FrouFrou 4 YouYou

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,, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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.

lillian russell 1913

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.

small mandel

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.

front page

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?


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.


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.

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.”

A theater in Louisville, KY is named for her, as she started her singing career there.
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. ”
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


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,, 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.


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.


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.


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


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. 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 )
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 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 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.,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? 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.


Chicago Millinery History: Mandel Bros Department Store February 5, 2017

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Mandel Brothers started in Chicago in 1855 and has a well documented history.

Much of the information provided here came from online archived Chicago Tribune newspapers. One might think looking for advertisements from Mandels that year would be enlightening. Would be if any could be found. In the four page newspaper the ads perhaps comprised a total of one page, mostly small boxes of tiny print. Carpets, curtains and cod liver oil are likely grouped with menswear and embroideries. Advertising was yet to come into it’s own. For trendsetting, Carson, and Pirie, before Scott and Co, and then Marshall Field had great faith in news advertising; others followed suit.

With a presence on State Street, they ultimately gained even more success and stature, when located in a shopping area known for the retail leader, Field and Leiter, later known as Marshall Field and Co.

The obituary of Leon Mandel in 1911 shares the story of his arrival here from Germany in 1851 at the age of 10, leaving school at 13. He went to work at a large dry goods store, Ross and Foster, for $2/week. Five years later Leon and his brother were assisted by Ross in opening their first store, at Clark and Monroe.

If one consults the Chicago History Museum account, based upon the part of the Encyclopedia’s Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses (1820-2000), the story is somewhat different. “This retail enterprise, which would become one of Chicago’s leading department stores, was founded in 1855 by Bavarian immigrants Solomon Mandel and his uncle Simon Klein. Their first store was located on Clark Street. In 1865, after Solomon’s brothers Leon and Emanuel joined the firm, its name became Mandel Bros.”

The newspaper article on the death of Mr. Klein indicates that after the Chicago fire of 1871 that Klein opens his own store, and the Mandels opened their own store. What is actually the truth is hard to pick out from such diverse records.

The first major hurdle to survival for the fledgling entrepreneurs was the Panic of 1857. It seems Leon and Emanuel likely left school to earn money when times were challenging.

Mandels survived two fires, in 1871, the great Chicago Fire, and one in 1874.

During the weeks preceding the 1871 fire, the advertisements were primarily on the front  page of the still four page Chicago Daily Tribune paper. In the month following the fire, more advertising appears as still somewhat intact, tho relocated, stores wanted customers desperate for lost goods to find them, bumping the editions to six pages.

Oct 11 is the day after the fire, and the paper is only two pages. DB. Fisk announces opening at 57 W. Washington about Oct. 17. Hayes, GIbbons and Co had a tiny ad and would reopen within the week on State St. Keith Bros will be at 916 Prarie, which was their home.

Oct. 12, Gage (misspelled Gace, but it seems likely proofreading was sparse just then) has an ad with offices open at 419 Michigan ave, and states they will open at 961 Indiana, about Oct 20. As wholesalers they stocked stores in far away places as well as here.

H. W. and J. M. Wetherell, was advertising wholesale millinery to reopen, and they later did at 369 Wabash. Hard to believe this was so essential, but those were the days no women went out of the house without a hat.

In Nov 1871 Carsons also had reopened south of the burned out center of the city, at 138 22nd St. Mandels opened Nov 6, and was close by at 22nd and Michigan Ave. The fire had burned out both their original store, and the soon to open new store at Harrison and State.

A 1901 account of the life of the youngest brother, Emanuel, credits him with the discovery of the new site, and his successful effort to stock it. He had departed for NY in search of goods, but many others had as well. Instead he went to Detroit and purchased from their wholesale district, having the goods shipped back to Chicago. This allowed the store to reopen a week after the fire. That location was under his guidance for five more years.

“Within two days they had secured funds for reconstructing the State St building and were underway again when another fire in 1874 ruined the new structure.”

Nov 16, 1883 brought a lesser fire, confined to the 4th floor, which was the top floor, and shattered glass and water caused significant stock damage, fortunately insured. This fire was thought to be caused by overheated steam pipes.

Just when Mandels was fire free, on Feb 23. 1899 a massive fire at an adjoining store created a flood of their entire basement, with loss of mostly carpets and rugs. Manels had just opened a tea room in 1898, so they had plans to stay where they were. Perhaps there was a silver lining to the tragedy of the McClurg store, after all. Mandels purchased the land and had a new store ready to be occupied the start of 1901.

In 1911 Leon Madel’s death was marked by a small box ad in the Tribune on page 3.

The store published their own newspaper for employees. The Chicago History Museum had three issues, from June 26, 1912, Sept 18, 1912, and April 16, 1913. In a column they wrote called Personal Mention there were only three millinery staff included. In June 1912 we learn that Miss Frances Watkins of basement millinery would leave July 2 for a month in Kenosha, WI, and Miss Lee Mohr, “a faithful worker in basement millinery,” leaves July 2 for a month rest. She would be traveling to Canada and also her home in Buffalo, NY. In Sept the good news was shared that Miss Catherine Cornwall married George LeMeiux and left for a NY honeymoon. They would return after Oct. 15, to reside at 1035 N. Lawndale. These extended time off periods are a bit of a mystery. It is highly doubtful these were paid vacation times. Perhaps slow seasons allowed staff to take time off on their own. The April 1913 issue had rankings of the store departments for March sales leaders. Of 148 depts millinery came in number 41, and another millinery group came in 62. Spring sales of Easter wear would have accounted for their success.

On Sept. 21, 1930 the death of Fred Mandel, Leon’s son, was covered in an article. Before he left for Paris he had cut the cake back in March to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Most stores close upon the death of the founder, but this was a founder’s son, so the show had to go on. In this situation there was a 6 page ad running for the 75th anniversary. Hats were $10, and in the Subway Store, the bargain basement, the values were at $3.50.

A centennial celebration for the enterprise in 1955 was covered with an article, mentioning the original brothers Soloman, Leon, Simon and Emanuel joined in 1865, to carry forward the store of Simon Klein, their uncle, which had changed into Klein & Mandel in 1855. 1

Mandels was a leader in many ways, with the first live models for fashions, and in 1934, a unique shopping experience for a niche group, nuns.

“From the perspective of the secular world, one effect of religious practices and identities has been to define potential markets. Mandel Brothers, a downtown department store, took out a full-page ad in a 1934 publication of the Archdiocese of Chicago to announce the existence of private shopping accommodations for nuns.”

In 1929 a ladies life included the essential pastime of bridge. Mandel Bros was not to miss a marketing opportunity. They held presentations by a bridge authority in the new Bridge Shop in the Foreign Shop on the 9th floor. Ladies were encouraged to select tallies, prizes, even bridge tables to impress their friends.

Of course one could also shop for a stunning new hat to wear to the favorite bridge game. The KNOX “Piquant” felt hat could be fitted to your head in a choice of four colors for $15. Then again the newspaper reader may already have been even far more impressed by the full page ad from Marshall Field and Co that day. They offered a 2 hour commitment to make your hat, also fitted to your head, for a mere $11, but in SEVENTY-FIVE colors! Not everyone may have been tempted by those options. There was an ad for Charles A. Stevens with a clearance of 200 hats for $2.50, with values to $25.

For the careful reader of the page of school advertisements, there is one tiny box at the bottom of the Vogue School, for fashion. It is listed as held at Millinery Modes 116 S. Michigan Ave. One wonders how many customers thought it would be a swell idea to learn to make their own hats, and perhaps have a career as well. This might be a good idea if you did not love bridge.

The Vogue School was successful, an entity of the The Commercial Art School, started in 1916, and evolved into the Ray-Vogue School of Design. It lastly became the Illinois Institute of Art. (Not to be confused with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.)–_Chicago

The lives of the Mandel Bros were anything but dull. If fire did not cause havoc, crime had an impact.

In December 1935, the father Leon and  son Frederick, with their wives, were returning from the Stevens Hotel to the yacht, which was the home of  the Leon Mandels. Gunmen accosted their car, and a shootout ensued. The shootout was on the part of the robbers, the watchman from the yacht, and Mr. Mandel as well. Since the robbers had grabbed Mrs. Mandel as a shield, Mr. Mandel pulled a pistol from the car’s glove box. No one was caught, and fortunately no one died.

Certainly one would hope never to experience another gun battle, but such was not the case. At the top of this blog is one front page from the Chicago Tribune from Apr. 1957. A planned major burglary of the store was tipped off to the police and an undercover operation was in place. It had an ugly outcome.

What remains of buildings which held hats for Mandels? Perhaps only a warehouse at 3254 N. Halstead, where the name is in granite.

For an excellent overview of the company, this blog tells much the same as included above, plus far more.

Perhaps you wonder what the Mandels did with their wealth? Plenty of things, many philanthropic, but also fun related. In 1940 Fred Mandel, director of Mandel Bros. department store bought the Detroit Lions. (Since today is SuperBowl Sunday, it seemed fitting to add that timely tidbit.)



Chicago Millinery History: Marshall Field and Co. and Millinery Part 2 March 18, 2016


Marshall Filed and Co was cutting edge in the world of fashion. Millinery was no exception.

Hat selection was a fun tho perhaps time consuming process in the early years. Since there were so many choices a woman would be tempted by many, and in some situations, went home with more than one hat at a time.

Once the hat was selected, the transaction proceeded with cash or credit.

Cash or a check was a quick way to finalize a transaction. When the final “new” building at State and Washington was completed it made getting  your change a high tech event.”An extensive pneumatic-tube system, consisting of over 125,000 feet of tubing and 4,500 carriers, whisked customers’ money to the cashiering department where change was made and sent back to the originating sales counter.”

The Field’s approach to credit was very forward thinking early on in the history of the company. “It was the first store to offer revolving credit.”

Who is to be credited with this credit approach is sometimes murky. Harry Gordon Selfridge was a leading man in the retail operation. “He greatly increased the store’s advertising budget, expanded its package delivery system, and established a bargain basement to broaden the store’s appeal among less wealthy Chicagoans. He also promised customers complete satisfaction, offering easy credit, the right to return merchandise for a full refund, and numerous in-store amenities such as a personal shopping service and ladies’ tearoom, one of the first of its kind in the nation.”

Credit cards, or charge cards as they could be called, were issued by the store. There was also another approach locally. The Chicago Credit Plate Service, Inc. These Charga cards were a cardboard form slid into the metal embossed on the back frame. The cards were placed into a machine to run over the embossed part with carbon paper between the multi-layer form to transfer the owner info on the receipts.

This credit card was one where a customer could make purchases at several downtown stores, Marshall Field and Co, Mandel Bros, The Fair, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, and  Charles A. Stevens.


Later on the credit card had a different look. For the gold Rewards card of the 1990s, housed at the Smithsonian, an explanation is provided. “This Marshall Field’s Regards credit card belonged to Ms. Joanne Klein during the 1990s. While a store-issued charge card was once a way to extend credit to reputable customers, by the 1990s they became an avenue for department stores to encourage repeat shoppers and store loyalty by providing perks through store credit cards. For instance, Marshall Field’s Regards card granted the holder a free cup of coffee at the stores’ coffee bar. Store issued cards also gave the store insight into the consumer’s purchasing patterns and shopping behavior.”


One in the corporate color of green was a late issue:


Marshall Field and Co did not entirely endorse just using credit. They had banks that looked like earlier cards to save money. (Money one might imagine they hoped you would bring back to the store and spend there.)


Once the transaction was complete the hat went into a hat box. The most often found ones,on the market these days, are round tan/grey wood-look boxes. Some have a same paper as of the box gummed Fields name label. The gummed backing does not stay on well anymore.


If you need one of these boxes, here is one on Etsy:

They have a twisted cord handle, far better than later boxes with a string handle. The green shallow lid square boxes did not even have  a handle.  The oldest box is the one shown at the top of this blog. It is 18″round from the French Room, most likely back in the day when the big hat at a big price could be found in that most elite section of the store. The 28 Shop opened in  1941.

More info on the 28 Shop can be found in another post here, as well as on another blog, by Couture Allure:



This square hatbox is available with a hat from Fields by an Etsy seller, from Indiana. One wonders if the original owner made a trip to State Street to the Mecca of stores, Marshall Field and Co, or had the hat shipped.