Metamora's First Beautician

Submitted by: Shirley A. Adams

    When I heard that Lena was the first beautician in Metamora, I thought she would be an excellent person to interview for our yesteryears feature on the web-site.

    Magdaline Tresa Engst Harbers is a perky lady who in August of 2003 celebrated her 100th birthday. Lena lives in a Snyder Village retirement apartment.

    My first question was: Is that true that you were the first hairdresser in Metamora? Her quick response was "That's right!" She was anxious to tell me her story.

    "When I was 20 years old and working in the homes of the rich people on Moss Avenue in Peoria, I decided to save my money and go to Liberty Beauty School on Liberty Street in Peoria. Would you believe it cost $50? Well it did! 

     After I graduated from Beauty School I looked for a place to set up my shop. Mrs. Veronica Sheridan had a millinery shop. It was located between the American Legion Hall and Dr. Baldi's dentist office where the parking lot area is today. In the back part of the little gray home I was able to have a room. I didn't need much space. I only had a little table with a table mirror on it and a chair. In exchange for my rent, sometimes I would buy a new hat from Mrs. Sheridan or do her hair. 

     My first shop was only open on Thursday afternoons. That was my day off from my Moss Avenue housekeeping work. My brother, Carl Schaidle, Sr. would come to Peoria and pick me up in his Model T Ford and bring me to Metamora for my appointments. Ladies would come to the shop with their hair already washed. I had two curling irons, one small and one large one and a machine to heat the curling irons. Can you imagine I only charged fifty cents to marcel wave their hair. They would look beautiful when they left the shop. Later I had an upstairs room next door for a shop. I also lived and worked for a wealthy doctor and his family in Toulon and I would do some hair work there, too.

     Some of the ladies who visited my shop were the Isch Sisters, Madeline and Wilma who were brought in the family car by their father, John F. Isch. Others were Rob's sister Mabel Fleming, Maude Belsly, Agnes Malone and teachers from the high school. I marcelled hair for brides. I remember Elvina Bockler coming to my folks house in Germantown to have me marcel her hair for her wedding to Adolph Noe. Oh, she looked so pretty.

     When I was 23 I met Rob Harbers at a barn dance in Germantown. We were married in 1926 at Lourdes Catholic Church and moved to Peoria. We lived on Bourland Street. Such a little house and noisy, too! The street car ran past our house. I'll never forget it. We paid $25.00 a month for rent. I opened my beauty shop in this home for neighbors and friends. Bobby and Don were both born while we lived in Peoria. When Bobby was six years old we moved back to Germantown."

     Lena proudly showed me her State of Illinois registration card dated 1934 and a curling iron used in her shop.

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