Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

I Knew Her as “Aunt Mae”

In 1895, Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Reddick and Laura Bradley were married in Wapello, Iowa. The third of ten children was Lucinda Mae, born to them in the tiny village of Newport on October 16, 1899. Mae dropped out of school after 8th grade to help cook, sew and care for her father’s large family.

After A. J. and Laura Reddick moved their family to Keosauqua in the Spring of 1916, Mae met Frank McIntosh, whom she married on May 14, 1919. They made their home in Ottumwa, where he worked at Morrell’s Packing Plant.

Their first son (Francis Willis II) was born March 6, 1920. A second son (Leslie Jean) came along on July 8, 1923.

While Jean was a small baby, Mae began training at the Rose Beauty Shop in Ottumwa to become a beauty operator. At the same time, her husband began attending Still College in Des Moines to become an osteopath. Mae trained for 3 ˝ months, and opened Van Buren County’s first beauty shop in December, 1924. Located at the Russell House in downtown Keosauqua, it was approximately where the little park exists beside the bank.

Without running water in the building, she offered a shampoo and Marcel for one dollar. Each day she filled a 30-gallon copper tank with water, took it to the shop and warmed it by placing an electric heater in the tank. Permanent waves came along in 1927, given by “spiral” equipment hooked up overhead, and these took four hours to complete, while hair dryers had to be hand-held. A haircut cost 25 cents but one of the four-hour permanents would cost about $10. Mae worked day and night, whenever a customer needed her service. She supported herself and two young sons, and helped her husband through medical college.

Times were sometimes tough and all of her equipment was purchased “on time.” On her first day of business at the Keosauqua location, she took in a total of ten cents. Her sister-in-law, Lola McIntosh, had purchased a neck clip. On the following day, she felt a little better as she managed $9.10 in proceeds. One day a salesman showed her a permanent wave machine in Washington, Iowa. Deciding that her business greatly needed the device, she purchased it with a check made out for $125, confident that the bank would loan her the money. The next day the banker refused and tried to discourage her from buying it.

Finally, she had to confess her dilemma. He loaned her the money on a six-month note and it was transacted just in time, for during the following week the bank closed due to the Depression. However, she repaid her loan within the time frame of agreement.

Her husband graduated as an osteopath in 1928, opened a practice in Richland, and three months later moved the practice to Keosauqua. Three years went by. Mae had a chance to buy a shop in Cedar Rapids, and after much deliberation, took advantage of the opportunity. She moved to Cedar Rapids to work in her shop-- “Madame Mae’s Salon de Beaute” in the Roosevelt Hotel.

In the meantime, her husband became unfaithful and asked her for a divorce, which was granted in the Fall of 1933. On Feb. 5, 1934 she married a pioneer in broadcasting named Harry Paar.

Paar was one of the first five men to obtain a license for commercial broadcasting. He owned and operated the radio station that eventually became WMT of Cedar Rapids, and even experimented with early television. Paar died of a heart attack on November 24, 1935.

On February 24, 1939 she married Fred Fiala, who was a stone crusher and road builder. That summer, Mae sold her three beauty shops. In 1940, Fred had a contract to crush stone used on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, so they bought a house in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. This was a very good move for the couple, as they became very wealthy from the Pennsylvania ventures.

Fred went to work for L. B. Smith, Inc. And ten years later, bought him out. Within another decade, Fred owned 17 properties in Pennsylvania including quarries, farms, a furniture store, a cement cesspool factory and a huge estate near Mechanicsburg where he housed his collections of cars, fire engines, guns, antique clocks, electric trains and mustache cups. Mae collected rare buttons.

Before and after his death on August 21, 1975 Fred and Mae gave generously to many charities in and around Harrisburg. My Aunt Mae passed away on December 28, 1993 at the ripe old age of 94.

(some of the information is taken from "Reddick, The Family of George Washington Reddick, 1799-2002" with family descriptions by Mae's son, F. W. McIntosh II of Corona, CA with recollections by the late Laura Loeffler of Keosauqua, and other relatives.)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick