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