Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mazie Krebs

Mazie Georgiana Krebs was born Mary Schoon on March 6, 1900, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her birth name was recorded in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Censuses. The California death index had her middle name and wrong birth year, 1901.

In the 1900 census, Krebs was the only child of John, a cattle dealer, and Mary, a German emigrant. The trio lived in St. Louis at 3816 Marine Avenue.

The 1910 census said Krebs lived with her maternal grandparents, Henry and Anna Krebs, in St. Louis at 3843 Missouri Avenue. Her grandfather worked at a cigar manufacturer.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 23, 1987, said

Krebs was born in St. Louis … but spent most of her childhood traveling the country with her theatrical family. Her parents divorced when she was a baby, and her mother, aunt and uncle formed a vaudeville group. [The Post-Dispatch, August 25, 1940, said the group was The DeMonieos.]

Salt Lake Telegram 6/20/1904


Krebs and her mother lived in south St. Louis when they were not on the road. She attended grade school here, then went to Cleveland High, where she won a scholarship to the Washington University School of Fine Arts.

The Hatchet, 1922 yearbook of Washington University

In the Post-Dispatch, August 25, 1940, Krebs explained how she paid for school, “I had to teach dancing at night to pay my other expenses. Carrying on two jobs became too much for me. It came to the point where I had to give up one or the other, so I gave up both.”

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Krebs as “May J Spoeri” whose parents were William, a city street inspector, and “May” Spoeri. They resided in St. Louis at 3944 Grand Avenue. Spoeri married Krebs’ mother in 1917 or 1918. William Spoeri Jr. (1887–1966), was single when he signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. Son-in-law Spoeri was mentioned in the July 30, 1918, Post-Dispatch obituary of Krebs’ maternal grandfather, Henry.

According to the 1930 census, Krebs was a stenographer at a sign company. She lived with her parents in St. Louis at 5059 Rosa Avenue. Her step-father was a fireman.

Krebs explained to the Post-Dispatch, February 23, 1987, how she got into advertising and industrial design in the late 1920s.

“With a self-confidence at which I blush now, considering how fuzzy and like chicken scratches were my pen lines,” she resumed, “I took some drawings made in imitation of newspaper fashions to the art director of the advertising department of Famous-Barr. He took me in hand, drilling me on such mechanical techniques as drawing shoes, garbage pails, stepladders, until I had mastered a firm pen line. After a time, lo and behold! I was offered the job of art director of a department store in Los Angeles. I stayed there a year and came back to take a position with Taylor-Rebholz, industrial designers for whom I had done some work while, for a time, I had had a desk in a free lance commercial art studio in the Holland Building. I had done billboards, outdoor display work and there first came in contact with the Streckfus company, working on their advertisements.”

Krebs accompanied the partner Rebholz to Chicago to work on the world’s fair projects.

“I got a lot of experience there in modernistic effects and stylized designing,” she went on. “Besides working on fair exhibits, I did some night club interiors, cocktail bars and murals. We continued to handle some of the Streckfus advertising account, and once when I came here to submit some ideas, I heard Capt. Joe Streckfus tell about a new boat they were building. It was The President, which was to get away from the traditional ginger bread scroll work of all other river boats. I asked to be allowed to compete with other designers on its interior. Just because he didn’t know how to say ‘no,’ Capt. Joe said for me to go ahead, although obviously he had small faith in a woman’s ability to cope with such problems as steamboats presented.

“When I brought in designs for a ballroom, powder room and a bar, Capt. Joe just looked at them and didn’t say a word. I remember I talked myself hoarse, giving him a build-up of what I had done and could do. Afterward I found my sales talk had been unnecessary. He hadn’t said anything because he had no criticisms to make. They were what he wanted and he quickly saw they were practical, for Capt. Joe knows every nit and bolt that goes into the building of a steamboat. … Capt. Joe put me under contract and, when it came to designing the Admiral [in 1936], I was called in to do the job without competition.” She laughed triumphantly. ,,,

William Spoeri Jr. (1887–1966), was single when he signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. Son-in-law Spoeri was mentioned in the July 30, 1918, Post-Dispatch obituary of Krebs’ maternal grandfather, Henry.

According to the 1930 census, Krebs was a stenographer at a sign company. She lived with her parents in St. Louis at 5059 Rosa Avenue. Her step-father was a fireman.

Krebs explained to the Post-Dispatch, February 23, 1987, how she got into advertising and industrial design in the late 1920s.

“With a self-confidence at which I blush now, considering how fuzzy and like chicken scratches were my pen lines,” she resumed, “I took some drawings made in imitation of newspaper fashions to the art director of the advertising department of Famous-Barr. He took me in hand, drilling me on such mechanical techniques as drawing shoes, garbage pails, stepladders, until I had mastered a firm pen line. After a time, lo and behold! I was offered the job of art director of a department store in Los Angeles. I stayed there a year and came back to take a position with Taylor-Rebholz, industrial designers for whom I had done some work while, for a time, I had had a desk in a free lance commercial art studio in the Holland Building. I had done billboards, outdoor display work and there first came in contact with the Streckfus company, working on their advertisements.”

Krebs accompanied the partner Rebholz to Chicago to work on the world’s fair projects.

“I got a lot of experience there in modernistic effects and stylized designing,” she went on. “Besides working on fair exhibits, I did some night club interiors, cocktail bars and murals. We continued to handle some of the Streckfus advertising account, and once when I came here to submit some ideas, I heard Capt. Joe Streckfus tell about a new boat they were building. It was The President, which was to get away from the traditional ginger bread scroll work of all other river boats. I asked to be allowed to compete with other designers on its interior. Just because he didn’t know how to say ‘no,’ Capt. Joe said for me to go ahead, although obviously he had small faith in a woman’s ability to cope with such problems as steamboats presented.

“When I brought in designs for a ballroom, powder room and a bar, Capt. Joe just looked at them and didn’t say a word. I remember I talked myself hoarse, giving him a build-up of what I had done and could do. Afterward I found my sales talk had been unnecessary. He hadn’t said anything because he had no criticisms to make. They were what he wanted and he quickly saw they were practical, for Capt. Joe knows every nit and bolt that goes into the building of a steamboat. … Capt. Joe put me under contract and, when it came to designing the Admiral [in 1936], I was called in to do the job without competition.” She laughed triumphantly. ,,,

,,, After the Admiral was finished [in 1940], Krebs went back to Chicago. She worked at a variety of design-related jobs, including ones at the Museum of Science and Industry and the Joanna Western Mills firm. She designed interiors for restaurants and candy shops and worked on retainers from several corporations. About 10 years ago she moved to California and was married [to Abe Lyon Lubfin, 1893–1978].

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Krebs drew Cindy of Hotel Royale, for the George Matthew Adams Service, from around January 1937 to January 1, 1938. Apparently the last Sunday appeared December 26, 1937.

In the 1940 census, Krebs, a self-employed commercial artist, was with her parents and step-grandfather at the same 1930 address.

Krebs passed away July 8, 1993, in Santa Clara, California. She was laid to rest at New Saint Marcus Cemetery.

 
Further Reading and Viewing
Chambers’ Chambers
The Steamer Admiral

 
—Alex Jay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *