I Remember Mama...

TEOLINDA S. MAHLER
(1882 - 1965)

 

 

 

 

Mother about 1920

OCTOBER 1980

I REMEMBER MAMA... as almost the prototype mother of the twenties and thirties. She was a small woman of not quite five feet and rather dainty in her appearance even though she had a strong character. A devoted and loving mother to her four children, she grieved deeply at the death in infancy of her fifth and youngest child. Besides working as an electrologist, she was also quite artistic. She had a lovely voice and played both the piano and violin nicely. Mother often entertained her children and guests by singing and playing at family gatherings.
I REMEMBER MAMA... telling us the story of how she met Father. Because she had an unwanted hair problem on her face, she had replied to a display ad in the local newspaper. It was Father who treated her and they later were married and settled into their house which is still in the family today and on whose premises the family business has continued since 1900.
After their marriage, Father taught my mother the art of electrolysis. As a child, my earliest recollection of Mother as an electrologist was that I was always curious about the people who came to her for treatment. I wondered if they were all her friends. It was only later that I learned they were coming as patients.
Other than my father and mother, I do not recall any electrologists practicing in the area at that time, although there might have been one in Providence. At any rate, there were no salons in those days, and Mother conducted her practice in our upstairs library where she had her professional galvanic equipment. Because the industry was then in its neophyte state, treatments were almost entirely facial and all of Mother's patients were women.
The professional epilators which Mother used at that time were made by Mr. Manes Fuld, proprietor of the Chloride of Silver Company in Baltimore, Maryland. His company had been chosen over several others because of his good reputation, his expertise in the field, and the number of products which he made. Mother and Father talked regularly with him on the telephone, and he also visited them to discuss professional epilation equipment. Epilators made by Mr. Fuld were also sold by Mother and Father to their students and to the few electrologists just starting their practices in the late teens and twenties of this century.
One of the questions asked frequently of me now is if Mother did any teaching during her active years as an electrologist. The answer is "yes"... she taught quite a number of people. Her remembrances of the problems encountered in attempting to teach different types of people were most helpful to me later when I became an instructor.
I REMEMBER MAMA... taking over the running of our family business when Father died in 1934. It was not until the middle of the thirties that her children came into it also, two of them eventually becoming the owners of the company now known as The Instantron Company, one of the major manufacturing and supply companies in the industry today.
Mother retired from the business shortly after World War II when her three sons returned from the service. Her interest in it remained active, however, and there were many times when her experience as a business manager and as an electrologist proved invaluable to us during our early years in the company. When I look back upon the era that I recall beginning about 1925, it seems to me that the profession should have developed more during those years. That it did not do so is because people at that time were not quite ready to accept electrolysis as a cosmetic treatment. Acceptance enough to discuss it openly did not arrive until the fifties and sixties.
I believe that it took a great deal of courage on Mother's part, in those very early days of electrolysis, to go to a person she did not know at all in a profession which was almost equally unknown. I like to think that this action of hers illustrates an independence in her character which sustained her all through her life. This is HOW I REMEMBER MAMA...

Arthur Y. Mahler
Vice President
(Retired)