mr. Hudd advanced to Gold Coast socialites. In 1948, he left Michigan to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After two years creating millinery displays for others, he opened a shop in 1950 and shortened his name to Hudd.”1.

This photo is dated 1950, the photo at top in undated but is likely at least 10 years later.

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He had been working on State Street in large department store window display, and came to feel he could make hats at least as good as the ones he was featuring in the windows. His efforts began on a small scale.

Early Professional Years

Inspiration is part of success, and he looked to the works of others, having kept news clippings from as early as an eight page millinery section in the spring of 1949 of the Chicago Tribune. He acknowledged learning as he went along while buying supplies from Fox Millinery on Lake Street, an established wholesale supplier.

The only opening he had a pre-printed announcement paper for was the opening Aug 19, 1950, at 20 E. Chicago. Photos from his personal album from that day.

 

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In 1962 he seems to have moved to 6 E. Division for a short time. Mid 1960’s he was at 22 Elm Street in Chicago. It is unclear when he opened at 40 Oak St, in what is still one of the toniest shopping blocks just west of the famed Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue. Some of the dating of his locations comes from a three inch binder of letters and notes from the comedian Phyllis Diller, including some sent to a box number at Merchandise Mart, tho nothing indicates he sold from there. During the mid to late 70s he sold wholesale at Charles Stevens, and Wieboldts, on State St, and Saks Fifth Avenue on Michigan Ave.

His last shop was opened in 1981 at 2545 N. Clark St, which closed in 2000. This was the only location he had a business card made for his use.

Successful Career

Advertising was not a big part of Raymond’s approach to finding customers. His papers had only one tiny undated newspaper ad from the Division location, tucked between two of his business cards. In one black on cream paper four page booklet Raymond created an invitation to a three day special event Nov 3-5. No year is given, but it is likely 1960s, at 40 E. Oak. His one room, one artist Little Gallery adjoining his millinery section featured Patricia Babcock from Miller, IN.

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This booklet is the only indication of a store assistant, Mr. Del, whose last name remains a mystery. For almost all of his creations Raymond did it all. In the mid 2000’s I had the pleasure to meet one gentleman, Mr. Eugene Wright, who had sewn many a pearl on a hat design by Raymond.

 

He was an active retailer along with several who pushed to create the first Chicago Gold Coast art fair, an outdoor street experience which still continues, 60 years later.

“Seven times, he won the Easter bonnet contest at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, so many times, in fact, he was forbidden to enter an eighth time.”2. In the 1960s there was extensive newspaper coverage of social events of brunch and fashion shows with hat contests on Easter. There were years Raymond hats won at different events across the city. The Drake Hotel was literally down the block from his shop at the corner of Oak and Michigan Ave. Typically the prizes the hotel restaurants provided were modest, such as a cake or bottle of champagne. The news coverage was the icing on the cake for Raymond.

“One of his first high-profile customers was Lee Phillip Bell, a famous Chicago “weather girl” who wore a different hat every day to reflect the weather. All were designed by Hudd.”2. He rented the hats to the studio, and tho they were returned, it is unknown what became of them. Few would recall Lee’s weather girl days, but many are familiar with the TV creations of her and her husband. “After leaving her TV show, Bell joined her husband to co-create the popular CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless in 1973 and its sister show The Bold and the Beautiful in 1987.” 3.

Although hats were owned by Joan Crawford, it was Phyllis Diller, who topped over 500 hats.

“Among the more outrageous objects Mr. Hudd placed on his hats were a burlap sack of potatoes and shredded computer printouts used for the Oliver North 1987-News-in-Review hat.”4. Each year on New Year’s Day Raymond revealed a store window display with a hat inspired from news issues during the previous year. They were not intended for use, although on occasion a brave woman did add these to her wardrobe. They were intended to showcase his windows, and serve as Head Art. Even after his retirement and shop closing were announced in 2000, customers and passersby wrote him notes of appreciation for the eye catching windows, as that was the start of his 50+ year career.

Each hat had a label inside, increasing in size from a black ink rubber stamp in the early 50s to produced labels with his name. In the center of the hat crown he placed a violet, to honor his mother. From 1981 onward he included a hand printed number. It started with the initials of his brothers who had passed away, followed by a number to represent which hat it was of the year. It ended with an initial to represent the year. Thus   GMB=527-M  indicated his honoring his brothers, the five hundredth and twenty-seventhth hat of 1993. He had a less expensive line of hats called Huddettes for three years, 1958-60.

Photo of Raymond working on a buckram base typical of the Huddette style, and appears to likely be from that 1958 era:

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In the 1960s color photos became popular and this 1968 one shows Raymond outside his shop, possibly beaming over the news coverage he posted in the window to draw more attention to the shop:

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In 1968 Raymond mailed this flyer to his father Glenn in Muskegon, from the shop address of 22 E. Elm in Chicago:

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The ongoing press coverage of events and awards added to a large pile of mementos of acknowledgement.

 

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For a Chicagoan, the name Bill Kurtis is synonymous with TV. In 1969 he MC’d the Easter event at the Camellia Room at the Drake Hotel when Raymond had won for a creation of black edged white ruffle covered hat. This picture shows he wore a matching tie, gaining him his own personal attire award, for most unusual tie.

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“And, yes, there was also that olive-size gallstone that Mr. Hudd had surgically removed and made into a hat. That cost me $10,000,” he said of his most expensive ornament, which was painted gold and dangled from a rhinestone-studded wire.”4. The $10K was the cost of his surgery for the gallstone removal. That hat is a part of the collection owned by his remaining brother, Ivan.

The gallstone hat, and many from his annual feature hats were part of an exhibit. In 2001, the Chicago History Museum honored Mr. Hudd with an exhibit called “Raymond Hudd — Hats Over the Edge.”

In 2005 an event was held to primarily honor Raymond by Chapeau: The Milliners Guild in Chicago. It was entitled “Falling Head First” and spanned three days of events at the Chicago Cultural Center, The Chicago Athletic Assoc, and the Fairmont Chicago.

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Eia, of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago also established the ongoing Raymond Hudd Millinery Awards to help support aspiring careers of head wear students.

Although Raymond did not do much advertising, he did compile a small booklet of his favorite hat thoughts. The face page of the booklet of fifteen pages, 3″x4″, had a title: “What is a hat….? Some comments about hats….A hat is a flag…a shield…a bit of armor…a badge of femininity. ”

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The stylized signature of his name was used in many ways, tho this is the only one where the end of the final letter d looks like thread through a needle.

“By the end of his career, Mr. Hudd estimated that he made 50,000 hats.”4

But what else is there to know about the man, besides making hats? He liked to draw his designs, and to photograph his store windows.

A set of pen drawings on linen stock 3×5 cards reveals dozens of designs. Some are labeled so one knows the year from his code used inside hats, one has the word
Special, which may have been a window piece or custom design. Others have no notation at all, making one wonder if they were ever created.

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Raymond loved to write poetry, and explore the popular 1960s focus on extraterrestrial life. “Hudd had served as president of the Space Age Club of Chicago, which he founded in 1959.”5. “The Visitor” was one of his poems. Here are photos of two 1998 hats inspired by his ongoing space interests:

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Raymond’s love of nature outpaced all others and that was likely a long held memory of his life on a farm in Michigan in the 1930s-1940s.

Some hats are still in closets, and some are in collections and museums, like the Chicago History Museum, Columbia College fashion collection, School of the Art Institute Fashion Resource Center, Wilmette Historical Society, and The Fashion History Museum of Cambridge, ONT, Canada.

The lack of photos of Raymond’s actual HATS is evident in this overview. More posts will follow to display a wide array of styles and the HEADLINER series.

Other posts on this blog with information about Raymond and his hats:

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/chicago-millinery-history-raymond-hudds-paper-ephemera/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/chicago-millinery-history-school-of-the-art-institute-of-chicago-millinery-awards-2014/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/chicago-millinery-history-cats-pajamas-vintage-clothing-jewelry-and-textile-show-and-sale/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/chicago-service-club-luncheon-raymond-hudd/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/chicago-millinery-history-the-raymond-hudd-awards-for-school-of-the-art-insitute-of-chicago/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/chicago-millinery-history-raymond-hudd-lives-on/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/chicago-millinery-historyraymond-hudds-last-millinery-consultation-the-end-of-an-era/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/raymond-hudd-and-the-spring-hat-2011/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/angelas-wonderful-raymond-hudd-presentation/

 

  1. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-26/news/ct-met-huddlestun-obit-20110726_1_raymond-hudd-milliner-barnyard-mules
  2. http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/08/mason_county_native_raymond_hu.html
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Phillip_Bell
  4. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-26/news/ct-met-huddlestun-obit-20110726_1_raymond-hudd-milliner-barnyard-mules
  5. https://www.chicagohistory.org/raymondhudd/

Additional sources:

  1. http://www.obitoftheday.com/post/8065533475/raymondhudd
  2. http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Raymond-Hudd-A-look-back-at-the-milliner-of-the-millennium/33267.html
  3. https://www.pinterest.com/mrobak/vintage-hat-raymond-hudd/

 

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Chicago Millinery History: Saks Fifth Ave on Michigan Ave in the 1920s. April 2, 2017

Saks Fifth Avenue was established in New York City in 1924. They had branched out with Palm Beach, FL and Southampton, N.Y, resort stores successfully in 1928, and then decided Chicago was the next on their horizon. Opened at 840 N. Michigan Ave, in March  of 1929, they faced serious long established competitors. In the log written by the head of Charles A Stevens, a worthy competitor, there was concern of several of their employees having been lured away to be employed by Saks.

Saks found their newest home in a recent hot spot, in what is now a still vibrant fashion shopping Mecca, north Michigan Ave. It is oft referred to now as the Magnificent Mile. It was only after the opening of the Michigan Ave Bridge/DuSable Bridge with the Tribune Tower on the north side in 1920 did old Pine Street become a desirable destination. The Drake Hotel, between Walton and Oak, anchored the north end of the business, hotel and shopping expansion. 

SAKS AD 2-17-29

Feb 17 a group of north Michigan avenue retailers combined to be featured in a full page Chicago Tribune advertisement, with a map in the center. The Saks store ad indicates an early March opening. They would have been in the same Michigan Chestnut Building as two shops in this form of weekly Sunday ad, run over the next few weeks. The Chintz Shop would not have competed, and may have welcomed the arrival of Saks. Later the Don Lynn fashion shop may have had great reservations about the future.

The Women’s Athletic Club at 626 N. Michigan opened in April, 1929 and was a great draw to this hotly developing shopping area. They were the new home March 1 of the first branch of a successful shop on Diversy, the Leslie Shop. http://glessnerhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/womans-athletic-club-of-chicago.html

One should not confuse Leslie with Leschin, another fashion spot. Leschin had Jack Leschin listed as a manufacturer of millinery in the 1920 census, living at 831 Ainslie with his family. In 1910 he had been a manager of a cloak factory in Kansas City.

McAvoy at 615 N. Michigan Ave ran an ad March 11 to welcome Saks. McAvoy’s ads regularly boasted of their Fashion Board, made up of prominent Chicago women: Badger, Farrell, King, Madlener, Meeker, McCormick, Mitchell, Otis, Winston, and Winterbotham. Another ad of theirs also on March 11 mentions clothes in the Debutante room started at $45 (equal to $635.35 in 2017.)

Saks must have been recognized by the world of criminals as well as shoppers as a place of value. June 15 found them robbed of $5,000 cash and $15,000 in jewels at the close of business, in a terrifying holdup. One wonders if Miss Florence Geraldson, the cashier, had been a former Stevens employee who wished she had never left. The thieves escaped, having worn “canvas gloves and sneakers.” 

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Kleenex was on sale in a large cosmetics ad Sept 8, 1929, and again in Nov, at Saks for $.33, in the new larger size. Hopefully the wise women invested, as the stock market crash was just weeks away. Kleenex had started in 1924 as a Hollywood product to remove theatrical makeup and cold cream, which was why it was still featured in the cosmetics department at Saks. In 1926 “A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-kleenex-tissue-1992033c

For fashion, Saks sought the well heeled client. They were proud to feature the designs of Jane Regny https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Régny

For the person who pulls themselves away from the newspaper headlines daily about the world covering Zeppelin travels, including a stop in Chicago August 29, they may have noticed the full page ad Sept 3, 1929 for the newly opened jewelry store on Michigan Ave.

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After checking out the new place, then one could head over to Saks for some lovely items from Molyneaux. If that did not draw one, perhaps the ad on the sixth for the allure of Vionnet fashions did entice one to the store. The social elite of the city were returning from their summer homes in Lake Forest, Wheaton and Barrington, as the season was about to start here again. Attending a debut of the chosen few young women certainly required a gown from a Paris house, even if one had not toured Europe to select it there oneself. 

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No other ads were placed by Saks in the Tribune during the early fall of 1929, tho Sept 28 alerts one to the new furs from Mr. Perry A. Weinberg. Perhaps they were trying other papers to see what kind of response the others drew. Or they realized the magnitude of financial woes ahead, and felt it better to conserve their advertising dollars. Whatever financial concerns they had, they still proceeded in expansion to two additional floors in the the building they occupied, as reported Oct. 5, 1929.

By mid Sept it was clear there were financial concerns for the city. Headlines had told of the county being unable to pay their bills, especially salaries, including those of judges. They would get IOUs thru the end of the year. A reassessment of property in the county was a hopeful way to be fairer, and gain more tax revenue. That had potential but as people would be losing jobs in the future, it is not too likely as many would be able to pay those taxes. Sept 19, 1929 had a Tribune headline that the city had a  32%  deficit. That would play out to include no pay for plenty of their employees as well, including school teachers. That day they feared the dismissal of 2,000 city policemen and 800 firemen, a potentially dire situation. The city had reassessed real estate property values in 1928, had borrowed against the anticipated higher tax revenue which did not materialize, making for a mess of a financial deficit going into 1930. This news deflected from the previous big issue of the 4,000 county employees being unpaid since Sept 15.

October 25, 1929 was the final blow to the stock market. No Saks Fifth Avenue ads ran that day either. One might imagine the staff spent much of the day concerned for the future, and wondering if the holiday shopping season, soon to start, would be anything like they had hoped for when they were planning it in earlier months.

Much newspaper mention has been made of the stock market crash the end of Oct, a trigger for the Great Depression ahead. It has been a volatile market since at least the spring, and bank failures and suicides had been happening even before the crash. Those just seemed like more isolated incidents till economic gloom became better recognized. 

What other events occurred for which a new dress and hat would be desired by a lady in Chicago? The opera? Yes. Theater? Yes. The new production of Eugene O’ Niel’s third Pulitzer Prize winning “Strange Interlude” opened to 1200 attendees. The Stevens Hotel, across the street, and the theater arranged a special dinner interlude. The performance started at 5:30, and the 1.25 hr intermission was a time for theater goers to dine at the hotel, then return for the final acts of this 5 hour, nine act play. It sounds like an excellent idea, at only $1.50 for the meal, as Thanksgiving dinner was $2, vs $2.50 at the Palmer House.

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A practical purchase for gifts or oneself, if only to save one’s hat from rain and snow, would have been the special on Nov 23 for umbrellas at a mere $7.50. Just after Thanksgiving Saks featured shoes for $9.85 for values to $27.50, and the same ad is repeated several days.

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One wondered if Saks actually sold hats, a mystery solved when a semi annual clearance sale is announced Dec 2, and millinery is mentioned. Whew! One could relax, tho no hat photos make one wonder if they were all a cloche style, or perhaps a bit more adventurous. 

Speaking of the ads themselves, most Saks ads were rather bland. The two cosmetic ads were simply lists of items with prices, and the shoe sale showed no shoes. Even the biggest ads in the fall for Vionnet and Molyneaux were copies of typed letters from the fashion houses. The aura of mystery was certainly the approach Saks took. Lots of competitors featured lovely drawings, such as Blum’s Vogue Dec ____1929. 

But finally Saks has pulled out all the stops for a full page ad on Dec 8, a Sunday paper, to draw those Christmas shoppers inside their doors. The image contained an Art Deco feel of a woman holding a ship. They were not selling ships, but selling the allure of imported goods, especially French items. 

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They followed up on Dec. 12 to entice gift givers to select a purse, with prices which ranged to $250. ( Or $3,530 in 2017)

1929 BAGS

For the bargain hunter, The Fair, a reputable mid-price department store, had an ad of handbags ranging to $15.That week Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co showed “original couturier bags from Lelong, Patou, Worth, Lanvin, and Paquin at $15 to $35.” All the ads were of little use from Dec 18th, and 19th, as a blizzard had hit Chicago, “the worst of a decade.” It caused 12 deaths, and plummeted the temps to zero. For shoppers who had left that gift buying task for the last weekend before Christmas, the city was a mess. 900 shovelers and 75 trucks were working to clear the downtown; the rest of the city had to wait for it to melt.

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By Dec 21 O’Conner and Goldberg, known as OG, the store for shoes, had to do something with their 1,500 handbags, which were marked down to $5, from $27.50.

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By Dec 23 even Saks had to move their $7.50-$10 purses, marked down to $4.95. Perhaps we have a case of handbag wars, where sellers were bound and determined those lovely little evening bags with so much holiday appeal get out their doors, one way or another. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1929/12/23/page/4/article/display-ad-3-no-title

How many people trudged thru the snow for these bargains is unknown. But teachers were not going shopping for many gifts. The city was so broke for weeks they could not be paid, no matter what they went thru to get to work during the blizzard. Loop departments stores placed ads specifically telling teachers they could open credit accounts immediately. In a last minute deal borrowed funds were found to give teachers their checks on Dec. 24th. But sadly for them things would be worse in 1930, with far worse gaps unpaid. For now, Chicagoans went about their business of celebrating a white Christmas, a bit diminished, but hopeful of a new year of hats and handbags. Maybe they even went inside Saks, just to see what it was all about, even if buying their hats seemed outrageous.

 

Chicago Millinery History: The Millinery Staff of Mandel Bros Department Store March 29, 2017

Filed under: Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,fashion,hat,Mandel Bros,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 8:33 pm
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2-16-13 paris fashion page

To start off the Spring fashion season of 1913 one could go back to the Chicago Tribune anytime after Jan 1. Unfortunately, in Chicago Spring shopping is hard to fathom when so much snow is still ahead. For the purposes of this exploration of Mandel Bros and millinery, we start the Sunday after Valentines Day.

February 16, 1913 Chicago Tribune carried their usual full page feature of fashion. Chicago women would have wanted to know what styles Paris was showing, as this drove the fashion industry. Milliners would want to see the hats, but also know what colors were in style as well.

Mary Buel wrote this fashion column and captured the mood of Paris in her descriptions. Hats had the last word, ie, the last paragraph.

“Hats are of extreme importance as they seem to change from day to day, and it is really dangerous unless blessed with a full purse.” “The very newest shapes are perfectly tiny, with low rounded crowns, and the smallest turned up brims. some are made of straw with the brim of broche; others are entirely made of broche and in all sorts of light shades.”

In an April 1913 employee newsletter for Mandel’s staff, an article revealed the “Sales Leaders for March 1913.” This State St store had been a major marketing force since it began in 1855, over fifty years earlier. By listing all the 148 departments in rank of sales, it is likely they wished to stir up some competitiveness between departments and increase overall sales. Luckily millinery ranked well, with one section at 41, and the other at 62. The 41st ranking section was broken down to seven groups. Each group had a person identified as the first, and a second, essentially the most successful employees in their various groups. In the section ranking 62, there was no breakdown of groups.

Millinery from ranking 62 had two employees listed: Miss Mayhew and Miss Goldman.

Miss Mayhew is likely Margaret M Mayhew born Aug, 1866 in Indiana. In the 1900 census she was single, 34 and living with her parents in Wayne, IN. Her work was that of a nurse, which in those days did not require much education. She has a 17 year old sister, Bessie, who does not work. In the 1910 census Margaret 43, is now working as a milliner in a retail store, perhaps even Mandel Bros. She is living at 537 Abbotsford, in Kenilworth, http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/537-Abbotsford-Rd_Kenilworth_IL_60043_M87814-23427, in the household of her sister, Katherine Woodward, 39, and her husband. Washington Woodward, 43, is a manager of a tile company, and they have a 12 year old daughter. It is likely Margaret indulged her niece, Ruth, in some lovely things from Mandel’s store. By the time Margaret is acknowledged in the Mandel’s newsletter, Ruth would have been 15. Little did Ruth know that by 1930 she would have been married and living in Portland, Maine, with her husband, two children and her widowed mother. No records are found for Margaret until the census of  1940.  Margaret, 73, had moved from Chicago, after 1935, back to Richmond, IN. She was then living with her 81 yr old sister, Emma. No idea what became of Margaret until her burial March 8, 1949 in Richmond, IN.

Miss Goldman?? Far too common of a name to find enough to call a true picture of her life. It is pure speculation that the Mandel’s Miss Goldman is the Hattie Goldman of the 1910 census, living on 12th St, where at 14 she is listed as a milliner in a millinery store. By the 1913 Mandel’s newsletter, she would only have been 17, an amazing success to have reached such accolades. It seems Hattie married in 1918, and moved to Ottumwa, IA, where she died in 1971.

Tho it is unknown if Misses Mayhew and Goldman were on the fourth floor, certainly some of the other high sellers from the 41st ranking department had been there.

Group 1 Miss Enk and Miss Saunders; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 2 Mrs Norton and Miss Maremont; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 3 Miss Shovel Miss Levin; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 4 Miss Zahm and Miss Wimmermark; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 5 Mrs. Meunch and Miss Parent; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 6 Miss Tannenhill and Miss Froelich; no clues found for them on ancestry.com

Group 7 Mrs French and Mrs. Hurley. No clues on Mrs. French, and only maybe on Mrs. Hurley. In 1910 Miss Margaret Hurley is a 23 year old milliner in a millinery shop, living at 4213 S. Wabash, with her parents. Did her mother go back to work and is the MRS. Hurley? Did someone type Mrs when it should have been Miss? No way to figure this out.

Now for a look at just what hats these successful millinery saleswomen were sending home with happy customers. These copies of Chicago Tribune newspapers are from the online archives from the paper.

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Feb 18, 1913 has an ad for the Gondola hat for $12. This Balkan Blue hemp braid hat has Bulgarian crown with “ears” of braid. The fine print also tells you there are 500 hat copies of the leading Paris styles of “Reboux, Talbot, Marie Louise, Lewis and Georgette.” Head to the 4th floor for your Gondola, ladies.

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Anyone working in the world of fashion needs to know about the latest beauty tips. And who could provide that better than the famed actress, Lillian Russell. Her column also answers questions from two inquiries. One is advised to break two eggs over her hair to improve it. The other is advised that coconut oil is different from cocoa butter, which is “good for developing the bust”. Really? Wish to have seen her in person? She was at Orchestra Hall the next week from Monday thru Thursday. One might say cocoa butter worked well!

The section on Today’s Bargains has feathers with a savings of 200-300% at two different locations downtown, or winter hats value of $12 for $1.50 at Halla Hat at 4408 Sheridan Rd. Somehow these seem too good to be true.

 

Sunday Feb 23 fashion page features negligees, including the still popular nighttime head covering. The Mandels ad has $12 hats on the fourth floor, in colors Balkan blues, Beznark reds, bottle greens and natural.

The next day had no fashion Mandel Bros ad, but that Today Bargain section included those still fabulous bargain feathers downtown, and the spring items of two north-side millinery shops. Fleishman’s at 1138 N. Milwaukee had some Bulgarian effect hats from $1.98-$2.98. Mrs. W. H. Bentzen at 2658 N. Milwaukee has items in crepe, maline, and hemp. Repeatedly the ad states “Mrs”, tho the milliner found remains very much a miss until many years later. Miss Vilhelmina Bentzen was 24 in the 1910 census and living at home with her parents and younger sisters around the corner at 2651 N. Kimball. By 1920 she and her folks had moved to 2704 N. Albany. Her father, Charles, was the Fire Chief at the Mandel’s Dept store, so one could well imagine she visited the millinery dept downtown to feed her creativity. Wilheminia marries in 1937 in New Orleans, to a dentist, Charles Weinrich. They are in Louisana for some years before returning to Chicago, tho in 1940 she is no longer working.

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Chic satin hats are now the feature, ranging from $5 to $13.75. They also point out the newest Paris creations left just 10 days ago. An ocean voyage, plus over land by train took more than that to arrive in Chicago.small_044

It is all well and fine to read of such loveliness, but even better is the next page practical article on “How May Husband Best Bear the Easter Bonnet Shock.” Two fictional women have a discussion on how to connive the husbands into getting a new hat.

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The front page of the last Sunday edition before Easter has the amusing cartoon of a large hat ready to trap an unsuspecting gentleman. One can interpret it in a couple of ways. Is she snaring him to hopefully make him her betrothed? Or snaring him to them go and get a new hat?

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Page 4 ads in this edition include the Chicago Feather shop, at 107 S. State with hats for $10, tho the Dress Easter hats ran $13.50-$25, and the New York Hat shop in the Stratford Hotel, at Michigan and Jackson for $8, $9 and $10. Many stores followed with hats in their Easter ads, including Matthews, Mesiro at 202 S. Michigan Ave/Pullman Building, Emporium World at 28 S. State, Siegel-Cooper, The Boston Store, The Fair, Hillman’s, Lloyd’s Bargain Store, and Rothschild’s “Chicago made. ” One of the prettiest ads was for Leslie’s millinery.

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OF course Mandels had a full page ad. Some lovely creations were only $15.

Monday brings the ads from Charles A. Stevens, Carson, Pirie Scott and Co, and Marshall Field to get those last minute shoppers moving.

It would be grand to know how many hats were sold for Easter in 1913 by the sales staff. It would also be grand to know how many milliners worked long hard hours to get those creations ready for the sales floor. Hopefully they were not working more than the legal limit of a 10 hour day for 6 days a week at Mandels, tho plenty of places ignored this regulation at the height of the season.

Wish more information on Mandel Bros store? Check out this earlier entry on them, Chicago Millinery History- Mandel Bros Department Store.

 

Chicago Millinery History: Meyers March 17, 2017

Filed under: Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,fashion,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 7:40 pm
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Meyers Fine Millinery was clever in the creation of their trade card for their store at 135 State. While some shops may have used a stock drawing design of flowers, or pretty women, Meyers chose to feature actress Mary  Anderson. This helps date the card, as Mary was at the height of popularity from the late 1870s thru the 1880s. She retired from performing, as she was engaged in 1890 to quite the gentleman. She had met the Prince of Wales while performing in London, as she related in1886, but squelched rumors of two potential suitors at that time.
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1886/05/01/page/12/article/story-and-sketch

The one who caught her heart was yet to come along. “In 1890 she married Antonio Fernando de Navarro (1860–1932), an American sportsman and barrister of Basque extraction, who was a Papal Privy Chamberlain of the Sword and Cape. She became known as Mary Anderson de Navarro.” This is just a tidbit from the extensive entry on Wikipedia on “our Mary.”
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1890/03/12/page/9/article/mary-andersons-future-husband

A theater in Louisville, KY is named for her, as she started her singing career there.
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1909/07/18/page/17/article/display-ad-11-no-title
No wonder she lent her image to a trade card for hats, as Louisville is still a hotbed of hat activity. The Kentucky Derby has run every year since 1875, and one wonders if Mary was one of the estimate 10,000 who attended.

But back to Meyers. Trade cards were very collectible, and the picture of Mary made it highly desired to glue into an album. Sadly when this card was removed, it made the print less legible. Essentially Meyers wanted all to know they carried “Trimmed Hats & Bonnets, Children’s Hats, Children’s Lace & Plush Caps, Ostrich Tips, Beaver, Derby Straw and Felt Hats. A large assortment of Mourning Goods always in hand. Ornaments and all the leading novelties at the well known LOW PRICES. ”
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Other research indicates nothing to be found on which Meyers created this shop. Looking thru many Meyers in the 1870 and 1880 census one finds many carpenters and stone masons. At least they might have made enough money for the Mrs. to shop at Meyers for a new hat.

 

 

Chicago Millinery History: Martha Rahl March 11, 2017

pullmanbldg2

Martha Rahl had quite the location for her millinery establishment at 202 S. Michigan Ave, the Pullman Building, seen above, at the corner of Michigan and Adams. This is the west side of the street, across from the Art Institute of Chicago. The block west of Michigan was Wabash, and on that entire block north of Adams were the millinery meccas of Gage Hat and Edson Keith, primarily wholesalers. It was an excellent location, her last location.

downtown street building drawing of lots

Looking at the drawing of the Pullman Building in block 5, https://chicagology.com/goldenage/goldenage067/, one sees the western half of the block north, block 4, with the Palmer House across from it. The Pullman building had been built in 1893, by the Pullmans who built rail cars, with two other mega buildings south of the downtown area. They put their executives in offices of this ten story building, and included the first floor of shops. At the time of this map it shows the south edge of the Pullman building butting the Palmer House stables,(Red arrow), probably an unpleasantly fragrant place. By the time Martha had her shop in the Pullman Building the stables had been replaced in 1904 by the Chicago Orchestra Hall, now known as Symphony Center. The other shops in the Pullman building in 1926 included linens, gloves and corsets, books, cigars, the Tip Top Café, and best of all, Fannie May Candy.

Fannie May candy has been around since their first shop in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle, north of the financial district, several blocks west of Michigan Ave. By the time we find Martha’s shop listed in a directory in 1923, Fannie May had 22 shops, making their $.70/lb candy quite the draw for anyone near the building. That foot traffic could only have augmented the foot traffic into Martha’s shop as well.

Backtracking to the earlier years for Martha and we find her listed in a directory for Houston, TX in 1900, as a trimmer at Miss Katie G. Welch, located at 615 Main St, and rooming at 818 Main St. Katie also roomed at the same location.

Sometime after that she came to Chicago, as the first ad we find is in 1905.The shop was at 30 N. Michigan and remained there till she moved a block away, sometime after 1917.

Martha does not appear in the 1900 Polk directory, the 1904, 1906, 1910 Blue Book, nor oddly the 1910 directory, yet she advertised in the Blue Book back in 1905. The same ad appears in the 1915 issue of the Blue Book, so she did not give up on it entirely.She appears in a 1917 Directory still at 30 N. Michigan, suite 615.

The 1910 census has Martha, 26, as a milliner living as a lodger at 2018 Independence in Chicago. A residence address in 1923 is given for 4462 Woodlawn, and her occupation is listed as ladies ready to wear. http://www.chicagoancestors.org/sites/default/files/downloads/1923ra-re.pdf

ChicagoBB1915_0820

It seems likely Martha read thru the 1904 issue and looked at the millinery competition, thinking she could do well in reaching out to the biggest spenders. Maison Novelle ran a full page ad just inside the cover. The ten milliners with ads were scattered around the city. None had shops on Michigan Ave, tho two had locations in the Masonic Temple. Many other shops existed, they just did not advertise in the Blue Book.

The Masonic Temple was built in 1892, and was considered the tallest building in Chicago from 1895-1899 at twelve stories. It’s location on the northeast corner of Randolph and State is now a Walgreens, across from Macy’s store, the former Marshall Field store.

Chicago_Masonic_Temple_Building

The two milliners from the Masonic Temple were Mrs. Marguerite Prucka on the fifth floor, and Madam Hunt on the twelfth floor. Madam Hunt’s ad also included her title as President of the National Milliners Association.

Hats were sold in department stores, apparel shops and millinery shops. Knowing who your overall competition is remains a fundamental aspect of successful marketing, especially in the immediate vicinity, including apparel stores and department stores.
Two of the big players nearby in the high end fashion apparel stores would be Blum’s and Leschin.

Blum’s Vogue

624 S. Michigan Avenue was built in 1908 for the Chicago Musical College,  headed by Florenz Ziegfield Sr. Mr. Ziegfeld was the father of the Broadway Follies producer Flo Ziegfield, Jr. Topping off at 15 floors  in 1922 they had the building renamed the Blum Building.

Leschin

318 Michigan Ave South.
In 1916 Jack Leschin, who had handled the millinery department for the now defunct Ferguson Dept store, opened in the old Ferguson location. Capitalized at $100,000 he partnered with several who had been associated with Bonwit Teller in NYC.
In 1921 “Samuel Leschin, milliner” leased space for 10 years fronting State St at Jackson for millinery. Is this a relative of Jack’s?

An ad from Leschin on March 4, 1925 features a lace and taffeta dress for $75. That is a high end dress, $933.37 in 2017 dollars.
Oct 8 1929 full page ad features Leschin designs, including draped on the head hats for $18.50. Since the Stock Market Crash of 1929 started Oct 24, one wonders how many shoppers regretted some of their expensive fashion investments. The Depression impacted all retail, but Leschin weathered things well enough to move to classier digs in 1931.

Department stores two blocks to the west of Michigan Ave, on State Street, drew a high concentration of shoppers.

Perhaps Martha had the time to read the Sunday Tribune newspaper on March 1, 1925. That year Easter was April 12, so the last minute rush was not upon her just yet.
To look at the ads for millinery from her closest competitors, one finds a variety of price point items. Mid-priced and lower priced millinery could be found at $5 for Felts at Mandels, Hillmans, with a 26th Anniversary Sale, of 5000 hats at $4.45, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. at $3.45-$3.85.
mar 2 1925 fields ad
Since Marshall Field and Co. did not advertise on Sunday, one would need to wait for the full page fashion ad of Monday, March 2, 1925. The drawing in the center of the page shows the narrow lines of the dresses, and the cloche hats. It was Spring Opening that day, with plenty of loyal customers headed downtown to make their selection. The paragraph on the right side of the print section advises the reader to select a “Wee Sleekit Beastie” rhinestone pin of horses, owls, elephants, dogs, peacocks and lions for $1.50, as they “are quite correct for Spring bonnets.”

carsons ad mar 2 1925

Carson Pirie Scott and Co featured some hats at $15 in their ad.

mar 1 1925 fashion article
One of the fashion articles March 1 indicated the silhouette had not really changed, and an ad for the high end Johnson & Harwood completed the other half of the page. Three pages filled with the women of society and club activities would have caught Martha’s attention, as her clientele were likely to include some society ladies. Keep in mind the Blue Book ad twenty years before which Martha ran in 1905, and in 1915, had her hats costing $10-$150.

Directories for the city with the Pullman Building mention the Martha Rahl shop thru 1930. It makes one wonder if the Depression took it’s toll on the business.

Sadly tho, it seems the spring fashion pages of 1925 were the last for Martha herself, as for unknown reasons she died on July 19, 1925. She had lived on the south side, and was buried at a south side cemetery, Oak Woods at 1035 East 67th Street.

Martha may have only lived 43 years, but she saw a lot of hats from Michigan to Houston to Chicago, having had one of the finest shops on Michigan Avenue.

Name: Martha Rahl
Birth Date: 30 Sep 1881
Birth Place: Battle Creek, Michigan
Death Date: 19 Jul 1925
Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Burial Date: 21 Jul 1925
Cemetery Name: Oakwoods
Death Age: 43
Occupation: Manager – apparel shop
Race: White
Marital Status: S
Gender: Female
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Father Name: Walter Rahl
Father Birth Place: Scarnton, Pennsylvania
Mother Birth Place: New York, New York
 

Chicago Millinery History: Directory 1923 Comparison of Clark St & Milwaukee Ave. March 8, 2017

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Cecelia Heselbarth Chicago Milliner

The 1923 Polk Directory was the precursor of what would become the “phone book.”
On two pages there were many dozens of milliners and millinery shops listed. Intense desire exists to learn all about each and every one, but it would take years of research to uncover the lives of these people. Not that it won’t be attempted.

Besides wanting to know about the individuals, another question arose when two areas were selected to examine how many milliners or shops were in two different areas of the city.
Two diagonal streets were selected on the north side. One, Clark Street, was chosen as it was an area in which the last long successful milliner had his last shop.

Having made hats for fifty years, Raymond Hudd had shops in the early years on Elm and then on Oak. But Clark Street was the one some Chicagoans may still remember, as he closed in 2000.

The other diagonal street, Milwaukee Av. was also an outreach from the Loop, the downtown of the city, tho it was further west. It was a main thoroughfare for expansion. It was selected for this review, not based on some scientific or logical basis, but as it was the western edge of my neighborhood in my youth. Hopefully this review could trigger some recall of hat shops still present later, in the 1950s. Nothing else has brought those hat shops back to mind so far.

Clark St from North Ave to Diversy, 1600-2800 North, covers 12 blocks = 4 hat shops:

Celia Heselbarth 2335 Clark

The Agnes Shoppe 2455 Clark

Authenrieth and Streat 2556 Clark

Mrs. Hortense Bates 2743 Clark

That seemed like a lot of Hat shops in a small area. It did not include cross streets, which also likely had shops.

Milwaukee Ave from 2400 to 3000 North, covers 6 blocks=8 shops.

Minnie Levinstein 2453 Milwaukee

Tillie Anderson 2533 Milwaukee

Mary E. Luckman 2534 Milwaukee

Ella Evans 2638 Milwaukee

Celia C. Mall 2648 Milwaukee

Josephine Kaminski 2846 Milwaukee

Mrs. Pauline Schlesinger 2868 Milwaukee

Bartholmae Michalski 2978 Milwaukee

Perhaps this section does not have as many cross streets with more hat shops.

In trying to determine why there would be so many less shops on Clark St, one wonders if the proximity to the Loop for the Clark St area residents took them downtown to shop, as there was an intense clustering of options there. Perhaps the residents of the Clark St. area had greater access to transportation to get down town, and more disposable income to spend on more, and more costly hats downtown.

The residents of Milwaukee Ave would have been heavily immigrant groups, with perhaps less English language fluency to deal with downtown, and less comfort in traveling further into the even more intense urban area of the Loop. Less disposable income may have led those shoppers to chose to buy locally where additional funds were not spent on transportation.

It seems possible the rents charged for shop areas along Clark were higher than along Milwaukee, but finding factual information on this in 1923 looks like it could be a major task.

Anyone have some other thoughts why there would be more shops on Milwaukee than Clark? (Both had probably equitable open lands, Clark with Lincoln Park, and  Milwaukee with Logan Square and park area.) So many questions, no real answers.

Now back to those dozen milliners and shops. Ancestry.com reveals many tidbits of the past. Census records give insight to the lives of many.

Clark St.

Of the four on Clark St, the one named Agnes has too little information to explore. We are down to three to investigate.

Authenrieth and Streat 2556 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Authenrieth is not seen, with the appropriate page unavailable. (Who tore that out? Shame on you! ) Mrs. Ruth Streat lived at 927 Beuna. Nothing further has been found.

Mrs. Hortense Bates 2743 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Hortense is listed as living at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Those would be pretty nice accommodations in 1923, leading one to think Hortense had a good millinery business, even tho nothing further has been found.

Celia Heselbarth 2335 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Celia is listed as 2335 Clark do. The meaning of the abbreviation “do” is not in the key to abbreviations, so one makes a guess. DO could mean directly over, as it was common for shops to have owners living on the premises.

Cecelia Heselbarth is the one from Clark St where plenty of information could be found. She was born in 1870 in IL and died 11/28/1953 in Chicago IL. She is buried at St Boniface Cemetery on Clark St in Chicago, and shares a headstone with sister Sophia Schirra born 1869.

In the 1900 Census Cecelia, listed as Sadie, age 28, born in IL, with a mother born in WI and a father born in Germany, is married to Robert Hasselbarth, 34, born in IL in 1865. They have been married for 5 years and have no children. Robert is a clerk, and Sadie works in millinery. They live at 274 Lincoln, an address which changed when the city renumbered in 1909 to about the 700 block of Lincoln, between Huron and Superior, but it no longer remains. (There is a family tree on Ancestry which lists Celia’s married name as Heselbarth, and maiden name as Dietrich, with a census listing a father who was a brick mason, and sister Sophia born in 1869 The picture at top of this blog post if of Celia/Cecelia from the Family Tree from JGurion on the Bohman Family Tree http://person.ancestry.com/tree/24136540/person/1997961176/facts )
A 1904 city directory lists Mrs. Celia Heselbarth at 274 Lincoln, under the heading of Milliners.

In the 1910 census Cecelia is still living with Robert, married 13 years with no children. She is a proprietor of a millinery store, and Robert is a foreman in an enameling factory. This is the last that can be found of Robert. They were living at 2265 Lincoln, which in 2017 has two floors of apartments above the Kelsy’s Bar.

In the 1920 census Cecelia is widowed, and rents to a “roomer” another woman, Mollie Weishaar, age 30, who is a milliner. They are still living at 2265 Lincoln. Cecelia still owns a millinery shop, which could well be located at 2335 Clark, as found in the 1923 Polk Directory. (2335 N. Clark in 2017 is a Byline Bank, located next door to the Reebie Storage, with a most notable façade.) The Ancestry.com family tree includes pictures of Cecelia, Mollie/Amalia, and Sophia together.

In the 1930 census Cecelia and Sophia Shirra are both widowed, and Cecelia is listed as a “roomer”, and Amalia Weishaar, 38, a milliner. Cecelia still owns her millinery shop. Now all three women are at 4830 N. Damen. Sophia owns the building at a value of $7,000, and rents an upstairs flat to a family for $42.50/month.

In 1940 it is just Sophia and Celia, 70, now referred to as a sister, has her shop, and they are still living together. They are at the same 4830 N. Damen in a $3,000 valued two flat owned by Sophia, with a family of five as renters upstairs with a rent of $22/mo. All had been there since at least 1935. It is impressive that they were able to maintain their lifestyle to keep the home during the Depression.

As the 1950 census is not available for review, it is unknown where the story led for Cecelia/Celia, and she died in 1953.

Milwaukee Av:

Minnie Levinstein 2453 Milwaukee

In the census on ancestry.com much is revealed. Since Minnie was never married,  she is one of the easiest to track back in time. She was born June 11, 1896, and died May 26, 1977.

In 1900 the census has Minnie at age three living at 10 Newberry, in a two-flat building. She is with her parents and six other siblings. Her father, “Himan”, was a tailor with his own shop. Her mother, Anna was not employed, but with so many children at home, she worked, probably night and day. The oldest son, Simon worked for Western Electric. Both parents were from Russia and spoke Yiddish as their language. They had come to the US in 1880, and were naturalized in 1890.

In 1910 Minnie is 13. She is living with her parents, and her father is now called “Herman”, 49 yrs old. This census again asks her mother how many children she had and how many were presently alive. Anna had eight children, but only six were alive, with Minnie’s younger sister Bessie no longer included among those living in the house. They are living at 872 Paulina, in a three-flat building.

In 1920 Minnie is 23, and the only other sibling is Benjamin, a drug delivery person, living with their parents, Hyman, 60 yrs old, a tailor, and Anna, 55 yrs old. Minnie’s occupation of milliner was transcribed as  “MUDLER.” They rent at 1351 Keeler Ave.

In 1923 the Polk Directory in the residential section it lists Minnie as a milliner with her shop, but her residence is 3547 Van Buren.

In 1930 Minnie is 33, a milliner, tho now a stepdaughter, and living with her mother Anna, now listed as P. Anna, 62, and Anna’s new husband, Benjamin Counselbaum. The stepfather is retired, but it seems possibly the economic situation for them has improved, as the stepfather owns their home, valued at $12,000. They lived in a greystone two flat, still standing, at 3547 Van Buren, where Minnie had moved before 1923. One wonders if her mother had moved with her, and hence met her new husband to be, Benjamin? They have endured the stock market crash of 1929, but the most of the Depression is still ahead, and likely great jeopardy for her millinery business.

minnie levinstein couselbaum van buren house

In 1940 Minnie is living in a large group hotel, the West Manor Hotel at 210 S. Ashland, one of 115 residents. She has been there since at least 1935. It is likely her mother and stepfather have both died during the past decade. The quality of life may have been a challenge, as during the past year she has only worked 25 weeks, as a dressmaker, for an income of $500. As little as that seems, many of the other women living there did not make a lot more. Many nurses lived there, some employed at Cook County hospital, and some at private hospitals. Incomes for a state hospital nurse was noted for 26 weeks at $700, and at county hospital for 39 weeks at $500. On the low end of wages was a woman employed for 20 weeks for $300 as a designer of commercial art. On the high end of wages were two women, one a public school teacher for 38 weeks who earned $1,250. The other was a Board of Education clerk, for 47 weeks, who received $1,438.
Tho there were rough times for Minnie/Minette, at some point she moved to California. Her last Social Security benefit was paid to her at 91606 North Hollywood, in LA, CA. She died May 26, 1977, with her address of 90260 Lawndale, LA, CA. She is buried at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardenia, CA. Her headstone reads Beloved Aunt.

Tillie Anderson 2533 Milwaukee page not found in 1923 residential section

Mary E. Luckman 2534 Milwaukee
1923 Polk Directory lists Res at 3120 Logan Blvd.See other blog post for the life of Mary:

Ella Evans 2638 Milwaukee 1923 residential section 2436 Wilson

Celia C. Mall 2648 Milwaukee. 1923 residential section 2634 Rockwell

Josephine Kaminski 2846 Milwaukee ?1923 residential section 2135 18th

Mrs. Pauline Schlesinger 2868 Milwaukee
Married ?to Chas Schlesinger at same address

Bartholmae Michalski 2978 Milwaukee

What was happening with hats in 1923? The Flapper era was in full swing, just as was Prohibition. Most often the Cloche comes to mind for the leading style.
Feb 1, 1923 the Chicago Tribune has a full page of Carson Pirie Scott  women’s fashion items. Hats are presented with some turbans in silk and straw. Prices range from $22-$40. “Special mention is made of the Poke or ‘Cloche’ as in Vogue in Paris.” In the Help Wanted section there were six ads for millinery workers.
For the more budget minded, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co advertised $5 sport hats in Velour the next day.
Mandel Bros gets into the act Feb 3 with 500 Youthful hats, “for school girls and their older sisters,” from $5-$8.75.
The Sunday Tribune of Feb 4 has a top half page article on fashion from Paris with four ensembles including hats. The other half of the page is an ad from Charles A. Stevens, a fashion house of high regard. The section featuring hats indicates they range from $18.50 in the Moderately Priced Millinery on the Fifth Floor. The Help Wanted ads for millinery workers had tripled since just three days before.

Spring hat season was coming alive. In honor of International Womens Day today, let’s tip our hats to the dozen milliners of a dozen blocks in Chicago in 1923. Certainly by March 8, 1923 they were knee deep in hats, since Easter was only weeks away on April 24, 1923.

 

 

Chicago Millinery History Directory 1923 Mary E. Luckman

Filed under: fashion,hat,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 3:49 pm
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The 1923 Polk Directory holds a wealth of information about the abundance of milliners in Chicago. But not all one could hope for, as it was not until the 1929 Directory where wives were included with the womens given names provided in the residential pages. Fortunately, Mary was still single when she had her shop.

http://www.chicagoancestors.org/sites/default/files/downloads/1923businessl-m.pdf#page=31&zoom=240,323,-3

mary luckman logan blvd home 1923

Mary’s shop was at 2534 N. Milwaukee Avenue, but it is sadly torn down. Mary lived at 3120 Logan Blvd. This is a lovely spot across from parkway, in a lovely neighborhood just a couple blocks northeast of the store. The present day picture from Google Earth shows the building just as it was when Mary lived there. More importantly to me, it is just as it was when I walked past it everyday to take the bus to high school in the mid 1960s.

What was Mary’s story before the first indication she was creating a business for herself in millinery? Ancestry.com reveals so many tidbits one can create a storyline.

Mary E. Luckman is a name which shows up in the 1910 census in Dickinson, MI. This Mary is 10 years old and had been born in England. She was living with her parents, who had seven children, only four who were alive in 1910.

In 1920 Mary E Luckman, born in England, age 20, is a servant in the home of Gilbert A. Bliss, at 5625 Kenwood, a teacher of mathematics at the University of Chicago. All has not gone well for Gilbert, tho his two children, Elizabeth, 5 yrs old, and Ames, 16 months old, likely had plenty of attention, but no mother.

Back on June 15, 1912, 36 year old Gilbert married Helen Hurd, then 24. Elizabeth was born in IL, likely Chicago, about 1915. Ames was born Sept 4, 1918. WWI was in full swing, and Gilbert submitted his draft registration, age 42, on Sept 12, 1918, listing Helen as his emergency contact. What uncertain times for Helen, with a 3 year old and a newborn to face the fact she could lose her husband in the war. Somehow those worries were flipped backwards, as Helen was dead by the 1920 census, and it seems Gilbert never had to serve abroad, as the war ended Nov 11, 1918.

In the 1920 census, living with the Gilberts, and Mary E. Luckman, were two other mature women. One was a cousin, Blanche E Dickinson, 53, from IA, who was a kindergardner, working at school. The other woman was Alice E. Fischer, 55, a housekeeper from England.

Life changed quickly in 1920 at the Gilbert household, which probably prompted Mary to explore other work options. Gilbert remarried on Oct. 12, 1920, to Olive Hunter, 36. In the 1930 census it is just the two adults with the two children, and no other helpers were there. Did the stock market crash of 1929 cause the rest of the helpers to be sent away? Had Mary left not long after the marriage as the new bride may have preferred to be the mother and complete caretaker for her newly gained children?

The 1923 Polk Directory provided the listing of Mary’s shop on Milwaukee Av and living close by, but it was not long till things changed again, with the likely closure or sale of the shop.

April 30, 1924 Mary Luckman married John Gaecke, of Wisconsin, and moved to Wisconsin, at times living with his parents. One wonders what her hat looked like which she wore to her wedding. And what became of all the hats in the shop when she moved on to WI?

Somewhere along the way John and Mary moved to Pinellas, Florida, where they both died; Mary in Oct. 26,1980. One can just imagine Mary knew all the good Green Bay, WI hat shops before finding the warmth of Florida.

In honor of International Women’s Day today, here is a salute to Mary Luckman Gaecke, who found her way from Michigan to Illinois, to Wisconsin, to Florida, most likely with plenty of hats safely packed for the journey.